North African Wave of Support For Palestinians At Onset Of Israel-Hamas War

Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, North African civil societies have shown a wave of support for Palestine.

“President Tebboune [of Algeria] reiterated to the Palestinian President, ‘the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.’”

Civil societies across North Africa have shown staunch solidarity with the Palestinian cause in response to Israeli retaliation for the 7 October attack by Hamas. The first article from the pan-African news aggregator, provides a broad overview of the pro-Palestinian reactions emanating from Morocco, Libya, and Algeria. Namely, it underscores how civil societies have demonstrated in support of Palestine, and in the case of Morocco,[i] and to a lesser extent, Libya,[ii] have used the conflict to call for the cessation of their states’ efforts to normalize relations with Israel. The protests also denounce the role of the United States and France in the conflict. As per the second article, also from, Tunisians gathered to show support for Palestinians, similarly seeking to penalize their own state for its efforts for rapprochement with Israel. The third article from the Algerian government-owned Algeria Press Service emphasizes the unanimity between Algeria’s government and its citizens on the issue. While protestors in Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia sought to punish their leaders for would-be softening stances towards Israel, in Algeria, President Tebboune faced no such backlash. In a call with Mahmoud Abas, the President of the State of Palestine, he underscored, “the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.”


“Manifestations pro-palestiniennes dans plusieurs pays arabes (Pro-Palestinian protests in several Arab countries),” (pan-African news aggregator), 14 October 2023.

Pro-Palestinian rallies, both organized and spontaneous, in response to the conflict between Israel and Gaza-based militant groups have taken the MENA region by storm. In North Africa, demonstrators gathered in Algeria, Libya, and Morocco to show support in favour of Palestine.

“The entire Algerian people are in solidarity with the Palestinian people and stand by their side. The Palestinian people are in distress and need the support of the Arab and Muslim communities,” shared Khaled Sofiane, pro-Palestinian protester in Algeria.

Despite, Morocco’s normalized ties with Israel in exchange for U.S. recognition of its sovereignty over the long-disputed Western Sahara territory, Prince Moulay Hicham El Alaoui, cousin to the Moroccan monarch, has voiced his support for Palestine on social media.

Thousands of Moroccans also protested to ask the government puts an end to the normalization.

“This is a call to the Moroccan state to stop normalization. An appeal to Morocco, which chairs the Jerusalem Committee, to act urgently, to close the liaison office with Israel. And to withdraw from all agreements. This is what Moroccan people demand today,” expressed Rachid Fellouli, pro-Palestinian protester in Morocco.

In Libya, the 5 El- Emad towers illuminated in the colors of the Palestinian flag in support.

The Libyan government has always publicly sided with Palestine and has not recognized Israel. A couple of months ago, Libya’s head of diplomacy was suspended for meeting with her Israeli counterpart. The news of the encounter had created unrest in the already unstable country.

“Guerre Israël-Hamas: des Tunisiens manifestent pour les Palestiniens (Israel-Hamas War: Tunisians protest for Palestinians),” (pan-African news aggregator), 13 October 2023.

Thousands of trade unionists, civil society representatives, political activists, lawyers and high school students demonstrated in the centre of Tunis on Thursday in support of the Palestinian people and called for the criminalisation of any normalisation of relations with Israel.

Denouncing the Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip, the demonstrators, brandishing the Palestinian flag, gathered in front of the headquarters of the trade union centre, the UGTT, before marching to Avenue Habib Bourguiba, the main thoroughfare in the city centre, AFP journalists observed.

“The people want to penalise normalisation” with Israel, chanted the demonstrators, angry at “Zionist crimes” and “international silence on the genocide in Gaza”, the Palestinian enclave.

The demonstrators also denounced the support of France and the United States for Israel, which had become “allies in the attack on the Palestinians”.

“Algeria: President Tebboune Receives Phone Call From President of State of Palestine,” Algeria Press Service (government-owned news service from Algeria), 9 October 2023.

President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has received a phone call from his brother the President of the occupied State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, the presidency of the Republic said on Monday.

Abbas informed the president of the Republic “about the grave abuses committed by the occupying forces against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” the statement said.

President Tebboune reiterated, to the Palestinian President, “the unwavering solidarity of Algeria, both people and government, with the brotherly Palestinian people.”He stressed that “these developments remind everyone that a just and comprehensive peace, as a strategic choice, can only be achieved by establishing an independent, sovereign Palestinian State.”


[i] For more on the Israel-Morocco normalization pact of 2020, see: “Israel, Morocco agree to normalise relations in US-brokered deal,” Al-Jazeera, 10 December 2020.

[ii] While Libya has never formally recognized Israel, protests erupted in Libya in August 2023 when Israel revealed that Libya’s Foreign Minister, Najla Mangoush, had met with Israeli representatives. Mangoush was subsequently suspended and fled the country. For more, see: Sam Magdy, “Libya’s foreign minister suspended, flees country after meeting with Israel’s top diplomat,” Associated Press, 28 August 2023.

