Tens of thousands rally across Europe against Israel's Gaza offensive
In London, at least 10,000 marched past Brown's Downing Street home to a rally in Trafalgar Square.
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in European cities on Saturday against Israel's bombardment of Gaza, including protesters who hurled shoes at the tall iron gates outside the British prime minister's residence in London.
Amid increasing criticism of Israel, international diplomatic efforts are growing to end the strikes, which have killed more than 460 people and left 1,700 injured. Late Saturday, Israel launched a ground offensive, sending tanks and infantry into Gaza.
In London, at least 10,000 people, many carrying Palestinian flags, marched past Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street residence to a rally in Trafalgar Square. Outside Downing Street, hundreds of protesters stopped and threw shoes at the gates that block entry to the narrow road.
Shoe-throwing has become a popular gesture of protest and contempt since an Iraqi journalist pelted U.S. President George W. Bush with a pair of brogues in Baghdad last month.
Police estimated the crowd in London at 10,000 to 12,000, but organizers said the number was much higher. The marchers included activist Bianca Jagger, ex-Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and comedian Alexei Sayle.
"As a Jew, it's very moving to see so many people who are so outraged at Israel's actions," Sayle said. "Israel is a democratic country that is behaving like a terrorist organization."
After the rally, about 5,000 protesters marched on the Israeli Embassy in west London. Some youths burned Israeli flags and scuffled with police and hurled bottles and sticks at officers in riot gear. Several demonstrators were led away by police after leaping over metal barriers holding them back from the embassy.
Protest organizers accused police of charging into groups of demonstrators on the way to the embassy, and said they would file a complaint.
Rallies also were held in other British cities - including Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow - and across Europe. Protests in Paris, Amsterdam, Rome and Berlin all drew thousands of people.
In Paris, police said 21,000 marched through the streets, shouting "We are all Palestinians" and "Israel assassin." Later, about 500 of the protesters turned violent, throwing objects at police, burning Israeli flags, overturning and torching cars, and vandalizing several shops, police said. Ten police officers were injured in the clashes and 20 protesters arrested, a Paris police spokeswoman said.
Angry protests continued for a second day in Turkey, where about 5,000 demonstrators shouted killer Israel in downtown Ankara.
In The Netherlands, thousands of people marched through Amsterdam, criticizing both the Israeli attacks and the Dutch government's failure to condemn them. One banner declared: "Anne Frank is turning in her grave. Oh Israel!"
More than 4,000 people demonstrated in Duesseldorf, Germany, and some 5,000 in Frankfurt. One group in Duesseldorf held up a doll representing a bleeding baby with the placard Made in Israel.
In Berlin, more than 7,000 people braved freezing temperatures for a march along the capital's Unter den Linden boulevard.
Another 2,500 demonstrated in Salzburg, Austria, while scores protested peacefully in Madrid outside the Spanish Foreign Ministry.
Hundreds more marched in the Swedish cities of Malmo and Uppsala, while in Oslo, Norway demonstrators marched from the parliament to the Israeli Embassy, calling on Israel to "let Gaza live."
In Athens, Greece - the scene of violent demonstrations by anarchist youths over the past month - a few of the 5,000 protesters threw stones and petrol bombs at police outside the Israeli Embassy. Riot police retaliated with tear gas and stun grenades.
In Cyprus, demonstrators pelted riot police with rocks, sticks, shoes and oranges near the Israeli Embassy in Nicosia. A peaceful protest by about 2,000 people turned violent when some protesters tried to break through a line of police blocking the road leading to the embassy. The demonstrators eventually dispersed.
Israel says it is responding to rockets fired from Gaza by the Hamas militant group. Four Israelis also have been killed in the week of violence.
Brown's office said Saturday the British leader had phoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and called for an immediate cease-fire.
"Rocket attacks from Hamas must stop, and we have called for a halt to Israeli military action in Gaza," a spokesman said on condition of anonymity in line with government policy. "Too many have died and we need space to get humanitarian supplies to those who need them."
The Israeli airstrikes have badly damaged Gaza's infrastructure, knocking out power and water in many areas and raising fears of humanitarian disaster. Israel said its offensive is designed to wipe out the threat from Hamas, which holds political power in the territory.
Bush has declined to criticize Israel, branding Hamas rocket fire an act of terror. But he has joined other world leaders in calling for an internationally monitored truce. United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon also has backed a cease-fire, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will visit the region next week as part of a diplomatic effort to stop the violence.