Iran’s Supreme Leader on Friday denounced Israel as a “tumor” to be eliminated and hailed Tehran’s supply of arms to Palestinians, drawing swift condemnation from the United States and the European Union.
Opposition to Israel is a core belief for Shi’ite-led Iran, which backs Palestinian and Lebanese armed groups opposed to peace with the Jewish state, which Tehran refuses to recognize.
“The Zionist regime (Israel) is a deadly, cancerous tumor in the region. It will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in an online speech.
The United States and European Union rejected the comments.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Twitter dismissed them as “disgusting and hateful anti-Semitic remarks” that did not represent the tradition of tolerance of ordinary Iranians.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said they were “totally unacceptable and represent a deep source of concern”.
Although leaders of Palestinian militant groups in Gaza, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have frequently praised Iran’s financial and military support, Khamenei had not himself previously given public confirmation of Tehran’s weapons supply.
“Iran realised Palestinian fighters’ only problem was lack of access to weapons. With divine guidance and assistance, we planned, and the balance of power has been transformed in Palestine, and today the Gaza Strip can stand against the aggression of the Zionist enemy and defeat it,” he said.
Israeli Defence Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said: “The State of Israel has great challenges in a variety of arenas. Khamenei’s statement that Israel is a ‘cancerous tumor’ illustrates this more than anything.”
Source » reuters