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Massacre at Gaza hospital triggers wave of indignation in the Arab world

Thousands of people staged street protests in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. There were some violent outbreaks outside U.S. and Israeli embassies

Gaza
Protesters throw bricks at the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on Tuesday night, during protests over the killing of civilians at a Gaza hospital.JOSEPH EID (AFP)

Protests spread beyond Palestine in the late hours of Tuesday and early Wednesday following an attack on a Gaza hospital that has left at least 500 dead. The massacre triggered protests throughout the Arab world, with spontaneous demonstrations in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey and Tunisia. Some of these included violent outbreaks and rioting in front of U.S. and Israeli embassies. There was also widespread condemnation by several governments after a massacre that represents a qualitative leap in the war between Israel and Hamas, unleashed after the former’s attack that caused 1,400 deaths on October 7.

Palestinian security forces confronted a crowd of protesters with tear gas in Ramallah while people hurled stones and shouted against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition to the Palestinian capital and Hebron (both in the West Bank), incidents were also reported in Amman (Jordan), where protesters surrounded the Israeli Embassy. Jordan’s King Abdullah, who was scheduled to meet on Wednesday with U.S. President Joe Biden, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al Sisi, and Abbas himself, did not hesitate to blame Israel for the deaths and canceled the meeting while his government assured that it would only be held when the parties “can agree to end the war and the massacre of Palestinians,” Reuters reported.

In Beirut (Lebanon), bricks were thrown at the U.S. Embassy amid cries of “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” while the Shiite Hezbollah movement called on the population to “a day of anger.” Syria, Israel’s arch-enemy, blamed “Western countries, especially the United States, for this massacre and others. They are partners of the Zionist entity in all operations organized to kill Palestinians,” said sources from the Syrian presidency. Similar scenes unfolded in Palestine Square in the center of Tehran (Iran), where hundreds of people gathered to show their rejection. Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has declared a day of mourning and accused Israel of the attack. “The flames of the American-Israeli bombs dropped this afternoon on the Palestinian victims will soon consume the Zionists,” Raisi said, according to the IRNA agency.

Thousands of people also gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul (Turkey) after the country’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the massacre. “Attacking a hospital with women, children and innocent civilians is the latest example that Israel’s attacks are lacking in the most basic human values,” the president said on the social network X, formerly Twitter.

Protesters burn an Israeli flag in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday night.
Protesters burn an Israeli flag in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul on Tuesday night.DILARA SENKAYA (REUTERS)

There has also been a spontaneous march in Rabat (Morocco), attended by hundreds of people, the news agency Efe reported. Many of them criticized the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Israel three years ago. “Zionists out” and “Normalization is treason” were some of the slogans that were heard. In Tunisia, people protested in front of the French Embassy, a country that demonstrators accused of being an “ally of the Zionists.”

The indignation also reached the United Nations, where the group of Arab ambassadors appeared jointly and urgently on Tuesday to ask the Security Council to “wake up and assume responsibilities” to stop the war in Gaza. “For decades, Israel and the perpetrators of these attacks, from the military and the political authority, have enjoyed impunity and have not once faced justice. This has to stop,” said the group’s president, Jordanian Mahmud Faidallah, who blamed Israel for being solely responsible for the bombing.

The Security Council this week debated a resolution calling for a ceasefire, but it was rejected by three veto-wielding members — the United States, the United Kingdom and France — for not including an express condemnation of Hamas. Russia and the United Arab Emirates have requested a new urgent meeting for Wednesday, after learning of the attack on the Gaza hospital.

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