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Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared Sunday that Israel had "pushed the button of its own destruction" by launching its military campaign against the Iranian-backed Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Ahmadinejad didn't elaborate, but suggested Islamic nations and others could somehow isolate Israel and its main backers led by the United States. On Saturday, the chairman of Iran's armed forced joint chiefs, Maj.-Gen. Sayyed Hassan Firuzabadi, said Iran would never join the current Middle East fighting.
Ahmadinejad's latest salvo against Israel came as the 12-day-old hostilities in Lebanon continued. The hard-line president drew international condemnation last year after publicly calling for Israel to be wiped out and calling the Holocaust a "myth."
Iran helped create the anti-Israel Hizbullah movement in the early 1980s and is among its main supplier of arms and funds. But Teheran has denied Israeli claims it is sent Hizbullah long-range missiles that have reached Haifa and other points in northern Israel since the battles broke out nearly two weeks ago following a cross-border Hizbullah raid that captured two Israeli soldiers.
"Britain and the United States are accomplices of the Zionist regime in its crimes in Lebanon and Palestine," said Ahmadinejad.
He said "the people of the region will respond" unless Israel and its allies apologize for their policies.
"Arrogant powers have set up a base for themselves to threaten and plunder nations in the region," said Ahmadinejad. "But today, the occupier regime (Israel) - whose philosophy is based on threats, massacre and invasion - has reached its finishing line."
Last week, Ahmadinejad sent a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that contained statements about Israel and the Holocaust that are "not acceptable," said German officials.
Germany has sharply criticized Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel statements.
In Teheran, the government has sanctioned billboards showing Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah and a message that it is the duty of Muslims to "wipe out" Israel. Officials also organized a demonstration in the southern city of Shiraz by Iran's small Jewish community calling for Israel's destruction and praising Hizbullah.
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