Hundreds of thousands of Iranians today marched the streets of Tehran and across the country to mark the International Quds Day, Iranian media reported. The demonstrators voiced support to the plight of Palestinians and chanted slogans against Israel and the United States. Senior political and military leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani and Islamic Revolution Guards Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari, attended the anti-Israeli rallies. The organizers of the event also issued a statementthat not only called for the destruction of the state of Israel but also denounced the United States, Saudi Arabia and certain regional countries. “We consider the liberation of the sacred Quds and efforts for the ‘ultimate downfall and destruction of Israel’ and elimination of this cancerous tumor of the region the number one priority of the Islamic world,” the statement said. “We condemn the evil efforts by al-Saud and some regional countries in providing security to Zionism by supporting terrorism, making compromise and normalizing relations with the regime occupying Quds. We also voice support to the government, army and popular and resistance forces in the countries of Syria and Iraq as well as the oppressed nations of Yemen and Bahrain,” it added. “We also consider America the Great Satan and the unreliable, number one enemy.” 

The statement also condemned the latest U.S. Senate legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran as a “violation” of the 2015 nuclear agreement and called on the government to take retaliatory measures based on the instructions of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Separately, Iranian leaders also made statements denouncing Israel and the United States. 

“The International Quds Day is a manifestation of the will of all Muslim nations to confront America and Israel,” saidSupreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan echoed a similar remark and added: “Our nation will not allow that the illegitimate Zionist regime to gain a foothold in the world of Islam, or the Americans to think that they can bring the Islamic world under its domination by creating discord between Muslim countries.” 

Marching along demonstrators, Rouhani stressed that the message of today’s protest rallies is “aversion to the occupying and usurping Zionist regime and the message of support for a great, oppressed nation in the history, which has been persecuted for 70 years.” 

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Israel was “the most evil phenomenon” of the last century. 

Comment: In August 1979, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, named the last week of the month of Ramadan “International Quds Day” and called on Muslims around the world to express solidarity with the Palestinians against Israel. Quds is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Since then, the Iranian government organize protest rallies in Tehran and across the country to call for the liberation of Jerusalem, express solidarity with the Palestinians, chant anti-Israel and anti-American slogans, and voice support for the clerical regime in Iran. On the same day, Iranian government also sponsors anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies in several Muslim countries from South Asia to the Middle East and North Africa. 

Iran does not recognize Israel and the Iranian regime have been supporting militant groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah and Hamas in Gaza Strip to fight the Jewish state for more than three decades. 

This year’s Quds rallies came amid heightening tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia; as a result, some demonstrators chanted anti-Riyadh slogans and voiced support for the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and its proxy forces in Syria and Iraq.