Iranians hold annual pro-Palestinian rallies nationwide
Thousands of Iranians took to the streets Friday to join annual pro-Palestinian rallies, as Israeli-Palestinian clashes in Jerusalem left dozens injured.
The Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations, which are held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, were launched in 1979 by Iran’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Across Iran, flag-waving protesters chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”, the state broadcaster IRIB reported.
They also held up signs reading “Jerusalem is ours” and “Quds Day is the day of Islam”, it said.
Iran does not recognise its arch-foe Israel and supporting the Palestinian cause has been a pillar of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Friday’s rallies were held in Tehran and other major cities, including Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz, according to IRIB, and come after a two-year pause due to Covid restrictions.
The demonstrations took place against the backdrop of deadly violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank, and fierce clashes in Jerusalem.
On Friday, new clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound injured 42 people, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
The Al-Aqsa fighting has sparked fears of another conflict after last year’s 11-day war between Israel and armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam’s third-holiest site. It is also Judaism’s holiest place and known to Jews as the Temple Mount.
The unrest came as Israeli security forces have stepped up operations in the West Bank since March 22.
The violence has killed 12 Israelis, including an Arab-Israeli police officer, and two Ukrainians in four separate attacks inside Israel.
A total of 26 Palestinians and three Israeli Arabs have also died since March 22, among them the perpetrators of the attacks and those killed by Israeli security forces in West Bank operations.
Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War — when it also occupied the West Bank — and later annexed it in a move not recognised by the international community.
Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state while Israel considers it part of its “undivided” capital.
Palestinians have been angered by an uptick in Jewish visits to the Al-Aqsa compound, where Jews can go but are not allowed to pray.