This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Iran’s supreme leader has called on Palestinians to continue their uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “cancerous tumor.”
In a speech online marking Quds Day on May 22, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also hailed Tehran’s supply of arms to Palestinians, saying the “fight to liberate Palestine is an obligation and an Islamic jihad.”
“The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor in the region,” he said.
“Today, the world is counting one by one every victim of the coronavirus across the globe, but nobody has asked who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of martyrdoms, imprisonments, and disappearances in Palestine and in countries where the U.S. and Europe have waged wars?” he added.
Following’s Khamenei’s remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that “whoever threatens Israel with destruction puts himself in similar danger.”
The United States and European Union also condemned the comments.
Khamenei and other senior Iranian officials have called repeatedly over the years for an end to the Jewish state, including through a referendum in the region, where Palestinians are in the majority.
But his comments on supplying weapons are the first public confirmation from the supreme leader that Tehran was arming the uprising. However, leaders of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have often praised Iran’s financial and military support.
Khamenei’s speech came on what Iranian authorities calls Quds Day – which has been observed every year since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem.
The Iranian regime has typically observed Quds Day with massive rallies, though this year, with Iran in the midst of being hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, officials have asked people to stay home and not hold the mass demonstrations that usually mark the event.