Former Hamas chief calls for day of protests across Muslim world in support of Palestinians

A former head of Hamas has called for protests across the Muslim world on Friday in support of Palestinians.

Khaled Meshaal also called on the people of countries neighbouring Israel to join the fight against the country.

“[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday,” said Meshaal, who in 1997 survived an assassination attempt by Israel in retribution for Ḥamas’s suicide bombings.

Nearly a week after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing more than 1,200 people, Benjamin Netanyahu’s unity government is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza.

The besieged enclave, which has been targeted by 6,000 Israeli Air Force bombs, is on the brink of running out of food, water and electricity after supplies were cut off, the UN has warned.

Follow our live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war here

Meshaal, who now heads the diaspora office in Qatar of the group considered a terrorist organisation by most of the West, said the governments and peoples of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt had a duty to support the Palestinians.

“Tribes of Jordan, sons of Jordan, brothers and sisters of Jordan… This is a moment of truth and the borders are close to you, you all know your responsibility,” he said.

Jordan and Lebanon are home to the largest numbers of Palestinian refugees.

Meshaal, who became the Hamas leader and its central figure in 2004, has previously defended the group’s use of violence.

In 1997 while he was head of the group’s military wing, undercover Israeli agents attempted to spray him with poison in the street as he got out of his car.

It was reported that a phone call led him to turn his head just as one agent sprayed the poison, and a bodyguard rushed him away.

Following pressure from Jordan, Israeli officials provided an antidote to enable Meshaal to recover.

Under his leadership, Hamas has refused to recognise Israel but indicated that it would accept a long-term truce if the country withdrew to its pre-1967 borders.

At least 2,500 people in Israel and Gaza have been killed and thousands of others injured since Saturday’s attack.

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