Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr on Wednesday urged reprisals against American forces in Iraq to protest Israel's Gaza offensive, as Arab anger grows over civilian deaths in the Palestinian territory.
The strongly worded statement signaled a threat by al-Sadr's militia fighters to renew violence against American troops after months of relative calm.
Iraqis have expressed outrage over the Israeli offensive and what is perceived as U.S. inaction, holding protests to show solidarity with the Palestinians. The issue has again put the spotlight on Iraq's relations with Israel as the two countries remain technically at war.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki expressed "great pain and sorrow" over the Israeli offensive and accused the international community of ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.
"It is regrettable that this brutal crime continues with the silence of the international community," he told reporters Tuesday.
He called on other Arab and Muslim nations to "abolish diplomatic relations" with Israel and to "stop all public and clandestine contacts with this murderous regime." Only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, have peace treaties with Israel.