Iran leader urges Muslim states to back Palestinians militarily, financially

by Reuters
Friday, 21 May 2021 18:14 GMT

(Adds Khamenei)

DUBAI, May 21 (Reuters) - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called on Muslim states to support Palestinians militarily and financially and help rebuild Gaza after an 11-day conflict with Israel, Iranian media reported.

Iran, which does not recognise Israel, supports the Islamist militants of Hamas, who rule the Gaza Strip while President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority controls Palestinian-populated areas of the occupied West Bank.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group fired hundreds of rockets into Israel before Friday's truce, although Israel said its "Iron Dome" defence system had shot down the majority of them.

"Muslim states must sincerely support the Palestinian people, through military...or financial support ...or in rebuilding Gaza's infrastructure," Khamenei said in a statement. He urged Muslims to demand that their governments back Palestinians.

"All influential elements of (Israel's) regime and the criminal (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu must be prosecuted by international and independent courts," Khamenei said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry earlier said Palestinians had won a "historic victory" over Israel.

"Congratulations to our Palestinian sisters & brothers for the historic victory. Your resistance forced the aggressor to retreat," ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh tweeted.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards said in a statement: "The intifada (Palestinian uprising) has gone from using stones to powerful, precise missiles ... and in the future the Zionists (Israel) can expect to endure deadly blows from within the occupied territories."

Leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have praised Iran's financial and military support, but Tehran has rarely confirmed its weapons supply. But Khamenei last year hailed Tehran's supply of arms, saying Iran had transformed the military balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians.

Iran on Friday displayed an Iranian-made combat drone that it said had a range of 2,000 km (1,250 miles), naming it "Gaza" in honour of the Palestinians' struggle against Israel, state media reported. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Angus MacSwan)

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