President Ebrahim Raisi and other regime officials praised Gazan militants for their terror attacks on Israel, but many ordinary Iranians resent this support.
Following separate phone talks Sunday with the Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhalah and Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh, Raisi issued a statement in which he said the Islamic Republic supports the “Palestinian nation’s lawful defense”.
Raisi accused Israel and its supporters of responsibility for “jeopardizing the security of regional nations”, for which he said Israel should be held accountable.
“Iran invites the whole world to observe the fact that the accumulation of oppression and injustice towards the oppressed Palestinian nation, the continuation of insult to women and prisoners, and the desecration of al-Quds and the first ‘Qibla’ of Muslims, will not last forever and are certain to face the resistance of nations,” he said.
Raisi chose his words apparently to deflect widespread international outrage at the wanton killing of Israeli civilians by the invading gunmen, who also kidnapped dozens of women and children.
Ghazi Hamad, a Hamas spokesman, told the BBC Sunday that the group had direct backing for the attack from Iran.
In an earlier statement, Major General Mohammad-Bagheri (Baqeri), Chief of Iranian Armed Forces Staff, had also called the surprise attack on Israel on Saturday, dubbed Al-Aqsa Storm, as a “glorious victory” and said these operations proved that “desperate attempts such as the ridiculous normalization process” would not be able to slow down or prevent Israel’s annihilation.
“Once the stone Intifada (uprising) was the Palestinian nation’s only defense tool, but today Palestinian fighters have reached a level of capability that enables them to deal strong blows to the Zionist enemy in a complex operation and make a mockery of its air defense systems and Iron Dome by firing thousands of rockets and missiles as part of a complex combined operation,” Bagheri said.
Admiral Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) in a tweet Sunday also called the terror invasion “decisive, unique and successful” and a “real example of legitimate defense against a criminal regime”.
The Islamic Republic’s propaganda apparatus organized street celebrations for “Palestinian victory” in Tehran and other cities Saturday evening but sources in Iran say participants were pro-regime and Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) supporters and their families. Ordinary Iranians kept away from such celebrations; they maintained.
Footage and photos released by state media and pro-regime social media users also strongly suggest that these “celebrations”, even in large cities, were small and hastily organized propaganda events that failed to attract ordinary people who in the past decade have often protested to the regime’s massive expenditures to support its militant allies. Protesters have often chanted slogans such as “Neither Gaza, nor Lebanon. I will only sacrifice my life for Iran”.
A video posted with the caption “Remarkable presence of Esfahan residents in the celebration of Palestine’s victory over Zionist occupiers” shows only dozens of people gathered around a pick-up truck chanting slogans against Israel.
A photo published on X presumably showing “celebrations and happiness of people”, in Gilan-e Gharb, a town of 22,000 in western Iran actually shows a small group of men -- including a cleric, a soldier and others who look like government officials – standing in a line and holding posters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Qassem Soleimani and the founder of the Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini.
A source in the southwestern city of Ahvaz told Iran International that the IRGC had held celebrations at the main squares of the city. “It was a sad and disconcerting situation,” he said, adding that ordinary people would not join the Revolutionary Guards’ celebrations and passed by ignoring them.
“There were no celebrations in Ekbatan. There were only a couple of places in Tehran where the suppressive Basiji [militias] celebrated,” a resident of Tehran’s defiant Ekbatan neighborhood told Iran International.
The death toll from the Hamas attacks, the most violent since the Yom Kippur (Ramadhan) War in 1973, has reportedly killed at least 600 people in Israel since Saturday.
In Gaza, the death toll of civilians in retaliatory Israeli attacks has risen to more than 370. Israeli military says it has also killed 400 Palestinian militants and arrested dozens.
World leaders including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have condemned the attack. Guterres said he was "appalled” by reports of attacks on Israeli civilians and their abduction from their homes.