Anti-Israel protest near embassy in Amman
Anti-Israel protest near embassy in Amman Reuters

Hundreds of mainly Islamist Jordanian protesters burnt Israeli flags in Amman on Sunday, as demonstrators called on Hamas to step up rocket attacks against Israeli towns and cities to avenge civilian deaths caused by Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

According to the Reuters news agency, demonstrators near the Israeli embassy in Amman chanted "Death to Israel" in one of the biggest public outpourings of anger against Israel in the last few years.

Protesters chanting slogans backing Hamas urged a jihad in smaller marches in Amman and in cities and refugee camps across the kingdom.

"O Hamas... Your rockets have raised our heads... hit again and again Ashkelon and Tel Aviv," angry youths carrying a large PLO flag shouted, according to Reuters.

"O Hamas, you are the gun and we are your bullets," chanted a dozen bearded Islamist youths wearing green headbands of the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

Hamas has a large following among nearly two million “Palestinian refugees” living in refugee camps across the kingdom.

Sheikh Hammam Saed, the head of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest political party and a bastion of opposition to the kingdom's pro-Western policies, lambasted Arab leaders for failing to lend support to Hamas.

The Islamist leader also slammed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, for whom Hamas is a security threat because it is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, for effectively closing the border crossing with Gaza.

He said hampering the entry of essential aid was inhumane and leading to the suffering of thousands of civilians.

"These Arab regimes have made us accustomed to taste the bitterness of defeat and now the day has come that someone (Hamas) has ended this humiliation and weakness by their heroic resistance," Saed was quoted by Reuters as having told the protesters.

Jordan is one of only two Arab states, the other being Egypt, to have signed a peace treaty with Israel. Nevertheless, the treaty has never won much domestic favor and there have been protests against Israel over the years.

In February, hundreds of Islamists rallied in Jordan against a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The protesters also demanded that King Abdullah II "revoke the peace treaty with the Zionists."

In 2012, Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood  sharply criticized the naming of a new ambassador to Israel, saying the move was “an act of provocation towards Jordanians.”

In 2011, Israel temporarily evacuated its embassy in Amman after calls by Jordanian activists for a ‘million man march’ near the embassy building.

Israel has also been singled out for criticism by Jordanian officials. Jordan recently condemned Israel's Operation Protective Edge, calling the mission which aims to stop Hamas from firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians "barbaric."

Jordan’s Prime Minister also threatened several months ago that his country might review the peace treaty with Israel, after the Knesset began a debate on allowing Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount.