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Thousands Protest Israel's Gaza Offensive Across Middle East

  • VOA News

Thousands of anti-Israel protesters have rallied across the Middle East to denounce Israel's offensive against the Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip.

Large demonstrations were held today (Sunday) in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen. Some protesters burned the flags of Israel and its chief ally, the United States, and accused both nations of engaging in terrorism.

Many demonstrators also demanded that Arab leaders have a stronger response to the Israeli attacks in Gaza. The Arab League plans to hold an emergency summit on the Gaza situation in Qatar on Friday.

In the Lebanese capital, Beirut, some protesters threw stones at the Egyptian embassy, angered by what they see as Egypt's lack of support for Gaza. Lebanese police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The prime minister of Turkey, another ally of Israel, criticized the Israeli offensive as a blow to peace. Turkish state news agency Anatolia says Recep Tayyip Erdogan also accused the Jewish state of using "disproportionate force."


Syria says indirect peace talks with Israel will remain suspended in protest at the Israeli air strikes in Gaza. Syria and Israel held four rounds of talks through Turkish mediators earlier this year, but no apparent progress was made.

Jordanian Islamist lawmakers held a protest in Amman to demand the closure of Israel's embassy in the city. Jordan and Egypt both have diplomatic relations with Israel, unlike most of the Arab world.

Elsewhere, a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up at an anti-Israel protest in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing one demonstrator and wounding 16 others. The motive for the attack was unclear.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi accused his Arab counterparts of adopting a "cowardly" response to the Israeli offensive. He urged them to scrap an Arab peace plan that offers Israel recognition in return for pulling out of all land it occupied in the 1967 Mideast war.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused some Arab governments of "encouraging" Israel by remaining silent on the Gaza offensive. He also urged all Muslims to defend the Palestinians, saying anyone who dies in the process will be considered a "martyr."

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