Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned Israel that it “can never” feel safe, as Iranians took to the streets for an annual protest against the country’s arch-enemy.
His comments came against the backdrop of rising tensions between the Islamic Republic and Israel after the US pulled out of the landmark nuclear agreement, a decision partly based on Israeli claims of a secret Iranian nuclear programme.
“Israel can never feel that it is in a safe place,” Mr Rouhani told reporters in Tehran on Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day.
“Today, nations declare that freedom of Quds and the entire Palestinian territories is the cause and wish of all of us and they will never forget this cause,” Rouhani said on Friday, according to the Fars news agency. “God willing, the Palestinian people will return to their territories one day.”
Protesters in Tehran chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to America,” while others burned effigies of US President Donald Trump.
Iranian officials spoke of liberating Jerusalem through “armed struggle” on the day named after the city. Tehran has railed against the US decision to relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the first country to do so for decades, in a move that effectively saw Washington recognise the contested city as Israel’s capital.
Iran launched its first direct rocket attack at Israeli targets last month from Syria, a barrage that Israel responding to with air strikes against Tehran’s infrastructure in the country where it is supporting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.
In February, Israel dispatched fighter jets on bombing raids into Syria to respond to an Iranian drone that had entered its airspace. The jet was shot down, the first downing of an Israeli aircraft for decades, and Israel proceeded to respond with stronger and more powerful air strikes.
Last Sunday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumour” that must be “removed and eradicated”.
Israel says it must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon for fear that it will attempt to wipe out the country.