President Shimon Peres encountered some not so pleasant left-wing protestors on Wednesday during a visit to a museum on Nazi resistance groups during World War II in the French city of Lyon as part of his official state visit to the European country.
Some far left activists held a demonstration at the museum where they dubbed Peres and Israel "criminal," called for Israel "to be erased," and said "the resistance in Gaza is legitimate."
The incident led to a brief scuffle when French police arrived on the scene and attempted to use force to evacuate the protestors. The activists did not give up and sat down on the ground with interlocked arms in order to avoid being forcibly removed. Police struggled with the demonstrators for several minutes before they managed to expel them from the area.
A member of the president's delegation said: "The calls for Israel's destruction are severe given the sensitivity of the place (where they were uttered). Nonetheless, this is an extreme left radical group that does not comprise a significant bloc in regional politics."
This incident notwithstanding, Peres' staff expressed satisfaction with the president's visit to France.
Later on Wednesday, Peres is expected to inaugurate a center for Jewish education in Lyon – the biggest of its kind in Europe. Afterwards, he is scheduled to eat lunch with the president of the Lyon district.
Peres met in Paris with his French counterpart Nicholas Sarkozy on Monday. During the visit, Peres
received France's highest award, the Legion of Honor.
Sarkozy told the president: "It is a great honor for me to greet you here as the president of the State of Israel, but it is an even greater honor to greet you as Shimon Peres. I have a lot of respect for you and I view you as a symbol."