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Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

"Death à Israelël", "Death à America,” chanted. the crowd Friday à Téhéran in tribute to seven Iranian soldiers killed in a strike blamed on Israel, a gathering coinciding with "Jerusalem Day" celebrated in the region in support of the Palestinians.

During the funeral procession, General Hossein Salami, head of the Revolutionary Guards, the ideological army of the Islamic Republic, reaffirmed his country's determination to “punish” Israel after a deadly raid on Monday on the consulate of the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

“The Zionist regime cannot escape the (consequences) of the evil it does. It is exposed and it knows what's going to happen,” he warned.

But he gave no indication of the scale of this response, the date or the place, while many countries fear a worsening of tensions in the Middle East almost six months after the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The seven soldiers killed on Monday were celebrated as “martyrs” of the fight against Israel and for “the liberation of Jerusalem”, on the occasion of Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem), which is held every last Friday of Ramadan in solidarity with the Palestinians and against Israel.

Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

Portraits of the seven Iranian soldiers killed, during their funeral in Tehran, April 5, 2024 © AFP – ATTA KENARE

Their portraits adorned the two trucks that carried the seven coffins along a main avenue in central Tehran. Around, demonstrators brandished Iranian, Palestinian and Lebanese Hezbollah flags while shouting traditional anti-Israel slogans.

A poster displayed reproduced a sentence from the Supreme Guide, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “We will make the vicious Zionist regime regret having committed this crime.”

The Iranian head of state promised Wednesday that Israel, sworn enemy of the Islamic Republic, would be “slapped” for the attack on Damascus, which left a total of 16 dead according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

Al Quds Day, in solidarity with the Palestinians and against Israel, April 5, 2024 in Tehran, Iran © AFP – ATTA KENARE

Among the personalities present at the march were Iranian President Ebrahim Raïssi, his predecessor Hassan Rouhani, but also Ziad Nakhala, the leader of Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian armed movement which fights alongside Hamas in Gaza.

State television broadcast images of protests organized in other Iranian cities, including Mashhad (north-east) and Qom (center).

– Protests in the region –

Al-Quds Day rallies also took place in other countries, including Lebanon, where Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that the Iranian response to the strike on the consulate in Damascus was “inevitable”.

Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

Military parade for Al Quds Day, in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, on April 5, 2024 in Damascus, Syria © AFP – LOUAI BESHARA

In Syria, Palestinian organizations present in Damascus, including Islamic Jihad, organized a parade in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, according to an AFP photographer on site.

Rallies also took place in several regions of Bahrain, notably on the outskirts of the capital, Manama, and in Bani Jamra, in the north, where tear gas was deployed by the police.

In Yemen, thousands of supporters of the Houthi rebels gathered in Al Sabeen Square in the capital Sanaa, shouting slogans against Israel and the United States, its ally.

In Baghdad, a rally organized by pro-Iran factions drew around 2,000 people to Palestine Street, where a large Israeli flag was drawn on the ground to be trampled .

– Expected response –

Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

Clearing the rubble of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, after a strike blamed on Israel, April 2, 2024 in Syria © AFP – LOUAI BESHARA

Pending the response announced by Tehran, the Israeli army announced Thursday that it had strengthened its defense measures while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that his country was acting “against Iran and its agents defensively and offensively”.

On Friday, Lebanese Hezbollah and its ally, the Amal movement, announced the death of six of their members in Israeli bombings in southern Lebanon. In a statement, the Israeli army said it had bombed “a military compound of the Amal Movement”.

Monday's raid was the fifth attributed to Israel in space of a week in Syria, a country in civil war whose President Bashar al-Assad is supported by Iran.

The attack killed General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, 63, who spent his entire career in the Revolutionary Guards and held a senior position in the Quds Force, the elite unit responsible for Iran's external operations.

Iran immediately accused Israel, which has not confirmed responsibility .

Thousands of Iranians insult Israel by paying tribute to soldiers killed in Damascus

An effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hanged in Tehran, April 5, 2024 in Iran © AFP – Atta KENARE

He also denounced the “responsibility” of the United States as a “supporter of Israel”, but Washington assured that it had “nothing to do” with the attack on Damascus.

At the end of the ceremony in Tehran, General Zahedi was to be buried in Isfahan (center), his city of origin.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116