In an address to the nation on Friday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised Iranian citizens for showing up at massive anti-Israel rallies last week in support of the Palestinian people to mark Al-Quds, or Jerusalem Day.
“This year and despite hot weather, people participated in Quds Day rallies more remarkable than previous years,” said Khamenei in a speech on Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
President Hassan Rouhani also sent a message to the nation, saying “I believe the land of Palestine will be returned to owners of the land with the help of god.”
Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency claimed that “millions of Iranians from all walks of life” took part in the protests in “nearly 900 Iranian cities” last Friday.
There was no independent verification of these numbers.
Chanting “Death to Israel,” demonstrators protested Israel’s control of Jerusalem, the city where Muslims believe Islam’s Prophet Muhammad began his journey to heaven. Palestinians want East Jerusalem for their future capital. Demonstrators also chanted anti-American slogans to condemn the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem on May 14.
Iran has marked Al-Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic revolution. Al-Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians.
The day is also the last Friday of Ramadan and comes just three days after the Palestinians’ Naksa Day on June 5, which commemorates the Arab loss in the 1967 Six Day War.
Iran does not recognize Israel and supports anti-Israeli terror groups such as Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.