Quds Day: Iran stages annual pro-Palestinian rallies nationwide as Israeli raids escalate
Thousands of Iranians took to the streets Friday to join annual pro-Palestinian rallies, as Israeli police wounded dozens in a new round of raids in the occupied West Bank.
The Quds (Jerusalem) Day commemorations, which are held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, were launched in 1979 by Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in a bid to show Palestinian support and appeal to Muslims worldwide.
Across Iran, flag-waving protesters chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", the state broadcaster IRIB reported.
They also held up signs reading "Jerusalem is ours" and "Quds Day is the day of Islam", it said.
Iran does not recognise Israel and has expressed support for the Palestinian cause since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Friday's rallies were held in Tehran and other major cities, including Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz, according to IRIB, and come after a two-year pause due to coronavirus restrictions.
The demonstrations took place against the backdrop of deadly violence in the occupied West Bank and Israel, and escalating raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as Palestinian worshippers observe the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
On Friday, Israeli police stormed the holy site and wounded 42 people, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
The Al-Aqsa violence has sparked fears of another conflict similar to last year's 11-day war waged by Israel on the besieged Gaza Strip, killing more than 200 Palestinians.
Over the past two weeks, nearly 300 Palestinians have been injured in clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound, Islam's third-holiest site. Jews refer to the site as the Temple Mount, referencing two temples believed to have stood there in antiquity.
The violence came as Israeli security forces have stepped up operations in the West Bank since March 22, following a series of deadly attacks inside Israel in the past few weeks.
Dozens of people have been killed, including a total of 26 Palestinians.
Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
It annexed East Jerusalem in 1980 in a move not recognised by the international community.
Palestinians claim east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while more than 200,000 Israeli settlers live there illegally.