Iran Protests: As Israeli Ministers Offer Praise, Netanyahu Requests to 'Minimize' Comments

Israeli ministers applaud Iranians 'courageously risking their lives for freedom' ■ Trump doubles down on support, too: 'Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever'

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems, in the capital Tehran on December 30, 2017.
STR/AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Office asked Israeli ministers to "minimize" their comments on the situation in Iran on Saturday, after two Israeli government ministers took to Twitter to express their support for anti-government protesters in Iran.

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Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that the Iranian protesters were "bravely standing up" to a regime that was spending billions of dollars funding foreign terror groups Hezbollah and Hamas instead of "investing in the Iranian people."

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi tweeted that Iranian protesters were "courageously risking their lives in the pursuit of freedom," and that the "civilized world" should support them.

Analysis // The Iranian regime has learned to fear protesters

The Israeli ministers' message of support came as U.S. President Donald Trump also took to Twitter to express his support, for the second time in 24-hours, saying that the "entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change."

"Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice," he said, adding that "The world is watching!"

Iran strongly condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's support.

A state television report on Saturday quoted Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, as saying that "Iranian people give no credit to the deceitful and opportunist remarks of U.S. officials or Mr. Trump."

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.

A video purports to show their bodies being carried by a crowd of protesters with chants of "death to Khamenei" heard in the background.

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Widely shared Tweets from Iran showed demonstrators tearing down regime symbols, including signs and billboards with pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

Other videos showed more crowds chanting "death to Khamenei," with others showing police cars flipped over in a sign protests were growing increasingly violent. Scuffles were also reported between students and security forces at Tehran University.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.

Reuters and AP contributed to this report