Iran wants Israeli PM to face trial over flotilla raid
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday called for Israel’s prime minister and defence minister to face trial for the deadly raid on a Gaza aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean.
The United States, Britain and France must also be held accountable for Monday’s Israeli raid on the flotilla loaded with international aid, said Khamenei, who is all-powerful in the Islamic republic.
“The Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference must not be satisfied with anything less than a full lifting of the Gaza blockade,” he said in a statement.
Khamenei also called for “an end to the grabbing of Palestinian land in the West Bank and a trial of criminals such as (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu and (Defence Minister Ehud) Barak.”
He said the “criminal attack … should have convinced everyone that Zionism is the new and more violent face of fascism which is backed by those states which advocate freedom and human rights, above all the US government.”
Washington, London and Paris should also be held accountable, he said.
“US, Britain, France and other European communities which have politically and financially backed these natural-born criminals should be seriously held accountable,” the cleric said.
In a pre-dawn operation on Monday, Israeli commandos raided the flotilla and at least nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed in ensuing clashes, according to the Israeli army.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also lashed out at Israel and said Tehran had precise information that Israel planned to launch a “massive attack” on Gaza in the wake of the deadly raid.
“I warn you that if this time you commit a crime against any place, against Gaza, the storm of regional nations’ fury will uproot you,” he said in a speech in the western Iranian city of Ilam.
The hardliner, who has repeatedly infuriated the world by his anti-Israeli tirades, also criticised Washington for issuing what he said was a “very weak” response to the raid.
“The US government has adopted a very weak and biased position. Instead of condemning, it has spoken vaguely and sought to evade taking a stance,” he said, while some European countries had adopted a “good” stand.
The attack on the flotilla has triggered a fresh wave of tirades from Ahmadinejad against Israel, the Islamic republic’s arch-foe and which he has repeatedly said is doomed to be “wiped off the map.”
The animosity between the Islamic republic and the Jewish state has worsened under Ahmadinejad.
Israel, for its part, has consistently demanded strong action against Iran for pursuing its controversial nuclear programme and has not ruled out a military strike.
Iranian Jews, in a statement, demanded those responsible for the flotilla raid be punished and that such attacks be prevented in future.
“Tehran’s Jewish community condemns the inhuman act by Zionists of attacking a non-military flotilla,” said the Tehran Jewish Community, which represents the minority in the Islamic republic.
“On behalf of Iran’s Jewish community, we firmly demand serious international action to punish the criminals and measures to prevent such catastrophes.”
Shiite Iran is home to around 20,000 Jews and its 290-member parliament has one Jewish lawmaker.