January 4, 2009 / 8:08 AM / 10 years ago

Gaza to be Israeli "graveyard:" Iran's Larijani

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Gaza will become Israel’s graveyard, the speaker of Iran’s parliament was quoted as saying on Sunday after the Jewish state launched a ground offensive deep into the coastal Palestinian territory.

Israeli tanks and infantry battled Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip on Sunday after eight days of deadly air strikes failed to halt the Islamist group’s rocket attacks on Israel.

“The Zionists faced the powerful resistance of the zealous Palestinians ... the Zionists should know that Gaza will become their graveyard,” the semi-official Mehr News Agency quoted speaker Ali Larijani as telling parliament.

MPs shouted “down with Israel, down with the Zionists,” Mehr reported.

Iran does not recognize Israel, which has accused Tehran of supplying Hamas with weapons. The Islamic Republic denies the allegation, saying it provides only moral support to the group.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza have sparked repeated protests in Tehran and elsewhere in Iran, mainly by students.

Iranian officials have condemned what they say is international inaction and bias toward Israel, a view underlined by Saaed Jalili, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, on Sunday.

Gaza is “a scene of disgrace for those who claim to be confronting terrorism,” he said in comments aired on Iranian state radio during a visit to Beirut.

“Today they are not only keeping quiet vis-a-vis the Zionist terrorism, they are actually confirming it,” he said. The radio said he called on all countries to stop Israel’s “war machine.”

Reporting by Hashem Kalantari in Tehran; Writing by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Charles Dick

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