Israel is a “deadly and harmful appendage” for the region that will be “eradicated,” Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during a speech commemorating Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, on Friday.
“The Zionist regime is a deadly and harmful appendage for this region, and it will certainly be eradicated,” Khamenei said during a live speech on Iran’ annual Quds Day, which is held on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians, and Iran’s leaders frequently use the occasion to present themselves as anti-Israel.
Normally, state-sponsored marches are held across Iran on Quds Day, with demonstrators chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America” and burning the flags of the two countries.
However, all communal Quds Day events have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus.
Khamenei calls for expansion of jihad
Khamenei used his speech to reiterate his call for Israel to be destroyed and criticized US support for the country.
“Some argue that the Zionist regime is a reality in the region, without remembering that the deadly and harmful realities must be fought and eliminated,” said Khamenei.
“The policy of normalizing the presence of the Zionist regime in the region is one of America’s major policies,” he added.
I condemn in the strongest possible terms the call by the Iranian Supreme Leader @khamenei_ir to fight #Israel. This is a threat to international peace and security. The security of Israel is of paramount importance and the EU will stand at its side.— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) May 21, 2020
Khamenei also reiterated Iran’s apparent support for Palestinian militant groups and called for the continuation of “jihad.”
“The struggle for the liberation of Palestine is a jihad for the sake of God and a desirable Islamic duty,” Khamenei said.
He advised Palestinian militant groups to continue the fight against Israel, improve cooperation between each other and “expand the field of jihad in all Palestinian lands.”
Iran “will proudly do its best” in supporting Palestinian militant groups, said Khamenei.
“Reducing the Palestinian issue to a purely Palestinian and at most Arab issue is a grave mistake,” he said, adding that “the Palestinian issue is a human one.”
Watch: Ismail Haniyeh, the head of #Hamas’ political bureau, salutes the Islamic Republic of #Iran for being its top financial and military supporter, urging for an overall strategy to face Israel who “threatens our cause and our #Jerusalem.”https://t.co/09WOmhjBQh pic.twitter.com/ipSWFBRb35— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) May 20, 2020
At the end of his speech, Khamenei asked viewers and listeners to pray for slain military commander Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force – the overseas arms of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport in January. He had been the central figure in Iran’s network of proxy organizations across the Middle East, ranging from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthi militia in Yemen.