More than 1,000 people staged protests in Paris on Sunday against one of Israel's strike on Palestinian militants, police said, as the French government pushed for a halt to fighting.
"Some 1,300 people gathered in northern Paris in the Barbes neighborhood, and 150 gathered near the landmark Arc de Triomphe," a police spokeswoman said. The Barbes neighborhood has a large Arab population. "Both protests were peaceful," she added.
Near Champs-Elysees, several police vans and officers formed a broad security perimeter around the tightly guarded Israeli Embassy.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy held telephone talks Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and condemned what he called "the provocations that led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force."
France appears to be trying to use its last days as United Nations' president to press for a halt to fighting. On Thursday France will pass the EU presidency to the Czech Republic.
"Europe has a role to play," French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner said in an interview published Sunday.
Kouchner spoke to Abbas and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit on Saturday.
"The Egyptians are capable of restarting the peace process, we must help them," Kouchner said, and noted that the attacks come in a context of vacancy of power in Israel and the U.S. as both countries are undergoing leadership transitions.
Manwhile, some 2,000 people staged a noisy protest outside the Israeli embassy in London on Sunday in response to Israeli air strikes that left hundreds dead in the Gaza Strip.
Police were forced to call in reinforcements after protesters tore down barriers holding them back and hurled projectiles in the direction of the diplomatic mission.
Six people were charged with disturbing public order after police forcibly removed a number of protesters from the gathering in the west of London.
Traffic in the area ground to a halt as the protest swelled from an initial group of 500 Palestinians and other people opposed to the Israeli military action in Gaza.
"Israel is a terrorist state," chanted demonstrators as Palestinian flags were waved. Other protesters held up posters reading "Holocaust in Gaza."
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband called for an "immediate halt to all violence" in Gaza. He said a cease-fire was urgently needed to halt the "massive loss of life" from the Israeli bombings.
Milliband said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had contacted his Israeli counterpart Ehud Olmert and made it clear Israel must stick by its humanitarian obligations
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now