Protests as anger at Gaza hospital bombing spreads across Arab world

Protesters chanting ‘death to France and England’ target Western embassies and tens of thousands take to the streets as anger at Gaza hospital bombing spreads across Arab world

  • The strike on the the Al-Ahli Hospital yesterday killed at least 500 people
  • Lebanon-based Hezbollah called for a ‘day of rage’ across the region

Protesters chanting ‘death to France and England’ targeted Western embassies today and tens of thousands took to the streets to protest over the Gaza hospital bombing. 

The strike yesterday killed at least 500 people and has unleashed a torrent of condemnation across the Arab world. 

Angry rallies took place in Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, Iran and the West Bank, as Lebanon-based Hezbollah called for a ‘day of rage’ across the region.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, and many Arab countries accuse Israel of striking the hospital, while the Israeli military claims it was a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza. 

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British and French embassies in Tehran in the early hours of Wednesday, as regional anger grew over a deadly strike on the Gaza hospital. 

Lebanese army soldiers scuffle with protesters during a demonstration, in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, near the U.S. embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023

Protesters gather for an anti-Israel demonstration outside the French embassy headquarters along the Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the center of Tunis on October 18, 2023

Protesters carry an injured man during clashes with security forces outside the US embassy at a protest following a strike on a hospital in the Gaza Strip, in Beirut, Lebanon, 18 October 2023

A woman speaks as an image of US President Joe Biden is burnt during a protest in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on October 18, 2023

People carrying Turkish and Palestinian flags, gather to attend a demonstration led by Ankara Civil Society Platform (ASTP) at Abdi Ipekci Park after performing a funeral prayer in absentia for Palestinian people, who lost their lives in the bombing of Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, in Ankara, Turkiye on October 18, 2023.

People, carrying the Palestinian flag and banners, gather in front of the US Embassy to protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Beirut, Lebanon on October 18

‘Death to France and England,’ protesters shouted, throwing eggs at the walls of the French embassy compound in the Iranian capital. The gatherings ended peacefully at around 3am.

Several thousand people also gathered in Palestine Square in central Tehran to voice their anger.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared a day of ‘public mourning’ today and said the strike on the hospital would turn against Israel and its US ally.

‘The flames of the US-Israeli bombs, dropped this evening on the Palestinian victims injured at the… hospital in Gaza, will soon consume the Zionists,’ Raisi said, according to the IRNA agency.

Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian called in a message on X for ‘global unity’ against Israel, a ‘regime more hated than the Islamic State’.

Tehran also called on Arab countries that have established relations with Israel to break them.

Condemnation was widespread across the region and angry crowds gathered after calls from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and Palestinian factions for mass mobilisation.

‘Death to America, death to Israel,’ hundreds of Hezbollah supporters chanted at a rally in Beirut’s southern suburbs.

‘The Israelis will try to target more hospitals, rescue workers, civil defence volunteers and Gaza’s residents without flinching, in order to push Gaza’s people out,’ senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine told the demonstrators.

READ MORE: Moment terrified German officials sprint off government plane and lie face down on tarmac at Tel Aviv airport with Chancellor Scholz rushed to a waiting car after air raid warning

Protesters took to the streets of the West Bank city of Ramallah and Nablus, shouting ‘Free, free Palestine’.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which both established ties with Israel in the Abraham Accords of 2020, criticised Israel for being behind the strike, as it hits back at Hamas militants over a deadly attack on October 7.

‘The United Arab Emirates strongly condemns the Israeli attack… resulting in the death and injury of hundreds of people,’ the UAE’s official WAM news agency said early on Wednesday.

In Bahrain, which also normalised ties with Israel in 2020, dozens of protesters marched towards the Israeli embassy in Manama before being dispersed by police, witnesses told AFP.

Saudi Arabia, which has halted talks on potential ties with Israel since violence flared, called the blast a ‘heinous crime committed by the Israeli occupation forces’.

Qatar, one of Hamas’s main backers, slammed the ‘brutal massacre’.

Morocco, another country that recognised Israel in 2020, also blamed it for the strike, as did Egypt, which became the first Arab country to normalise relations with Israel in 1979.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi condemned in the strongest terms ‘the Israeli bombing’ of the Ahli Arab hospital, which led to ‘the deaths of hundreds of innocent victims’ among the Palestinian citizens in Gaza.

In war-torn Yemen, demonstrators took part in a massive pro-Palestinian protest in the capital Sanaa, which is controlled by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels.

