Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said Sunday that Iran’s “murderous regime” — which has long predicted Israel’s annihilation — will “disappear,” while the Jewish state will “exist forever.”
“The chief of staff of the Iranian army said the State of Israel will not exist in 25 years, I say to him — the State of Israel will exist forever, but you and your colleagues in the murderous regime will disappear long before,” Katz said, according to Israel Radio.
“I wish success to the protesters in Iran who are fighting for freedom and democracy,” added Katz.
In June, Iran inaugurated a huge digital countdown display at Tehran Palestine Square, showing that Israel would allegedly cease to exist in 8,411 days.
In 2015, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted that after 25 years — by 2040 — there will no longer be a State of Israel.
Protests in Iran began Thursday in Mashhad over economic issues. The protests have expanded to cities across the Islamic Republic in the days since.
An official in Tehran said on Sunday that 200 people were arrested during the previous night’s protests in the Iranian capital, the semi-official ILNA news agency reported.
“These individuals are now with the judiciary and some others have been freed out of clemency,” Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy for Tehran’s governor, told ILNA.
He said 40 of those arrested were “leaders” and that their protests had not been related to the economy.
“Some opposition groups from abroad make our youth emotional,” he said.
However, Twitter showed a completely different story, with videos of hundreds of people marching in many cities across the country, in protests that sometimes turned violent.
#Update99–#Lorestan, a group of young protesters were attached by the security forces.Three groups then united and burned a Basij base and two banks.#Rasht just now, Basij Forces tried to arrest a young woman protesters didn’t allow it and started beating them up.#IranProtests pic.twitter.com/B4O9gfjAwd
— Raman Ghavami (@Raman_Ghavami) December 31, 2017
Meanwhile, authorities acknowledged the first fatalities in the protests in Doroud, a city some 325 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Tehran in Iran’s western Lorestan province. Protesters had gathered for an unauthorized rally that lasted into the night Saturday, said Habibollah Khojastepour, the security deputy of Lorestan’s governor. The two protesters were killed in clashes at the rally, he said.
Videos circulating on social media late Saturday also appeared to show fallen protesters in Doroud as gunshots sounded in the background. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the footage.
Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli warned protesters that police would not hesitate to confront lawbreakers.
“Those who misused cyberspace and spread violence are absolutely known to us and we will definitely confront them in due time,” Fazli said, according to state TV.
Agencies contributed to this report.