Anti-Israel rallies will likely be held across the Middle East and North Africa region to mark Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day on May 22, the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The largest rallies will be held in Iran; however, demonstrations are also likely in Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Palestinian Territories, and eastern Saudi Arabia. It is unclear how well-attended the rallies will be this year amid COVID-19-related restrictions. Increased security and localized traffic disruptions are likely near all potentially affected sites. If crowds are overly disruptive or fail to comply with existing COVID-19-related restrictions on large public gatherings, then clashes will be possible.
Al-Quds Day, which promotes the "liberation of Jerusalem from Israeli occupation" and is intended to demonstrate solidarity with the Palestinian people, has traditionally featured large rallies, during which participants express anti-US and anti-Israel sentiment. The 1979 Iranian Revolution leader and founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini established Al-Quds Day in 1979, and the largest rallies are typically held in that country. The Iranian government's sponsored demonstrations attract millions of people in larger cities, such as Tehran. However, these rallies do not normally pose a significant risk to foreigners.
Avoid all protests as a standard precaution. Exercise heightened vigilance around major checkpoints, public squares, and likely demonstration venues. Consider alternative travel routes to circumvent potential demonstration sites. Maintain contact with your diplomatic mission.
For more information about COVID-19, visit the COVID-19 Risk Intelligence and Resource Center.
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