Hundreds also took part in protests in government-held Taez and Marib.

Algeria condemned the strike as a ‘barbaric act’ carried out by ‘occupation forces’ while in Tunisia, thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters rallied outside the French embassy, condemning Western support for Israel.

Some waved Palestinian flags while others demanded the ambassador be expelled, accusing France of being among the Western ‘allies of the Zionists’. 

Libya’s Tripoli-based internationally recognised government called the hospital strike a ‘despicable crime’ as several hundred people protested in Tripoli and other Libyan cities.

Hamas official Osama Hamdan also called for region-wide protests on Friday and Saturday, demanding the ‘expulsion of the ambassadors of the Zionist entity in all Arab and Islamic capitals’.

Jordan said Israel ‘bears responsibility for this grave incident’.

Some 10,000 Jordanians gathered outside the Israeli embassy, demanding the expulsion of Israel’s diplomatic mission.

Security forces blocked off roads leading to the embassy but the size of the demonstration swelled due to the anger in Jordan, which is home to many Palestinian refugees.

‘No Zionist embassy on Jordanian land,’ protesters chanted, brandishing Palestinian flags.

Protesters try to remove barbed wires that block a road leading to the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon 

Lebanese army soldiers scuffle with protesters during a demonstration in Beirut

Lebanese soldiers clash with a man outside the US embassy in Beirut, Lebanon today

Lebanese soldiers carry one of their team members on their back after they clashed with protesters outside US Embassy in Beirut

Demonstrators in Beirut, Lebanon, attempt to remove barbed wire 

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference, also blaming Israel, called it ‘a war crime, a crime against humanity, and organised state terrorism’.

Gulf Cooperation Council secretary general Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi said it was ‘glaring evidence of the serious violations by the Israeli occupation forces’.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit called on Tuesday for leaders to ‘stop this tragedy immediately’.

Iraq, which also blamed Israeli authorities, demanded an ‘immediate and urgent resolution’ from the UN Security Council to stop Israel’s Gaza onslaught, as around 200 protested in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone.

In the Syrian capital Damascus, hundreds of people with Palestinian flags gathered near parliament, many wearing T-shirts bearing the image of President Bashar al-Assad.

‘Martyrdom or victory,’ one banner read.

In Amman, riot police pushed back thousands of Jordanian protesters planning to march on the heavily fortified Israeli embassy. Several police were injured in clashes with protesters who torched property near the Israeli embassy, police said.

‘No Zionist embassy on Arab land,’ demonstrators chanted in the Jordanian capital after noon prayers.

France’s Foreign Ministry said today it was advising its citizens against any travel to Lebanon given the security situation, especially at Lebanon’s border with Israel.

Security concerns have risen across much of Europe linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict and to attacks by other Islamist groups such as Islamic State (IS). France says 24 of its citizens were among the 1,400 people killed in Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.

Italy has stepped up surveillance, especially in crowded areas, and increased protection for sites that might be targets for attacks, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said.

Hundreds of angry protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in a Beirut suburb near the US embassy in support of both Gaza’s civilian residents and Hamas in its war with Israel.

The protest in the Aukar neighbourhood came as US President Joe Biden made a show of solidarity with Israel during his visit there on Wednesday, a day after an explosion at a Gaza Strip hospital killed hundreds of people and prompted mass protests.

Demonstrators holding Palestinian flags and the flags of various Palestinian factions took down a security wall and cut a barbed wire barrier on a winding road that leads to the US embassy outside Beirut.

Riot police lobbed dozens of tear gas canisters and fired water canons to disperse the protesters, eventually pushing them back. Several protesters were injured.

Hezbollah and Israel have clashed along the Lebanon-Israel border, though the skirmishes remain mostly contained along a handful of border towns. The militant group announced another death among its ranks on Wednesday, its 11th since the conflict began.

Israel has threatened to aggressively retaliate should Hezbollah escalate, while Hezbollah has promised to do the same should Israel decide to launch a ground incursion into Gaza.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib (R) said today that continued aggression against Gaza could ignite a ‘fire that could consume the whole region’. Pictured: Here he was speaking to Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan (L) yesterday

Angry rallies took place in Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia , Turkey, Morocco, Iran and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Lebanon-based Hezbollah called for a ‘day of rage’ across the region

Riot police lobbed dozens of tear gas canisters and fired water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Lebanon 

Protesters held up a doll with red paint on its face, along with a sign which said: ‘ Crime against humanity,’ and Palestinian flags in Tunis today

 Protesters chant slogans as they gather for a demonstration outside the French embassy headquarters in Tunis today

Security forces intervene demonstrators trying to enter the Israeli Embassy in Amman, Jordan

Protesters gather for a demonstration outside the French embassy headquarters in Tunis

Lebanese people gather in front of the United States Embassy to stage a protest about the Gaza hospital strike 

Yesterday evening, protesters in Rabat, Morocco were snapped holding up placards which said: ‘You just need to be humane to support Gaza,’ and waving the Palestinian flag as they took to the streets. 

