(JTA) — Iran’s supreme leader pledged that his country would support Palestinian actions against Israel “in any way we can” and denied that Palestinian stabbings and car-ramming attacks can be called “terrorism.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s top Muslim cleric, made his remarks Wednesday at a gathering of the country’s volunteer militia, Reuters reported.
Iran has long provided financial support to both Hamas and Hezbollah, which are labeled terrorist groups by Israel and the United States.
“Despite all the efforts of the [United States)]… and even with cooperation from Arab countries, the Palestinian intifada has started in the West Bank,” state television quoted Khamenei as saying, according to Reuters. “We will defend the movement of the Palestinian people with all of our existence, and in any way and as long as we can.”
Responding to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remarks earlier in the week referring to recent Palestinian attacks as terrorism, Khamenei insisted the Palestinians were merely protesting the occupation of their land.
In the past two months, at least 86 Palestinians have been killed, many while carrying out or attempting to carry out attacks and others in clashes with Israeli soldiers. At least 19 Israelis, an American, a Palestinian and others have been killed in Palestinian attacks.