Angry anti-Israel protests have erupted across the world today after Hamas leaders demanded thousands of demonstrators take to the streets and target Israeli and US embassies ahead of an imminent ground invasion of Gaza. The demonstrations were staged after Friday prayers in Muslim communities across the world – including in Bangladesh, South Korea, Egypt and Iraq – with thousands of protesters condemning Israel’s attacks on Gaza and showing support for the two million Palestinians who are trapped in the war-torn enclave.
Hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered at Iraq’s border crossing with Jordan in a demonstration organized by the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed Shia political groups and militias in Iraq. A thousand more protesters gathered outside the US embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia , today where they burned Israeli flags and portraits of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden . Some held signs that read ‘USA go to hell’. In Bangladesh, the scene of fierce demonstrations last week, hundreds of Muslims gathered on the streets of Dhaka following their Friday prayers, while in Turkey, demonstrators set fire to British and Israeli flags. And in South Korea’s capital of Seoul, scores of protesters shouted ‘Stop the massacre by Israel’ as they waved Palestinian flags and raised anti-Israel banners.
The protests come as Israel prepares for a imminent ground invasion of the war-torn enclave, with columns of Israeli tanks massed on the Israel-Gaza border and thousands of soldiers readying themselves for battle today. Tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers and scores of tanks and armoured vehicles are now positioned on the border – ready for a ground assault on the Gaza Strip where 203 hostages are being held captive by Hamas terrorists. The massing of artillery and men at the border comes after heavy machine gunfire was heard along the border in the early hours of this morning. And today, Israel continued to pound Gaza with a relentless stream of airstrikes with the IDF saying their fighter jets hit over 100 ‘operational targets’ of Hamas terrorists overnight. The strikes destroyed tunnel shafts, munitions warehouses and dozens of operational headquarters, the IDF said.
Israel also began evacuating a northern Israeli city near the Lebanese border in yet another sign of an impending ground invasion that could trigger turmoil across the Middle East. The two million Palestinians trapped in the small enclave, where thousands have been killed and entire towns obliterated in the Israeli airstrikes, are now bracing themselves for the invasion that is expected to result in further major casualties. In the nearly two weeks since Israel began its withering aerial bombardment in response to a devastating attack by Hamas terrorists that saw 1,300 people slaughtered, thousands of homes have been destroyed across the 25-mile enclave and 3,785 Palestinians killed, including 1,524 children. And Israel’s ruthless bombardment of the Gaza Strip has sparked global protests for weeks.
Today, hundreds of demonstrators descended onto the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, where they set fire to an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and British and Israeli flags. Elsewhere, hundreds of Iraqi protesters gathered at the western Trebil border crossing near Jordan in a demonstration organized by the Coordination Framework. The pro-Iran coalition also called for a protest in Baghdad near the main gate of the highly fortified international zone, where the U.S. Embassy is located, to condemn its endorsement of Israel in the ongoing war with Hamas. Their rival, Iraq’s firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, the most influential in the country, issued a call Thursday for Arab nations bordering Israel, notably Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan, to engage in what he called peaceful demonstrations at their borders.
The Iraqi protesters waved Palestinian flags and chanted “No to Israel” before praying in the presence of religious clerics. In recent days, Iran-backed militias attacked United States military bases in Iraq. Iran has warned that an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza could spark an escalation from allied armed groups and a possible regional war. In Jakarta, Indonesia, a sea of angry protesters marched from several mosques to the heavily guarded US embassy in the city to denounce the staunch American support for Israel and demand the end of Israeli airstrikes that have killed thousands of Palestinians and flattened entire neighborhoods. The demonstrators halted traffic along the way to the US embassy as they chanted ‘God is great’ and ‘Save Palestinians’ while waiting Palestinian flags.
