Thousands in Muslim countries and beyond demonstrate over Israeli airstrikes

Protesters shout slogans as they wave Palestinian flags during a rally supporting the Palestinian people outside the building housing the U.N. representative office in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Oct. 20, 2023. Hundreds of people staged protests in Indonesia's capital Friday to denounce the staunch American support for Israel and demand an end to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Thousands of people in Muslim countries and beyond held demonstrations Friday in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They called for an end to Israel’s blockade and airstrikes following a brutal incursion into southern Israel by fighters from the Hamas militant group that rules Gaza.

Demonstrators headed to Israeli military checkpoints after Friday prayers in the West Bank and gathered in Iraq at the country’s border crossing with Jordan; in Jordan itself; in locations across Egypt; in Turkey’s capital Ankara and its most populous city of Istanbul; and in Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco and South Africa.


A Tuesday night explosion at a Gaza City hospital tending to wounded Palestinians and residents seeking shelter was a prominent theme in some of the demonstrations. The cause of the blast at al-Ahli Hospital has not been determined.

U.S. assessments said the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike, as the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza initially reported. Israel has presented video, audio and other evidence it says proves the blast was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian militants, who denied responsibility.

The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.

The Israeli siege of the Palestinian territory and airstrikes on it were the focus earlier this week of demonstrations at Egyptian universities, inside a congressional office building in Washington, outside the Israeli Embassy in Bogota, Colombia 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.

West Bank

Protests erupted in the main cities of the occupied West Bank on Friday following midday prayers. Palestinians streamed out of mosques and headed to Israeli military checkpoints in Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, where they threw stones at troops and burned tires. Israeli security forces responded firing tear gas and live rounds. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in the West Bank reported that 21 people were wounded by soldiers’ gunfire. Tensions were particularly high in Hebron, where Hamas activists called for big protests. Hebron residents shared copies of leaflets they said were dropped across the city by Israeli military drones warning that anyone “who demonstrates on behalf of Hamas will be pursued.” There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

In Tulkarem, militants carried rifles and shots rang out Friday during a funeral for 13 people killed in a battle with Israeli troops in the Nur Shams refugee camp. The past 13 days since the eruption of the war have been the deadliest in decades in the West Bank, with more than 80 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers.


Thousands of Egyptians demonstrated in cities and towns across the North African country, in an expression of solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

In a rare move, the Egyptian government approved and even helped organize 27 locations for protesters to gather on Friday. Since coming to power in 2013, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has outlawed large public protests. But pro-Palestinian protests broke out in undesignated areas too. Hundreds gathered in the courtyard of the Al-Azhar Mosque, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, in central Cairo.

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