Afghan men attend a demonstration against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Kandahar city on Monday, Jan. 5, 2008.

An Afghan man warms his hands by a fire as an anti-Israeli banner is seen pinned in the background against the Israeli attacks on Gaza, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009.

CTV.ca | Hundreds in Kandahar city protest against Israel


KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Hundreds of people shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" as the embers of an Israeli flag smouldered on the streets of Kandahar city during an angry demonstration Monday.

More than 700 people spilled into the streets and onto the balconies and rooftops of gated shops in the city's centre to denounce Israeli attacks on Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Community leaders, including Bismillah Afghanmul, a member of Kandahar's provincial council, called for a unified Muslim response to the attacks.

"In the history of Muslims, they never like war; they always like peace," Afghanmul said, according to a translator.

Israel says it launched the offensive 10 days ago to stop Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza, which have traumatized southern Israel. The rocket attacks were in retaliation for the siege of Gaza by Israel.

The United States has supported Israel's "right to defend itself" against the attacks and blames Hamas for triggering the crisis.

But some Middle Eastern and European governments have strongly criticized Israel, accusing it of using excessive force.

Nearly 550 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza -- with another 2,000 wounded -- in the offensive. Five Israeli civilians and one soldier have been also been killed.

Unlike other demonstrations around the globe, however, rally organizers in Kandahar city also condemned NATO air strikes aimed at Taliban fighters, which have killed scores of civilians.

At least several dozen people -- including women and children -- died during an Aug. 22 U.S. raid on the village of Azizabad in Herat province.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has harshly condemned the bombings. Karzai, who has pushed for a review of the use of U.S. and NATO air power, says civilian deaths erode support for the war among his people.

At the demonstration, a man named Matiullah, 38, called the Israeli offensive "disgusting" and questioned what he sees as Muslims being "targeted" by non-Muslim countries.

"The reason why we got together is to become one against these nations who are bothering us time and again," Matiullah said, referring to his reason for attending the Kandahar city demonstration.

Another man, Haji Ghani, 33, said he was sitting with his ailing mother in a nearby hospital when he got word of the demonstration. He decided to leave his mother and join the protesters in the streets below.

"I am glad that at least we are having demonstration," he said.

"I am really against Israel's attack on Palestine. They are killing innocent people illogically."

Canadian military officials at Kandahar Airfield did not respond to a request for comment.

I wonder what sort of effect this will have on the situations in Afghanistan.