Arab World Erupts in Protest Amid Escalating Gaza Conflict

The streets of major cities across the Arab world were awash with protestors on Friday, in the backdrop of a deepening conflict in Gaza and the threat of a large-scale Israeli ground operation that may displace millions.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Arab World Erupts in Protest Amid Escalating Gaza Conflict
© Getty Images News/Spencer Platt

The streets of major cities across the Arab world were awash with protestors on Friday, in the backdrop of a deepening conflict in Gaza and the threat of a large-scale Israeli ground operation that may displace millions.

Wave of Demonstrations Across the Region

Following Islamic Friday prayers, thousands of demonstrators poured into the streets of countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and the West Bank.

The central bone of contention? Israel’s ongoing military operation against Hamas in Gaza. The conflict, triggered by an attack from Gaza's Hamas rulers on Israel on October 7, has already claimed 4,127 lives in Gaza, as stated by the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

In return, Israeli authorities have reported 1,400 fatalities and approximately 200 hostages. Israel's warnings for Gazans to abandon the north of the strip have led over a million people to leave their homes. This exodus has intensified concerns about the possible mass displacement of Gaza's Palestinian population, many of whom are already refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.

Tensions Rise: Regional Responses and US Involvement

Remarks from Israeli officials, suggesting that Gaza will undergo significant transformation once Hamas is ousted, have only stoked fears. To address the escalating humanitarian crisis, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed that the US is discussing the establishment of a humanitarian corridor at the Egypt-controlled Rafah border crossing.

This would allow Americans and other civilians in Gaza a safe passage out of the conflict zone. The sentiment on the streets of Cairo highlighted the mounting frustration and anger in the region. In a move not seen in over a decade, Egypt witnessed its first significant nationwide protest.

Hundreds congregated near Cairo's famed Tahrir Square, expressing solidarity with the Palestinians. Demonstrations also took place in various other Egyptian cities. Some protestors in Cairo vocally criticized Egypt’s riot police with chants like, “Where is the Arab army?” and “Here they are, the Zionists”.

Amman, the capital of Jordan, saw around 6,000 protestors marching in support of Gazans, with some urging Hamas to escalate its attacks on Israel, according to Reuters. The expanding protests underscore a growing discontent in the Arab world, both towards the escalating Palestinian casualties and the perceived reluctance of the US to restrain Israel's military activities.

US President Joe Biden, during his recent visit to Israel, reiterated America's support for the country. However, he cautioned Israel, stating that a reoccupation of Gaza would be a “mistake”.

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