A senior Iranian cleric today called for arming Palestinians to wage a “third intifada” against Israel, Fars News Agency reported. The interim Friday prayer of Tehran told worshippers that the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has further solidified Iran’s influence in the region and stressed that the creation of Iranian-led “resistance” forces in the region will lead to the destruction of Israel. “The enemies created Daesh [ISIS] so as to create a security shield for Israel. However, they failed to achieve their goal and helped our emotional, political and military influence to deepen in the entire region. It also resulted in the creation of a holy union with other Islamic countries under the title of Zainabyoun, Fatemiyoun, Haidaryoun, Nujaba and …,” Hojjatoleslam Kazem Sedighi, referring to Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia groups from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and the broader region. “And now, a solid defensive and military network has been created and with these preparations the demise of Israel in the near future, rather than in the long term, is undeniable,” he added.

Referring to the latest anti-Israeli and anti-American demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Sedighi called for arming the Palestinians to carry out the third intifada against Israel. “In this intifada that has begun, according to the intelligent and divine advice of the standard-bearer of the movement of the oppressed Supreme Leader Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei, attention should be paid to arm the Palestinians so that they can continue this armed resistance.”

Comment: Official statements and commentaries in Iran indicate that the Islamic Republic is seeking to exploit the aftermath of Trump’s announcement on the status of Jerusalem. As one analyst wrote in I.R.G.C.-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, Tehran hopes that Washington’s decision would help Iran’s efforts to further strengthen the “resistance front” in the region to fight Israel. 

Furthermore, Iranian leaders and clerics are encouraging Palestinian armed groups to wage another armed uprising against Israel. President Hassan Rouhani and Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani this week called the leadership of Hamas and pledged Iran’s “all-out support” for them in their armed struggle against the Jewish state. According to the read-out of the phone conversations with the leadership of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Soleimani also emphasized that other groups within the “resistance axis in the region” are also ready to defend the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

During last Friday’s prayer, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, an aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, called for an uprising against Israel. “With this decision, Trump rejected all negotiations of the past seven decades and demonstrated that the only and only way to achieve the Palestinian aspiration is through intifada, which would change the Zionist regime’s daylight into a dark night. You should rage against this occupying regime; and the more you inflict damage to this usurper and criminal regime, the closer you have taken a step toward pleasing God,” he said.