Palestine supporters protest in Paris in defiance of ban

#GazaUnderAttack

Thousands of people around the world have taken part in rallies in a show of support for the people of Gaza

People show a Palestinian scarf in Nice, southeastern France, during a demonstration (AFP)
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Thursday 12 February 2015 17:30 UTC
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Thousands joined a pro-Palestinian rally in London on Saturday, chanting "Israel is a terror state", while protesters defying a ban in Paris clashed with riot police blocking their march.

The London rally organisers said they expected a turnout of up to 20,000 people on the march from Prime Minister David Cameron's office to the Israeli embassy.

In Paris, despite a rare police ban and warnings from President Francois Hollande, hundreds began massing for their march but clashed with police who blocked their route.

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The demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at anti-riot squads which responded with tear gas lobbed into the streets.

The ban, which Hollande had said was to preserve "public order" following violence after similar marches, applied only to Paris. Thousands turned out in several other French cities for authorised demonstrations against the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza.

On July 13, pro-Palestinian demonstrators clashed with members of the far-right Jewish Defence League and were accused of trying to storm two synagogues in Paris during a rally.

Twelve days of violence between Israeli forces and Hamas have led to at least 337 deaths, the majority of them Palestinian civilians.

In London, demonstrators held up placards pleading for Israel to end its "attacks on Gaza", and reading "Stop the bombing, free Palestine", "Stop Israeli state terror, join the socialists" and "End Israeli apartheid".

The Stop the War Coalition, one of the organisers of the march, condemned British and US support for Israel as "nothing less than collusion with war crimes, killing women, children and disabled people".

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In France, the US embassy issued a statement "strongly encouraging" its citizens to steer clear of the protests, saying that because of their unauthorised nature and "due to the current political environment in the Middle East, spontaneous clashes or eruptions of violence cannot be ruled out."

Hollande, speaking from west Africa, has said that he is seeking to avoid "importing" the Middle East conflict into France.

Participants who insist on holding the rally "at all costs will bear the responsibility" for it, he added on Saturday.

However, he added, "this isn't going to stop other forms of expression."

Authorities say organisers who defy the ban will face a six-month prison term and 7,500-euro fine.

Meanwhile Belgian police were concerned that unauthorised demonstrations would take place in Brussels and Antwerp on Saturday.

Representatives from Belgium's Jewish and Muslim communities joined together on Friday to call for good relations to be upheld between religious communities.

Death in Kashmir

Police shot dead a teenage boy on Saturday in restive Indian Kashmir during a protest against Israel's military offensive against Gaza, officials said.

The youngster's death marked the first fatality in a string of demonstrations across the Himalayan territory that have been staged against the Israeli military campaign.

The boy, a ninth-class student, was killed in the village of Khudwani, 60 kilometres south of Srinagar, the main city of the disputed Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.

Dozens of protesters have been injured in the protests against the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The protests have been occurring on an almost daily basis in the Kashmir valley which has been at the centre of a quarter-century revolt against Indian rule.

The demonstrators, some holding placards with "Save Gaza" written on them, chanted "Down with Israel", "Down with America" and hurled stones at government forces.

Indian government forces are seeking to prevent the protests from spreading in the volatile region.

On Thursday, the Kashmir valley was mostly shut in response to a call by separatist leaders to protest against the Israeli military campaign.