Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad referred to Israel as a western
"tool to dominate the Middle East" and an "insult to all humanity," in a
speech given at a Tehran rally marking the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem)
Day, according to Iran's IRNA news agency.
massive rallies in cities across Iran on Friday, marking Al-Quds Day, an
anti-Zionist event which calls for the liberation of Palestine.
Israel and the Zionist entity are against the preservation of all human
rights and human dignity," IRNA quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at the
Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and held signs
bearing slogans such as "Down with the US" and "Death to Israel" at
Fars News Agency reported that millions of people were expected to take
part in the events in over 550 cities throughout the country. The report
added that the demonstration was not only against Israel and the US,
but the silence of the international community at "the crimes committed
in the occupied lands."
Al-Quds Day rallies were also scheduled to take place in other countries throughout the Muslim world on Friday. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was expected to address the crowd gathered at the organization's Al-Quds Day celebration Friday evening at Al-Mahdi – Hadath School in the southern suburb of Beirut, according to Lebanese television station Al-Manar.
Iranian show of support for the Palestinian cause comes amid tension
between Israel and the Islamic Republic regarding the Iranian nuclear
program. Israel has demanded that the Iranians halt the development of
their nuclear technology, threatening a military strike if its demands
were not met. Iran has responded by asserting that its nuclear program
is exclusively for non-military purposes and decrying Israel's constant
threats as "psychological warfare."
Al-Quds Day, however, is not a
new phenomenon in Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini established the event in
1979 following the Islamic Revolution and wanted to "export" the event
to the rest of the Muslim world. Khomeini's successor, Supreme Leader
Khamenei, reaffirmed his commitment to the Palestinian cause Wednesday,
stating that he is confident that "the fake Zionist (regime) will
disappear from the landscape of geography,” Iran's Mehr News Agency
Herb Keinon and Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report