The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, again denounced the state of Israel Wednesday, saying it had exhibited the "ultimate degree of ruthlessness and evil." The Iranian leader was remarking on accusations that Israeli forces violated the delicate coexistence of Jews and Muslims at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
"The Zionist regime's crimes in Palestine and repeated insult of the sacred sanctuary of the Al-Aqsa Mosque ... are the foremost problem for Muslims," Khamenei said, reported World Bulletin. The remarks come as tensions between Israel and Palestinians are rising around the Jerusalem site, which is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
Some on the Muslim side have said that the increased "aggression" from Israel around the mosque is a sign of intention to prevent a Palestinian state. It also signals that Israel believes that there is no effective Palestinian leadership to defend Muslim rights in the area, critics argue.
The clashes have played out over the last few days between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters and have resulted in dozens of injuries on both sides. The conflict started in East Jerusalem, but flashpoints have expanded to other parts of the West Bank, according to Vox.
Violence appears to have begun Friday in Jerusalem and resulted in at least eight Palestinians being shot in the clashes, and Israeli police injuries from firebombs, according to the Associated Press.
The Temple Mount, as the site is known to the Jews, is the holiest site in Judaism. Since Israel conquered East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, Jews have been able visit the compound but not to pray there. Muslim authorities manage the site, and Israeli police oversee security. In recent months, reports have indicated that some Muslim visitors have been restricted from entering the compound while Jews are present.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the most vocal critic of the multinational accord to curb Iranian nuclear weapons capabilities. He has called Iran a "terrorist state" in his campaign against the deal.