Published Saturday, 19 July 2014
The minor trouble erupted as the rally, organised by the Irish Congress of Trades Union in protest at Israel's military action and economic sanctions against Gaza, got underway at Belfast City Hall.
Some of those involved in an earlier loyalist Union flag protest had remained in the area and waved an Israeli flag.
Police in riot gear were brought in to separate the rival groups and order was quickly restored.
A PSNI spokesman said minor scuffles broke out, however no arrests were made.
Both sides have blamed each other for the disorder.
This was about Gaza, this was not about Northern Ireland.
Brian Campfield from the ICTU said: "We consciously called the rally for a time after the normal flag protest would be finished.
"Clearly when different groups get in the vicinity of each other tensions will rise, but I think we were able to ensure it was more or less peaceful and the focus has been on Gaza.
"Everyone has the right to protest and there is no reason why people can't protest side-by-side, but they have got to respect each other without those sort of exchanges breaking out.
"But we did manage to keep them to a minimum."
He added: "We are aware the issue can be divisive, but there is no reason why it should be.
"This is a humanitarian issue about the people of Gaza and the political situation that needs resolved.
"It doesn't have any resonance in the Northern Ireland context."
Mr Campfield said those involved in clashes were not members of his organisation or any other trade union.
Saturday's rally was part of a UK and Ireland-wide demonstration against violence in the Middle East.
A rally, in support of the Palestinian people, was also held in Londonderry on the city's Peace Bridge.
It's the first time a mass protest has been held on the landmark.
Ahead of the Derry rally, author and journalist Eamonn McCann addressed the assembled crowd and appealed for the demonstration to be peaceful.
He said: "We are here positively to support the Palestinian people and the people of Gaza.
"This is one of literally hundreds of demonstrations around the world.
"We are here to let the beleaguered people of Gaza know that they are not alone."
All armed actions, including attacks from Gaza must stop.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has called for the Irish government to expel the Israeli ambassador.
He said: "The time has long past for merely expressing concern to a government that is clearly oblivious to the outrage of the international community at their actions in Gaza.
"Irish citizens have been upset and angered at the ongoing killing of men, women and children in Gaza."
He added: "The decision by the Israeli Government, in the face of international anger, to escalate its military offensive by launching a ground offensive requires a firm and resolute response by the Irish Government, which must now expel the Israeli Ambassador.
"The Irish Government should also push for the immediate suspension of the EU's preferential trade agreements with Israel."
© UTV News