Across the Arab world, a wave of protests has ignited, fueled by the ongoing Gaza conflict and the looming specter of an Israeli ground operation that threatens to displace millions of Palestinians.
On Friday, thousands of demonstrators swarmed the streets in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, and the West Bank, immediately after Islamic Friday prayers.
According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the conflict has already claimed the lives of 4,127 people in Gaza. Israel initiated this military campaign as a response to an attack by Gaza's Hamas rulers on October 7th.
The relentless Israeli airstrikes and calls for Gazans to evacuate the northern part of the strip have prompted over a million people to flee the area. This mass exodus raises alarming concerns about the potential displacement of millions of Palestinians residing in the enclave, most of whom are already registered as refugees due to the consequences of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
In the midst of these escalating tensions, Israel's intention to invade the Gaza Strip has created worries about the prospect of a wider war with multiple fronts, including the country's northern border with Lebanon. As a precaution, countries have begun evacuating their citizens from Israel, while Israel has initiated the relocation of residents in communities along its northern border. Simultaneously, hundreds of thousands of northern Gaza residents have sought refuge in the southern part of the territory in response to Israel's vow to launch a ground invasion.
These heightened fears are exacerbated by the charged rhetoric of Israeli officials, who foresee a profound transformation of Gaza after eliminating Hamas. Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has disclosed that the United States is in discussions with Egypt and Israel regarding the establishment of a humanitarian corridor at the Egypt-controlled Rafah border crossing, allowing Americans and other civilians in Gaza to escape the conflict zone.
Expressing their growing discontent with Israel's operations in Gaza, Egypt took the unprecedented step of permitting its first major nationwide protest in a decade. Hundreds of protesters congregated in downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square in a show of solidarity with the Palestinians. Similar demonstrations unfolded in various other Egyptian cities.
Chanting slogans like "Where is the Arab army?" and "Here they are, the Zionists," some of the Cairo protesters directed their frustrations towards Egypt's riot police, who subsequently pushed demonstrators into nearby Bab el-Louk Square and sealed off access to Tahrir.