Iran supreme leader calls Israel a 'rabid dog' for Gaza attacks and urges arms for Palestinians
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei condemns conflict as 'catastrophe of historical scale'
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has condemned Israel as a "rabid dog" for its bombardment of Gaza, and called on Muslims to arm Palestinians to enable them to counter what he described as "genocide".
In a speech marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Mr Khamenei criticised the United States and European countries for what he claimed were their efforts to limit the military capacity of Palestinian fighters as the conflict between Israel and Hamas raged for a 22nd day.
His speech was delivered to a crowd of hundreds of thousands in Tehran and was broadcast live on state television. It came as the home of Hamas Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh was among at least 60 locations targeted overnight by airstrikes in the heaviest bombardment of Gaza during three weeks of fighting.
About 1,100 Gazans, most of them civilians, have been killed during the conflict. Fifty-three Israeli soldiers and three civilians have died as a result of Palestinian shelling.
Of Israel, he said: "This rabid dog, this rapacious wolf, has attacked innocent people and humanity must show a reaction. This is genocide, a catastrophe of historical scale."
Mr Khamenei denounced what he claimed was a ruling by the US President Barack Obama to disarm Palestinians - an apparent reference to US opposition to efforts by Hamas to obtain weapons such as missiles and rockets. Washington views Hamas as a terrorist organisation.
"They have been pounding innocent people day and night and these men women and children are defending themselves with minimum means, and now Americans and Europeans want to take even that away ... so that those merciless beasts could pound without qualm."
Mr Khamenei said Iran took the opposite stance about arming Palestinians.
Video: Latest Israeli air strikes cause damage in Gaza
"Everyone, whoever has the means, especially in the Islamic world, they should do what they can to arm the Palestinian nation ... the Zionist regime deeply regrets starting this (war) but has no way out."
Israel began its offensive on 8 July with the stated aim of ending rocket attacks by Hamas and its allies and protecting its civilians.
It has since launched a ground invasion to locate and destroy the network of Hamas tunnels. On Monday evening, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a protracted military campaign that would continue until Hamas tunnels have been destroyed.
Additional reporting by Reuters
UK's biggest male rape charity Survivors UK has state funding slashed to zero despite 120% rise in men reporting sexual violence and seeking help
Priest warns pupils the 'Charlie Charlie Challenge' is 'demonic activity'
Iran launches anti-Isis cartoon competition 'to expose true nature of Islamic State'
University league tables: Best universities for teaching standards rank Oxford, Cambridge and Coventry among top 20
Tinder and Grindr dating apps blamed for surge in cases of HIV, syphilis and other STDs
- 2 'Don't blame all men for rape' campaign backfires spectacularly
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: it's not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
- 5 Paracetamol Challenge: Mother of girl killed by overdose pleads with teenagers to ignore 'craze'
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...
£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...
£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...
£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...