Thousands join pro-Palestinian rallies in France

Paris - Thousands of people took to the streets in several cities across France on Saturday to protest Israel's deadly offensive in the Gaza Strip.

"Israel murderer, Hollande partner in crime," shouted demonstrators at a rally in Paris, while others gathered in several cities throughout the country, including Marseille, Lyon and Lille, to voice their support for the Palestinians.

"We are here to declare our total support for the Palestinian resistance and denounce this shameful government [of French President Francois Hollande] for backing the Israeli line," Omar Alsoumi of the Palestinian Youth Movement told the crowds in Paris.

There have been weeks of pro-Palestinian protests in Paris, some marred by clashes, arrests and allegations of anti-Semitism in which synagogues were targeted and Israeli flags burnt.

Saturday's demonstrations come as the death toll in Gaza rose to more than 1 660 after a failed humanitarian truce.

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.