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Massive anti-Israeli rally held in Damascus

Thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets of Damascus to protest Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Called on by the government, tens of thousands of protesters stormed the streets of the Syrian capital on Friday, expressing anger towards Israel’s announcement that a 1,600-unit settlement would be built in the occupied East Jerusalem (al-Quds), the Associated Press reported.

Palestinians view the area, which Israel occupied in 1967 before proceeding to annex, as the capital of their future state.

The protesters also condemned Tel Aviv’s apparently “intentional” reopening of a synagogue near the sacred al-Aqsa Mosque — revered as the third-holiest site in Islam — as part of, what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called, Israel’s “heritage.”

The “march of anger” followed Netanyahu’s insistence, in the annual conference of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main pro-Israel lobby in the US, that “Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.”

The settlement activities have drawn international condemnation even from the United States, Israel’s longstanding and staunchest ally, which has described the recent expansion plan as a “deeply negative signal.”

Senior Hamas official Mohammed Nazzal, meanwhile, condemned Israel’s “brutal aggression” on holy sites.

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