‘The U.S. actually know this war and violence occurred because Palestinians want free from Israel’s occupation, but they close their eyes and pretend to be deaf,’ a speaker told the crowd. ‘We call for a two-state solution for Palestinians to end the war.’ About 1,000 police office were deployed around the embassy, the nearby presidential palace and the U.N. mission. The Israeli siege of and airstrikes on the Palestinian territory were the focus earlier this week of demonstrations at Egyptian universities, inside a congressional office building in Washington, outside the Israeli Embassy in Bogota and near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Nearly two weeks after the Hamas attack in Israel, such protests continued as Israel prepared for an expected ground invasion of Gaza.
In South Korea’s capital, dozens of protesters chanted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and raised anti-Israel banners. ‘Free, Free Palestinians!’ the protesters shouted, while holding banners that read ‘We stand with Gaza’ or ‘Stop the massacre by Israel!’ ‘Please care about human lives. That’s all I am thinking about,’ Elshafei Mohamed, 25, an Egyptian student in Seoul, said. ‘If we want to really help, we need to supply Gaza with humanitarian aids at once.’ More than 5,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since the war began, the majority women, children and elderly people. Israel continued to pound Gaza with withering airstrikes today including parts of the south that Israel had declared ‘safe zones’, as the millions of Palestinians trapped in the enclave desperately awaited a first delivery of international emergency aid.
In northern Gaza, Hamas terrorists accused Israel of committing war crimes after Israeli airstrikes hit an Orthodox Christian church where Christians and Muslims had been sheltering. Gaza’s Hamas-run government media office said 18 Christian Palestinians had been killed, adding it was ‘a war crime that cannot be ignored’. Video from the scene at the church compound showed a wounded boy being carried from rubble at night. A civil defense worker said two people on upper floors had survived; those on lower floors had been killed and were still in the rubble. There was no immediate comment from Israel, which says it is doing everything it can to protect civilians but must destroy Hamas after its murderous assault on Israel. And in Zahra, a northern town, residents said an entire district of some 25 multi-storey apartment buildings appeared to have been razed to the ground.
They received Israeli warning messages on their mobile phones at breakfast time, followed ten minutes later by a small drone strike that hammered the message home. Half an hour after the initial warning, F-16 warplanes brought the buildings down in huge explosions and clouds of dust. ‘Everything I ever dreamt of and thought that I have achieved was gone. In that apartment was my dream, my memories with my children, and my wife, was the smell of safety and love,’ Ali, a resident of the district, said, declining to give his full name for fear of reprisals. Israel has said it is attacking Hamas terrorists wherever they may be in Gaza, describing them as ‘dead men walking’, and accused the group’s leaders and fighters of taking shelter among the civilian population. But Israel’s withering airstrikes have continued to obliterate entire neighbourhoods across the densely populated territory, leaving death and destruction in its wake.
Exhausted Palestinians desperately searched through the rubble of their homes for loved ones across Gaza this morning, their screams piercing the air as they found the lifeless bodies of their children, wives and parents. For the more than two million Palestinians trapped in Gaza, nowhere – and no one – seems to be safe from the relentless Israeli strikes. And doctors say they are fighting a losing battle against a lack of medicines, water and fuel to keep hospitals running. While Israeli troops are massing around Gaza in anticipation of an order to invade, conflict is also spreading to two other fronts – the West Bank and the northern border with Lebanon. The defense ministry ordered residents of the largest Israeli town near the Lebanese border, Kiryat Shmona, to evacuate to guest houses. Clashes at the border between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement have been the deadliest since a full-blown war in 2006.
In the West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said 13 people were killed including five children after Israeli troops raided and called in air strikes on the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm. The territory, where Palestinians have limited self rule under Israeli military occupation, has seen the deadliest clashes since the second intifada uprising ended in 2005. Diplomats fear the conflict could spread even further. The Pentagon on Thursday said a U.S. Navy warship operating in the northern Red Sea intercepted three cruise missiles and several drones launched by the Houthi movement in Yemen, potentially toward Israel. The Houthi, like Hamas in Gaza and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, are backed by Iran, which has lauded the Hamas attacks on Israel though it denies being behind them.
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