Thousands of people across Egypt also demonstrated today, according to Egyptian media.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had said that if he called for protests in support of the Palestinian cause, ‘you would see millions’ on the streets of Egypt – where protests are banned.

Egyptian volunteers gathered for a funeral prayer in front of the Rafah crossing, in the name of those killed in the  blast at a hospital in Gaza yesterday. 

READ MORE: Biden flies into Middle East tinderbox: President tells Israel’s PM Netanyahu hospital bloodbath ‘appears to have been done by the other team’ as he lands in Tel Aviv with Gaza ‘spiralling out of control’

Israeli and Palestinian militants have traded blame for the hospital strike on Tuesday night. 

Israel’s Defence Forces have released a slew of evidence they claim proves an overnight explosion at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds of people was caused by a misfiring rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

In an audio clip procured by Israeli military intelligence, two alleged Hamas terrorists can be heard discussing the explosion and confirming the rocket came from Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) – an independent jihadist group.

‘They are saying (the rocket) belongs to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It’s from us?’ one alleged Hamas member asks in the clip provided by Israel’s military intelligence.

‘It looks like it,’ the other responded. ‘It misfired and fell on them… God bless – couldn’t it have found another place to explode?’

British intelligence is working rapidly to independently establish who was behind the blast in a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds of Palestinians, Rishi Sunak has said.

The Prime Minister urged MPs not to ‘rush to judgment’ on Wednesday as Israel and Hamas issued rival claims about the atrocity feared to have killed at least 500 at al Ahli.

Protesters in Tehran, Iran, burn a U.S flag and an Israeli flag 

An Iranian girl paints her face showing the Iran (L) and Palestine (R) flag during a protest in Tehran

Tunisian students and people, holding flags and banners, gather in front of the US Embassy 

Egyptian volunteers gather for a funeral prayer, for those killed in a blast at a hospital in Gaza yesterday

Egyptian volunteers gather for a funeral prayer for those killed in a blast at a hospital in Gaza yesterday in front of the Rafah crossing

In the West Bank, protesters set various items on fire after a hospital in Gaza was struck yesterday 

Hundreds of demonstrators in the West Bank took to the streets 

Yesterday evening, protesters in Rabat, Morocco were snapped holding up placards which said: ‘You just need to be humane to support Gaza,’ and waving the Palestinian flag as they took to the streets

Protesters rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey

Children show their support for Gaza by holding up signs in Sidon, Lebanon 

In the West Bank, protesters burn tyres after a hospital in Gaza was struck yesterday

Police block protesters who were attempting to get into the Israeli Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey

Protesters gather for a demonstration outside the French embassy headquarters along the Avenue Habib Bourguiba in the centre of Tunis today

Demonstrators were pictured in Libya yesterday evening 

In Tehran, Iran, people gathered outside the British embassy 

People are pictured chanting in the West Bank today

Demonstrators gathered outside French embassy in Tunisia 

Protesters were pictured chanting and carrying cones today in Tunisia 

Visiting Tel Aviv, US President Joe Biden appeared to side with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telling him it ‘appears as though it was done by the other team, not you’.

But Mr Sunak told the House of Commons that he was unable to reveal the UK verdict after holding talks with the National Security Adviser and the Joint Intelligence Committee.

‘We should not rush to judgment before we have all the facts on this awful situation,’ he told Prime Minister’s Questions.

‘Every member will know that the words we say here have an impact beyond the House.

‘Our intelligence services have been rapidly analysing the evidence to independently establish the facts. We are not in a position at this point to say more than that.’

But he said they were working ‘at pace’ while ‘co-operating and collaborating with our allies on this issue as we look to get to the bottom of the situation’.

The deadly hospital blast comes just days after Netanyahu called for the ‘world to unite to defeat Hamas as it defeated ISIS and the Nazis’ while warning Iran and Hezbollah ‘not to test us’.

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