The largest cities in the Middle East experienced a night of indignation, with massive protests in front of consular buildings of Israel, the United States and France, after the bombing of a hospital in Gaza City that caused hundreds of deaths. The hospital center was at that time packed with Gazans seeking refuge after Israel’s order to evacuate the north of the Strip in the face of Benjamin Netanyahu’s imminent ground offensive. Gaza’s health ministry said at least 500 people have been killed in the attack, blamed on an Israeli missile.
After the attack, a steady trickle of people approached the Israeli consulate in Istanbul carrying Turkish and Palestinian flags, shouting “genocidal” slogans. The protesters threw objects and firecrackers at the building, although they were quelled by the police, who fired tear gas. The protest spread to the capital, in front of the Israeli embassy in Ankara and also in Malatya, in the southeast of the country. There, in the town of Kürecik, the United States has a military installation, which was attacked by a crowd shouting slogans for Palestine. The gendarmerie and the provincial government went to the place to meet with several Islamist organizations that had called for the protest to reduce tensions.
In Amman, protesters also tried to storm the Israeli embassy, chanting slogans in support of Hamas and calling for the closure of the diplomatic building. The police dispersed the encounter with tear gas. Shortly before the protest, the Jordanian authorities announced the cancellation of the meeting with the American president, Joe Biden, who today begins a round of visits to Israel and Arab countries to reduce tensions. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, who has received strong criticism in the Palestinian territories for his alleged lack of authority and his treatment of the Israeli authorities in the West Bank, was scheduled to attend the meeting in Amman. In several cities in this territory, massive protests took place hours before the attack on the Gaza hospital, calling for Mazen’s resignation. Palestinian security forces fired stun grenades and tear gas to reduce protests.
In countries whose governments openly support the Palestinian group Hamas, the atmosphere is even more tense. In Lebanon, where the Shiite Hezbollah party – an ally of Hamas along with Iran – has great power in the Government and on the streets, it called for a “day of anger” this Wednesday and called on Muslims around the world to take to the streets to protest against Israel. “We call on the people of our Arab and Islamic nation to take immediate action in the streets and squares to express extreme anger and put pressure on governments and states,” he said in a statement. “(Today will be) A day of unprecedented anger against the enemy and his crimes and against Biden’s visit to the Zionist entity (Israel) to cover and protect this criminal entity,” the note adds. Last night hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces outside the US embassy in Awkar, outside Beirut. Images on social media show a crowd throwing stones at the building and setting fire to nearby facilities. Demonstrators, waving Palestinian and Hezbollah flags, chanted “death to America” and “death to Israel.” Washington responded with a travel alert for its citizens and recommended not visiting Lebanon, while authorizing the voluntary and temporary departure of family members of US diplomatic personnel. Another crowd gathered and attempted to attack the French embassy in Beirut.
In Iran, protests spread to six cities in the country, although the largest concentration occurred in Tehran’s Palestine Square, where protesters marched to the French embassy. The crowd shouted “death to France and England” and threw eggs and stones at the French diplomatic building. Hours before the attack on the Gaza hospital, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that if the attacks on Palestinian territory continue, “no one will be able to stop the Muslims and the resistance forces.” Anger against Israel spread last night to several North African countries, with protests in Libya, Morocco and Egypt.