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'Death to America, Israel': thousands of Hezbollah supporters protest in Beirut

Photo de manifestants rassemblés à l'appel du mouvement chiite libanais Hezbollah, à la suite de la décision du président américain Donald Trump de reconnaître Jérusalem comme la capitale d'Israël, le 11 décembre 2017 dans la banlieue sud de Beyrouth
Joseph EID (AFP)
Iranian cleric Hosseini said Trump has only helped speed up the demise of Israel

Thousands of supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah demonstrated in Beirut on Monday, chanting "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!" in protest over the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah told supporters attending the rally that a new intifada ("uprising" in Arabic) would be the most effective response, Haaretz reported.

Several hundred protesters also took to the streets in the Iranian capital on Monday.

"We will never abandon Jerusalem," Nasrallah told the crowd in an address beamed on a massive screen.

"All Arab peoples must repeat with the Palestinian people: 'We will be millions of martyrs to sacrifice for Jerusalem'," he said, a pledge echoed in unison by the crowd numbering tens of thousands.

ANWAR AMRO (AFP)

Israel fought a devastating war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 120 Israelis, most of them soldiers

"When the world stands together Trump has to change his mind, right?" said Hassan Mousa, a 28 year-old photographer with a hipster beard and slicked back hair.

"We're the children of Hezbollah, of course we're ready to fight," he said.

Protesters marched through the Iran-backed Shiite movement's south Beirut bastion, carrying banners reading "Jerusalem, Eternal Capital of Palestine" and "Jerusalem is Ours".

- 'Moderate' turnout in Tehran -

In Tehran, a few hundred diehard Iranian conservatives rallied on Monday against Israel and said US President Donald Trump had hastened its demise with his decision to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.

The rally in downtown Tehran featured the sort of thumping, Turkish-style dance music that is normally banned in Iran but has become increasing popular at hardliner events with the addition of lyrics such as "the US is a murderer", and "Palestinian mothers are losing their children", and the ubiquitous "Death to America".

ATTA KENARE (AFP)

Such protests tread a fine line, pledging support for the Palestinian cause without calling for direct military action by Iran.

"I don't think there will be a need to send any troops because there are a lot of people in Lebanon, Syria and inside the Palestinian Territories. They will be enough to get rid of the Israelis," said cleric Seyed Abdullah Hosseini.

A neon board on the side of the square announced that there were only 8,240 days left for Israel -- a reference to a speech by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in which he predicted the end of Israel by 2030.

"Mr Trump has done a good job of speeding things up. We were expecting Israel to be dismantled later... but this is the beginning of the end of Israel," said Hosseini.

AP Photo/Bilal Hussein

The demonstrations were considered less robust than in the Lebanese capital, as some attributed the smaller-than-expected turnout to last-minute arrangements.

"Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine and will be until Judgement Day," said Iman Ghadbun, 28, attending the protest with her seven-year-old daughter.

Trump's move has been widely condemned and sparked days of protest across the Middle East.

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