Thousands of anti-Israeli protesters took to the streets across the Middle East on Friday, as Israel stepped up preparations for a ground assault on Gaza and Palestinian militant group Hamas called for a ‘Day of Rage.’
(Bloomberg) — Thousands of anti-Israeli protesters took to the streets across the Middle East on Friday, as Israel stepped up preparations for a ground assault on Gaza and Palestinian militant group Hamas called for a ‘Day of Rage.’
Israel Latest: Protesters March; Israel Urges Evacuation in Gaza
Main squares in capital cities of Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon saw people carrying Palestinian flags chanting in support of Gazans, according to footage carried by regional TV station Al Jazeera and Iran’s state media.
For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.
The rallies came after Hamas’s call on the Islamic world to condemn the ongoing military operation in Gaza, a tiny strip of territory from which the militant group staged a surprise attack against Israel last Saturday. More than 1,300 Israelis were killed, while the death toll in Gaza from Israel’s retaliatory offensive surpassed 1,500.
There have been similar protests at times of increasing tensions in the past, when the region’s Muslim majority showed their support for Palestinians, who are vying for their own independent state.
Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to eliminate Hamas, while Israeli Defense Forces urged people living in the north of Gaza to move south. The United Nations and Palestinian Red Crescent said it would be impossible for the roughly 1.1 million residents to follow those instructions without a humanitarian disaster.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken against trying to “forcibly displace the Palestinians,” citing the threat of a widening conflict.
Israel’s expected ground incursion into Gaza after days of aerial strikes will highly likely result in more civilian deaths and raise the pressure on regional leaders. Turkey has already signaled a shift away from the intense diplomacy that was under way to repair ties with Israel after years of estrangement. Rulers from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates could follow if public opinion in their countries turns increasingly hostile to Israel.
In Jordan, where many have Palestinian roots and relatives in Gaza, thousands took to the streets of Amman, the capital. Many were carrying Palestinian flags and called for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and opening of a humanitarian aid corridor.
Jordan’s Interior Ministry banned demonstrations in the Jordan Valley and in areas surrounding the border with Israel.
In Lebanon, the army set up checkpoints in southern towns close to Israel to prevent “foreigners” from getting in ahead of planned demonstrations in the area, Lebanese state media reported.
Thousands packed Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiye, a stronghold of Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah, for protests, waving Palestinian flags. Similar demonstrations also broke out in Ramallah, a city run by the Palestinian Authority, as well as in Pakistan’s Islamabad, according to footage carried by Al Jazeera.
Protesters in Iraq called on the government to stand against normalization with Israel. Similar rallies broke out in Iranian capital, Tehran, and in Yemen, though the number of people who attended wasn’t clear.
–With assistance from Mohammad Tayseer and Dana Khraiche.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.