Tens of thousands of people protested across the Middle East on Friday against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as it stepped up preparations for a possible ground offensive to destroy Palestinian militant group Hamas.
(Bloomberg) — Tens of thousands of people protested across the Middle East on Friday against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as it stepped up preparations for a possible ground offensive to destroy Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The central squares of capital cities in Iran, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon filled with demonstrators bearing Palestinian flags, according to footage carried by Qatar-based Al Jazeera and Iranian state media. Rallies in support of the Palestinians were also held in Turkey, Qatar, Yemen and Oman.
For more on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.
Israeli officials have vowed to uproot Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip for 16 years, following an unprecedented attack that killed more than 1,300 people, many of them civilians.
Israel’s military urged people living in the north of Gaza to move south as it prepares to intensify an offensive that’s already destroyed entire neighborhoods and forced more than 400,000 people to flee. The United Nations and Palestinian Red Crescent said it would be impossible for the roughly 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to follow those instructions without a humanitarian disaster. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 1,700.
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There have been similar protests during previous bouts of conflict, with Arabs demonstrating their support for Palestinians and their quest for statehood.
The conflict has raised pressure on regional leaders, who had been working to improve ties with Israel before Saturday’s surprise attack.
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.
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 have called for a revival of negotiations aimed at reaching a two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Jordan, where many have Palestinian roots and relatives in Gaza, thousands took to the streets of Amman, the capital. Many called for an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza and the creation of a humanitarian aid corridor.
Jordan’s Interior Ministry banned demonstrations in the Jordan Valley and areas near the border with Israel.
Thousands packed Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah. Similar demonstrations broke out in Ramallah, a city run by the Palestinian Authority, as well as in Pakistan’s Islamabad and Karachi, according to footage carried by Al Jazeera.
–With assistance from Mohammad Tayseer and Dana Khraiche.
(Updates with additional details on rallies in second paragraph)
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