SULAIMANI – Dozens of demonstrators on Thursday (May 20) gathered in Sulaimani in solidarity with Palestinians to denounce deadly Israeli assaults in the occupied territories.
The demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and banners which read “Aqsa Mosque is Muslim’s first prayer niche, defending it is everyone’s duty” and “A Muslim’s pain is everyone's pain.”
The rally came as Israel continue pounding the Gaza Strip with air strikes, killing hundreds of people and demolishing dozens of buildings.
Diplomatic moves towards a ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gathered pace on Thursday after U.S. President Joe Biden called for a de-escalation, but Israel threatened to step up strikes on Gaza as Hamas rocket fire resumed after a pause.
After a senior Hamas official predicted a truce within days, an Egyptian security source - whose country has been mediating between the sides - said they had agreed in principle to a mutual halt in hostilities but details needed to be worked out.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled a 7 pm (1600 GMT) meeting of his security cabinet to discuss options.
Rocket attacks on Israel stopped for eight hours on Thursday - the 11th day of hostilities - before resuming against communities near the Gaza border and the city of Beersheba.
Israel continued air strikes in Hamas-run Gaza, saying it wanted to destroy the Islamist militant group's capabilities and deter it from future confrontation after the current conflict.
"We're fully prepared to expand the campaign to whatever degree necessary. We're turning the clock back on Hamas and it won't be able to recover," Defence Minister Benny Gantz said.
Since the fighting began on May 10, health officials in Gaza say 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, have been killed and more than 1,900 wounded in aerial bombardments. Israel says it has killed at least 160 combatants in Gaza.