Netanyahu backs Iranian protesters after Tehran admits downing plane 

Source: Netanyahu backs Iranian protesters after Tehran admits downing plane | The Times of Israel

PM says he supports demonstrators: ‘They deserve freedom, liberty and the ability to live in security and peace, all of which the regime denies them’

(L to R) Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem on January 12, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov / POOL / AFP)

(L to R) Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on January 12, 2020. (Tsafrir Abayov / POOL / AFP)

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday praised Iranian protesters demonstrating against the regime after Tehran admitted shooting down an airliner by mistake, killing all 176 people aboard.

“I note the courage of the Iranian people who are again demonstrating in the streets against this regime. They deserve freedom, liberty and the ability to live in security and peace, all of which the regime denies them,” he said in Hebrew comments at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

In English, he added, “Iran lied. Just as they lied about their secret nuclear program, they are lying now about the downing of the Ukrainian aircraft. They knew from the start that they had downed it. They knew that it was an unintentional downing, but they lied intentionally. They deceived the entire world.

“This is completely contrary to how a civilized country should act and we send our condolences to the victims of Iran’s deception and negligence,” Netanyahu said.

Iranians expressed horror after the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Aerospace division said his unit had shot down the airliner on Wednesday after mistaking it for a cruise missile. The admission followed three days of Iranian officials vociferously denied shooting down the jet, despite mounting evidence.

In response, Iranians in Tehran took to the streets Saturday night to rally against the regime. Protests were also reported in other areas. On Sunday, Iran deployed riot police in the capital expecting possible further protests.

Videos posted to social media showed police firing tear gas at demonstrators chanting against the regime and calling for the resignation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the prosecution of those behind the downing of the jet.

Calls included “Death to the dictator,” “Shame on you Khamenei, leave the country,” “Death to the liars,” and “Shame on the Revolutionary Guards, let the country go.”

Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒

@borzou

Protest in Iranian city of Rasht. “Mercenary, get lost,” they call out to security forces

Borzou Daragahi 🖊🗒

@borzou

Extraordinary footage, posted by famed film director Jafar Panahi, captures confrontation between regime enforcers and students in Tehran tonight

Embedded video

Netanyahu’s comments came hours after US President Donald Trump told Iranian protesters that he supported them and warned the regime against cracking down on the demonstrations.

“The government of Iran must allow human rights groups to monitor and report facts from the ground on the ongoing protests by the Iranian people,” Trump tweeted in English and Farsi.

“There can not be another massacre of peaceful protesters, nor an internet shutdown. The world is watching,” Trump added, referring to an internet blackout that blanketed the country during widespread protests in November.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“To the brave, long-suffering people of Iran: I’ve stood with you since the beginning of my Presidency, and my Administration will continue to stand with you,” Trump tweeted.

“We are following your protests closely, and are inspired by your courage,” he said.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

In addition to his comments supporting the protesters, Netanyahu reiterated praise of Trump after the White House announced a new wave of sanctions on Iran following the missile strikes by the Islamic Republic on US bases that came in retaliation for the US drone strike killing Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most powerful military commander.

“I commend President Trump for imposing new and very harsh sanctions against this regime,” Netanyahu said.

“I call on Britain, France and Germany to join the American effort. They need to go to the Security Council, and there they need to activate the sanctions that have been decided upon. I would like to reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.”

 

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