Friday, 8 Dec 2023

Arab world hit by anti-British demonstrations following attacks on Gaza

They vented their fury on Israel and its Western allies in violent street demonstrations from Tunisia in the west to Turkey in the east.

Security forces in the Israeli-occupied West Bank fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian protesters who pelted them with rocks.

Iranians shouted anti-British slogans in Tehran, while mobs lit a fire outside the US embassy in Beirut and stormed Israel’s embassy in Jordan.

As Israel and Palestinian militants blamed each other for the hospital outrage, Arab leaders warned of further bloodshed and some Western states urged their nationals to leave.

King Abdullah of Jordan said the war had “entered a dangerous phase”, while Iran urged Muslim nations to expel Israel’s ambassadors.

Badr al-Saif, a Harvard and London-educated history professor at Kuwait University, said: “People are on fire.

“The Arab street has a voice. That voice may have been ignored in the past by governments in the region and the West but they cannot any more.”

On the West Bank furious crowds poured on to the streets, hurling stones and shouting opposition to the controlling Palestinian Authority, seen as an ally of Israel.

Troops used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the crowds, who called for the authority’s leader Mahmoud Abbas to be overthrown.

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Clashes were reported in Manara Square, Ramallah, and in other cities including Nablus, Tubas and Jenin, a northern settlement where the Israelis launched military operations earlier this year.

In Lebanon, Iran-backed Hezbollah militants called for a “day of rage” after trading fire with Israeli forces near the countries’ shared border.

Crowds had already flooded on to the streets of Beirut soon after Tuesday night’s blast killed nearly 500 people at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital.

They pelted the American consular building in the suburb of Awkar with rocks and lit a fire, while another Palestinian flag-waving mob stoned the French embassy.

Troops who came under bombardment from the hail of missiles fired tear gas and stun grenades.

Britain joined America, France, Canada, Spain, Germany and Australia in warning against travel to Lebanon.

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The Foreign Office said Britons “should consider whether they need to remain in Lebanon and, if not, leave by commercial means while they are still available”.

Washington raised its travel advice status for the country to “do not travel” and brought some staff home. Both Israeli and Lebanese governments evacuated border towns.

In Jordan, considered one of the most stable countries in the region, US President Joe Biden’s visit to the capital Amman was cancelled amid unrest.

Mr Biden was due to meet King Abdullah, West Bank’s Mr Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. However after Mr Abbas withdrew, the summit was cancelled.

Furious protesters tried to storm the Israeli embassy in Amman, chanting pro-Hamas slogans and demanding the building be closed and a peace treaty with Tel Aviv be scrapped.

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One protester shouted: “Arab countries are unable to do anything! They are all normalising Arab rulers, none of them are free, the free ones are all dead!” King Abdullah said later: “This war, which has entered a dangerous phase, will plunge the region into an unspeakable disaster.”

Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, announced three days of national mourning and warned that the war was “pushing the region to the brink”.

In Tehran, hundreds of protesters outside the British and French embassies burned Israeli flags and chanted: “Death to France and England.”

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, in Saudi Arabia for a meeting of Islamic nations, tweeted a stark threat to Israel: “Time is Up!”

He condemned the “terrible crime of the Zionist regime” and added: “The time has come for the global unity of humanity against this fake regime more hated than Isis and its killing machine.”

The minister also called on Muslim nations to expel Israeli ambassadors and impose an oil embargo on Israel.

In Egypt, Britain’s embassy in Cairo was targeted alongside America’s by a small group of activists chanting “death to Israel”. Khaled Dawoud, of the opposition coalition, said: “The US administration is a partner through supporting the crimes committed by the occupation military against the people of Gaza.”

srael urged its citizens to leave Turkey, where protesters gathered outside the Israeli consulate in Istanbul.

There were pro-Gaza actions in Tripoli and other Libyan cities with a protest in Rabat, Morocco.

In Tunisia, the French and Israeli embassies were targeted after President Kais Saied condemned the “international silence” over the “genocide” of Palestinians.

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