Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, suggested on Tuesday that Iran was not behind the incursion in Israel, while praising what he called Israel’s “irreparable” military and intelligence defeat.
“We kiss the foreheads and arms of the resourceful and intelligent designers” of the attack, he said in his first televised speech since Palestinian gunmen launched a devastating cross-border assault from Gaza on Saturday.
But he added: “Those who say that the recent saga is the work of non-Palestinians have miscalculated.”
The comments were the Iranian government’s latest denial of involvement in the incursion. On Monday, Nasser Kanaani, a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, said that efforts to blame Tehran for the attack were a “political attempt to justify support for Israel.”
Israeli officials have said publicly that they have not determined whether Iran, which provides funding to Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which controls Gaza, was behind the attack. And the White House said on Monday that it still had no evidence that Tehran was directly involved in planning or executing the attack.
Iran, which does not recognize the state of Israel, has positioned itself as a key supporter of the Palestinian cause. He repeatedly referred to Israel as “the Zionist regime,” a term favored by Iran’s ruling clerics, and warned that it would face consequences if it continued to conduct deadly strikes against Palestinians.
“The heads and decision makers of the usurping Zionist regime and its supporters should know that the massacre and mass killing of the people of Gaza will bring a greater calamity on them,” he said.