The Gaza massacre spreads anger across the Middle East, alarming US allies and threatening to expand the conflict
CAIRO (AP) — Within hours after the explosion It was said that he killed hundreds In a hospital in Gaza, protesters threw stones at Palestinian security forces in the occupied West Bank and riot police in Jordan, to express their anger at their leaders for their failure to stop the massacre.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — friends of the United States who usually relish the opportunity to meet with American presidents — canceled a summit scheduled for Wednesday with… Joe Biden, who will now only visit Israel.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken spent much of last week in meetings with Arab leaders to try to control tensions, but those efforts are now in doubt after the hospital explosion. Raw nerve Decades of Palestinian sufferingleft behind by US-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries, is pulsating again, threatening broader unrest.
Abdullah, who is considered one of the West’s closest allies in the Middle East, warned that “this war, which has entered a dangerous stage, will plunge the region into an unspeakable disaster.”
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza said an Israeli air strike caused the hospital to explode, while Israel blamed it on a missile fired by the armed Islamic Jihad movement that did not reach its target. Biden echoed the Israeli view after arriving in Tel Aviv, saying the explosion appeared to have been caused by “the other team, not you,” but that there were “a lot of people there” who weren’t sure.
There was no doubt among the Arab demonstrators who gathered in several countries late Tuesday to condemn what they saw as Israeli atrocities.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which has been under lockdown for a year The bloody rampage of October 7 After Hamas militants ignited the war, demonstrators clashed with Palestinian security forces and called for the overthrow of Abbas.
Israel and the West have long viewed Abbas as a partner in reducing tensions, but the Palestinians widely view his Palestinian Authority as a partner. A corrupt and authoritarian partner The Israeli military occupation of the West Bank.
Jordan, long considered a bastion of stability in the region, has witnessed mass protests in recent days. Late Tuesday, pro-Palestinian demonstrators attempted to storm the Israeli embassy.
One of the demonstrators shouted: “They are all natural Arab rulers, and none of them are free. The free people are all dead!” One of the demonstrators shouted: “The Arab countries are unable to do anything!”
Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel in the late 1970s. Jordan followed in 1994.
Egypt has not witnessed major protests since the start of the last war between Hamas and Israel. The authorities have launched a severe crackdown on dissent for more than a decade. But there are fears that Israel will expel the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents To the Egyptian Sinai PeninsulaAnd High consumer prices Amid hyperinflation it can be a volatile mix as a popular uprising toppled a US-backed autocrat in 2011.
A small group of activists demonstrated on Tuesday evening near the US and UK embassies in central Cairo, calling on Egypt to sever ties with Israel and expel its ambassador. The authorities have strengthened security measures in the Maadi area of Cairo, where the Israeli embassy is located.
Khaled Daoud, spokesman for a coalition of opposition political parties and public figures, said, “The American administration is a partner in supporting the crimes committed by the occupation army against the people of Gaza.”
Protests also broke out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is based Exchanging fire with Israeli forces On the border, threatening to enter the war with its massive arsenal of missiles, even Morocco.
“The Arab street has a voice. “This voice may have been ignored in the past by the governments of the region and the West… but they cannot do that anymore,” said Badr Al-Saif, a professor of history at Kuwait University. “People are on fire.”
Just a few weeks ago, the regional outlook looked much different.
In his speech to the United Nations General Assembly last monthIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was proud of this Abraham AccordsThe agreements under which four Arab countries normalized relations with Israel in 2020 were “the pivot of history” that “heralded the dawn of a new era of peace.”
He said Israel is “on the cusp of an even more dramatic breakthrough” — a landmark agreement with Saudi Arabia that the Biden administration has focused on in recent months.
The Abraham Accords, with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan, were reached with authoritarian leaders willing to put aside the Palestinian issue in order to secure their own interests from the United States. Advanced fighter aircraft. Morocco received American support Its claim to Western Sahara is disputedThe ruling military council in Sudan took place Lift long-imposed US sanctions.
Saudi Arabia had requested a US defense agreement and help establishing a civilian nuclear program, in addition to a major concession to the Palestinians that the Saudis did not want. It has not yet been made clear publicly.
But despite all the high-level diplomatic efforts, ordinary Arabs and Muslims still express strong solidarity with the Palestinian cause. during Last year’s FIFA World CupFor example, Palestinian flags were waved extensively even though the national team was not participating.
The recent devastation in Gaza has once again stirred up these sentiments, and will likely be a pause for the Saudis and other governments that have been considering normalization.
Ammar Ali Hassan, an Egyptian political science professor, said: “There is no Arab government capable of extending its hand to Israel amid its aggression against the Palestinians.” He said.
He added: “The Arab peoples will not accept such a step. He said: “Even the rulers will not benefit from such relations at this time. The war on Gaza has revived the Palestinian cause.”
Kraus reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press writer Karim Chehayeb in Beirut contributed to this report.