Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wished "the Iranian people success in their noble quest for freedom" in a video uploaded to YouTube on Monday, adding that Israel was not responsible for the unrest. Reports from Iran on Monday said that 12 were killed in the fifth day of widespread anti-government protests across the country.
"I heard today Iran's President Rohani's claim that Israel is behind the protests in Iran," said Netanyahu in the video. "It's not only false. It's laughable," he said responding to claims from Tehran that Israel is responsible for the unrest.
Netanyahu continued saying that "unlike Rohani, I will not insult the Iranian people. Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets. They seek freedom. They seek justice. The seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades."
Netanyahu added that the Islamic Republic has mistreated its people, wasting money to "spread hate" rather than take care of the populace. He spoke of jailed students and blocked social media, but added that "because the Iranian people are smart," "sophisticated," and "proud," they will succeed, and that "when this regime finally falls, and one day it will, Iranians and Israelis will be great friends once again."
On Saturday, Netanyahu asked Israeli ministers to "minimize" their comments on the situation in Iran, after Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi tweeted their support for Iranian protesters.
Sunday’s front page article in Iran’s state-sponsored Kayhan newspaper claimed that the current wave of protests, as well as the anti-government demonstrations that took place in 2009, known as the Green Movement, are part of an Israeli plot against Iran and Islam.
The anti-government protests began Wednesday in Mashhad over the harsh economic conditions Iranians are facing. Officials say some 50 protesters have been arrested so far in protests that spread to many of the country's main cities including the capital Tehran. News agency al-Arabiya reported that three protesters were killed in the city of Doroud on Saturday.
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