Ali Akbar Velayati, advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNSNews.com) – The Iranian regime on Sunday reiterated its support for the Palestinian terrorist groups firing rockets into Israeli population centers, with a top advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei congratulating them on their “recent victories.”
Ten people have been killed and hundreds injured inside Israel over the past week as a result of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. More than 3,100 projectiles have been launched since last Monday, including 190 over a 12-hour period on Sunday.
The barrages have continued despite heavy retaliatory Israeli Defense Forces airstrikes targeting terrorists and their infrastructure in Gaza. No independent casualty data is available but Hamas, the radical Islamist group that has ruled the enclave since 2007, said Sunday at least 188 Palestinians have been killed, including dozens of children.
Hamas and the other U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization responsible for the rocket fire, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), have long been sponsored by the Iranian regime, cogs in what Tehran calls the “axis of resistance” against Israel and the United States.
On Sunday Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister who advises Khamenei on foreign affairs, called Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, underscoring the regime’s backing for the group.
“You are the pioneers of the awakening in the Islamic world and the pioneers of jihad in this nation,” Velayati told him.
He added that Hamas was “changing the equation and proving that Israel is weaker than a spider’s web, and that the heroics achieved by the resistance in Palestine are the pride of the entire Islamic nation.”
Velayati also called PIJ leader Ziyad al-Nakhala to reinforce Iran’s support for the smaller terrorist group, “expressing sincere congratulations to the Palestinians for their recent victories and defaming the Zionist regime,” Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.
It quoted Velayati as telling Nakhala that “the Islamic Republic of Iran has performed its duties in the past and will continue to do so under the leadership of the Leader (Khamenei).”
Nakhala in turn thanked the supreme leader for this support and pledged to “continue to resist and defend Al-Aqsa mosque until the final victory.”
(Neither Nakhala nor Haniyeh actually live in Gaza. They are based in Damascus and Doha, under the protection of the Assad regime and Qatari governments respectively.)
During the phone conversation with the PIJ leader Velayati condemned the governments of some Islamic nations over what he called “their betrayal” of the Palestinians – an apparent reference to the four Arab countries that normalized relations with Israel in agreements brokered by the Trump administration last year, Bahrain, the UAE, Sudan and Morocco.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on Sunday also slammed the pursuit of “normalization” with Israel, in his case during a virtual emergency meeting of foreign ministers of the bloc of Muslim-majority nations, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
“The massacre of Palestinian children today follows the purported normalization,” Zarif told the OIC meeting. “This criminal and genocidal regime has once again proven that friendly gestures only aggravate its atrocities. The sole aim of Israel’s hypocritical gestures is to divide Muslims and isolate the people of Palestine.”
Javad, characterized by some in the West as a “moderate,” underlined the regime’s backing for violence against Israel.
“Make no mistake: Israel only understands the language of resistance and the people of Palestine are fully entitled to the right to defend themselves and to defy the bullying of this racist regime,” he declared.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyah. (Office of the Supreme Leader)
More than 40 Republican senators last week called on President Biden to halt diplomatic talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, urging him in particular not to give sanctions relief “to a regime that seeks to destroy Israel.”
Zarif was not alone among the OIC ministers to criticize normalization with Israel, with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu saying that if there were “half-hearted statements within our own family,” how could the Islamic world criticize others who “who have lost their moral compass and voiced support for Israel.”
“Unfortunately we were proven right as we witnessed how the normalization efforts have emboldened Israel,” Cavusoglu said.
(The Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a longstanding supporter of Hamas.)
The OIC ministers adopted a lengthy resolution slamming Israel for the current conflict, but including not a single reference to rockets being fired from Gaza or the loss of life of Israeli civilians.
The resolution accused Israel of “barbaric attacks,” applauded the Palestinians’ “epic defense of their legitimate rights,” and called on its 57 members “to provide all forms of support and backing for the Palestinian people to strengthen their resilience on their land.”
The ministers also called for the deployment of “an international protection force to save innocent lives from ongoing attacks and terrorism by the occupation forces and the extremist colonialist militias.”
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