Protests for Gaza held across Mideast

Protestors in Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain call for end of blockade and for more terror attacks against Israel.

jordan protests 224 (photo credit: AP)
jordan protests 224
(photo credit: AP)
Thousands across the Mideast held protests on Friday in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, calling for an end to the Israeli siege. Some 2,000 Egyptians protested peacefully in support of the Gazans outside the Cairo International Book Fair, carrying banners that read: "Save Gaza" and "Free Despite Siege." Many of the protesters - mostly from Egypt's largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood - wore black and white Palestinian kaffiyeh scarves and waved copies of the Quran. The flood of Palestinians from the coastal strip into Egypt continued Friday, as Gazans in the thousands crossed over, after a bulldozer knocked over a new section of the border wall. Residents in the seaside territory have grown increasingly desperate as Israel has turned up the pressure on Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in June. The border was first breached Wednesday, when Palestinians blew down large sections of the border wall. Since then, Egypt has allowed tens of thousands of Palestinians to go back and forth, but has rejected any suggestion of assuming responsibility for the crowded, impoverished territory. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood had planned to hold protests outside mosques across Egypt, including the Al-Azhar Mosque - the most significant Islamic landmark in the country - but were deterred by large numbers of Egyptian security personnel. Before Wednesday's border breach, Egypt had restricted movement in and out of Gaza to pressure Hamas - a move driven by government concern that the Islamist group could encourage the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt has deployed hundreds of security personnel to the Gaza border in recent days in an attempt to stem the flow of Palestinians into the country, but with little success. US officials have said Egypt pledged to reseal the border in the coming days, but the Egyptian government also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In Washington, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Friday that "Egypt understands that it needs to act to control its border. It's a sovereign state, and it needs to have control over its sovereign border." The US, Casey said, is concerned and wants to see the Egyptians act but also wants to help the humanitarian situation. In Jordan, some 3,000 people took to the street Friday after noon prayers to support the Palestinians, calling for solidarity with Hamas and more suicide attacks against Israel. "Al-Qassam army go forward with your suicide attacks against the Zionists (Israelis)," shouted protesters, referring to the military wing of Hamas. The protest was organized by the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and demonstrators carried banners reading "Hamas protects our Gaza" and "Gaza is the land of the free people despite the tyranny and the blockade." Several protesters burned US and Israeli flags and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Jordan. Riot police were on standby, but the protest ended peacefully with no clashes reported. Sentiment against the US and Israel was also on display in Bahrain on Friday, where several hundred men and women held protests in support of Gaza Palestinians. The protesters chanted slogans against the US and Israel while waving Palestinian flags. One of the protests occurred less than a mile from the headquarters of the US Navy's 5th Fleet headquarters in the capital of Manama.