Protests in Tehran, other cities were held in ‘support of the oppressed children of Gaza’ under the slogan ‘Palestine is not alone’.
Thousands of Iranians held rallies across the country against Israel’s unrelenting bombardment of Gaza, with a top military commander warning that Israel was heading for a long and bloody war with Palestinian group Hamas.
The demonstrations on Saturday in the capital Tehran and other cities were held in “support of the oppressed children of Gaza” under the slogan “Palestine is not alone”, according to local media.
Israel’s air and ground campaign has killed an estimated 12,000 people in the Palestinian territory, including 5,000 children, according to Palestinian authorities.
Israel has pledged to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s October 7 attacks which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and in which about 240 people were taken captive.
“Palestine stands on the path of a war of attrition … Israel will face a definitive defeat and end up in the dustbin of history,” Commander Hossein Salami from the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps told the rally in Tehran, which was aired live on state TV.
“The battle is not over. The Islamic world will do whatever it has to do. There are still great [unused] capacities left,” Salami said, without referring to any possible moves by Iran to join the conflict.
“The Zionist regime [Israel] can no longer see peace and security. Muslims will take revenge on behalf of the oppressed people of Gaza, and this revenge has no expiration date.”
In Tehran, demonstrators waved Palestinian flags, while others held banners that read, “Down with America” and “Down with Israel”, according to the AFP news agency.
Others set alight Israeli flags, while some waved the flags of Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah, Iran’s ally, which has been engaged in border skirmishes with Israel since October 7.
State television also showed some protesters carrying bundled white shrouds symbolising the children killed in Gaza, during the marches held in advance of World Children’s Day on Monday.
Similar demonstrations took place in other major cities including Shiraz, Kerman and Isfahan.
Earlier this week, hundreds of body bags were laid out in Palestine Square in Tehran to protest against the continuing Israeli offensive on Gaza.
Iran has made support for the Palestinian cause a centrepiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Iran, which supports Hamas financially and militarily, has hailed the October 7 attacks a “success” but denied any involvement.
It has also lambasted Israel’s bombardment of Gaza as “genocide” while denouncing the United States over its support for Israel.
On Saturday, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nasser Kanani decried Israel’s “attacks” on hospitals in Gaza.
“Attacking hospitals is in conflict with all human rights standards, international law and Geneva Conventions and makes the criminal nature of this regime even more obvious to the world,” he said on X.
His statement came as hundreds of people fled Gaza’s main al-Shifa Hospital, where more than 2,000 patients, medics and displaced people were trapped.
Israel has been pressing military operations inside the hospital, searching for a Hamas operations centre it claims lies under the sprawling complex – a charge Hamas has denied.