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On al-Quds Day, Iran’s Khamenei says Israel ‘is a terrorist base, not a country’

Iranian supreme leader says ‘fighting this despotic regime is everyone’s duty’; protesters burn Israel, US, Indian flags in Pakistan; kids rally in Syria; flag drawn on Iraqi road

  • Iranians set Israeli flags on fire as they step on a US flag during a rally marking al-Quds Day at the capital Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) square, on May 7, 2021 (AFP)
    Iranians set Israeli flags on fire as they step on a US flag during a rally marking al-Quds Day at the capital Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) square, on May 7, 2021 (AFP)
  • A demonstrator on a motorcycle holds an effigy representing Israel and the United States during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    A demonstrator on a motorcycle holds an effigy representing Israel and the United States during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
  • Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
  • Demonstrators chant slogans after burning representations of Israeli, US and Indian flags during the annual Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
    Demonstrators chant slogans after burning representations of Israeli, US and Indian flags during the annual Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)
  • A representation of an Israeli flag is placed outside the 17th of Ramadan mosque during 'al-Quds' Day in central Baghdad, Iraq, May 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
    A representation of an Israeli flag is placed outside the 17th of Ramadan mosque during 'al-Quds' Day in central Baghdad, Iraq, May 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)
  • Syrian and Palestinian children take part in a rally to mark al-Quds Day, on May 7, 2021, at the covered bazaar of Hamidiya in Syria's capital Damascus (Louai Beshara / AFP)
    Syrian and Palestinian children take part in a rally to mark al-Quds Day, on May 7, 2021, at the covered bazaar of Hamidiya in Syria's capital Damascus (Louai Beshara / AFP)
  • Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021  (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
    Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

In a speech to mark the annual al-Quds Day, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called Israel “not a country, but a terrorist base” and said its downfall was imminent.

“Israel is not a country, but a terrorist base against the nation of Palestine and other Muslim nations,” Khamenei said in live televised remarks.

“Fighting this despotic regime… is everyone’s duty,” Khamenei said.

Khamenei also stressed that “the decline of the enemy Zionist regime has begun and will not stop.”

File: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a message for the Iranian New Year, or Nowruz, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, March 20, 2021 (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

He blasted Israel’s normalization of ties with “some weak Arab governments” as attempts to undermine “the nightmare of Muslim unity,” calling on Palestinians to continue their resistance and for Muslim governments to support them.

Iran initiated al-Quds Day, or Jerusalem Day, in 1979, the year of the Islamic Revolution. It commemorates it with anti-Israel speeches, events and threats to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control.

This year the day falls close to Israel’s own Jerusalem Day, celebrated on May 10, which marks the unification of the capital during the 1967 Six Day War.

Despite virus restrictions, a number of people came out “spontaneously” in the capital Tehran, state TV said, showing the usual burning of flags and chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

A demonstrator on a motorcycle holds an effigy representing Israel and the United States during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

In a Wednesday tweet ahead of the commemorations, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif branded Israel “an apartheid regime.”

“Palestine is a yardstick for justice. Few measure up. But Iran has proudly stood with Palestinian people — who resist the brutality of an apartheid regime #QudsDay is yearly reminder of moral imperative of global solidarity for Palestine,” Zarif wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, protesters in Peshawar in Pakistan burned American, Israeli and Indian flags to the day, held on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.

Demonstrators chant slogans after burning representations of Israeli, US and Indian flags during the annual Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, Day rally in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

Rallies were also held in Syria and Israeli flags were painted on Iraqi roads for cars to drive over.

However, Berlin banned the annual anti-Israel Quds Day march this year, the first time the city has taken a stand against the event since it became a local tradition in 1996. It is illegal in Germany to call for the destruction of Israel.

Last month, the National Cyber Directorate warned that coordinated attacks against Israel were expected to mark al-Quds Day and the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Demonstrators burn representations of Israeli and US flags during the annual Al-Quds Day rally in Tehran, Iran, May 7, 2021 (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

The actions, expected to come around May 7 and to be coordinated by anti-Israel hackers around the world under the banner “#OPJerusalem,” will seek to spread propaganda messages by way of website corruption, text messages and attacks aimed at grabbing public attention, the directorate said in a statement. Each year the directorate warns against expected attacks linked to the day.

In last year’s attacks, various affected websites displayed a video simulating Israeli cities being bombed and messages threatening the destruction of the Jewish state. Despite the number of websites that were defaced, cybersecurity experts said the scale of the attack was relatively small because all were attacked via a single access point.

Tensions have risen between Israel and Iran, with the countries blaming each other for recent attacks on each other’s ships that have caused damage but no injuries or sinkings. In addition, Iran has blamed Israel for an explosion at a key nuclear facility that reportedly caused significant damage, but no injuries, by knocking out power systems.

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