Gaza conflict sparks massive global protests, some violent
Tempers flare at demonstrations and police fire tear gas during clashes with protesters
Thousand of protesters around the world, including hundreds in some of Canada's major cities, protested Saturday against Israeli military action in Gaza. Thousands of Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets of numerous European cities, including London and Paris, to demand an immediate end to the conflict.
Hundreds of protesters for and against the offensive also faced off in two Israeli cities, Haifa and Tel Aviv, while In Paris police clashed with thousands of protesters who defied a ban on a demonstration.
The protests were on the second day of an Israeli ground offensive that saw the death toll in Gaza top 330 people.
In Toronto, demonstrators held signs with slogans like "Gaza needs more than our prayers," chanting "free, free Palestine," across the street from the Israeli Consulate.
We're here to raise our voices and say Israel must be pressured," she said, adding that protesters are calling for sanctions.- Toronto protest organizer Hind Awwad
Organizer Hind Awwad said the rally was drawing attention to what she calls "Israel's ongoing aggression."
She said the Harper government's "unwavering support" of Israel amounts to complicity in "crimes in the Gaza Strip."
"We're here to raise our voices and say Israel must be pressured," she said, adding that protesters are calling for sanctions.
Aidan Macdonald, who is also an organizer with the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, said the goal was to "express solidarity" with Palestinians.
In Montreal, several hundred people marched through the streets in the city's north end to denounce the attacks.
Jaoudat Abouazza, who emigrated from the West Bank in 1977 and still has family throughout the region, said it's been harrowing watching the tragedy unfold.
"We want peace. We need peace," said Abouazza, who came to the protest with his wife and three children.
Tempers briefly flared at the protest after a woman showed up waving a small Israeli flag.
Terri Allister, a Jewish Montrealer, told demonstrators and reporters that Israel "had the right to defend itself."
There was a similarly tense scene in Calgary on Friday evening, where a group of Israel supporters showed up at a pro-Palestinian rally and a fight broke out.
The Israeli military has said it has severely diminished the arsenal of Hamas, the Islamic militant group ruling Gaza, but accuses militants of continuing to fire rockets.
Some protesters threw stones and other objects at riot police, who responded with tear gas in an hours-long confrontation in a working class neighbuorhood, which had been designated as the starting point of the banned march.
Hundreds of riot police stopped the protesters from marching, but several demonstrators climbed onto a building under construction and burned an Israeli flag. Others waved a Palestinian flag from atop a street sign.
The protest degenerated into running battles with police, and at least 33 protesters were arrested, a figure likely to increase, police said.
French authorities had banned the planned pro-Palestinian march after a protest on July 13 turned violent, with two synagogues attacked.
A group of protesters dispersed by the tear gas still managed to hang banners reading "Palestine Will Live" and "Israel Assassins" in front of Montmartre's famed basilica.
Fighting in the Middle East has enflamed tensions in France, home to Western Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was in the Mideast on Saturday in a bid to help open the way to a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic militant group which runs the Gaza Strip.
Also on Saturday in Europe, pro-Palestinian demonstrators in central London marched from Downing Street to the Israeli Embassy, carrying banners calling for an end to the conflict.
With files from The Associated Press, The Canadian Press and Reuters