By Aya Batrawy, VOA, Cairo
|Gaza death toll tops 300 as Israeli air strikes continue
Source: Guardian, UK
Israel stepped up its bombing campaign in Gaza today, hitting an interior ministry building, a major university and a house next to the home of the former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.
Witnesses in Gaza City reported six separate air strikes overnight at the Islamic University, the leading university in the Gaza Strip which has links to the Islamist movement Hamas. Israeli jets hit a guest house used by the Hamas government. All Hamas leaders, including Haniyeh, have left their homes and gone into hiding.
Protesters throughout the Middle East held
angry demonstrations Sunday, condemning not only Israel's deadly airstrikes in
Gaza but also their own governments for not doing more to prevent the violence.
Despite restrictions on public protests in a number of Arab countries, demonstrators reacted to the unfolding events in Gaza with an outpouring of anger and emotion. Cairo saw some of the most emotional protests.
At Cairo University, hundreds of students prayed and wept, holding posters with images of injured and dead Palestinian children. Others held up the Quran, while one student burnt an Israeli flag to the chants and cheers of the crowd.
Although the Egyptian government has condemned Israel's military action against Hamas militants who control Gaza, protesters in Cairo voiced anger at Egypt and other Arab governments' for thier limited response to the attacks.
Ahmed Sayyid, a pharmacy major at Cairo University, said Egypt's government should do more to protest the Israeli actions. He says the Israelis are lucky to have what he calls such a complacent government in Cairo, and he said there are thousands of youths, girls and boys, that if they were allowed to fight, or trained to fight, would go now to defend the Palestinians.
Elsewhere in the region, police in Beirut used tear gas to control crowds that were throwing rocks at the Egyptian embassy.
In Jordan, lawmakers demanded the expulsion of Israel's ambassador. Jordan is the only other Arab country besides Egypt to have an official peace treaty with Israel.
Protesters in Cairo also called on the government to recall its ambassador, kick Israel's ambassador out, halt the export of Egyptian gas to Israel and allow medical supplies to reach Gaza.
Anger throughout the Arab was accompanied by grim images on pan-Arab satellite channels that broadcast pictures of bloodied Palestinian bodies, rows of men with limbs blown off and children being carried screaming through the streets.
Amidst the backlash against Israel, the United States and Egypt, some demonstrators also protested the Fatah-backed government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who was in Egypt Sunday meeting with the Egyptian president.
In an effort to help the injured in Gaza, Egypt announced it would open the Rafah crossing along Egypt's border with Gaza to allow wounded to get medical care. Egypt also accused Hamas of not allowing wounded Palestinians to cross the border. Throughout Cairo, Ministry of Health vehicles where stationed where people could donate blood.
One woman who lined up to give blood said she was moved by the desire to help injured Palestinian children. She says she came to donate blood because she says it's the first time she understands the kind of suffering Palestinians undergo. She said she came to help the children who were wounded.
The United Nations Security Council has called for an immediate end to all military actions in the Gaza Strip. Israel has blamed Hamas for triggering the assault by breaking a six month old ceasefire and launching a new round of rocket attacks against Israel. The United States has also blamed Hamas for triggering the crisis.
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