Netanyahu praises Iran anti-government protesters, denies Israeli involvement

Netanyahu praises Iran anti-government protesters, denies Israeli involvement
2 min read
02 January, 2018
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu wished the anti-Iranian regime protesters "success" and dismissed claims by Rouhani of Israeli involvement.
A total of 21 people have been killed since protests began last Thursday [Getty]

Israeli Prime Minister praised the Iranian anti-government protesters on Monday and denied Tehran’s "laughable" accusations that Israel was behind the demonstrations.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu wished the Iranian people "success in their noble quest for freedom."

"Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets. They seek freedom. They seek justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied them for decades. Iran's cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate," he added, echoing the American president Donald Trump's remarks.  

Protests began on Thursday in the north-eastern city of Mashhad, with anti-government rallies quickly spreading to other cities including Tehran, Khorramabad, Karaj and Sabzevar.

Thousands are thought to have taken part in the protests, making them the biggest show of public defiance since 2009, when Iranians - as part of the newly-formed Green Movement - took to the streets to denounce alleged rigged presidential elections by then-President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

The protests this time were initially centred around rising living costs, but quickly became focused against the regime in general with chants of "Death to the dictator".

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday blamed the unrest on Iran's arch enemies, the United States and Israel according to Iranian state media.

Iran has long accused Israel, the US and UK of meddling in its internal affairs and working to overthrow its government.

"Our success in the political arena against the United States and the Zionist regime was unbearable to (Iran's enemies). Iran's success in the region was unbearable to them. Don't you expect that they would seek revenge? Don't you think they would provoke some people?" Rouhani was quoted as saying in a meeting with lawmakers.

A total of 21 people have so far died since protests began and some 450 have been arrested in the past three days.

Israel has long viewed Iran as its greatest security threat because of Tehran's nuclear programme, its support for regional militants and Iranian leaders' frequent calls for Israel to be eliminated.

Turkey has stepped in to warn against any escalation in the unrest, saying on Tuesday it was "concerned" by the protests engulfing the neighbouring country.

Turkey - which was hit by protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2013 - said it "attaches the utmost importance to the maintenance of peace and stability in friendly and brotherly Iran".