Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across the Middle East and beyond on Friday in support of Palestinians and condemnation of Israel as it intensified its strikes on Gaza in retaliation for Hamas assaults.

Jewish communities in France and elsewhere were also holding rallies in solidarity with Israel after the cross-border Hamas assault from Gaza, the deadliest killing spree against Israeli civilians in the country’s 75-year history.

France and Germany banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations and several Western countries said they had stepped up security at synagogues and Jewish schools fearing that protests could lead to acts of violence.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, urged Palestinians to rise up in protest against Israel’s bombardment of the blockaded coastal enclave, calling on them to march on Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem and to confront Israeli troops in the occupied West Bank.

The compound in East Jerusalem’s walled Old City is Islam’s third holiest site after Mecca and Medina, and the most sacred to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

Last weekend’s assault by Hamas – designated a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union and other governments – on Israeli communities killed at least 1,300 people. Most were civilians, including women and children.

Israel has since been hammering densely populated Gaza with air strikes and artillery fire and more than 1,500 Palestinians have been killed. A ground invasion of the besieged enclave appears to be imminent.

There has been strong support and sympathy for Israel from Western governments and many citizens over the Hamas attacks, but the Israeli response has also prompted anger, particularly in the Arab and Muslim world.


In Baghdad on Friday, tens of thousands of Iraqis rallied in central Tahrir Square, waving Palestinian flags and burning the Israeli flag while chanting anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli slogans.

“We are ready to join the fight and rid the Palestinians of the Israeli atrocities,” said Muntadhar Kareem, 25, a teacher.

He was dressed in a white shroud, like most of the protesters, to symbolise their readiness to fight to the death.

State-organised rallies were held across Iran – whose government is Hamas’s main backer and one of Israel’s principal foes – in support of the militant group and against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, state TV reported.

“Death to Israel. Death to Zionism!” shouted demonstrators, many carrying Palestinian flags and those of the powerful Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem spoke at a rally where hundreds of people had gathered in solidarity with Palestinians.

He said the party was “fully ready” to contribute to the fighting. The group has already clashed with Israel across the Lebanese border in the past week.

Other rallies were organized in Palestinian camps as well as Lebanese cities where Hezbollah has a strong presence.

In Indonesia, Islamic cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people, joined dozens of people in a march against Israel in the Javanese city of Solo.

“We cannot be weak in facing Israel,” he said in a speech to protesters waving Palestinian flags.

In the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, activists protested against Israel’s actions after Friday prayers at the main mosque. Members of Japan’s Muslim community demonstrated near the Israeli embassy in Tokyo, holding signs and chanting “Israel, terrorist” and “Free Palestine”.

In Sri Lanka, protesters held up signs saying, “Palestine you will never walk alone”. Protesters also took to the streets in India’s Kashmir region, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Egypt.

Pro-Palestinian rallies were planned in several European cities for later on Friday.


On the other side of the conflict, Jewish people were also due to hold vigils and rallies in support of Israel in European cities.

In Warsaw, the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, was scheduled to lead a multi-confessional prayer for peace. Members of France’s Jewish community were to gather at the largest synagogue in Paris for the Sabbath on Friday afternoon.

In Paris on Thursday night, French police had fired teargas and water cannon to break up a banned rally in support of the Palestinians, while President Emmanuel Macron urged people to refrain from bringing the Israel-Hamas conflict to France.

His government had earlier banned pro-Palestinian protests, saying they were likely to lead to public disorder.

In the United States, law enforcement agencies have taken measures to safeguard Jewish and Muslim communities ahead of pro-Palestinian protests.

In the Netherlands, Jewish schools were closed on Friday for safety reasons, while in London two Jewish schools also shut due to security concerns. Britain has seen a sharp rise in antisemitic attacks since the war erupted, the Jewish charity Community Security Trust said.

In Berlin, home to one of the largest Palestinian diasporas outside the Middle East, police refused to authorise a pro-Palestinian demonstration, while security measures for Jewish institutions such as synagogues were stepped up. Some other German states imposed a blanket ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

In Portugal, security agencies said they were reinforcing protection around Jewish sites after the fence of the synagogue in Porto was vandalised with graffiti saying “Free Palestine” and “End Israel Apartheid”.