Iran on Gaza Conflict

            Iran’s leaders have unanimously condemned Israeli air strikes and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip, which began on July 7 and have claimed more than 1,800 Palestinian lives, according to the Gaza health ministry. “Hundreds of innocent men and women and children have been slaughtered… and the United States is not taking action,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told NBC News. He also noted that Israel receives much of its weapons from the United States. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also condemned the West, including the United States and the United Kingdom, for supporting Israel’s policies. He has called for arming Palestinians in the West Bank just as Hamas has been armed.

          Top military leaders and officials have praised the Palestinian factions, including Hamas, that have fired rockets into Israel. “The rockets fired by the Palestinians have created such a strange fear among the Zionists, and they are now after a truce,” said Commander of the Army Ground Forces Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan. Six members of Iran's parliament plan to visit Gaza to show their support at the earliest opportunity. On July 25, thousands of Iranians participated in nation-wide rallies on Qods Day (Jerusalem Day) to show solidarity with Palestinians. Qods Day is held every year on the last Friday of Ramadan.


           Meanwhile, U.S. and Israeli officials criticized Iran for its military and financial support to Hamas. “Iran has a responsibility to cease and desist from continuing to supply weapons of war that are fueling this conflict,” a senior U.S. official told the press in a briefing on the Vienna nuclear talks.  
 
           Tensions between Palestinians and Israelis were ignited in June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinians in the West Bank. Israel claimed that two Hamas militants were responsible for the abduction. Rockets were launched from Gaza the night of June 30, when the three bodies were found, and Israel began carrying out air strikes.
 
             The situation escalated after July 2, when a Palestinian teenager was kidnapped and burned to death in an apparent revenge attack. Hamas, which has reportedly received military and financial support from Tehran, and other extremist groups in Gaza have since fired more than 2,430 rockets at Israel. Israel’s advanced Iron Dome defense system has intercepted rockets and mortars headed toward population centers. So far, one Israeli civilian has been killed by mortar fire. Meanwhile, Israel has fired on more than 1,500 “terror targets” in Gaza, including 735 concealed rocket launchers. Two Israeli civilians, one foreign worker and 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed since Operation Protective Edge began.
 
           The following are remarks by Iranian officials and comments by U.S. and Israeli officials on Iranian involvement in Gaza.   
 
Iran
 
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
           “Since its illegitimate birth since 66 years ago, the Zionist regime has done whatever crime one can imagine against Palestine.
          “There is no way to stop the infanticidal Zionist regime but the elimination of this regime; not via war but via referendum.
          “Iran suggested a referendum among Christian, Muslim and Jewish Palestinians including the refugees and the ensuing government will replace the Zionist regime.
           “In the absence of a referendum, fighting Zionists is realized through resolute and armed resistance of Palestinians which is recognized by international laws.
           “Don’t think if it wasn't about Hamas rockets, the Zionists would have relented. There are no weapons in the West Bank, but Israel commits many crimes against its citizens. Israel demolishes houses and farms, cuts people's water and electricity and humiliates the residents in the West Bank.
           “The fact that they poisoned and killed people like [Yasser] Arafat who had the utmost cooperation with them shows that ‘peace’ is Israel's trick for more bullying.
           “If Palestinian resistance forces stand against Israel, it’s likely that Israel retreats; as they're now doing anything to achieve a truce.
           “I believe West Bank should be armed just like Gaza. Those who love Palestine should arm the people of Palestine in the West Bank.
           “Of course, it’s a duty for people of the world to have political activity against Zionists. As you see Muslims and non-Muslims stage big protests against Israel.”
          July 23, 2014 in a meeting with university students
 
          “The Gaza incidents are utterly disastrous, and the Zionist regime is carrying out the current atrocities by taking advantage of the negligence of the Islamic world.
          “The killing of the people of Gaza by the usurping Zionists should spur Islamic governments and nations to resolve their differences and become united.
          “We will always stand side by side with the resistance in Palestine and Lebanon. Even in Syria, if there’s any group whose objective is liberating the occupied land, we will back them and support them.
          “We know how much our brothers need support. Israel always claims Iran is sending arms to them. What I can say is that Iran wants to see a strong and self-sufficient resistance. Yes, we are sending rockets and military aid, but not the traditional way.”
           July 17, 2014 according to the press
 
