Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a live televised speech marking the annual Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), in Tehran, Iran May 22, 2020. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS
DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Palestinians on Friday to continue their uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were liberated.
Opposition to Israel is a touchstone of belief for Shi’ite-led Iran, which backs Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic militant groups opposed to peace with the Jewish state, which Tehran refuses to recognize.
“The uprising by Palestinians should continue … fight to liberate Palestine is an obligation and an Islamic jihad … The Zionist regime (Israel) is a cancerous tumor in the region.” Iran’s top authority Khamenei said in an online speech.
“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 said.
“The long-lasting virus of Zionists will be eliminated.”
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.
Khamenei reiterated the call in his speech on Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The annual occasion was inaugurated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, late founder of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
However, Iran’s clerical rulers had to cancel annual nationwide rallies marking Quds Day due to the coronavirus outbreak. Iran is one of the most-affected countries in the region with 7,249 deaths and a total of 129,341 infections.
Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Catherine Evans, William Maclean