Hundreds of Thousands Slam Arab Govt Silence

WORLD CAPITALS – From Egypt to Iraq, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across the Arab world on Sunday to show solidarity with their fellow brethren and protest against Israel’s assault on the impoverished civilians of Gaza.

The protests took place as Israel launched more air strikes on the strip and the death toll reached 300 in the worst attacks in 60 years of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians in Dubai In the United Arab Emirates, where demonstrations are restricted, hundreds of Palestinian residents in Dubai demonstrated inside their consulate.

Dubai police banned protesters from demonstrating outside the consulate premises but nevertheless the group called upon Arab countries to help end the Israeli onslaught on Gaza and support its people.

"We don’t want slogans or conferences, we want action," protesters shouted, while some carried banners saying: "Save Gaza" and "Stop the killing."

Other demonstrators urged President Hosni Mubarak to open Egypt’s borders with the besieged territory controlled by the Islamist Hamas movement.

"Mubarak, open a passage for Hamas," they shouted.

In Egypt, more than 50,000 people took to the streets of a dozen cities. The largest protest was 8,000 people on the streets of Assiut, a city in southern Egypt of 400,000, a security official said, with another 3,000 gathering in Minya, south of Cairo.

A security official said 4,000 people took part in another pro-Gaza demonstration in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, the security official said.

"Where is the Arab army?" some demonstrators shouted in Minya, calling for the Israeli embassy in Cairo to be shut down as other demonstrators burned the Israeli flag.

Eight thousand people demonstrated at Cairo University, with another 5,000 involved in another demonstration at Ein Shams University, outside the capital.

Students and passersby then swelled the demonstrations in a dozen Egyptian cities, the official said, with a rough tally of those involved reaching 55,000 people.

Thousands of people marched in the Moroccan capital and called for revenge. A crowd estimated at 3,000 carried signs denouncing the Israeli aggressors and chanted that "with our soul, with our blood, we will sacrifice for you, Gaza!"

Several Islamist organizations and political parties took part in the protest, including the opposition Justice and Development party (PJD).

PJD party chief Abdelillah Benkirane criticised in particular the reticence of Arab states.

"Where are they? Will they let people go to support the Palestinians?" he said.

The Moroccan government condemned the Israeli strikes and called for "an immediate end to hostilities" and for talks between the two sides, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis protested in Sanaa as crowds filled a sports stadium in the north of the city and many more people thronged the surrounding area.

The demonstration was backed by the ruling party, opposition groups and other organizations.

"How long will the silence last? Arabs wake up!" read one banner brandished by demonstrators, who also chanted anti-Israeli slogans.

In the war-torn Arab nation of Iraq, protestors burned Israeli flags and fired AK-47s into the air, demanding a stronger response from Arab nations to the Israeli assault of Gaza.

A teenage boy was killed in one protest in the volatile northern city of Mosul when a suicide bomber on a bicycle detonated explosives in a crowd of around 300 protestors.

It was not clear why the bomber would have targeted an anti-Israeli rally. Police said 17 people were wounded in the attack in Mosul.

In Baladiyat, a Baghdad district that is home to many Palestinians given refuge in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, men waved banners and condemned Arab nations for not doing enough to support Palestinians.

"We have been waiting for an action from Arab leaders for almost 60 years," Jaleel al-Qasus, the Palestinian envoy to Iraq, said during the protest of several hundred people.

"Our efforts have been in vain."

Several thousand people protested in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, and a few hundred took to the streets in Fallujah.

"Arab silence is behind the bombings," one banner read.

Iraq hosted some 30,000 Palestinian refugees before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many of them found themselves victim of attacks or threats once the war began, partly because they were seen as clients of the deposed leader Saddam.

Syria said it would suspend peace talks with Israel as thousands of people marched in the capital of Damascus, burning Israeli and American flags.

In Yussef al-Azmeh square protesters waved flags in Palestinian and Syrian colors as well as the green flags of the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza strip and the yellow flags of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

Other demonstrators carried pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A major security operation was put in place around the U.S. embassy, around two kilometers (1.5 miles) from the scene of the protest, an AFP correspondent said.

Israeli flags were also burned in the Jordanian capital Amman, where hundreds of people led by Islamist MPs gathered to demand the closure of the Israeli embassy.

With Egypt, Jordan is one of only two Arab governments to have signed peace treaties with Israel.

The demonstrators in Amman rallied outside the Egyptian embassy, angry at Cairo’s refusal to open its border with Gaza to deliveries of basic supplies to the aid-dependent territory or to civilians wishing to flee.

"The Egyptian regime has taken the decision to be part of a conspiracy against Gaza," the secretary general of Jordan’s Islamic Action Front, Zaki Beni Rsheid, told the crowd.

In Beirut, the Egyptian embassy was attacked by stone-throwing demonstrators and police used tear-gas to disperse the crowd.

Thousands of people demonstrated in Beirut and angry demonstrators called on Egypt to open Rafah crossing, and voiced anger towards Arab silence over the "massacres in Gaza."

Most of the demonstrators are Palestinians who get out of their refugee camps move in areas under Hezbollah control.

The Shiite resistance group Hezbollah called for prompt global and U.N. action against Israel and called on the Muslim world to "stand against Israeli barbarism to stop the ongoing massacre."

"What is happening in Gaza Strip is an Israeli war crime and a genocide," a Hezbollah statement said.

British police made three arrests as a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London over the bombardment of the Gaza Strip became increasingly heated.

Traffic in the up-scale central London district of Kensington where the embassy is located was brought to a halt by around 700 protesters on both sides.

Those opposed to the Israeli action waved Palestinian flags and placards, shouting in unison: "Five, six, seven, eight — Israel is a terror state!"

At one point, barriers containing the demonstrators were torn down and riot police were deployed to restore order — with several protesters forcibly removed.

"Yesterday was the bloodiest day in my homeland’s history," said 68-year-old Gamal Hamed, whose 23-year-old son lives in Gaza.

"We will do what we can to make the world take notice," he said.

"I am delighted by the number of people who have pledged their support today — we are all worried about where the conflict goes from here."
France and Spain

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Paris slammed Israel’s "terrorist" and "inhuman" bombardment of Gaza and called for a rapid end to the conflict.

"What’s happening is inhuman. We don’t want any more deaths on either side, but the Israeli reaction is disproportionate," said one protester, who gave his name as Jamel and said he was an Algerian national living in France.

He was demonstrating along with about 200 others at the foot of the landmark Arc de Triomphe at the top of the chic Champs Elysees avenue.

"Gaza –the New Shoah," (the Jewish term for the Holocaust), read one banner.

"We are all Palestinians," was one of the slogans chanted by the crowd, as well as "Sadists, fascists, racists, it’s you (the Israelis) who are the terrorists."

"Israel terrorist, Sarkozy complicit," was another slogan, referring to the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, chanted by the crowd.

Hundreds of people also demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Madrid to condemn the raids.

Protesters held up placards saying "Israel terrorist", "Stop state terrorism" and "No to the Palestinian holocaust."

The head of the United Left coalition, Cayo Lara, who attended the rally, said that "Israel’s action was unjustified from all points of view."

( and news agencies)

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