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Jordan police, protesters clash near Israel embassy

AMMAN, Jan 2 (Reuters) - Riot police fired teargas to push back hundreds of Jordanian protesters marching on the Israeli embassy in Amman after Friday Muslim prayers to protest at Israel's attacks in Gaza.

Worshippers chanting: "No Jewish embassy on Arab land" left the Kaloti mosque in the Rabia district of the Jordanian capital after noon prayers and headed to the nearby Israeli embassy.

Scores of riot police blocking roads to the embassy complex fired teargas at around 1,500 demonstrators, forcing them to retreat. Several protesters were beaten and arrested by police.

The protesters chanted slogans backing the Muslim militant group Hamas. "Revenge ... revenge ... O'Hamas, bomb Tel Aviv," they shouted.

Others shouting Islam's rallying cry of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) hurled stones at police. Police were not immediately available for comment.

Israel's week-old air offensive, some of the worst in 60 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is aimed at stopping Hamas rockets striking Israeli towns. It has prompted days of angry protest by Jordanians.

King Abdullah and his wife Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian origin, both donated blood this week in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with Palestinians.

The Friday protest was one of several large demonstrations and rallies held nationwide, including a large outdoor rally in the capital's largest stadium organised by the Islamist-led opposition which is expected to attract thousands.

Around 5,000 Palestinians and Jordanians urged a jihad (holy struggle) after a peaceful march in downtown Amman called by the Muslim Brotherhood group.

Hundreds of mosques held prayers for those killed in the Gaza strip.

Most of Jordan's 5 million citizens are of Palestinian origin, they or their parents having been expelled or fled to Jordan in the fighting that accompanied the creation of Israel in 1948.

They have close family ties with their kin on the other side of the Jordan River. (Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi, editing by Alison Williams)

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