Hezbollah Denounces Israeli Attacks, Sparks Protests in Lebanon
Members of the Lebanese army and police stand guard as protesters hurl rocks at the entrance of the French embassy complex in Beirut early on October 18, 2023, during a rally in support of Palestinians after a blast ripped through the Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza. AFP / ANWAR AMRO

The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah denounced Israel's siege of the Gaza Strip after a rocket levelled the Christian-run Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, killing at least 500 people on Tuesday.

Hezbollah, a historical ally of the Gaza-based Palestine militant group Hamas, called for Lebanese citizens to protest against their enemies, citing that the explosion that destroyed the hospital was the deadliest attack in Gaza within the week-long Israeli siege.

The Iranian-backed militant group declared the Wednesday as "a day of unprecedented anger" against their enemies. The declaration seems to be a call for organisation among protesters to demonstrate against the violence conducted by Israel and its allies.

Protests erupt in Lebanon

Hours after the deadly rocket explosion, Lebanese citizens organised a protest in front of the United States Embassy in Awkar, north of Beirut, late at night, with protesters chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel" while flying Palestinian flags.

Lebanese security enforcers fired tear gas to the forming crowds in front of the embassy in an attempt to disperse protesters, who were covered with Palestinian keffiyeh scarves serving as protection, according to AFP correspondents.

There were also reported protests at the Embassy of France in Beirut, with protesters reportedly hurling rocks at the embassy facade.

South of Lebanon, Palestinians in refugee camps situated at Sidon and Tyre staged protests to condemn the rocket strike. The protests urge other Palestinian groups to conduct mass protests against the attacks.

As of this writing, Palestinians situated in the West Bank also staged protests to condemn Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip.

Origins of the rocket strike

While both Hezbollah and Hamas claim that the rocket strike came from Israeli forces, authorities from the Jewish settler state deny this.

Both Palestinian militant groups claim that the rocket came from an Israeli airstrike.

Palestinian Authority health minister Mai Alkaila supports the claims from the militants, accusing the Israeli Defense Force of conducting a "massacre" against their displaced citizens.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied claims from the Palestinians, instead directing the blame to the militants. "It was barbaric terrorists in Gaza that attacked the hospital in Gaza, and not the IDF", according to Netanyahu's statement.

An IDF spokesperson supported Prime Minister Netanyahu's claim, saying that the explosion that destroyed the hospital came from a failed rocket launch from Gaza aimed at Israel.

In other casualties, the United Nations reported that an Israeli airstrike destroyed a school that acted as a makeshift shelter for at least 4,000 victims of the war. The strike killed six people and left dozens injured. The IDF said that they would investigate the report from the UN.

Strong responses

The devastation that befell citizens at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital has also caused a rift between countries in the Middle East and the United States.

US President Joe Biden was scheduled to meet in a summit on Wednesday with Jordan's King Abdullah II, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in hopes of quelling the tensions between Israel and Gaza. This meeting was cancelled in the wake of the hospital rocket strike.

In a state-televised brief, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the summit can only be done in Jordan should all parties be prepared to "stop the war, respect the humanity of the Palestinians and deliver the aid they deserve".

This setback in Jordan prompted Biden to only visit Israel.