Iranians hold annual anti-Israel rallies to mark al-Quds day

July 1, 2016 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranians staged anti-Israel rallies across the country on Friday, with protesters condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and chanting “death to Israel.”

Tens of thousands of people marched in the capital, Tehran, as part of the al-Quds day rallies held each year on the last Friday of Ramadan. Some protesters trampled the Israeli flag and also chanted “down with the USA.”

Similar rallies took place across the country, Iranian state media reported.

In a speech ahead of Friday prayers in Iran, the deputy commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard lashed out at Israel.

Gen. Hossein Salami also hit out at officials in Iraq’s semi-autonomous northern region and other unnamed regional powers accused of provoking unrest along Iran’s western and northwestern borders, where Iranian forces have clashed with Kurdish separatists. “I warn...officials in northern Iraq to fulfil their commitments. We will decisively destroy any place that is the origin of threats against our ruling system, and we will be unbound by any cautions,” he said.

Iran does not recognize Israel and has marked al-Quds day since the start of its 1979 Islamic revolution. Al-Quds is a historic Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians and emphasize the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.