Image Information:

Image: Tunisians protest in support of Palestine in 2021. Since the Hamas attack on Israel in October, North African civil societies have shown a wave of support for Palestine.
Attribution: BY-SA 4.0

Russia Uses Diplomacy To Increase Military Influence In Libya

Russian military assets in Al Khadim airfield, Libya, 2020

“Libya offers at least two advantages to Russia: its ports are only about an hour’s flight from the European coast, and its air bases in the south are very close to Sudan and the African Sahel countries…”

A series of recent diplomatic visits involving Russian officials and Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar could eventually lead to deepening bilateral military relations, according to regional press coverage.[i] In August, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Yevkurov led the first-ever Russian military delegation to visit Haftar.[ii] Yevkurov went back less than a month later, in mid-September, quickly followed by a visit to Moscow by Haftar, where he met with Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shoigu. According to the first excerpt from al-Araby al-Jadeed, a Qatari-aligned daily newspaper, Haftar is seeking a more formal defense relationship with Russia, which would include official political recognition for Haftar and his allies, as well as sustained military support for forces under Haftar’s control. In exchange, per the second accompanying excerpt, from the Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency, Russia would establish a long-term aerial and naval military presence in eastern Libya, similar to its current presence in Syria.As the excerpt notes, Libya’s proximity to Europe, the Sahel, and Sudan gives it unique geopolitical value to Russia, creating a corridor of influence linking its bases in Syria to territories ruled by friendly governments in the African Sahel. Although the discussions remain nothing more than talks at the moment, the intensity of Russia’s military-diplomatic efforts signals Moscow’s growing interest in increasing its military influence in eastern Libya.


“حفتر يجري لقاءات مكثفة مع مسؤولين في روسيا: بحث عن شراكة عسكرية معلنة؟

(Haftar holds intensive meetings with Russian officials: Seeking over military partnership?),” al-Araby al-Jadeed (Qatari-aligned daily), 28 September 2023.حفتر-يجري-لقاءات-مكثفة-مع-مسؤولين-روس-بحث-عن-شراكة-عسكرية-معلنة

In other details about Haftar’s discussions in Moscow, sources’ information agreed that Haftar asked Moscow to upgrade the level of bilateral relations by signing a defense and security agreement stipulating that he would obtain more military equipment, such as Russian air defense systems, drones, and the establishment of advanced workshops to maintain his militia’s military equipment, most of which are Russian-made.

According to the same sources, Moscow summoned Haftar after he repeated his request during Yevkirov’s two visits to Benghazi, last August and the week before last. The sources confirmed that the discussions are still in early stages, as Moscow is still unwilling to officially announce its presence in Libya by signing any official and announced agreement.

“حفتر بين مطرقة العقوبات الأمريكية وسندان الدعم الروسي

(Haftar between the hammer of US sanctions and the anvil of Russian support),” Anadolu Agency (Turkish news agency), 2 October 2023.التقارير/حفتر-بين-مطرقة-العقوبات-الأمريكية-وسندان-الدعم-الروسي-إضاءة/3005791

… Haftar has not abandoned Russian support and is asking for a price in return, not the least of which is recognition of his legitimacy and the provision of heavy and advanced weapons such as combat aircraft, drones, and air defense systems… [Russia] is still prepared to provide more weapons and training to his soldiers, and maintain military equipment in exchange for establishing its military presence on the southern front of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This makes it difficult for Haftar to choose between US sanctions and Russian military and diplomatic support…

Libya offers at least two advantages to Russia: its ports are only about an hour’s flight from the European coast, and its air bases in the south are very close to Sudan and the African Sahel countries. Although Wagner elements were deployed in several Libyan air bases in the east and south, such as Al-Jufra (central), Al-Kharrouba (east), Brak Al-Shati and Tamanhint (south), they have not yet been able to have an independent naval base in Sirte nor an air base in Al-Jufra (east of Tripoli)—as is the case with the Hmeimim air base and Tartus naval base in Syria—due to American pressure on Haftar. Therefore, observers expect that Moscow will seek to seize more than one military base in Libya, and connect them to its air supply line from Russia to Syria, passing through Libya and from there to its allies in Sudan and the African Sahel countries, all the way to the Central African Republic.


[i] For additional reporting and context, see: “Russia Seeks to Expand Naval Presence in the Mediterranean,” Wall Street Journal, 15 September 2023.; “Libya: The security relationship between Khalifa Haftar and Moscow is intensifying,” Le Monde, 11 October 2023.; and “After Libya’s floods, Russia throws its weight behind Haftar,” The New Arab, 9 October 2023.

[ii] The Russian Defense Ministry’s Telegram channel reported on it being the first-ever such visit Yevkurov first visit was on 22 August, the day before the head of the Wagner Group was killed in an airplane crash and in the context of reassuring African countries with Wagner presence that the PMC was now under government control. Yevkurov returned to Libya on 17 September, in the aftermath of the Derna floods. Haftar traveled to Moscow on 28 September. 

Image Information:

Image:  Russian military assets in Al Khadim airfield, Libya, 2020
Source: US AFRICOM Public Affairs,  
Attribution: Public Domain