Israel 'will disappear', says Iran

2012-08-16 16:46
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AFP, File)

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (AFP, File)

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Tehran - Israel is an artificial "outgrowth" in the Middle East that "will disappear", Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said ahead of rallies on Friday against the Jewish state and supporting the Palestinians.

The annual Quds Day marches were started in 1979 after the founding of the Islamic republic. The protests use the word Quds, derived from Arabic, to designate the city of Jerusalem.

Khamenei, in a speech late on Wednesday, said the "star of hope" that shined on Iran during its Islamic revolution, and in its 1980-1988 war with Iraq "will also shine for Palestine and its Islamic land will definitely be returned to the Palestinian nation".

He railed against Israel, saying: "This bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth will disappear off the landscape of geography."

Friday's rallies, he said, would be "a blow to the enemies of Islam and Palestine" and added that Iran views supporting the Palestinian cause "a religious duty".

This year's Quds Day marches will take place amid heightened tensions between Iran and Israel.

Warning system test

The Jewish state has greatly raised bellicose rhetoric threatening air strikes against the Islamic republic's nuclear facilities, which Israel believe are being used to develop atomic weapons that could destroy it.

Iran denies its nuclear programme is anything but peaceful.

Israel on Thursday wound up nationwide testing of an SMS warning system against missile attack, sending texts to mobile phones in Jerusalem and other parts of the country, a military spokesperson said.

The five-day exercise, which began on Sunday, took place to the backdrop of mounting speculation over a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and a resulting Iranian counter-attack.

The army said that along with Jerusalem, Thursday's test would include the Negev desert town of Arad, the northern cities of Afula and Hadera, and Upper Nazareth, a Jewish satellite of the Israeli Arab city.

A spokesperson said that Nazareth itself, the largest Arab city in Israel, would not be included in the test but could not immediately say why.

Petition against strike


The army says the warning messages are being sent in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian.

They are meant to warn of an imminent missile attack by Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, which could become a reality if Israel decides to mount a military strike on nuclear facilities in Iran.

Opponents of an Israeli attack said on Thursday that around 500 academics and retired military personnel had signed a petition calling on air force pilots to refuse to carry out a unilateral strike.

"I understand the far-reaching implications of this petition," a statement quoted one of the signatories, Tel Aviv University law professor Menachem Mautner, as saying.

"The possibility of a decision to attack Iran has been keeping me awake for weeks."

The statement warns that injury to Iranian civilians as a result of radioactive leakage from any of the targeted facilities could expose pilots to future war crimes charges.

"We issue this appeal to you out of a deep sense of concern and anxiety," the petition tells the airmen. "Our fate, our very future lies very much in your hands."

Read more on:    ayatollah ali khamenei  |  iran  |  israel  |  palestine  |  middle east peace  |  iran nuclear programme
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