Some Iranian hardliners have been advocating for involvement in the Gaza war despite warnings from Israel, the United States and senior politicians in Tehran.
Former Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told centrist news website Entekhab that "opposition to national interests is in the nature of some of Iran's hardliners." He had disclosed earlier that hardliners sent letters to Khamenei to encourage him to intervene in the Gaza war.
Zarif said on social media that "In several interviews over the past week, I tried to explain Israel's warmongering objectives and its inhumane treatment of Palestinians over the past 70 years. Unfortunately, some of my statements were fragmented before publication and then used selectively. At times, hardliners used my statements to further their own political game."
Last week, it was reformist journalist Sara Massoumi who first reported Zarif's speech during a meeting with reformist politicians in Tehran. Massoumi quoted Zarif as having said: "If Iran is dragged into the Israel-Gaza war, nothing is going to happen to any of Iran's state officials! The bombs are going to fall on the people."
Elsewhere in the speech Zarif asked: "So far who has suffered from the sanctions? Those who make several millions of dollars, or the poor people?"
Zarif posted a video of his statement on YouTube and X, and called on viewers to see for themselves that those who accuse him of not having any concern for Palestinians were wrong or biased in their judgement. He also reiterated his call for Islamic and national solidarity in support of Palestinians.
Nonetheless, his critics continued to attack him on social media. "Congratulations Mr. Zarif! Your video clip is being used by Israeli and European channels with the caption 'Former Iranian Foreign Minister says Gaza has nothing to do with Iran.' Once again you backstabbed Iran among the Resistance groups and countries."
Zarif, in return, told Entekhab that the accusations were part of a factional polarization attempt to poison the mood in the society." Zarif had said in an earlier interview on Telegram that "Israel dreams of getting Iran and the Lebanese Hezbollah involved in the Gaza war.”
In another statement, Zarif accused Iranian hardliners of boosting Iranophobia and Islamophobia in the world with their behavior. He added that Iran has been eliminated from the international scene as many big powers do not like to engage with Tehran. He added that none of the powerful world players, particularly Russia want Iran to be able to play any part on international scene.
He further referred to the controversy about the use of Iranian drones in Russia's war against Ukraine and accused Russia of letting down Iran by getting the drones from Tehran and then disclosing Iran’s involvement in the war.
Last week, former President Hassan Rouhani had also warned against Iran becoming involved in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Rouhani addressed the ongoing conflict in Gaza, warning that regime’s role in flaming the conflict was putting Iran at risk. He emphasized the potential consequences of its direct, or indirect involvement through proxies, warning that "a mistake, a wrong decision, or an imprecise action could drag the flames of war towards us."