Israel faces an existential threat from Iran for the first time since the founding of the state, new Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said Sunday, within hours of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei once again dubbing Israel a “cancerous tumor.”

Dichter, sworn in to his new position on Thursday, made the comments at a changing of the guard ceremony at the ministry’s headquarters in Tel Aviv with his predecessor Matan Vilna’i.

“Our enemies have built attack capabilities against Israel,” Dichter said. “There are those that represent a strategic threat from Lebanon, from Gaza and from Syria, and an existential threat from Iran for the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel.”

But, he said, Israel has proven to itself, its enemies and the world that the “era where Israelis are killed only because they are Jews is over.”

Dichter said that Israel’s “active defense capabilities,” meaning its multi-tiered antimissile umbrella, and the “massive attack capabilities in the IDF’s hands,” were meant to ensure that the home front does not turn into the front line. His ministry’s job, he said, is to ensure that the price paid in lives and property will be reduced to a minimum in those “breaches” where the enemy succeeds in their attacks.

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Even as Dichter was talking about Israel’s active and passive defensive capabilities, as well as its significant offensive potential, Khamenei kept the torrent of virulent Iranian anti-Israeli rhetoric alive.

“The big powers have dominated the destiny of the Islamic countries for years and...

installed the Zionist cancerous tumor in the heart of the Islamic world,” AFP reported the Iranian leader saying in an address to a group of officials and Muslim ambassadors marking Id al-Fitr, the festival ending Ramadan.

“Many of the Islamic world’s problems come from the existence of the sham Zionist regime,” AFP quoted him as saying.

Israel posed a “danger to humanity,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

Khamenei’s comments came a day after the US, the EU and UN Secretary-General Ban Kimoon condemned similar comments made by him and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over the past few days.

Khamenei’s speech also came just days after he expressed confidence that “the fake Zionist [regime] will disappear from the landscape of geography,” according to Iran’s Mehr News Agency. “The light of hope will shine on the Palestinian issue, and this Islamic land will certainly be returned to the Palestinian nation,” the supreme leader was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

And on Friday, Ahmadinejad said Israel was an “insult to all humanity” that needed to be wiped out.

At least one state leader, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, likened Ahmadinejad’s ideology to that of Hitler.

Albania’s Top Channel TV network quoted Berisha, who heads a majority Muslim state, as saying that “with his last declaration, that there will be no place for Israel in the Middle East, the president of Iran showed that he shares the same ideologies with Hitler about the Jewish people and their nation.”

Berisha said that Ahmadinejad’s stance is a threat to peace and stability in the Middle East and all over the world.

“The Nazi and paranoid declarations of Ahmadinejad are a real appeal for stopping at any cost the nuclear program of Iran, as one of the major dangers of world peace,” he wasquoted as saying.

One Israeli official, asked to explain the recent torrent of vitriol from Iran at a time when one might expect Tehran to tamp down the rhetoric to relieve itself of some of its international isolation, said this showed that the Iranians do not behave according to Western logic.

In their eyes it is more important to harp on the ideology, on the need to liberate all of “Palestine” and Jerusalem, than to appeal to the West through toned down rhetoric, he said.

Such statements raised Iran’s status among many Arabs and Muslims, the official said, which appeared to be more important to Tehran at this time than playing to the West.

“Appearing as the one resisting the West gives them status,” the official said.

As if to prove this point, IRNA quoted Khamenei as saying on Sunday, “The main issues of the world of Islam are Noble Quds [Jerusalem] and oppressed Palestine, which have become more important thanks to the Islamic Awakening.

All Muslim governments and nations as well as political and cultural elites should be watchful of the dangerous plot to cover up the main issue and the attempts aiming to blur realities through fanning differences in [the] Muslim Umma [community].”