Protesters from Jakarta to Tunis on Friday, Oct. 20, demanded an end to Israel‘s bombardment of Gaza after nearly two weeks of intense air and artillery strikes that authorities say have killed 4,100 people.
Israel is gearing up for a ground war in the tiny, crowded Palestinian enclave aimed at eradicating Hamas that rampaged into Israeli towns on Oct. 7, and reportedly killing 1,400 people and seizing hostages.
While some Western governments have voiced support for Israel’s military campaign, many Muslim states have called for an immediate ceasefire, with many of their people angry at the conditions in Gaza and expressing solidarity with Palestinians.
Protests suddenly erupted across much of the region late on Tuesday after Gaza authorities said hundreds of people had been killed in a blast at a hospital. Hamas said an Israeli airstrike was responsible. Israel blamed a failed rocket launch by a Palestinian group.
In Jordan, which made peace with Israel in 1994, but where much of the population has Palestinian heritage, more than 6,000 protesters marched in the center of the capital while thousands more rallied near the Israeli embassy.
Thousands of demonstrators also gathered in Turkey and Egypt, two other countries that have long had full diplomatic relations with Israel, demanding an end to the bombing.
About 2,000 people gathered in front of Istanbul’s Beyazit Mosque, burning an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and waving Palestinian flags. Some held placards reading: “Stop the genocide” and “Terrorist Israel”.
In Egypt, thousands of protesters stood at the al-Azhar mosque, one of the oldest in the world, chanting “Where is the Arab army?”, while others gathered at the central Tahrir Square.
Some demanded military action against Israel, others said Arab states should consider using other methods to stop the bombardment of Gaza. Egypt borders Gaza but has been unable to negotiate an opening of its crossing to allow aid.
“Palestine is the only country that unites our voices. If the Gulf countries do not send aid, they should stop sending oil and gas. That’s the least they should do,” said protester Mohammed Gomaa in Cairo.