Mideast protesters demand Israeli Gaza withdrawal

Thousands in Alexandria chant "Shame on Egypt;" Muslims demonstrate in Jordan, Iraq, Syria.

syria protest 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
syria protest 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
An estimated 50,000 people protested in the coastal city of Alexandria after Friday prayers, joining thousands of people across the Middle East rallying against the Israeli offensive in Gaza. The protesters, who thronged the streets in Alexandria, also berated Egypt for not lifting its border with the beleaguered Gaza Strip, chanting "Shame on Egypt," and "Gaza excuse us." A police official in Cairo, who did not want to be identified because he was not allowed to speak to the media, said an estimated 50,000 people took part in the protest. Israel's offensive in Gaza, designed to stop rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, has sparked widespread anger across the Middle East. Egypt, which shares a border with Gaza, has come under criticism for only allowing limited openings of its border. The move is seen by many as abetting Israel's siege of Gaza's 1.4 million residents. In the coastal city of El-Arish, the closest city to the border, protesters clashed with police during another protest. At least 10 people were slightly injured, said a police official in El-Arish who did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak with the media. In Amman, Jordan, more than 2,000 people took to the streets, to show their support for the Palestinians and called for the Israeli embassy there to be closed. In Baghdad, both Sunni and Shiite worshippers staged rallies following Friday prayer services, condemning the offensive. In Syria, some 2,000 people marched in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, shouting slogans against Israel. They also carried a big poster of a rocket with the words, "This is our role model," written in Arabic. At the Al-Mourabit Mosque in a neighborhood of old Damascus, worshippers stepped on an Israeli and American flag placed at the entrance to get inside the mosque.