Tehran, Iran – Tens of thousands of Iranians have taken part in the annual Quds Day rallies in the capital, Tehran, in a major show of support for Palestine.
Quds Day, which uses the Arabic name for Jerusalem, is a Palestinian solidarity day held every year in Iran on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
This year, participants in Tehran marched along 10 pre-determined routes across the city. Similar marches and events were planned in more than 900 cities and villages nationwide, according to officials.
“The movement you see today is a symbol of the unity of the Islamic ummah, and Inshallah [God willing] this unity will lead to the destruction of the Zionist regime,” President Ebrahim Raisi told state television on Friday, referring to Israel.
“We believe it is certain that Quds will be liberated,” the president said, while marching on the streets of Tehran.
Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), who was the keynote speaker of the event in Tehran, told the gathered crowd that Iran’s first Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini established Quds Day shortly after the 1979 revolution to let the world know that Palestine was not alone.
He said the current Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei subsequently established the Quds Force, the overseas arm of the IRGC, to “expand the Islamic revolution in other Islamic countries with the aim of pressuring the Zionist regime … and in the near future, the regime’s elimination from the world’s political geography”.
Salami also took aim at several Arab countries that have moved to normalise relations with Israel, including under the so-called Abraham Accords that were signed between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel in 2020.
“Palestinians have come to the truth that security, independence and return to motherland cannot be wished to existence” through documents and “there can be no compromise with the cruel,” Salami said.
He also warned Israel of a “painful and direct response” if it attacked Iran.
Indirect talks between Iran and the United States to revive a 2015 nuclear deal which will lift sanctions on Tehran and limit its nuclear programme are currently stalled as both sides call on the other to take action and make concessions.
Friday’s events marked Iran’s first Quds Day rally in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented large gatherings. It comes amid continued tensions in the Palestinian occupied territories that have seen Israeli police forces repeatedly raiding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Iran has also used the annual rally over the years to showcase its military might. This year’s event was no exception as several types of the IRGC’s locally developed missiles, including the latest Khaibar Buster missile, were displayed in different areas of Tehran.
Some of the participants held signs with slogans in support of Palestine while others chanted anti-Israel and anti-United States slogans and burned and trampled Israeli flags.