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Protests Against Israel Intensify in Arab World

Mideast: Demonstrators clash with police in Cairo. Emergency summit is possible.

April 02, 2002|From Associated Press

CAIRO — Anti-Israel protests escalated Monday, with demonstrators clashing with police in the Egyptian capital, as Arab leaders searched for ways to defuse the crisis.

Protesters also took to the streets in Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Yemen.

The demonstration in Egypt was the most violent here since Israel seized control of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's compound Friday.

After a group of artists, intellectuals and opposition politicians called for a march from Cairo University to the nearby Israeli Embassy, hundreds of protesters ran toward the embassy and broke through a line of riot police.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannons and whipped demonstrators with batons, pushing them back toward the campus. The protest lasted seven hours.

Thirty protesters were arrested, and nine police officers were struck by stones. Sixteen protesters--most of them suffering the effects of tear gas--were hospitalized.

The protesters called on the Egyptian government to close the Israeli Embassy, 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 have gone largely unheeded. Egyptian officials say their ties with Israel give them an opportunity to influence Israeli policy.

About 300 protesters, mostly women, staged a march on the U.S. Embassy in Amman, the Jordanian capital, where they called on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to intervene in the Mideast crisis.

Earlier, 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.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said an emergency summit was possible. The group held a regular summit last week at which Arabs made a historic peace overture to Israel. Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud said Arab League diplomats would meet today. Qatar added its voice to that of Yemen in calling for an emergency summit.

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