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Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, chanted, Beirut
The protesters chanted various slogans, including anti-US and anti-Israeli ones. Slowly their numbers swelled, eventually reaching a few hundred. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

The destruction of a hospital in Gaza just as President Biden was arriving in Israel has led to numerous demonstrations inflaming an already volatile situation.

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Violent demonstrations erupted across the Arab world in response to the explosion that blasted Gaza’s al-Ahli Hospital where thousands of Palestinians had sought refuge from Israeli airstrikes.

WhoWhatWhy’s Hunter Williamson was on the scene in Beirut with his camera as protesters tried to attack the American embassy. 

Here is his report.

BEIRUT — At midnight we could see several hundred protesters beginning to gather outside the barricade blocking the road to the American embassy. They were waving Palestinian and Hamas flags and chanting slogans against America and Israel. 

A small group of protesters cut through concertina wire that Lebanese security forces were using to block the road. The security forces responded with water cannons and tear gas. Small groups of protesters managed to get through the wire and started throwing rocks at the security forces as the tear gas intensified. 

After that it was a cat-and-mouse game of skirmishes between the protesters and security forces. As the clashes continued, a group of protesters broke into a commercial building and set fire to it. The flames quickly engulfed the building and burned throughout the night. The security forces finally overwhelmed the marauding groups and scattered them into the night. 

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, US Embassy, Beirut

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., a few dozen protesters gathered along the road leading to the US Embassy in Beirut. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

I talked with one of the protesters as he was leaving the demonstration. “Jerusalem is for everyone,” he said. “I came here because we want to liberate Jerusalem. We are not afraid of anyone, not Israel, not the US. God is on our side. This war is against all Arabs. We all have to fight. Even if we don’t liberate Palestine now, we will make it free, even if it takes 100 years.” 

I asked his name. “Abu Obaida,” he said. Abu Obaida (clearly not his name) is the spokesman for Hamas.

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, cut through C-Wire, Beirut

As the protests heated up, some demonstrators began to cut through the C-wire separating them from security forces. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, tear gassed, Beirut

After the protesters broke through, Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse them. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, confront security, Beirut

After the initial clash, a smaller number of protesters rallied together to continue their confrontation with security forces. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, throw rocks, Beirut

A cat-and-mouse game of back-and-forth rock throwing, tear gas firing, and water cannon spraying ensued. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, lit fires, Beirut

On the sidelines, a smaller number of protesters lit fires. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, torch commercial building, Beirut

Some protesters made their way into a commercial building and set its interior aflame. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, dwindle, Beirut

As the flames burned into the night, security forces continued to clash with a dwindling number of protesters. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, dispersed, Beirut

Dozens still protested as security forces moved in to disperse them. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy

Anti-US, Anti-Israeli, protesters, French embassy, Beirut

Elsewhere in the country, pro-Palestine protests also erupted, including in front of the French embassy. Despite anti-French comments from demonstrators, the protesters remained largely calm. Photo credit: Hunter Williamson / WhoWhatWhy


Author

  • Hunter Williamson

    Hunter Williamson is a freelance journalist writing about Ukraine, Asia, and the Middle East. He has covered US politics, military affairs in the Indo-Pacific, and economic and political crises in Lebanon.

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