TORONTO -- Palestinian flags and 'Free Palestine' signs filled Nathan Phillips Square Saturday evening as thousands gathered in support of people in Gaza.

The protest was organized by the Palestinian Youth Movement. Similar demonstrations were also held across North America and parts of the world.

Protesters denounced the violence and injustices against the Palestinian people amid the escalating conflict between Israeli forces and the Hamas militant group.

The tensions began in east Jerusalem when Palestinians protested attempts by settlers to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes and Israeli police measures at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a frequent flashpoint located on a mount in the Old City revered by Muslims and Jews.

Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem late Monday, triggering the Israeli assault on Gaza. Since then, Hamas has fired more than 2,000 rockets, though most have either fallen short or been intercepted by anti-missile defences.

Israel's warplanes and artillery have struck hundreds of targets around blockaded Gaza, where some two million Palestinians live.

At least 145 Palestinians and eight Israelis have died as a result of the heightened conflict.

One demonstrator said he is at the protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

"We're here to be their voice and their eyes and to let all the world know that we're here for them," he said.

Dozens of people carrying Israeli flags also showed up at Nathan Phillips Square. Police officers separated the two groups by forming a line in between them.

Police closed streets around Nathan Phillips Square due to the protest.

- with files from The Associated Press