Whatever final conclusions the investigators still parsing the evidence eventually reach about the blast’s origins did not seem likely to change, for many Arabs, the stark truth: It was Israel that was now bombing Gaza, killing far more civilians than Palestinian militants had killed in Israel 11 days earlier, in a repeat of the lopsided math of previous Israeli retribution campaigns.
It was Israel that had herded two million Palestinian civilians into the open-air jail that rights groups say Gaza has become and systematically diminished any Palestinian chance at statehood, laying what experts have said were the foundations for conflict. And it was Israel that, many Arabs charged, had a history of obfuscating its role in previous abuses.
Against that backdrop, they said, there was only one side to hold accountable for Tuesday night’s horror.
It was galling to discover instead that Israel’s chief backer, the United States, was pinning blame on the Palestinians, and that the Western news media did not condemn Israel over the deaths — further reason, protesters said, to correct the record by raising their voices.
“As a journalist, I feel a responsibility to counter this propaganda by the media that’s covering for this crime,” said Saida El Kamel, a Moroccan journalist who had joined a gathering in front of the Parliament in Rabat, Morocco’s capital, on Tuesday night, to protest both Israel and the United States.
Such demonstrations erupting outside U.S. diplomatic outposts across the region prompted the American Embassy in Lebanon to warn citizens not to visit the country, while the consulate in Adana, Turkey, closed down.
Hassan Bennajeh, who has helped organize pro-Palestinian demonstrations in Morocco over the past week, said people rallied in 23 Moroccan cities on Tuesday night after the hospital blast, a striking figure given the rarity of demonstrations in Morocco and the authorities’ usual swiftness in putting them down.
But Morocco’s Foreign Ministry quickly joined its citizens in blaming Israel for the hospital explosion, even though Morocco normalized relations with the Jewish state in 2020.
In Egypt, whose autocratic government usually stamps out almost any flicker of protest, the authorities sat back as demonstrations erupted on Wednesday, including on university campuses in Cairo, Alexandria, Minya, Mansoura and Beni Suef.
“Arabs, where are you?” shouted students at Mansoura University in the Nile Delta, according to videos posted on social media. “Palestinian blood has been shed.”