Protesters Call for Troops to Be Sent to Gaza

JAKARTA ~ Thousands of Islamists rallied across the country on Sunday to condemn Israel’s military strikes on the Gaza Strip and called on the government to send troops to fight Israeli forces.

Around 3,000 members of the Islamist Hizbut Tahrir movement took over the streets of central Jakarta to condemn Israel’s strikes and ground offensive, which have killed hundreds of Palestinians.

Dressed head-to-toe in black and white, the women in headscarves, the crowd marched peacefully, waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags and carrying banners denouncing the Jewish state as a “terrorist” force.

“Indonesia’s military must go to war against Israel, not just as peacekeepers. We ask the government to send troops there, not just medicine,” Farid Wadjdi, the movement’s local head, said.

Thousands of members of the group, which calls for the establishment of a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, also marched in other cities including the second-largest city, Surabaya, where more than a hundred police stood guard outside the United States consulate, local media reported.

Protesters marched over an Israeli flag painted onto the ground in Makassar city in South Sulawesi province, rubbing their feet into the image as a sign of disrespect, television station MetroTV said.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, and does not recognize Israel.

It has condemned the massive Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip and has sent aid workers, who are currently in Jordan.

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