Demonstrations Continue in Arab Countries
CAIRO, Egypt – Arab protests against Israel escalated Monday, with demonstrators clashing with police in the Jordanian and Egyptian capitals, as their leaders searched for ways to defuse the crisis.
The Egyptian demonstration was the most violent protest here since Israel seized control of Yasser Arafat's compound Friday. Arabs also took to the streets in Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.
After a group of artists, intellectuals and opposition politicians called for a march from Cairo University to the nearby Israeli Embassy, hundreds of marchers ran toward the embassy and broke through a line of riot police.
Police responded with tear gas and water cannons and whipped demonstrators with their batons, pushing protesters back to a spot near the campus. The protest lasted for seven hours.
Thirty protesters were arrested and nine police officers were struck by stones. Sixteen protesters — most suffering the effects of tear gas — were hospitalized after the clashes.
The Egyptian protesters called on their government to close the Israeli Embassy and accused the United States of giving Israel the green light for its offensive and called for the boycott of American products.
But calls to boycott U.S. products have been heard before in Egypt and gone largely unheeded. Egyptian officials say their ties with Israel give them an opportunity to influence Israeli policy.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi led a march in his capital, Tripoli, and called on Arab countries to open their borders to let Arab volunteers fighters in to help the Palestinians.
Some 20,000 Sudanese marched through their capital, Khartoum, carrying banners declaring: "No peace with the Zionists," "No bargaining when it comes to Jerusalem."
In Yemen, more than 200 journalists gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy in San`a carrying pictures of Yasser Arafat. They handed an embassy official a letter accusing the United States of bias toward Israel.
In Zarqa, about 17 miles northeast of Amman, about 3,000 people chanted "Death to Israel" and called for holy war against the Jewish state.
Later about 300 protesters, mostly women, staged a candlelit march on the U.S. Embassy in Amman, where they called on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to intervene. "Beloved Saddam, strike at Tel Aviv," the protesters chanted in front of a line of police before the embassy.
More than 500 Lebanese and Palestinian demonstrators demanding that Egypt sever relations with Israel tried to storm the Egyptian embassy in Beirut but were dispersed by dozens of policemen.
In Syria, more than 1,000 Syrians and Palestinian refugees chanted: "Terrorism is Zionist and the weapons are American!"
In Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Abdullah was reportedly working with the United States to get Israeli troops out of Arafat's compound, ordinary Saudis criticized President Bush.
"The American administration has been covering up for (Israel's) terrorism for 50 years," said Soliman al-Obedallah, a 50-year-old businessman.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported that King Fahd, during a weekly Cabinet meeting Monday, condemned Israel and urged the United States, Russia, the European Union and the Security Council to support the Arab peace initiative and pressure Israel into withdrawing from Arab land.
In Iraq, Saddam urged Arab countries to adopt "economic measures" against Israel and its supporters.
He did not elaborate, but the ruling Baath party in a statement called on the Arabs to use oil as a weapon, apparently by cutting off supplies to the West in order to force Western powers to pressure Israel.
"If oil is not used today as a weapon in the battle to enhance the honor and dignity of our (Arab) nation and our religion and to liberate our land and holy places against Zionism and America, it will be a curse."