Netanyahu refutes Rouhani's claim Israel is behind Iran protests

The Israeli Prime Minister said the suggestion was not "only false but also laughable," while wishing the Iranian people success.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – As nation-wide demonstrations against the clerical regime in Tehran entered its fifth day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a regional arch-enemy of the Islamic Republic, rejected allegations by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani that his country was involved in protests hitting dozens of Iranian cities.

“I heard today Iran’s President Rouhani’s claim that Israel is behind the protests in Iran. It’s not only false. It’s laughable. And, unlike Rouhani, I will not insult the Iranian people. They deserve better,” said Netanyahu in a video message posted on his official social media channels.

The Israeli Prime Minister was responding to quotes on Monday by Rouhani who accused Washington and the Jewish state of instigating the protests against the theocratic regime, financial corruption, rising unemployment, and Tehran’s involvement in Iraq and Syria.

“Our success in the political arena against the United States and the Zionist regime was unbearable to [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 told a group of lawmakers in Tehran, according to state media.

“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,” Netanyahu continued, echoing US President Donald Trump’s earlier comments in praise of the demonstrators.

With hardliners demanding an iron fist to quell the civil unrest in major cities including the capital Tehran, the country’s second-largest city Mashhad, Rasht, Isfahan, Qom, Hamadan, the Kurdish Kermanshan, and Mahabad, government media reported the killing of 10 demonstrators in clashes with police.

Kurdish parties, including Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (PDKI), the Komala Party, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) have all expressed support for the demonstrations, calling on people to “struggle for a democratic Iran.”

“Iran’s cruel regime wastes tens of billions of dollars spreading hate. This money could have built schools and hospitals. No wonder mothers and fathers are marching in the streets. The regime is terrified of them, of their own people. That’s why they jail students. That’s why they ban social media,” Netanyahu said.

Students protest at the University of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Students protest at the University of Tehran, Iran, Dec. 30, 2017. (Photo: AFP)

A citizen-uploaded video on the PDKI Facebook page showed hundreds of people chanting “Death to the Basiji,” in Kermanshan, a city hit by a 7.3 earthquake in November 2017 that killed hundreds.

Basiji is the Iranian regime’s paramilitary forces.

Anger was also directed at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, breaking a taboo surrounding the man who has been the Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989, Reuters wrote.

“Death to Khamenei!” and “If you fight, we will fight!” people in Kermanshan chanted.

Another social media video purported to show a woman shouting, “Down with the dictator!” in the darkness of night in Ilam, another city in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhelat).

Iranian riot police tossed smoke grenades at a protest at Tehran University, Dec. 30, 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)
Iranian riot police tossed smoke grenades at a protest at Tehran University, Dec. 30, 2017. (Photo: Associated Press)

Netanyahu went on calling the Iranian people “smart, sophisticated, and proud,” in his remarks.

“I wish the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom,” Netanyahu continued while attacking European governments which he said were watching in silence as “heroic young Iranians are beaten in the streets.”

“That’s just not right,” he concluded. “I, for one, will not stay silent.”

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany