Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has denied any involvement of the Islamic Republic in pro-Palestinian protests that have rocked cities in the West over the past month.
In a speech on November 1, Khamenei said attributing the pro-Palestinian rallies to Tehran was out of desperation and that “perhaps these gatherings are the work of the London Basij and the Paris Basij!"
The paramilitary Basij force organizes government-sponsored demonstrations in Iran.
Khamenei made the comments as Israeli ground forces pushed deeper into the Gaza Strip in their attempt to destroy Hamas.
The Israeli military has been bombing the Palestinian territory since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel that killed 1,400 people and saw more than 230 people kidnapped as hostages.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza says more than 8,700 people, including 2,913 children, have been killed since Israel's retaliatory bombing started.
In his speech, Khamenei said “the bombings on Gaza must stop immediately” and called on Muslim states to cease oil and food exports to Israel.
In an October 30 article, The Times newspaper accused the Islamic Republic of “infiltrating pro-Palestinian protests in western capitals, spreading disinformation on social media and financing agents to stoke global Islamist extremism,” as Tehran tries to escalate tensions against Israel amidst its war against Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.
While openly admitting its backing for Hamas, Iran's clerical rulers insist the Islamic Republic was not involved in the attack on Israel.
They have also warned Israel of an escalation if it failed to end its assault on Gaza, with authorities indicating Tehran-backed proxies across the Middle East were ready to act.
Speaking in Ankara on November 1, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned of "harsh consequences" if an immediate ceasefire doesn't take place in Gaza.