Enraged crowds in the Middle East and North Africa expressed their anger on the evening of Tuesday, October 17, directing their anger towards Western embassies, with a particular emphasis on Israeli, American, and French diplomatic missions. The demonstrations were marked by disorderly scenes, as protestors ignited fires, while law enforcement authorities countered with the use of tear gas.
The catalyst for this outpouring of fury was a tragic incident: the purported large-scale loss of life, numbering in the hundreds, within a Gaza hospital. This tragedy was allegedly attributed to an errant rocket fired by Palestinian jihadists.
The Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City was struck, resulting in a death toll estimated between 200 to 500 individuals. Immediately, local authorities, operating under Hamas’s administration, accused Israel of being responsible for the hospital’s bombing, citing it as a presumed response to Hamas’s attacks on Israeli territory that occurred on October 7.
Israel vigorously refuted these accusations and presented evidence pointing to the rocket responsible for the hospital tragedy being linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Iranian-backed terrorist organization with ties to Hamas. Moreover, the Israeli Foreign Ministry unveiled video footage from Al Jazeera that showed a rocket malfunctioning at the same time as the hospital strike. Despite this evidence, radical Islamist groups and governments, particularly Iran, persist in blaming Israel for the hospital bombing. These allegations triggered protests in numerous predominantly Muslim countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Tunisia, Jordan, and reportedly, Iran and Yemen.
In Amman, Jordan witnessed a significant protest where the demonstrators made an attempt to breach the Israeli embassy compound. Law enforcement authorities deployed tear gas to manage the crowd. Meanwhile, in Beirut, protests took place near the United States and French embassies, and in Turkey’s cities of Ankara and Istanbul, a substantial number of upset Muslim men participated in demonstrations that carried a strong and demanding message.
Amidst these demonstrations, President Joe Biden made a visit to Israel, where he expressed his commitment to supporting both Israel and the Palestinians. President Biden sided with Israel, asserting that the hospital was struck by the opposing party.
Subsequently, the violent protests extended into Europe, resulting in riots in Germany. On Wednesday, October 18, there were reports of numerous police officers sustaining injuries, as pro-Palestinian protests erupted in Berlin. Local law enforcement authorities claimed that they were subjected to various forms of assault, ranging from projectiles like bottles and stones to pyrotechnic devices.