Protests sweep Ramallah and Middle East cities after Gaza hospital strike

Thousands take to American, French and Israeli embassies after reports of hundreds killed in Gaza hospital

Tunisian protesters in front of the French embassy in Tunis on October 17.  AFP
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There were protests in the West Bank and around Middle East cities early on Wednesday after over 500 Palestinians were killed in a strike at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday, which Israeli and Palestinian officials blamed on each other.

After days of Israeli strikes on health facilities in Gaza, a strike on Al Ahli Arab hospital left hundreds dead and wounded. Health authorities in the Gaza Strip said an Israeli air strike caused the blast, while Israel's military was quick to deny, claiming it was to a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group.

Health workers, the MSF and countries including Saudi Arabia confirmed it was an Israeli strike. Palestinian authorities said the strike killed patients and others were left homeless by Israeli bombardment, complicating efforts to contain the crisis.

In one sign of this, Jordan's Foreign Minister, Ayman Safadi, cancelled a summit his country was to host in Amman with US President Joe Biden and the Egyptian and Palestinian leaders, along with King Abdullah.

In another, Palestinian security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah who were throwing rocks and chanting against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as popular anger boiled over.

The blast drew condemnation across the Arab world, and protests were staged at Israel's embassies in Turkey and Jordan, and near the US embassy in Lebanon, where security forces fired tear gas towards demonstrators.

Television footage showed protests in Yemen's south-western city of Taiz, and in the Moroccan and Iraqi capitals.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British and French embassies in Tehran, AFP reported, as regional anger grew over a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital.

“Death to France and England,” protesters shouted, throwing eggs at the walls of the French embassy compound in the Iranian capital.

The gatherings ended peacefully at about 3am local time.

Several thousand people also gathered in Palestine Square in central Tehran to voice their anger, AFP reported.

The Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group also called for “a day of unprecedented anger” against Israel and Mr Biden's visit.

Updated: October 18, 2023, 8:29 AM