 
President Hassan Rouhani
 
 
            “The continuation of the cruel siege of Gaza and the dire lack of medical supplies [in the area] are worrying and could lead to a major humanitarian catastrophe.
            “Helping the oppressed Palestinian people and preventing the aggressive acts of the Zionist regime are the shared responsibility of all international institutions and the world’s freedom-seeking countries.”
            July 10, 2014 in a message to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation
 
           “If today we remain indifferent to the sadness of others, we will face the same situation in the future and we should not expect others to share our grief then.”
           July 22, 2014 according to the press
 
            “Our administration is prepared to provide medical assistance to Gaza, but they [Israelis] do not permit us to dispatch even pharmaceutical facilities and medical teams to there. We are ready to bring all injured Gazans in Iran and cure them.”
            July 23, 2014 according to press
 
           “The Islamic world must in unison declare this day one of anger, hatred, unity and resistance against Israel.
           I condemn “those who stay silent in the face of the Zionist regime's crimes. The world demands an end to the Gaza blockade, opening the Rafah crossing and halting attacks on Gaza so its people can live normally.”
           July 25, 2014 at a demonstration for Qods Day
 
            “Unfortunately, we face two festering tumors in this region and across the Muslim world. One tumor has always caused distress to the Palestinians and Muslims and these days it is secreting and wreaking havoc on the land of olive [trees]. The other festering tumor which is agonizing the Muslims these days is a campaign launched under the name of Islam, religion, caliphate and caliphacy and has undertaken the murder and killing of Muslims in the region. All studies indicate that both tumors have roots at the same point.
           “These incidents [in Gaza] are crimes against humanity and all the international bodies and organizations boasting of [defending] humanity and human rights should provide the grounds for putting the criminals on trial.”
            July 28, 2014 in a meeting with Iranian officials and foreign diplomats
 
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
 
           “Unfortunately, over the past week, we have witnessed the irresponsible inaction of the UN Security Council with the silent consent of the self-proclaimed advocates of human rights or even their support for the massacre of civilians, including women, children and the elderly, in the Gaza strip.”
           “I hope the meeting, which has been held to reach a solution to confront the Zionist regime’s aggression against Gaza, will lead us to find practical solutions to end the human tragedy in the Gaza Strip and assist the oppressed people in the region.”
           July 23, 2014 according to press
 
            “Such crimes show that the Palestinian people are resistant, and that the Zionist regime is not committed to the international rules and regulations and the Security Council is ignoring the rights of the Palestinian people.”
           July 23, 2014 in the interview with the state television
 
           “It is extremely regrettable that people are being killed, hundreds of innocent men and women and children have been slaughtered, almost 100 people being killed, over 500 have been wounded in Gaza, and the United States is not taking any action. We know that all the weapons that are used by Israel in order to attack civilians in Gaza have been provided by the United States. And we don't see any move by the United States to condemn that.
           “We do not condemn people who are defending themselves. We believe that actions that are putting civilians in jeopardy in Gaza that have placed restrictions on civilians to get access to medicine. To food. Have tried to starve the civilians in Gaza. They need to be vehemently condemned by the national community. The United States and the rest of the members of the Security Council have a moral and legal responsibility to put an end to this. And address the fact that they haven't taken any action in order to address this.”
           July 13, 2014 in an interview with NBC News
 
Revolutionary Guards Qods Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani
            “Martyrdom for Palestine is the wish of any honorable Muslim.
            “Unity with Palestine will terrorize the enemy—while fighting each other will bring the enemy joy.
            “We will persist with victory until the land, the sky and the sea turn into hell for Zionists. The murderers and the mercenaries must know that we will not stop defending the resistance, not even for a moment.
            “It [the conflict in Gaza] wounds our hearts and fills us with grief, a grief which holds a deep rage. When the time comes, this rage will be poured on the heads of the criminal Zionists.
            “Damn those who have done you injustice and continue to do so. Damn any oppressor who has supported and continues to support this criminal regime, especially America, which leads this tyranny.”
            July 30 in a letter published by Arabic TV station Al Mayadeen and Iranian news outlets
 
Foreign Ministry
             “The savage attacks and aggressions of the Palestine occupying regime on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank continues, while the international bodies in charge and the main players of the international system have so far refrained from any deterrent attempt and this behavior has resulted in further spread of the tragedy of the Zionist regime`s new crimes on the eve of the International Quds Day, and martyrdom of over 170 Palestinians and injury of more than 1,200 others as well as destruction of infrastructures, mosques and homes of the Palestinians in Gaza.”
            July 14, 2014 in a statement
 
