Hundreds of students marched at Tehran University as Iranians reported nationwide disruption of cell phone service and internet shutdowns. Incoming international calls were blocked in some neighborhoods in Tehran as anti-government protests entered their fourth day, continuing to swell, and to spread across Iran.
Crackdowns also began, as did government disinformation, with reports by semi-official news agencies claiming “Tehran is calm” and “only 200 are demonstrating.” But Ali Asghar Nasserbakht, a security deputy for the governor of Tehran, told the semi-official ILNA news agency that early Sunday 200 protesters were arrested the previous night in the Iranian capital.
“These individuals are now with the judiciary and some others have been freed out of clemency,” he claimed; but their true fate is impossible to discern.
Tens of thousands of protesters across the country have risen up against their government, however, chanting things like, “Let go of Palestine” and “Death to Hezbollah.” They are complaining about high unemployment, biting economic standards and the price the average Iranian has to pay for its government’s choice to support Syria, Hezbollah, Iraq and Yemen.
At least 10 Iranian protesters were killed in the town of Dorud, located just a few miles southwest of Tehran.
Government officials claimed “armed foreign agents” were responsible for the murders, but eyewitnesses were quoted on the Twitter social networking site as saying a contingent of Islamic Republic security forces “flown in from Tehran” to Dorud killed the protesters.
The above video footage was posted by NasimOnline.ir to the Telegram messaging service just before access to that and Twitter was blocked as well.
Earlier in the day on Sunday hundreds of students at Tehran University gathered to protest severe economic conditions in the country, and to call for the resignation of President Hassan Rouhani.
The Islamic Republic has blamed Israel, the United States and Britain for the protests. But demonstrators are pointing their fingers at the government for spending too much money on support for the Palestinian Authority and the Hezbollah terrorist organization, among others.
Iranian investment in regional hegemony is coming at the expense of domestic survival say the nation’s citizens.
Protesters have been tearing down pictures of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – a capital offense – as well as pictures of Qassem Solemani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
U.S. President Donald Trump has so far been the only foreign leader other than Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bluntly speak out against the Iranian regime’s heavy-handed response to the protests.
Trump tweeted his support directly to the Iranian people, further infuriating the Tehran government, saying the “entire world understands the good people of Iran want change, and that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear most,” other than the military power of the United States.
“We are following reports of multiple peaceful protests by Iranian citizens in cities across the country,” State Dept. spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a briefing. “Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos. As President Trump has said, the longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are Iran’s own people.
“The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters….
“Secretary Tillerson reiterates the United States’ deep respect for the Iranian people. We call on all nations to stand with us in demanding the regime respect their basic human rights.”
Israeli officials call on residents of the coastal enclave to reject the machinations of the Iranian regime and choose a better 'future for your children'
After terrorists in Gaza fired three mortar shells at southern Israel on Friday, apparently to disrupt a ceremony honoring a fallen IDF soldier whose remains are being held captive in the coastal enclave, top Israeli officials have cast blame not only on Hamas, which rules the Strip, but also on Israel’s nemesis, Iran.
On social media and in interviews with news outlets, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz and the Israel Defense Forces have all pointed to the Islamic Republic as the source of rising tensions in the Gaza Strip.
Friday’s mortar fire was the latest attack against Israel by terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip this month, which also saw a two-week period in which there were near daily rocket launches aimed at southern Israel.
Iran’s support for terrorist groups in the coastal enclave is, of course, nothing new. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad has been received funding from the Islamic Republic for decades, maintaining close ties with its Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Hamas too has been turning more toward Tehran in recent years, particularly for its military wing, as it has been moving away from Saudi Arabia — or, more accurately, as Saudi Arabia has been moving away from it.
After the Iranians completely destroyed Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria, they are starting to do the exact same thing in Gaza
The comments from senior Israeli officials come as protesters in Iran rail against the country’s apparent focus on the wider Middle East region, rather than its domestic concerns. Iranian students chanted, “Never mind Palestine, think about us,” and “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran.”
With their comments, the Israeli ministers and military appeared to be trying to stir similar feelings among Palestinians, calling on them to consider their well-being.
“After the Iranians completely destroyed Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon and Syria, they are starting to do the exact same thing in Gaza,” Liberman said on Saturday night, in a Facebook video published by the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The video, published in English, Hebrew and Arabic, was specifically directed toward a Palestinian audience.
“I suggest you think about your children, their future, and start pressing Hamas leaders to change direction. Right now, you’re on a flight to nowhere. If you change the direction, believe me, you will build, first and foremost, a good future for your children,” he said
“The heads of the regime in Tehran are not interested in the depressing reality in Gaza nor in the future of the children there. They care about their extremist ideology and hurting Israel as much as possible,” he said.
The defense minister also noted that while the vast majority of Gaza Strip residents only have access to electricity between four to six hours a day, the leaders of Hamas — Yahya Sinwar and Saleh al-Arouri — have power 24 hours a day.
Since becoming defense minister last year, Liberman has maintained a policy of “sticks and carrots” as it relates to the Palestinians. Regarding Gaza, where there is widespread unemployment, he has said that he would be prepared to allow residents of the Strip to work in Israel, if the security situation were calmer.
Speaking to Israel Radio, the intelligence minister also accused the Islamic Republic of effectively hijacking the Gaza Strip for its own means through its influence over the Hamas terrorist group.
“Iran and Hezbollah are trying to turn Gaza into Lebanon II, into south Lebanon B,” Katz said.
“We need to differentiate between the interests of Hamas and the interests of most of the people in Gaza,” he added.
Katz, who is minister of both intelligence and transportation, has long advocated for the construction of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza where a port can be opened in an attempt to make the Strip more independent.
Referring to Gaza as a “ticking time bomb,” he repeated his call for the off-shore port, saying it would relieve Israel of the onus of having to manage the land crossings and daily convoys of trucks bringing humanitarian aid and commercial goods into the coastal enclave.
Maintaining the same basic line of argument, the IDF also blamed Iran for supplying the terrorist group that launched the mortar shells — which it inaccurately referred to as rockets — and unnecessarily endangering the lives of Gaza citizens.
“The rockets were launched by a terror organization that used standard-grade Iranian weapons. This is a severe incident that proves once more how much these terror organizations despise the residents of Gaza & are willing to put them at risk of escalation over Iranian interests,” the army tweeted on Sunday.
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