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Gaza hospital massacre sparks massive protests in Muslim countries

Protesters gather in front of the French Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran on October 18, 2023. (Photo by Tasnim)

Angry demonstrations have hit countries around the world following an Israel airstrike that killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza hospital.

People in Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Iraq and the Israeli-occupied West Bank took to the streets to vent their anger, with more planned on Wednesday following calls for a "day of rage" across the region.

Turkish protesters clashed with police overnight and Israel told its citizens to leave Turkey immediately amid fears of reprisal attacks.

In Iran, thousands of people protested outside the French and British embassies in the capital Tehran. Waving the flags of Palestine and its resistance groups, they chanted against the French, British, and US governments for supporting Israel.

"Silence of each Muslim is a treason against the Qur’an," the protesters chanted, with some hurling eggs at the French embassy building and burning Israeli flags.

There was also a gathering in Palestine Square in downtown Tehran, where the protesters held a vigil and lit candles to mourn Palestinian victims.

Iranian lawmakers joined the protests, chanting “Death to Israel”, “Death to the US,” and “Palestine is victorious, Israel is in decline.”

Protesters gather in front of the British Embassy in the Iranian capital of Tehran on October 18, 2023. (Photo by Tasnim)

Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement called for a “day of rage” in condemnation of the strike.

Following the Tuesday blast that killed 500 people in Gaza City, protests broke out at several locations in Lebanon, including at the French embassy in Beirut and the US embassy outside of the city.

The US State Department issued a new warning to Americans not to travel to Lebanon, where border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel over the past week have been the deadliest since the last all-out war in 2006.

Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse anti-government protesters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, seat of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hundreds of people also rallied after the bombing in al-Khalil, Jenin, Tulkarm, Tubas, and other cities.

In Amman, scores of Jordanian protesters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy but security forces dispersed them using tear gas.

Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of people marched to Amman's main government building, condemning Wednesday's planned visit of US President Joe Biden.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Wednesday Jordan has cancelled the summit with Biden and the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders to discuss Gaza.

In Turkey, thousands joined protests in Istanbul and the capital Ankara outside Israel's diplomatic missions to condemn the attack.

Turkish police detained five protesters for attempting to sneak into the Israeli consulate in Istanbul, the governor's office said.

President Tayyip Erdogan called the airstrike on the Gaza hospital "the latest example of Israeli attacks devoid of the most basic human values".

Turkey's presidential communications office quickly branded Israel's claim "fake news" after Israel blamed the blast at the hospital on a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, which denied responsibility.

Overnight, Turks marched with Palestinian flags and chanted slogans denouncing Israel in at least a dozen Turkish cities, including outside the Israeli embassy in the capital Ankara.

Police used pepper spray and water cannon to disperse thousands of protesters who tried to enter the compound of Israel's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey's largest city.  

On Wednesday, there was a large security presence around the consulate, with hundreds of police officers and around 10 water cannon vehicles deployed behind a line of metal barriers. Police conducted identity checks on those seeking to pass through.

Political analysts said the Gaza hospital blast could have dire consequences for ties between Israel and Turkey.

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