Protesters marching over Gaza hospital bombing brand US and Israel as 'terrorists'

Hundreds take to the streets to show support for Gaza residents as Israeli strikes continue

Nisren Salim holds up the peace sign, while attending a demonstration in Ramallah. Willy Lowry / The National
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Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the streets of Ramallah on Wednesday to protest against Israel’s aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

As the crowds streamed away from Al Manara Square, in the centre of the occupied West Bank’s administrative capital, many chanted “America equals terrorist” and other anti-West slogans.

A day after an Israeli air strike killed at least 500 people at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, Palestinians across the West Bank voiced their anger by protesting in the streets of major cities.

The Israeli military has denied responsibility for the strike but that has done little to ease Palestinians' fear and anger.

“It's horrible, it's unbelievable,” said Nisren Salim. “No human could believe that would happen to their family and friends in Gaza.”

A Melkite priest who helped to guide protesters through the city, said: “It’s a tragedy, it’s a genocide.”

Ramallah, normally a bustling city, was eerily quiet save for the hundreds of protesters. Shops were closed and the streets were mostly devoid of people and traffic.

Toddlers sat on their fathers' shoulders waving Palestinian flags as the crowd marched.

Many of the children joined in their parents' chants of “Netanyahu is a terrorist” and “Gazans are not terrorists”. The rhetoric, particularly against the western allies of Israel, was notably angrier than usual.

One woman sported a Hamas banner wrapped around her white hijab, but political allegiances were mostly invisible. The protesters were far more focused on justice for Gazans.

A black-and-white chequered kaffiyeh hung loosely around Ms Salim’s neck. The commercial manager, 42, brought her daughter, 11, and son, seven, to the protest.

She said she wanted her children to experience the march, “to learn how we are as Palestinians in the West Bank and to support our friends and our families in Gaza”.

US President Joe Biden travelled to Israel on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the country following an extensive attack launched by Hamas on Southern Israel that killed 1,300 people on October 7.

Washington has said it is ready to defend Israel. The US sent two aircraft carriers to the region and has stationed thousands of US sailors at the ready off the coast.

Mr Biden said he would ask Congress for an “unprecedented” military package to help Israel.

“I say to all of Israel, the United States isn't going anywhere either,” he added.

“We're going to stand with you, we will walk beside you in those dark days. We'll walk beside you in the good days to come and they will come.”

The US leader also announced $100 million in new funding for humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

The announcement comes as many Palestinians feel overlooked and betrayed amid Washington’s strong support of Israel.

“It's unfair for Palestinian people,” Ms Salim said of the US's response so far to the conflict.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 9:22 AM