The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, said Saturday that war with Israel will “eventually happen,” and that the Islamic Republic would “destroy the Jewish state.”
Speaking at a news conference in Tehran, Jafari said, “The war will eventually happen but it is not clear when and where it will take place,” according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“This cancerous tumor Israel seeks to launch a war against us,” he said, and added, “right now they see war as the only method of confrontation.”
“If [Israelis] start something, they will be destroyed and it will be the end of the story for them,” Jafari said, according to ISNA.
An Al Arabiya report on Friday said that Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the powerful IRGC to stop its operations around the world, particularly those in Africa and Latin America, according to a senior army official.
The official told Al Arabiya that Khamenei wants the IRGC to focus its efforts on countries in the region, and that he fears a possible Israeli strike. Khamenei is also worried about the effect of crushing international sanctions, particularly on the Islamic Republic’s funding of its military forces, according to the report.
The IRGC has been accused of involvement in numerous acts of terrorism worldwide, and its Al-Quds force has focused on attacks on Israeli targets. Most recently, Israel blamed Iran for a series of attempts to hit Israeli targets in India, Georgia, Thailand and other countries last spring. India’s police reported IRGC involvement in one of these attacks, in which the wife of an Israeli diplomat was injured in a bombing in February in New Delhi.
Also on Friday, Iran held a massive parade where it unveiled a new air defense system, Raad. At the parade, the air force commander of the Revolutionary Guards, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, warned that Israel “would cease to exist” if it launched an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“If a conflict breaks out, the Zionist regime would be able to manage the beginning of the war, but the response and end would be in our hands, in which case the Zionist entity would cease to exist,” said Hajizadeh. “The number of missiles launched would be more than the Zionists could imagine,” he added, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the event to lash out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French satirical weekly.
Ahmadinejad said that ”in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.” He asserted that this shows a double standard and “is clearly a deception.” Ahmadinejad called the film a plot conceived by Zionists to cause discord among Muslims.
The parade marked the anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war 32 years ago.
According to Fars, Raad, or Thunder, is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.