An anti-Israel billboard is seen from a street in Tehran, Iran April 14, 2024.

Iranians Express Diverse Reactions To IRGC's Attack On Israel

Sunday, 04/14/2024

Reactions from authorized media commentators in Iran on Sunday to the attack on Israel were notably scarce, as they carefully avoided crossing any government red lines.

Typically, political pundits appearing in Iran’s government-controlled media speak before Ali Khamenei or the IRGC take a clear position on sensitive issues or make a decision. But when the decisions are made and actions are taken, they usually thread very carefully.

Military operations are one such area where dissenting opinions are rarely expressed. Consequently, after the IRGC's attack on Israel, voices of opposition were notably absent, with only statements from the IRGC and select reports from international media being disseminated. In such circumstances, pundits are constrained to voice agreement.

Insiders’ reaction

After 12 days of the regime's inaction following Israel’s attack on Quds Force members in Damascus, the predominant theme across all of the regime's propaganda outlets immediately after the drone and missile attacks was self-congratulation: “The regime is punishing the aggressor”, “the necessary warnings have been given to the United States”, and “the punishment is due”. These mirror Khamenei words and position taken by the IRG.

Apparently, to keep everyone in line, the hardliner Kayhan Daily, controlled by the Supreme Leader’s office labeled anyone who dared to speak about regional peace and stability, “a traitor.”

A gathering in Tehran in support of IRGC attack on Israel, April 13, 2024

To show the power of the IRGC, headlines such as "Israel was put on full alert", "Zero hour of punishment", "Zionists' fear of Iran's response", "Israelis are confused and dumbfounded, they have no confidence to fight", "Iranian drones do not give a chance to escape," in Government and quasi-government newspapers and websites were published. These headlines were responding to general public ridicule and lack of trust in any official claims.

Regime-organized rallies were launched, soon after the attack commenced, in cities such as Tehran, Qom, and Gorgan to show public support for the IRGC and Khamenei, but the number of participants was in the range of tens to hundreds of people. In these gatherings, small crowds chanted slogans likening the war against Israel to the historical conflict between the Prophet of Islam and the First Imam of Shias against the Jews during the early days of Islam.

People’s reactions

The initial response of ordinary people in the streets and bazaars of major cities was to queue up at gas stations to refuel their cars. The primary and immediate concern was the potential disruption in daily life due to subsequent shortages. Similar lines were witnessed during the Iran-Iraq war following air strikes.

In the responses seen on social media, three significant trends emerged: expressions of support for Israel, public skepticism towards official news, and ridicule directed at IRGC weapons used in the attack. One user, writing in Farsi, stated, "My country is fighting with another country, and I want that country to win." Iranians on social platforms also utilized hashtags like "Beat them, Israel!" and "Thank you, Israel."

In reaction to the criticism following the attack on Israel, the Revolutionary Guards Intelligence Organization issued a notice urging citizens to report any online support for Israel, treating it as a "criminal" offense. The amount of pro-Israel sentiment exceeded expectations for the IRGC intelligence unit.

Comments online referred to the Islamic Republic's operation as "Fake Al-Assad," a mocking reference to the previously announced retaliation for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, when Iran launched ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad military base in Iraq hosting US troops in 2020.

Videos circulated online showed individuals examining crashed drones in various regions of Iran, ridiculing the regime's military institutions and weaponry.

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