Jordanians Protest against Peace Treaty with Israel in Fresh Rallies

REUTERS/Alaa Al-Sukhni
Members of the Jordanian Gendarmerie stand guard as people protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Israeli embassy in Amman, Jordan, March 28, 2024.

AMMAN, March 29 (Reuters) – Thousands of Jordanians rallied near the Israeli embassy on Thursday in a fifth day of large protests against Israel, calling for an end to Jordan’s unpopular peace treaty with its neighbor to the west.

The protesters in an affluent neighborhood of Amman carried Palestinian flags and chanted: “They said Hamas is terrorist. All of Jordan is Hamas.”

“No Zionist embassy on Jordanian land,” protesters also cried, demanding that authorities close the embassy and end a 1994 peace treaty that normalized ties with Israel.

Placards declared “Amman-Gaza one destiny,” while other posters depicted Hamas’ masked military spokesman, Abu Obaida, who has become a folk hero for many in the Arab world.

The Israeli embassy, where protesters have gathered for five straight days, has long been a flashpoint when violence has escalated between Palestinians and Israel.

Heavy security on Thursday was aimed at curbing the number of protesters, and the rally went peacefully, unlike earlier this week when riot police fired tear gas and struck protesters with batons to prevent them from storming the embassy.

Hundreds of demonstrators, however, defied police orders to disperse and sat on the streets saying they would remain until the early hours of Friday morning.

Authorities in Jordan have stepped up arrests and harassment of demonstrators in a months-long campaign that has been slammed by international rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for restricting freedom of expression.

Passions have run high among Jordanians, many of whom are of Palestinian origin, over Israel’s relentless Gaza bombing campaign against Hamas that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, according to Gaza officials, and flattened many parts of the densely populated enclave.

Jordan has seen some of the biggest outpourings of public anger in the region since the war was triggered when Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Authorities in Jordan say peaceful protests are allowed but that they would not tolerate any attempt to exploit anger against Israel to create havoc or efforts to reach a border zone with the Israeli-occupied West Bank or Israel.

Jordan’s peace treaty with Israel is widely unpopular among many citizens who see normalization as betraying the rights of their Palestinian compatriots.