Malaysian PM joins thousands to condemn Israel, Western allies for ‘barbarism’ in Gaza

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim joined 16,000 pro-Palestinian supporters to condemn Israel’s “barbaric” acts in the Gaza Strip, where thousands are estimated to have been killed in Israeli attacks, and denounce its Western supporters.

The gathering in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, was the largest in a series of demonstrations held in Muslim-majority Malaysia in recent weeks.

More than 700 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli air strikes, Gaza’s health ministry said on Tuesday, the highest 24-hour death toll since Israel began a bombing campaign to crush Hamas militants who stunned the country with a deadly Oct. 7 attack.

The health ministry has said at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed in strikes since Oct. 7.

Malaysia has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and has called for a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

“It’s a level of insanity to allow people to be butchered, babies to be killed, hospitals to be bombed, and schools to be destroyed… it’s the height of barbarism in this world,” Anwar told the crowd gathered at an indoor stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

“We are with the Palestinian people yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said, adding that support from the United States and Europe was bolstering Israel’s position.

Anwar last week said he rejected Western pressure to condemn Hamas. He spoke to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh earlier this month and called for an immediate end to bombardment in Gaza and the establishment of a humanitarian corridor.

U.N. agencies called “on our knees” on Tuesday for aid to be allowed unimpeded into Gaza, saying more than 20 times current deliveries were needed after two weeks of Israeli air strikes.

Carrying Palestinian flags and banners, the demonstrators in Kuala Lumpur chanted “long live Palestine” and “down with Israel.”

Nurul Anis Syafiqah Muhammad, a 20-year-old student, said she was at the gathering to protest against Israeli actions.

“This is not just about religion, it is about humanity… as humans we must be compassionate towards each other,” she said.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff, Danial Azahar and Ahmad Luqman Ismail; writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; editing by Nick Macfie)