Tehran (AP) — Iranians staged anti-Israel rallies across the country Friday for the annual al-Quds Day events established by the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, with protesters condemning the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and chanting “death to Israel.”
Tens of thousands of people marched in the capital Tehran for the rallies held each year on the last Friday of Ramadan. Some protesters trampled the Israeli flag, and also chanted “down with the USA.”
Iranian state media reports that similar rallies were taking place throughout the country.
Iran, which does not recognize Israel and has called for its destruction, has marked al-Quds Day since the start of its 1979 Islamic revolution. Al-Quds is the historic Arabic name for Jerusalem, and Iran says the day is an occasion to express support for the Palestinians and emphasize the importance of Jerusalem for Muslims.
The Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group on Thursday cancelled its annual al-Quds Day event in Beirut’s southern suburbs, amid security concerns gripping the country in the wake of deadly suicide bombings earlier this week in a Christian village along the Syrian border.
In a statement, the Iran-backed Shiite group said it was scrapping the commemorations, citing the prevailing “security situation.”
It was the first time the group, which also participates as a political party in Lebanon’s government, cancelled the annual commemoration.
Lebanon has been on high alert since nine bombs exploded in the eastern border village of Qaa on Monday, killing five residents. Eight were detonated by suicide bombers. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Violence from neighboring Syria’s devastating civil war has on occasion spilled into Lebanon’s border regions. The Islamic State and al-Qaeda militants briefly seized the Lebanese border town of Arsal in 2014, before security forces pushed them back across the frontier.