The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Monday that destroying arch-rival Israel was an “achievable goal”.
“This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream (but) it is an achievable goal,” Major General Hossein Salami said, quoted by the Guards’ Sepah news site.
Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the imposter Zionist regime”, he said.
Salami’s comments, while not unusual for Iranian officials, come amid particularly heightened international tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme and a series of incidents that have raised fears of a confrontation between Tehran and its other main regional rival, Riyadh.
The United States, which withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers in 2018, has imposed a campaign of “maximum pressure” — with vocal support from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Salami’s comments were given prominent coverage by the Tasnim and Fars news agencies, close to ultra-conservative political factions.
The official IRNA agency also carried his remarks, but placed more emphasis on his assertion that Iran was growing stronger and would finally beat its foes despite “hostility” towards it.
Iran has been consistently hostile towards Israel since its 1979 revolution, and Tehran openly supports anti-Israeli armed groups including Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
In June 2018, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reaffirmed Tehran’s long-held position that Israel is “a malignant cancerous tumor that must be removed and eradicated”.
Iranian generals routinely express the desire to destroy Israel or claim to be able to wipe out Tel Aviv.
However, official discourse in recent years has generally taken care to clarify that the Jewish state will cease to exist because of its own “arrogance”, not because of an attack by Iran.