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Massive Demonstrations Across the Middle East in Solidarity with Palestinians Amid Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza

by Sophia Chen
4 comments
Middle East Protests

On Friday, tens of thousands of Muslims gathered in various cities across the Middle East to express their support for the Palestinian people and condemn the Israeli airstrikes targeting Gaza. These widespread protests underscore the potential for a broader regional conflict as Israel contemplates a potential ground invasion of the coastal enclave.

The demonstrations occurred after the weekly Friday prayers, with Muslim communities from Amman, Jordan, to Sanaa, Yemen, taking to the streets in a show of solidarity. Their anger was fueled by Israeli airstrikes in response to an unprecedented attack launched by the militant group Hamas against Israel the previous Saturday.

In Jerusalem, at the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli authorities restricted entry to the compound, allowing only older men, women, and children to participate in the prayers. This measure aimed to reduce the risk of violence as tens of thousands typically gather for Friday prayers. However, only a small number of worshippers, including a Palestinian teenage girl and her mother, were permitted to enter, leading to frustration among those denied access, some of whom were over 50 years old.

Ahmad Barbour, a 57-year-old cleaner, expressed his anger, saying, “We can’t live, we can’t breathe, they are killing everything that is good within us.” He pointed to a sense of injustice, saying, “Everything that is forbidden to us is allowed to them,” in reference to Israelis.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque complex holds deep significance for both Jews and Muslims, and disputes over the site have previously escalated into violence. It is the third-holiest site in Islam and is also known to Jews as the Temple Mount, their holiest site.

In response to the tensions, police in Jerusalem resorted to firing tear gas in the Old City and eastern parts of the city, leading to injuries, with at least one person reportedly beaten by officers.

Meanwhile, in Beirut, thousands of Hezbollah supporters raised Lebanese, Palestinian, and Hezbollah flags, chanting slogans in support of Gaza and against Israel. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah group in Lebanon has engaged in actions following the Hamas assault but has largely refrained from entering the conflict.

Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general warned of vigilance regarding U.S. and British naval vessels heading to the Mediterranean Sea. U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden, have consistently cautioned Iran and its regional allies to stay out of the conflict.

In Baghdad, tens of thousands gathered in Tahrir Square at the behest of influential Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr’s statement conveyed a strong message, stating, “May this demonstration… terrify the great evil, America, which supports Zionist terrorism against our loved ones in Palestine.”

Demonstrations also unfolded in Iran, where supporters of Hamas and vocal critics of Israel converged. In Tehran, protesters burned Israeli and American flags while chanting anti-Israel and anti-American slogans. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi criticized the destruction in Gaza and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people, warning of potential consequences.

Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, controlled by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, witnessed large demonstrations, with participants waving Yemeni and Palestinian flags. The Houthi slogan, “God is the greatest; death to America; death to Israel; curse of the Jews; victory to Islam,” resounded during the protest.

In Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, some worshippers symbolically stepped on American and Israeli flags after prayers as a sign of disrespect. Protests in Islamabad remained peaceful, although larger demonstrations were anticipated later in the day.

One worshipper in Karachi, Faheem Ahmed, highlighted the perceived bias in international media coverage, stating, “International media and international courts turn a blind eye to the injustices with the Palestinians. But they only notice the actions that the Palestinians take to defend themselves. They call it terrorism. Today, on Friday, we beseech Allah to help and raise Palestine and destroy Israel.”

Contributions to this report came from Big Big News writers Abdulrahman Zeyad in Baghdad, Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut, Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Middle East Protests

What led to the massive protests across the Middle East?

Tens of thousands of Muslims across the Middle East took to the streets in support of Palestinians and against Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. The protests were triggered by Israeli airstrikes in response to an attack by Hamas on Israel.

Why were restrictions placed on entry to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem?

Israeli authorities limited access to Al-Aqsa Mosque to older men, women, and children during Friday prayers to reduce the potential for violence due to the large number of worshippers attending.

What is the significance of Al-Aqsa Mosque?

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third-holiest site in Islam and is also known as the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. Disputes over this site have led to conflicts between Jews and Muslims.

How did Hezbollah respond to the situation?

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut showed their support for Gaza by waving flags and chanting slogans against Israel. Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general warned of monitoring U.S. and British naval vessels heading to the Mediterranean.

How did Iran react to the events?

In Iran, demonstrators protested against Israel and the U.S., burning flags and chanting anti-Israel and anti-American slogans. Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and warned of potential consequences.

Were there protests in other countries as well?

Yes, protests occurred in various countries, including Iraq, Yemen, and Pakistan, where demonstrators expressed support for Palestine and voiced their discontent with the situation in Gaza.

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4 comments

ProtestWatchdog October 13, 2023 - 3:28 pm

Iran & other countries standing up for palestine, intense times!

Reply
InfoSeeker22 October 13, 2023 - 5:08 pm

al-aqsa mosque’s sooo important, jews & muslims clashing is no good!

Reply
CuriousGeorge October 13, 2023 - 5:41 pm

Muqtada al-Sadr’s call for protests, what’s next in this conflict?

Reply
GlobalCitizen October 14, 2023 - 10:18 am

International solidarity, it’s important to understand the situation.

Reply

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