Iranians rally to mark Quds Day in solidarity with Palestinians


Thousands of Iranians took to the streets Friday across the country to mark Quds Day (Jerusalem Day) in solidarity with Palestinians, state media reported.

The rallies, an annual fixture since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, are held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“The Palestinians are actively confronting Israeli aggression from Gaza to the heart of Tel Aviv,” said parliament speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf amid a surge in violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the start of the year.

Recent weeks saw deadly attacks and clashes in Israel, annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, as well as cross-border fire between Israeli forces and militants in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria.

“Yesterday they (Palestinians) were fighting with stones, and now they hit (Israel) with rockets,” Ghalibaf said in a speech in the capital Tehran.

Rallies were held in Tehran and other major Iranian cities including Tabriz in the northwest, Hamedan in the west, Yazd in the center, Bandar Abbas in the south and Abadan in the southwest, according to images broadcasted by state television.

“Death to Israel and to America,” protesters chanted, waving Palestinian and Iranian flags as well as those of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shia movement Hezbollah.

Some banners raised by demonstrators read “the destruction of Israel is near” and “Palestine is the axis of unity of the Muslim world.”

Iran does not recognize its arch-foe Israel.

In central Tehran, protesters were burning US and Israeli flags and images of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, AFP correspondents said.

The pro-Palestinian rallies follow months of unrest in Iran sparked by the September death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a young women arrested for an alleged breach of strict dress rules.

Tehran has accused foreign adversaries including Israel of fomenting the protest movement.

“We have witnessed conspiracies by enemies in recent times,” Ghalibaf told the crowd in Tehran. “If it wasn’t for God’s grace and our nation’s intelligence… they would have had their dreams.”

“It shows we must act now with greater focus and try to eliminate our weak points,” he added, pointing specifically to Iran’s economy battered by years of sanctions.

“Today, the most important fight of all officials is against high costs, because it is a weak point exploited by the enemy,” Ghalibaf said.

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