TEHRAN, Iran — Thousands of Iranians gathered on the streets Saturday to mark the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran, chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” while condemning Washington’s support of Israel as it strikes the Gaza Strip during its war against Hamas.
Shortly after the 1979 Islamic Revolution toppled the Western-backed shah, Iranian students stormed the US embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 Americans hostage for 444 days.
The rally — which was called for by the state — came as the Israel-Hamas war entered its fourth week. The war began after some 1,400 people in Israel, mostly civilians, were slaughtered and over 240 taken hostage by 3,000 Hamas and other terrorists who burst into Israel in a murderous onslaught on October 7.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says that over 9,000 people have been killed in the Strip during the war, as Israel seeks to destroy Hamas’s military and governance capacities. The figures issued by the terror group cannot be independently verified. and are believed to include its own terrorists and gunmen, killed in Israel and in Gaza, and the victims of Gaza terror groups’ missile misfires.
People assembled outside the former US embassy in Tehran, with some burning American and Israeli flags.
Protesters stomped on images of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden. Others carried banners calling the US, “Great Satan.” The banner on the main podium read: “We trample America under our feet.”
Parliament speaker, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, addressed the crowds while criticizing US support of Israel. “We consider the criminal US a principal culprit in all these crimes,” in Gaza and against Palestinians, he said.
Qalibaf claimed that the Hamas attack on Israel has caused “irreparable” intelligence and security damage to the Israeli state.
In a statement published on behalf of the protesters at the end of the commemoration, they called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and warned the US, Britain and France that the crisis might expand in the region.
The statement ended with a vow that Iranians would stand by the Palestinians “until final victory.”
The demonstration began in Palestine Square in central Tehran. Protesters walked for nearly two kilometers (1.32 miles) till they reached the former US embassy compound. State TV showed footage of similar rallies in other Iranian cities and towns.
The annual rally is a venue for anti-Western sentiments and usually draws angry crowds.
On Wednesday Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticized the US for its support of Israel, claiming Israel would have been paralyzed without American support.
He called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war and for Muslim-majority nations to halt economic cooperation with the Jewish state.
Iran is a known backer of terror groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as the Lebanese Hezbollah.
In addition to attacks from Gaza, Israel is also under repeated rocket and missile attacks by Hezbollah and allied Palestinian terror factions from southern Lebanon, amid concerns the war could widen.