DUBAI – Iran’s Supreme Leader accused Israel on Friday of being a “tumor” that had to be removed and praised Tehran’s arms deliveries to the Palestinians, quickly condemning the United States, the European Union and Israel.
Opposition to Israel is central to Shia Muslim-led Iran. The Islamic Republic supports Palestinian and Lebanese armed groups that oppose peace with Israel, which Tehran refuses to recognize.
“The Zionist regime (Israel) is a deadly, malignant tumor in the region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed, “Chief Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an online speech.
The United States and the European Union rejected the comments.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter dismissed them as “disgusting and hateful anti-Semitic remarks” that did not represent the tradition of tolerance of ordinary Iranians.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said they were “completely unacceptable and a major cause of concern”.
While leaders of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have often praised Iran’s financial and military support, Khamenei himself had not previously given public confirmation of Tehran’s weapons supply.
“Iran realized that the only problem faced by Palestinian hunters was the lack of access to weapons. With divine guidance and help, we had planned, and the balance of power has been transformed into Palestine, and today the Gaza Strip can withstand the aggression of the to stand and defeat Zionist enemy, ”he said.
Israeli Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz said, “The state of Israel faces major challenges in different arenas. Khamenei’s statement that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” illustrates this more than anything. “
He said on Facebook, “I don’t want to suggest that someone test us … We will be prepared for all threats, and by all means.”
In a statement described as a response to Khamenei, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Those who invoke the threat of destruction against Israel are putting themselves in the same danger.”
Zeyad al-Nakhala, head of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who has publicly admitted to receiving Iranian weapons and funds, praised Khamenei’s comments. “We are ready for a long jihad and victory will be granted,” he said in comments circulated by the group.
Iranian officials have repeatedly called for an end to Israel, including through a referendum that would exclude most of the Jews, including Palestinians in the region and abroad.
Khamenei suggested that worldwide attention to the coronavirus crisis had helped to cover up the injustices inflicted on the Palestinians. “The long-term Zionist virus will be eliminated,” he added.
Khamenei spoke on Iran’s annual Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, held on the last Friday of the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Iran canceled nationwide Quds Day rallies due to coronavirus. Iran is one of the most affected countries in the region with 7,300 deaths and a total of 131,652 infections.
Khamenei also denounced what he called treason by “political and cultural mercenaries in Muslim countries” helping the Zionists to downplay the Palestinian issue, a clear reference to some Arab states, including Saudi Arabia’s regional rival, Iran.