Thousands of people in Muslim countries and beyond demonstrated on Friday in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, demanding an end to the Israeli blockade and airstrikes after a brutal incursion into southern Israel by fighters from the militant Hamas group that rules Gaza.
Protesters gathered in Iraq at the country’s border crossing with Jordan; in locations throughout Egypt; in the Turkish capital Ankara and its most populous city Istanbul; and in Indonesia, Malaysia and South Korea.
An explosion Tuesday evening at a Gaza City hospital where wounded Palestinians and residents seeking shelter were being treated was a major theme in some demonstrations. The cause of the explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital could not be clarified.
According to US estimates, the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike, as the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza initially reported. Israel has provided video, audio and other evidence that it says shows the explosion was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian militants, who denied responsibility.
The AP has not independently verified any of the allegations or evidence presented by the parties.
The Israeli siege of Palestinian territory and airstrikes thereon were the focus of demonstrations earlier this week at Egyptian universities, at a congressional office building in Washington, outside the Israeli embassy in Bogotá and near the US embassy in Beirut.
Nearly two weeks after the Hamas attack in Israel, such protests continued as Israel prepared for an expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza Health Ministry said more than 4,000 people have been killed and over 13,000 injured in Gaza since the war began, most of them women, children and older adults. According to authorities, more than 1,000 people are believed to have been buried under rubble.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, mostly civilians killed during Hamas’ deadly incursion. About 200 others were kidnapped. The Israeli military said Thursday it had notified the families of 203 prisoners.
Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in cities across the North African country in a show of solidarity with Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
In a rare move, the Egyptian government approved and even helped organize 27 meeting places for protesters on Friday. Since coming to power in 2013, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has banned large public protests. But there were also pro-Palestinian protests in non-designated areas.
Hundreds gathered in the courtyard of the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world’s most important religious institution, in central Cairo. “O Al-Aqsa, do not worry, we will redeem you with our soul and blood,” they chanted in unison after finishing midday prayers on Friday. The Al-Aqsa Mosque is Islam’s third holiest site and is located in Jerusalem’s contested Old City, a site also known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Judaism’s holiest site.
Protesters shouted anti-Israel slogans during a rally in solidarity with the people of Gaza in Cairo, Egypt, on October 20, 2023. Amr Nabil / AP
In a demonstration that was not one of the government-sanctioned demonstrations, scores of demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square, where they were cordoned off by security forces. The square in downtown Cairo was the focus of the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.
At official demonstration sites in all major Egyptian cities, state television showed demonstrators waving flags and shouting pro-Palestinian slogans.
While Egypt has functioning relations with both Israel and Hamas, the overwhelming majority of Egyptians are sympathetic to the Palestinians and their desire for independence.
Last week, el-Sissi publicly criticized Israel and accused Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of trying to liquidate the Palestinian cause by pushing Gazans into Egyptian territory.
In Turkey, where the government declared three days of mourning in solidarity with the victims of a Gaza hospital explosion, thousands of people protested outside mosques after Friday prayers in Istanbul and the capital Ankara.
In Istanbul, demonstrators affiliated with Islamic groups waved Turkish and Palestinian flags, held placards and chanted slogans denouncing Israel’s actions in Gaza.
“Stop the genocide!” and “Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine,” read some posters. About a dozen men wearing red-colored medical coats carried dolls depicting dead babies to protest the hospital explosion, while some of the protesters set fire to an effigy of the Israeli prime minister and an Israeli flag.
Unlike protests earlier this week, when some demonstrators attempted to break into Israel’s diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul and threw fireworks at the Israeli consulate, no violence was reported during Friday’s demonstrations.
Israel withdrew its diplomats from Turkey on Thursday for security reasons, officials said.
People take part in a rally in support of Palestinians in Istanbul on October 18, 2023. Ozan Kose/AFP-Getty Images
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered at the western Trebil border crossing near Jordan in a demonstration organized by the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed Shiite political groups and militias in Iraq.
The pro-Iran coalition also called for a protest in Baghdad near the main gate of the heavily fortified international zone where the US embassy is located to condemn its support of Israel in the ongoing war with Hamas.
Her rival, Iraq’s firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the most influential in the country, on Thursday called on Arab countries bordering Israel, particularly Lebanon, Syria, Egypt and Jordan, to take part in peaceful demonstrations on their borders participate .
Protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted “No to Israel” before praying in the presence of religious clerics.
In recent days, Iranian-backed militias have attacked US military bases in Iraq. Iran has warned that an Israeli ground attack in Gaza could trigger an escalation by allied armed groups and a possible regional war.
About 1,000 Muslims marched down a busy main street in Kuala Lumpur after Friday prayers, calling Israel a tyrant and demanding an end to the killing in Gaza.
Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and gathered outside the US Embassy, which was under tight security, to protest America’s support for Israel.
“Israel is just a big tyrant and they are cowards for targeting the children and the hospital. “These (Palestinians) are helpless because they are denied all the basic necessities of life to survive, and yet they (Israel) complained that they are being bullied by Hamas,” said pensioner Salwa Tamrin.
Many chanted “Death to Israel, God is great” and carried placards calling for an end to the violence. “For me, Palestine is rightly a Palestinian, it is not the place for Israelis. They went there and took the land from the Palestinians,” said activist Isyraf Imran.
Predominantly Muslim Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, in Saudi Arabia for the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council summit, warned on Friday that the unprecedented humanitarian crisis in Gaza could escalate into a regional and global conflict if a solution is not found.
“The international community can no longer ignore the atrocities. “We must put an end to the disproportionate treatment and blatant hypocrisy” towards the Palestinians, he said at the summit.
In the Indonesian capital, demonstrators marched from several mosques to the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to denounce U.S. support and demands for Israel
Similar protests also took place in front of the United Nations mission, a few kilometers from the embassy, and at the Indonesian Foreign Ministry compound. Authorities estimated about 1,000 people took part in the rallies across Jakarta after Friday prayers in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country.
Protesters marching to the U.S. Embassy stopped traffic along the way, chanting “God is great” and “Save the Palestinians.”
More than 100 loud demonstrators waved Indonesian and Palestinian flags and signs reading “We are proud to support Palestine” along a main street in Jakarta that runs in front of the embassy.
Muslim women wave Palestinian and Indonesian flags during a rally in support of Palestinians in Jakarta, Indonesia, October 15, 2023. Dita Alangkara / AP
Some protesters burned portraits of US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
About 1,000 police officers were deployed around the embassy, the nearby presidential palace and the UN mission.
Indonesia has no formal diplomatic relations with Israel and there is no Israeli embassy in the country. It has long been a strong supporter of the Palestinians.
President Joko Widodo strongly condemned the Gaza City hospital explosion, describing it as an attack that violated international humanitarian law.
“Now is the time for the world to stand together to build global solidarity to fairly resolve the Palestinian issue,” Widodo said in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, where he was attending the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council summit .
In the South Korean capital, dozens of demonstrators shouted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and hoisted anti-Israel banners.
“Free, free Palestinians!” The demonstrators shouted and held banners that read “We stand with Gaza” and “Stop the massacre by Israel!”
“Please care about human life. That’s all I think about,” said Elshafei Mohamed, an Egyptian student in Seoul. “If we really want to help, we must provide Gaza with humanitarian aid immediately.”
Source : www.nbcnews.com