Paris, July 26: More than 1,000 protesters gathered in central Paris on Sunday shouting slogans against Israel despite an official ban on the rally as hundreds of riot police stood by to stop it from going ahead.
The demonstration against Israel's Gaza offensive that has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians comes in the wake of clashes earlier this month at other similar demonstrations in Paris and a suburb town, some of which had also been banned but went ahead anyway.
Organisers of Saturday's protest had tried going to court to get the ban overturned, but they were unsuccessful and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned Saturday that they would be held "responsible for any unrest... And liable to penal sanctions."
Protests occurred in the wake of the recent clashes in Paris and a suburb town
According to initial estimates, some 1,500 people turned up mid-afternoon at Republic Square in Paris, brandishing Palestinian flags and the red banners of the far-left New Anticapitalist Party that had called on people to brave the ban and come anyway.
Some 2,000 police were mobilised, and many of them were present on the square to stop the rally from moving on to other parts of the French capital.
"Israel clear out of Palestine, the era of colonies is over", "Israel assassin, Hollande accomplice", "Israel, piss off, Palestine isn't yours" were just some of the slogans shouted by protesters.
On Wednesday, several thousand people protested peacefully in Paris against the Israeli offensive in Gaza, launched 19 days ago after Hamas militants fired rockets into the Jewish state.
Police said the rally attracted about 14,500 people, while organisers put the figure at 25,000.
The conflict has stirred up huge passions in France -- home to the largest Muslim and Jewish communities in western Europe with around five million Muslims and half a million Jews.
And while many protests around the country have been peaceful, three demonstrations in Paris and the suburb town of Sarcelles descended into chaos.
In Sarcelles, Jewish businesses were looted and in one violent Paris demonstration, protesters tried to storm two synagogues, raising concerns among the Jewish community about anti-Semitism.