On Holocaust Remembrance Day, while Israel was commemorating the victims of Nazi genocide, the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, threatened to destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. Raisi’s remarks were made during the country’s annual Army Day, where the military showcased fighter jets and other military equipment as a show of strength.
Raisi’s threats against Israel on Tuesday come in the wake of a series of attacks on Iranian military and nuclear sites, which are suspected to have been carried out by Israel since the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal during the Trump administration.
Raisi’s remarks were clear and unequivocal: “Enemies, particularly the Zionist regime, have received the message that any tiny action against (our) country will prompt a harsh answer from the armed forces, which will accompany the destruction of Haifa and Tel Aviv.”
Raisi also used the occasion to reiterate his demand for the U.S. to leave the Middle East, a demand that has been a consistent part of Iran’s foreign policy for decades. Protecting the Persian Gulf region has been a key element of U.S. policy since the 1970s, as a fifth of the world’s oil supply passes through the Strait of Hormuz.
The threat by Raisi comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks the previous day at a Yad Vashem national ceremony, where he compared Iran to Nazi Germany, describing it as an existential threat to the Jewish people.
Among those in the audience at Yad Vashem was Reza Pahlavi, the son of Iran’s last Shah.
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