Protests erupt across Middle East and Africa following Gaza hospital explosion
Al-Ahil Arabi Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Gaza City.
LONDON -- Spontaneous protests have erupted overnight across the Middle East and North Africa following a deadly explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahil Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza City Tuesday night which claimed the lives of at least 500 Palestinians.
Al-Ahil Arabi Hospital is one of the oldest hospitals in Gaza City, housing not only the sick and injured but sheltering hundreds of displaced people in its compound.
Both Israel and Hamas have traded blame for the explosion with the Israeli military claiming it was a result of a “failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization,” while Hamas has said it was the result of an Israeli airstrike.
ABC News could not verify the claims from either side on what -- or who -- could have caused the explosion at the hospital but that has not stopped people from pointing fingers.
“The Israeli prime minister said, and I quote, ‘the intelligence from multiple sources said that it’s the Islamic Jihad that is responsible for the failed rocker launch.’ He is a liar,” said Riyad Mansour, Palestinian Ambassador to the U.N. at a press conference following the blast.
“His spokesperson and digital spokesperson tweeted that Israel did the hit, thinking that there is around this hospital a base for Hamas. And then he deleted that tweet. We have a copy of that tweet … now they changed the story to try to blame the Palestinians.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared three days of mourning following the Al-Ahil hospital explosion as Jordan cancelled a scheduled summit this week due to be held with President Biden, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Abbas.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the summit will be rescheduled at a time when all parties could agree to end the “massacres against Palestinians,” saying Israel’s military campaign is pushing the region to “the brink of the abyss.”
The deadly explosion triggered an outpouring of anger as hundreds took to the streets Tuesday night decrying the deadly blast, with some describing it as a blatant violation of international law.
In Jordan, the area around the Israeli embassy in Amman served as a gathering point with several thousand people congregating and taking to the streets to decry the massacre as well as Israel's continued bombardment of the Gaza strip. Police eventually discharged tear gas to disperse protesters who were storming towards the Israeli embassy.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II said the Baptist Hospital explosion is a “heinous war crime that cannot be tolerated.”
Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan posted on Instagram that she is “horrified” by the explosion, saying “This massacre is a war crime, an affront to humanity, and a stain on the world’s conscience. There is no justification for this.”
In Turkey, thousands of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday night outside the Israeli embassy in Ankara in support of Palestine.
“Hitting a hospital containing women, children and innocent civilians is the latest example of Israel’s attacks devoid of the most basic human values,” said Erdogan, as he called for an end to the unprecedented brutality in Gaza.
Israel on Tuesday night advised nationals to leave Turkey immediately, citing “escalating terror threats.”
Anger about the hospital explosion spilled over into North Africa as protests swelled to the thousands on the streets of Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt.
The Kingdom of Morocco strongly condemned the blast, stressing the “urgent need for the concerted efforts of the international community to stop hostilities as soon as possible.”
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said he is following “with deep sorrow the Israeli bombing of Al-Ahil Baptist Hospital.”
“I condemn in the strongest terms this deliberate bombing, which is considered a clear violation of international law and the provisions of international legitimacy and humanity," he said.