Thousands protest in Egypt against Gaza attacks

Egypt Protest [Photo:]

22 Palestinians and three Israeli’s have been killed in the crisis.

Thousands gathered in Egyptian cities on Friday to protest against Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as Egypt’s President vowed to support the enclave’s people in the face of “blatant aggression.”

Western governments are watching Egypt’s response to the attacks for signs of a more assertive stance toward Israel since an Islamist came to power in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

President Mohamed Morsi is mindful of anti-Israeli sentiment among Egyptians emboldened by last year’s Arab Spring uprising but needs to show Western allies his new government is no threat to Middle East peace.

His Prime Minister, Hisham Kandil, visited Gaza on Friday in a demonstration of solidarity after two days of strikes by Israeli warplanes targeting Gaza militants.

Medics said 22 Palestinians had died in the offensive.

Three Israelis were killed by a rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday.

“We see what is happening in Gaza as a blatant aggression against humanity,” Mr. Morsi said in comments carried by Egypt’s state news agency.

“I warn and repeat my warning to the aggressors that they will never rule over the people of Gaza.”

“I tell them in the name of all the Egyptian people that Egypt today is not the Egypt of yesterday, and Arabs today are not the Arabs of yesterday,” he said.

Mr. Morsi’s toppled predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, was a staunch U.S. ally who upheld a cold but stable peace with Israel.

The new president vowed to respect a three-decade peace treaty with the Jewish state but ties have been strained by protests that forced the evacuation of Israel’s Ambassador to Cairo in 2011 and cross-border attacks by Islamist militants.

More than 1,000 people gathered near Cairo’s al-Azhar Mosque after Friday prayers, many waving Egyptian and Palestinian


“Gaza Gaza, symbol of pride,” they chanted, and “generation after generation, we declare our enmity toward you, Israel.”

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“I cannot as an Egyptian, an Arab and a Muslim just sit back and watch the massacre in Gaza,” said protester Abdel Aziz Nagy, 25, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Protesters were marching from other areas of Cairo toward Tahrir Square, the main rallying point for 2011 uprising.

In Alexandria, around 2,000 protesters gathered in front of a mosque, some holding posters demanding Egypt’s border crossing to Gaza be opened to allow aid into the impoverished enclave.

Hundreds also gathered in the Egyptian cities of Ismailia, Suez and al-Arish to denounce Israel’s attacks.

Also in Lebanon

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees also rallied on Friday across Lebanon to protest Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The largest protest was held in the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

The demonstrators were seen chanting slogans in support of Gaza’s Hamas rulers and waved the Islamist movement’s green flag.

“Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv!” chanted the demonstrators.

Abu Rabi al-Shehabi, a Hamas official in northern Lebanon, said that Israel’s assassination of Hamas military chief, Ahmed Ja’abari, earlier this week had “ignited Palestinian resistance”.

Meanwhile, Russia has joined the list of countries asking Israel and Hamas to exercise restraint in the Gaza crisis, with the Foreign Ministry in Moscow expressing “deep concern”, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, speaking by phone with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, cautioned that Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement must not fall into a spiral of violence.

Everything must be done to calm the situation; Lavrov was quoted as saying by the Russian news agency

(Reuters/ dpa/ NAN)


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