Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thousands protest in Gaza against "vampire" Bush

GAZA, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Brandishing placards showing George W. Bush as a vampire swigging Muslim blood, thousands of Hamas supporters protested in Gaza on Wednesday against the U.S. president's visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Some 20,000 members of the Islamist group, shunned by the West for refusing to renounce violence, set U.S. and Israeli flags alight. Bush was a "butcher" whose first presidential visit to the Holy Land was skewed towards helping Israel, they said.

"In his first words Bush talked about Israel, its security, its democracy and the right of America and Israel to defend themselves," senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar told reporters at the rally.

"He did not talk about settlements or the assaults against our people." In Jerusalem, Jewish families waved Israeli and American flags and cheered Bush, who hopes his visit will invigorate efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal before he leaves office.

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