Paris: Pro-Palestinian protesters clashed with police in central Paris on Saturday when thousands of marchers defied a ban by French authorities to rally against Israel's offensive in the Gaza Strip.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve warned organizers in a television address that they would be held responsible for any clashes and could be prosecuted for ignoring a ban that was confirmed by the country's top administrative court.
TV footage showed a minority of demonstrators wearing balaclavas and traditional Arab keffiyeh headdresses throwing projectiles at riot officers after two hours of peaceful protest.
By 1700 GMT (13:00 EST), most demonstrators had been evacuated from the square and order restored. Paris police said they had made about 50 arrests.
French authorities have refused to permit several pro-Palestinian protests because they feared violence. Marchers clashed with riot police in and around Paris in recent weeks, with some targeting synagogues and Jewish shops.
"Anti-Semitic violence exists: we must face it head on," Cazeneuve said.
Some protesters, NGOs and even ruling Socialist politicians have criticized the bans on the rallies as counter-productive.
Cazeneuve noted that over the last two weeks, five marches had been banned, out of about 300 such protests across the country.
"Freedom of protest was thus the rule, and bans the exception," he said.
Reuters photographers saw one police officer slightly injured, the front windows of the Crowne Plaza hotel smashed and a bus shelter wrecked.(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)