Thousands Marched in Peaceful Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem

Police believe previously contentious parade will this year avoid violent protests.

About 2,000 participants in a gay pride parade have marched peacefully through Jerusalem.

In past years, the gay pride event in the holy city provoked violent protests, even stabbings, by ultra-Orthodox Jews and extremists. But this year, except for one egg-throwing incident, there were no clashes.

Police said they arrested the egg-tossing protester. Others put up signs and demonstrated in an ultra-Orthodox section of Jerusalem, far away from the parade.

The marchers waved rainbow and Israeli flags and donned rainbow dresses, shirts and headbands.

The parade was more restrained Thursday than a gay pride march in more secular Tel Aviv earlier this month. One marcher scolded another for removing his shirt, saying, "This is Jerusalem."

Police sources said Wednesday that this year the parade is not expected to stir violent protests.

Police believed the controversial event would run smoothly as leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community - who in past years have led anti-gay protests - decided not to protest to avoid exposing their young people to the issue of homosexuality.

As a result, only 1,600 police officers were assigned to the parade, compared with 12,000 in 2006.

Some ultra-Orthodox opponents of the event have received a permit to hold a protest rally at Sabbath Square.

The parade's organizers predicted a turnout of some 5,000 participants, slightly more than in recent years.

The parade route began at Liberty Bell Park and ran along King David Street to Independence Park.

The annual pride parade in Tel Aviv at the start of the month drew at least 20,000 participants, and ended with a ceremonial marriage between five couples on the city's beachfront.