Parliamentary Speaker Ali Larijani
           “We insistently call on the Egyptian government to reopen the Rafah border crossing to facilitate the supply of medicines and food aid to meet the immediate needs of the Gazans.            “The massacre of women and children and people in Gaza and the new Gaza siege are nothing but war crimes and a violation of human rights... genocide, massacre, infringement of international rules and principles, and warmongering in the region.
           “The Zionist regime [of Israel] has embarked on this [offensive] in the holy [fasting] month of Ramadan and has been reducing defenseless people of Palestine to dust and blood with unconventional weapons, which indicates the occupying nature and the savage spirit of this blood-sucking regime.”
          July 22, 2014 at a meeting of the Parliamentary Union of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Member States in Tehran
 
            “Today, it is the power of the resistance which is creating a new Middle-East and the US and its affiliates don’t want to recognize this power and they attempt to hit a blow at this stream by accusing them of terrorism. This resistance is like a medal on the chest of the Muslims; reconciliation plans will not produce any result.”
           July 23, 2014 according to press
 
            “The clear need of Palestine is its need for weapons and basic necessities, and Iran plays an important role in meeting the clear needs of the Palestinian people.”
          July 23, 2014 according to press
 
          “Today, the fighters in Gaza have good capabilities and can meet their own needs for weapons.
          “But once upon a time, they needed the arms manufacture know-how and we gave it to them.”
          July 24, 2014 to the Arab language service of state television
 
           “We take it upon ourselves to stand by and help the oppressed Palestinian people wholeheartedly one way or another.”
           July 15, 2014 in a meeting with ambassadors from Muslim countries

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian
          “International and regional efforts are needed to bring to a halt the Zionist regime's crimes against the innocent Palestinian nation.
          “The criminal Zionist regime will be the definite loser in the recent developments.”
          July 22, 2014 in a meeting with his Qatari counterpart Mohammad bin Abdullah al Ramihi
 
Deputy Chief of Staff of Armed Forces, Gen. Massoud Jazayeri
           “The type of struggle in the West Bank should change so that the world will see serious withdrawal of the occupiers.
           “This capability accompanied by other power elements available to the main owners of the Palestinian territories can return the violated rights of the Palestinians to them.
           “The region would not have definitely been facing so much turmoil and chaos if the treacherous and dependent leaders of the region had not existed.”
            Aug. 5, 2014 according to the press
 
Revolutionary Guards public relations chief Gen. Ramezan Sharif,
           “The defense capacity and capabilities of the Islamic resistance and Hamas forces has left no safe place for the Zionists in the occupied territories.”
           “The quality and trend of action of the Palestinian resistance movement in recent days indicates that the defensive and offensive power of Hamas, Izz ad-Din al Qassam Brigades, and Quds brigades forces have increased so much that one can dare say that all Zionists are within the range of the resistance’s missiles”.
           July 14, 2014 according to press
 
Chairman of the Iranian parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi
           “Given the extensive dimensions of the Zionist regime's inhumane crimes against the Gaza people, it is expected from you and other honorable members of your foreign policy commission to adopt proper positions in support of the helpless Palestinians and condemn the Zionist aggressors.”
           July 14, 2014 in letters to his counterparts in 46 countries according to press
 
           “We announce officially to Egypt our readiness for sending humanitarian and medical supplies to Gaza through Iran Red Crescent Society (IRCS).”
            July 23, 2014 according to the press
 
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham
           “The viewpoints of the Palestinian groups and people are important to us and the Islamic Republic supports every plan that is accepted by the Palestinian people and provides for their interests. Our stance is whatever position and viewpoint that Palestinian leaders and resistance have.”
           July 23, 2014 according to the press
 
Commander of the Army Ground Force Brig. Gen. Ahmad Reza Pourdastan
           “The Zionist regime will not sit at the negotiating table unless the language of force is exercised on them, and we have witnessed that the rockets fired by the Palestinians have created such a strange fear among the Zionists and they are now after a truce.”
           Aug. 1, 2014 at a Quds Day rally
 
