Protesters on Wednesday staged anti-Israeli demonstrations around the Middle East, some of them turning violent, to voice rage at an explosion that killed hundreds of Palestinians in the deadliest incident in Gaza of the Israel-Hamas war.
Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers near Ramallah in the West Bank during widespread protests against Tuesday’s blast at a Gaza hospital, Palestinian officials said.
In Lebanon, security forces fired tear gas and water canon at protesters who were throwing projectiles as a protest near the U.S. embassy north of Beirut turned violent, footage by Lebanese broadcaster al-Jadeed showed.
“America is the devil, the real devil, because it supported Israel, and then all the world is blind. You don’t see what happened yesterday?” said Lebanese demonstrator Mohammed Taher.
Palestinian officials blamed an Israeli air strike for Tuesday’s explosion in the besieged territory. Israel said the blast was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied blame.
The bloodshed has enraged a region in crisis since Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, carried out a cross-border rampage against communities in southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,400 people were killed and hostages were taken. More than 3,000 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory bombing, Gaza health authorities say.
State-sponsored marches were held across Iran, backer of Hamas and Israel’s sworn foe, with demonstrators carrying banners that read “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.
“Every drop of blood of Palestinians killed in this war, brings the Zionist regime (Israel) closer to its downfall,” Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said in a televised speech.
In Amman, riot police pushed back thousands of Jordanian protesters planning to march on the heavily fortified Israeli embassy. Several police were injured in clashes with protesters who torched property near the Israeli embassy, police said.
“No Zionist embassy on Arab land,” demonstrators chanted in the Jordanian capital after noon prayers.
In Tunis, protesters burned Israeli and American flags and demanded the expulsion of the U.S. and French ambassadors for what they termed their unconditional support for Israel.
“They (Palestinians) have no food or water, and they are getting bombed. This is genocide, not war. This is a crime. We must find a solution,” said Ines Laswed, a demonstrator.
The protesters shouted slogans backing Hamas, including “Revenge … revenge … Oh Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv.”
In Yemen, thousands marched in the capital Sanaa. Mohammed Ali Al-Rammah of the ruling Houthi movement denounced what he called Israeli lies and hatred.
“We will fight you,” he said.
Egyptian state TV aired footage of protesters carrying Palestinian flags and shouting anti-Israel slogans in front of the journalists’ syndicate building in Cairo.
In Beirut’s Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs, thousands of people gathered for a protest, waving Hezbollah, Palestinian and Lebanese flags and chanting “Death to America”.
Senior Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine told the rally the group was “thousands of times stronger” than before and the U.S., Israel and “malicious Europeans” should be careful.
Saudi Arabia urged its nationals to leave Lebanon citing “current events” in the south of Lebanon, where Hezbollah has been exchanging fire at the border with Israeli forces.
The French Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was advising its citizens against any travel to Lebanon given the security situation, especially at south Lebanon’s border with Israel.
The move by France comes at a time of heightened security concerns across much of Europe linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict and to attacks by other Islamist groups such as Islamic State (IS). France says 24 of its citizens were among the 1,400 people killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Eight French airports faced security alerts on Wednesday and several were evacuated for checks. The Palace of Versailles closed again due to its third security scare in five days.
France is on its highest state of alert after the Oct. 13 murder of a schoolteacher in a suspected Islamist attack.
Italy has stepped up surveillance, especially in crowded areas, and increased protection for sites that might be targets for attacks, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said.