Thousands of Iraqis flooded the streets of Baghdad on Friday in a show of support for Palestinians as Israeli air strikes pounded Gaza in retaliation for a deadly Hamas attack, according to state television. The demonstrators, responding to a call by Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, gathered in Tahrir Square to express solidarity with Gaza and condemn Israel, chanting slogans like "No to the occupation! No to America!"
Protesters brandished both Palestinian and Iraqi flags, with a large Israeli flag laid on the ground for participants to symbolically trample on. The rally aimed to denounce the events unfolding in occupied Palestine, decrying the bloodshed and violation of rights, as stated by Abu Kayan, one of the protest organizers.
Moqtada Sadr's movement implemented strict security measures around Tahrir Square, while Iraqi security forces were heavily deployed in the vicinity of the demonstration. Despite Sadr's influential political role, he is not officially part of the government. However, the Iraqi government supports the movement backing Gaza and advocates for the Palestinian cause.
As Israel intensified its military efforts against Hamas, following the group's incursion across its southern border, the conflict has resulted in a significant civilian toll. More than 1,200 civilians were reported killed in Gaza, prompting the Israeli military to continue strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, with the death toll surpassing 1,500.
In response to the escalating situation, the Israeli army issued a directive for Gaza City residents to evacuate their homes within 24 hours, instructing them to move south within the blockaded territory for their safety. The rally in Baghdad reflects a widespread sentiment of solidarity with Palestinians and condemnation of the Israeli actions, echoing similar expressions of support around the world.