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami
           “We will chase you house by house and will avenge every drop of blood [shed from] our martyrs in Palestine, and this is the starting point of the awakening of Muslim nations for defeating you.
           “Today, the [power of] the Palestinian resistance’s missiles are far beyond the Zionists’ estimate.
           “The Muslim world will finally become a grave for the policies of the United States, the Zionist regime and their regional reactionary allies.
           “The power balance will change in favor of the Muslim world and we warn the Zionists that you are a rootless community having no territory, no race, no history and no composing element of a nation.”
           July 25, 2014, according to the press

Commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari
            “We are ready to support the Palestinian resistance in different dimensions. When speaking about defending the Muslims, Shiites and Sunnis are of no difference to us, and our devotion and dedication goes to all the Muslim world and the oppressed.
            “The Gaza war displayed that the power of the Resistance [front] has no end and has been institutionalized.
            “This power is growing; massive launch of missiles, defusing and repelling the enemy's ground offensive and upgrading the Palestinians' threshold of tolerance all testify to this increased power [of the Palestinian resistance groups].

            Aug 4, 2014 to the press

Commander of Basij militia Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi
            “The Iranian nation's aids to the Palestinian people recognizes no boundary and whatever they need, it will be included in our aids.
            “As Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] has stressed, we are fully ready to provide any health and hygiene aid as much as the ground is prepared; the Iranian nation is also ready to supply the Palestinians with food stuff and arms aid.”
            Aug. 5, 2014 according to the press
 
United States
 
Senior administration official in Vienna, Austria
           “On Gaza, the one point I’d like to underscore is that Iran has a longstanding record of supplying weapons, rockets to various terrorist groups in Gaza, including Hamas; that those rockets are being used to fire at civilian areas; and that Iran has a responsibility to cease and desist from continuing to supply weapons of war that are fueling this conflict. And any opportunity that we get to communicate that message to them, we will take.”
           July 12, 2014 to the press
 
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce
           “Who is the enabler for Hamas? Where do they get those rockets? It’s Iran.”
 Use of M-302 rockets “which Iran transferred to Hamas [are] a good reminder in terms of the nature of the regime.”
           July 11, 2014 to the press
 
           “Iran has long provided material support to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including assistance that has enabled these terrorist organizations to produce longer-range rockets capable of striking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
           July 14, 2014 according to press and H. Res. 657
 

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers

            “Iran is publicly, in their own newspapers, touting the fact that they are helping to militarize Hamas in the Gaza Strip. They’re supporting Hezbollah in the fight in Syria and supplying Hamas in the Gaza Strip with weapons.”
            July 28, 2014 according to press
 
            “That's what's so frustrating with the administration. All of this works together. You can't just pick and choose one particular region; it has to work in concert. So when you free up $2.8 billion for Iran, when they're already cash strapped because of sanctions, that means they can continue to do bad activities in the Gaza Strip, including we believe at least missile components.
            “Think about how obscene that is, the hundreds of millions of dollars they've had over a decade. Twenty percent of the people in Gaza Strip aren't connected to a water source. Ninety percent of all the water there doesn't meet international standards. But they've got, I think the Israelis disclosed, 35 tunnels. So they're diverting legitimate money. And you have Iran that is aligned into this particular interest in a way that's very, very dangerous".
            July 27, 2014 according to press
 
Israel
 
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
           “Today in Vienna, the foreign ministers of the major powers are discussing the question of dealing with Iran's nuclear program. I would like to remind them Hamas and Islamic Jihad are being financed, armed and trained by Iran. Iran is a major power of terrorism that finances, arms and trains the terrorist organizations we are fighting against. This Iran cannot be allowed the ability to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. If this happens, the things we are seeing around us and the things that are happening in the Middle East will be far worse.”
           July 14, 2014 according to press
 
Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner
           “We know that Hamas has been training with Iranian help, and its fighters have been attending Iranian schools. They are well trained, well supplied and disciplined.”
           July 21, 2014 according to press
 
Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer
            “Iran continues to do everything it can to push rockets into Gaza”.
           July 11, 2014 according to press
 
           Palestinian Islamic Jihad is “a wholly-owned subsidiary of Iran.”
           “We need to ensure that the worst actors don’t get the worst weapons.”
           July 22, 2014 according to press
 
Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor
            “Every single time the international community calls for a ceasefire, we cease and Hamas fires. Make no mistake - Hamas is not working alone. It is funded by Qatar and Iran. Every rocket flying out of Gaza could bear the imprint ‘Courtesy of Tehran’.”
           July 28, 2014 according to the press
 
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