image Photo; Reuters

Khamenei calls on Muslims to fight Israel

Iran’s Supreme Leader has reiterated his call on Muslim nations to keep fighting against Israel.

“The fight against this despotic regime [Israel] is the fight against oppression and the fight against terrorism. And this is a public duty to fight against this regime,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Friday.

Khamenei was speaking on Iran’s annual “Quds Day,” which is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. The anti-Israel event is held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Ayatollah Regime initiated al-Quds day after seizing power in Iran during the 1979 Revolution, to call for an Islamic Jihad to reconquer Jerusalem. The date deliberately coincides with Israeli celebration of its own Jerusalem Day, marking the city’s reunification under Jewish authority after the 1967 Mideast war.

“Muslim nations’ cooperation on Quds is a nightmare for the Zionists,” Khamenei said.

Opposition to Israel is a fundamental stance adopted by Shi’ite-led Iran. The Islamic Republic ardently supports Palestinian and Lebanese Islamic terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, which are opposed to peace with the Jewish state – which Tehran refuses to recognize.

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for Israel’s annihilation.

Curbs imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Iranian government to cancel its annual Quds Day parade, but state media broadcast images of vehicles and motorcyclists flying Palestinian and Lebanese Hezbollah flags driving through the streets of Tehran. Photos were also published of Iranians burning Israeli and American flags.

The most recent condemnation by Iran comes amid ongoing clashes in Jerusalem.

Iran’s ally Turkey has also issued similar statements.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to Israel as “terror state” while speaking at an event in Istanbul on Saturday, while calling on all Muslim countries and the international community to take “effective” steps against Israel.

“The cruel Israel, terror state Israel is mercilessly and unethically attacking Muslims in Jerusalem,” Erdoğan claimed, adding that those who remain silent are “a party to the cruelty there.”

The Turkish leader said that his nation has “immediately launched the necessary initiatives to get the United Nations, Organization for Islamic Cooperation and all relevant institutions to take action.”

Erdoğan also demanded an immediate halt of the slated eviction of Palestinians from the contested Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, threatening that, “Otherwise, we will do everything we can to ensure the cruel [Israelis] are sentenced to the fate they deserve.” He did not elaborate on what he meant by the warning.

Bloody clashes between Arab rioters and Israeli police since the 13 April start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan have been fueled by an impending Israeli High Court of Justice decision over homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah – a dispute the Foreign Ministry described as a “real-estate dispute between private parties.” Several Palestinian families are currently appealing lower court verdicts ordering the must vacate the premises, based on documentation that the land was owned by Jews who had been displaced in the 1948 division of the city. A High Court decision on the matter expected today has been postponed in a bid to quell the violence.

Meanwhile in a rare sign of unity, several Turkish officials criticized Israel late on Friday in condemnation echoed by most of the opposition parties.

Hundreds of Turks protested outside Israel’s Embassy in Ankara and its Consulate in Istanbul late on Friday, despite a nationwide COVID-19 lockdown against the violence in Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Former allies Turkey and Israel have had a bitter falling-out in recent years, even though commercial trade remains robust. Ankara strongly supports Palestinian statehood aspirations.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu held talks in Ankara with visiting-Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki on Friday.

Previously Erdoğan has previously stated that Turkey will never abandon its support of the Palestinians even though it would like to improve ties with Israel, while Çavuşoğlu underscored that any rapprochement between the two sides is unlikely until a change of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.