A digital clock counting down the years until Israel’s destruction has stopped functioning amidst massive power outages during a heatwave that have drawn widespread criticism of the regime and triggered street protests.
Former Al-Monitor reporter Asaad Hanna posted an image of the non-functioning countdown timer on social media on Monday, tweeting that the “Iranian regime’s countdown to Israel’s annihilation clock has stopped working because of the power outages that have swept across Iran.”
Israel Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon quickly picked up on the photo, declaring on Twitter that “perhaps instead of developing nuclear weapons [the Iranians] should concentrate on developing renewable energies.”
Officials have blamed Iran’s recent blackouts on surging demand for power, along with low rainfall cutting hydroelectric output and illegal cryptocurrency mining farms accessing subsidized electricity.
In response to public outrage, outgoing President Hassan Rohani apologized to Iranians.
Protests turned political in some areas, with people chanting “Death to the dictator” and “Death to (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei” and other slogans during blackouts, according to videos posted on social media.
Reuters could not independently verify the videos’ authenticity.
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Iranians have erected at least two such countdown clocks since Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared in 2015 that Israel would cease to exist by the year 2040. In a tweet, the Iranian ruler declared, “You will not see the next 25 years, God willing, there will be nothing as [sic] Zionist regime by next 25 years.” He added that until then, Israel’s enemies would “leave no moment of serenity for Zionists.”
Khamenei and his predecessor the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini have called repeatedly over the years for an end to the Jewish state, including through a referendum in the region, where Palestinians are in the majority. In 2014, he declared that a referendum would “be the end of a usurping fake regime” but that until such a solution could be implemented, “mighty armed resistance is the only way to deal with” Israel.
Tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran have risen significantly, with Israel accusing Iran of attacking a commercial ship previously under Israeli ownership on Saturday, following similar strikes on Israeli-owned ships occurring earlier in the year. On Tuesday, Iran accused Israel of mounting a sabotage attack on a nuclear facility near Tehran last month.
Iranian authorities announced in late June that they had prevented saboteurs from attacking a site located in Karaj, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital. They gave no details about what the targeted building belonging to the Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency contained, or how it was targeted.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.