Hundreds of Thousands Demonstrate on Al-Qods Day in Iran, Lebanon, Syria

Published December 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Hundreds of thousands demonstrated Friday in the streets of Tehran, Gaza City, Damascus, Beirut and Tyre to celebrate "al-Qods (Jerusalem) Day," calling for the "demise of Israel" and the "liberation of the holy Muslim land of Palestine". 

In the Iranian capital, tens of thousands took to the streets before gathering at the university to take part in collective prayer. 

"We have to do everything we can militarily, economically and financially to support the Palestinian uprising and free this holy land", former president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani said there. 

"Jerusalem Day" is traditionally commemorated in Iran on the last Friday of the month-long fast of Ramadan, which ends next Wednesday. 

"Israel is the most serious military threat to the region", said Rafsanjani. He added that economic, military and even nuclear means had to be considered to contribute to the liberation of Jerusalem and support the Palestinians' struggle. 

He then criticized Islamic countries for a lack of "practical support" to the Intifada. Ali Akbar Nategh-Nouri, former president of parliament and current advisor to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also asked Islamic countries to coordinate their support for the Intifada. 

On Jerusalem Day, reformist and conservative leaders of the Iranian regime, displayed unity in their hostility towards Israel, which they called a "cancerous tumour". 

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi was quoted Friday by the official IRNA agency as saying that "the peace negotiations in the Middle East have no meaning since Palestine's children are still under Israeli fire". 

"The talks do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people", said Kharazi, who took part in the demonstration, also attended by pro-reformist president Mohammad Khatami. 

The demonstrators filled the streets of Tehran, shouting anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans. "We should create a liberation army to free Palestine ... and a court to prosecute Israeli leaders for war crimes", some demonstrators said in a statement. 

Also Friday, five Palestinians injured by Israeli bullets in the West bank and Gaza Strip, arrived for treatment in Tehran. 

Jerusalem Day, first conceived after the 1979 Islamic revolution by the late founder of Islamic Iran, was also marked by anti-Israeli demonstrations outside Iran. 

In Lebanon, more than 100,000 Hizbollah supporters gathered Friday to watch a parade staged by fighters of the Shiite Muslim militia in southern Beirut. 

Hizbollah secretary general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said Friday in a speech that the Jewish state should cease to exist and rejected any compromise with Israel. 

Some 30,000 Lebanese and Palestinians, who had come from southern Lebanon and refugee camps, also demonstrated in the streets of the seaside city of Tyre. 

Scouts led the procession of this two-hour long demonstration, holding banners calling for the liberation of Palestine and the demise of Israel, and lashing the US for supporting Zionist terrorism. 

Also, about 150 members of the al-Mahdi scouts, a Hizbollah youth organization, gathered at Fatima Gate at Lebanon's border with Israel. The youths threw stones onto the Israeli side of the border as groups of them torched US and Israeli flags. 

In the Gaza Strip, at least 3,000 Islamic Jihad supporters cheered: "Death to America! Death to Israel!" at a Jerusalem day rally there. 

"The Intifada must continue until the liberation of Palestine!" others shouted, including a group of some 30 Islamic Jihad militants dressed in white funeral robes and strapped with dummy bombs in a sign of their readiness to carry out suicide attacks against Israel. 

In Syria, thousands of people, mainly Palestinians also demonstrated in a procession which ran through the southern Damascus Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmuk. 

Protestors voiced their support to the Palestinian uprising, chanting "Muslims of the world, unite against the Zionist enemy". 

The demonstration was led by officials of the radical Palestinian movements based in Damascus such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). 

Earlier Friday, the secretary general of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine, Ramadan Abdallah Shalah, said in a speech at the Iranian embassy in Damascus that "the Palestinian people are determined to free their land and build an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital". 

Meanwhile, violence exploded across the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday leaving five people dead, including an Israeli woman killed in a suicide bomb attack at a restaurant that left seven others hurt. 

Four Palestinians, including the suicide attacker, also died in clashes with Israelis on al-Qods day, declared a "day of rage" by Palestinian militant groups. 

Friday's deaths brought the number of people killed since violence erupted in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel on September 28 to 356, the vast majority being Palestinians --TEHRAN (AFP) 

 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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