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Iran Leader Calls for More Military Preparations as Tensions with Israel Soar

By Nigar Bayramli April 18, 2023

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Iranian Armed Forces, met with Iranian commanders and senior military officials on April 16, 2023. / Khamenei.ir

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on senior military commanders to intensify preparations for potential "enemy" threats, amid Tehran’s harsh rhetoric against Israel.

"Threats will never completely go away, so you should add to preparations in various aspects," Khamenei said in a meeting with Iranian armed forces commanders on April 16.

He hailed the forces for their achievements and continuous progress but also told them not to be content with any level of strength and advancement.

The leader demanded that the Iranian military closely monitor the long and medium-term plans of "the enemy", saying that the enemy is not invincible despite its seemingly solid calculations and military power.

"Americans had some interests in Iraq and Afghanistan but their final goal was the Islamic Iran. However, they failed to achieve their final goal thanks to the great strength of the Islamic Revolution," Khamenei stressed.

On April 15, the spokesperson of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) Brig-Gen Ramezan Sharif criticized recent remarks by the Israeli Defence Forces’ Chief of Staff Herz Halevi who said his country is "ready" to attack Iran and can do so even without the support from the United States.

“Such remarks by the Zionists are nothing new, and they have repeated the same point over and over again. But the message it carries could be that the Americans’ situation in the region is such that they cannot support the Zionists anymore,” Sharif said.

In a speech on 14 April to mark the Quds Day, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi urged the demonstrators at the pro-Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip to continue their fight against Israel.

Referring to Arab states' normalization of ties with Israel, Raisi stressed that such a move signifies "betraying Palestine".

The Iranian president had sought "united Islamic front" against Israel in separate phone conversations ahead of the Quds Day with the heads of several Muslim states.

The IRGC Chief Maj-Gen Hossein Salami also threatened Israel on April 14, saying that "the liberation of Quds is close", and added that "fire is rained on the Zionist regime from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere… Zionists don't even know from where they are getting hit".

On April 13, the IRGC held a naval drill in the Caspian Sea in "support of Palestine" with the participation of over 2,700 speedboats. On the same day, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces issued a statement saying that the "countdown has started for the collapse of Zionism".

Iranian officials intensified their anti-Israel rhetoric in the run-up to the Quds Day and following Israeli raids of the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem in early April. In his remarks on April 4, the Iranian Supreme Leader said that Israeli leaders were admitting that the state of Israel would "collapse" soon.