Baghdad: After more than five years of Iraqi silence on Palestine, it appears that the Israeli air strikes on Gaza which began on Saturday have woken up Iraqi leaders to the deteriorating situation of Palestinians, especially those living in Gaza.

Iraqi President Jalal Al Talabani met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki to discuss Gaza. Also, Iraqi Vice-President Tariq Al Hashemi, suspended his travelling schedule because of the events in Gaza, and asked US ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker to tell US President George W Bush to pressure Israel to halt its attacks.


"We have obligations towards Palestine and all Iraqi people are in solidarity with the people in Palestine, and we will support the people in Gaza," Khalid Hussain of the Supreme Islamic Council led by Abdul Aziz Al Hakim told Gulf News.

Liwa Smeisim, Head of the Sadr's political movement, has called for demonstrations in various Iraqi cities in solidarity with the people of Gaza and is also raising money to send to Gaza.

"Palestinian blood which was shed in Gaza and Iraqi blood which was shed in the Iraqi city of Kadhimiya [in reference to the bombing, which occurred in Baghdad at the time of the Israeli aggression on Gaza] is one blood," Omar Abdul Sattar of the Islamic Party told Gulf News.

Iraqi parliamentarians called for the convening of a special session of parliament to discuss the situation in Gaza and the nature of the Iraqi move to support the Palestinians and stop Israeli aggression.

"Iraqi resistance groups have to retaliate against the Israeli aggression on Gaza by escalating their operations against the US military in Iraq since the US position is in favour of this aggression, firstly, and secondly because the United States and Israel are both enemies of the Arabs," Omar Al Kubaisi, an activist of the Sunni Muslim Clerics Association (an anti-occupation group) told Gulf News.

In the Al Baladiat neighbourhood, hundreds of Palestinians gathered inside the Haifa club building to condemn the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the crowd called for Palestinian unity to confront the aggression.

"The Israeli aggression and the blood of the martyrs in Gaza must push the Fatah and Hamas movement to end the state of division and disagreement between them and give priority to national interest," Khader Al Saleh, a Palestinian who lives in Baghdad told Gulf News.