Thousands of people across the Middle East protested on Friday against Israel’s aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip, with some chanting “death to Israel” and others calling for the bombing of Tel Aviv.
In Cairo, several thousand protesters gathered outside al-Azhar mosque after weekly Muslim prayers and chanted “We will go to Gaza in our millions,” swearing to “sacrifice ourselves for you, Palestine.”
“It’s the least we can do,” protester Ahmed Selim told AFP. “We need to show Israel our anger.”
President Mohamed Morsi himself branded the Israeli assault in which 23 Palestinians have been killed as a “blatant aggression against humanity and promised that Egypt will not leave Gaza on its own,” MENA news agency said.
He sent Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to Gaza on Friday, where the premier vowed to intensify Cairo’s efforts to secure a truce and end Israel's “aggression.”
“Egypt will not hesitate to intensify its efforts and make sacrifices to stop this aggression and achieve a lasting truce,” he said.
Before the Cairo demonstration, influential Egyptian-born theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi said in a sermon at Al-Azhar that the “Muslim nation should join ranks.”
“Our umma (the worldwide Muslim community) is the strongest of ummas,” he said. “Israel the arrogant cannot humiliate it, despite its missiles and its arms.”
One demonstrator, Mohammed al-Masri, said “what we want is to break relations with Israel.”
Egypt became in 1979 the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state.
In the central West Bank city of Ramallah, more than 1,000 protesters gathered shouted slogans of support for Gaza’s Hamas rulers, and waving the Islamist movement’s green flag, AFP correspondents said.
“Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv!” they chanted a day after a rocket from Gaza struck the sea just offshore from the sprawling coastal city.
In Lebanon, thousands turned out for demonstrations in Palestinian refugee camps in the north and south of the country in outrage over the onslaught, echoing the calls from Ramallah.
“O Qassam, O beloved, bomb and destroy Tel Aviv,” they shouted in reference to the rocket and the armed wing of Hamas of the same name.
Demonstrations in Tehran and 700 other Iranian cities after Friday prayers, called for by the authorities, saw crowds chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America,” according to news agency ISNA.
“One must salute the Palestinians' popular resistance and the response they have given to the Zionist regime (by firing rockets into Israel),” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at the weekly prayers in Tehran, IRNA news agency said.
“Your method is good and you can bring the Zionist regime to its knees,” he added.
Israel continued its bombardment on Friday and said it was considering launching a ground offensive into the Hamas-controlled territory.
Three Israelis have also died in the tit-for-tat violence.