Strikes Leave Arab Nations Pointing At Each Other

Protesters are pouring into the streets around the Arab world as Israeli aircraft pound targets in the Gaza Strip for a second day. Demonstrators are demanding that their leaders do something to help the Palestinians.

While the Arab world is virtually united in its condemnation of the Israeli military strikes on the Gaza Strip, divisions are starting to sharpen just beneath the surface.

Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian officials are laying blame for the Israeli airstrikes at the door of the Islamist Hamas movement, which controls Gaza.

Abbas, whose Fatah movement controls the West Bank, said Hamas leaders could have avoided the Israeli airstrikes by continuing the six-month truce that expired earlier this month.

"We talked to them," Abbas said, "and we told them 'Please, let the truce continue.' "

In Beirut, police used tear gas to quell a protest that included stone-throwing at the Egyptian embassy. Egypt has come under harsh criticism for not opening its border with Gaza during the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Last night, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Rafah border crossing opened to let the wounded receive care in Egypt. But Egypt's foreign minister said Sunday morning that Hamas was refusing to allow wounded Palestinians out despite reports from inside Gaza that local hospitals are overwhelmed by the casualties.

Meanwhile, noisy protests erupted throughout Egypt, Jordan and Iran. And in Damascus, Syria, an estimated 5,000 people marched, burning U.S. and Israeli flags. In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, demonstrators became victims themselves, as a suicide bomber on a bicycle targeted the crowd.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.