Protesters marched from several mosques to the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Indonesia’s capital Friday to denounce the staunch American support for Israel and demand an end to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.
Similar protests also took place in front of the United Nations mission, a few kilometers (miles) from the embassy, and in the compound of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Authorities estimated that about 1,000 people participated in the rallies across Jakarta following Friday prayers in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
A brutal incursion into southern Israel by Hamas fighters on Oct. 7 provoked Israel to declare war against the militant group that rules Gaza. The Israeli siege of and airstrikes on the Palestinian territory were the focus earlier this week of demonstrations at Egyptian universities, inside a congressional office building in Washington, outside the Israeli Embassy in Bogota and near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Nearly two weeks after the Hamas attack in Israel, such protests continued as Israel prepared for an expected ground invasion of Gaza.
The protesters who marched to the U.S. Embassy halted traffic along the way as they chanted “God is great,” and “Save Palestinians.”
Waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags and signs read “We are proud to support Palestine,” more than 100 noisy demonstrators gathered along a major street in Jakarta that runs outside the embassy.
“The U.S. actually know this war and violence occurred because Palestinians want free from Israel’s occupation, but they close their eyes and pretend to be deaf,” a speaker told the crowd, “We call for a two-state solution for Palestinians to end the war.”
Some protesters voiced their anger by burning portraits of U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
About 1,000 police office were deployed around the embassy, the nearby presidential palace and the U.N. mission.
Indonesia does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel, and there is no Israeli Embassy in the country. It has long been a strong supporter of the Palestinians.
President Joko Widodo strongly condemned a Tuesday night explosion at a Gaza City hospital filled with wounded Palestinians and residents seeking shelter. Widodo described it as an attack that violated international humanitarian law, although the cause of the blast at al-Ahli Hospital has not been determined.
U.S. assessments said the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike, as the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza initially reported. Israel has presented video, audio and other evidence it says proves the blast was caused by a rocket misfired by Palestinian militants, who denied responsibility.
The AP has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.
“Now is the time for the world to stand together to build global solidarity to resolve the Palestinian issue fairly,” Widodo said in a televised statement from Saudi Arabia, where he was attending the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council summit.
In South Korea’s capital, dozens of protesters chanted slogans, waved Palestinian flags and raised anti-Israel banners. (where in Seoul was the protest?)
“Free, Free Palestinians!” the protesters shouted, while holding banners that read “We stand with Gaza” or “Stop the massacre by Israel!”
“Please care about human lives. That’s all I am thinking about,” Elshafei Mohamed, 25, an Egyptian student in Seoul, said. “If we want to really help, we need to supply Gaza with humanitarian aids at once.”
More than 5,000 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since the war began, the majority women, children and older adults.
Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, video journalist Yong Ho Kim in Seoul, South Korea, contributed to this report.