Jerusalem : Thousands of members of Israel's gay community flocked to Jerusalem Thursday afternoon as the city's controversial Gay Pride parade got underway, amid a heightened police presence ahead of expected demonstrations by ultra-orthodox Jews opposed to the event taking place in the holy city.
The parade went ahead after the Israeli Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon rejected last-minute petitions against it taking place.
A planned post-parade rally at Jerusalem's Liberty Bell Park, which was to have taken place after the parade, was called off
Organisers of the parade expect some 5,000 participants, who will march down the city's King David Street, under the protection of as many as 7,000 police officers.
Police had earlier in the day arrested an ultra-orthodox Jew carrying a very small homemade explosive which he had intended to set off to scare people away from the event.
Demonstrators also burned garbage cans in an utlra-orthodox neighbourhood in the city, and 1,500 demonstrated at the entrance to Jerusalem against the parade.
The parade has aroused the ire of religious Jews, Christians and Muslims, and led opponents to take to the streets to demonstrate against it.
Hundreds of ultra-orthodox Israelis demonstrated in Jerusalem late Wednesday, burning garbage containers and throwing stones at police, while hundreds more held similar protests in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak.
Protests leading up to the parade last year turned violent for days in advance, and leaders of the Jerusalem Open House, which organises the event, were forced to hold it in a closed stadium far removed from the city centre to ease the tensions.