TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday said the world would witness the destruction of Israel soon, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Ahmadinejad said last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah showed for the first time that the “hegemony of the occupier regime (Israel) had collapsed, and the Lebanese nation pushed the button to begin counting the days until the destruction of the Zionist regime,” IRNA quoted him as saying.
“God willing, in the near future we will witness the destruction of the corrupt occupier regime,” Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying during a speech to foreign guests mostly from African, Arab and neighboring countries who attended ceremonies marking the 18th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who is known as the father of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev responded Sunday: “Ahmadinejad offers only death and destruction. Today he is the most serious challenge to regional peace and security,”
Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has lost public support after Israel failed to achieve its goals during last summer’s 34-day war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon – freeing two soldiers and crushing the militant group.
The war was sparked after two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hezbollah militants in a cross-border raid. The fighting ended with a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that called for deployment of U.N. peacekeepers and Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon along the border with Israel.
Ahmadinejad has made anti-Israel comments in the past.
In an interview with U.S.-based ABC television earlier this year, Ahmadinejad, who also has called the Holocaust a “myth,” compared Israel to the Soviet Union, saying, “What happened to the former Soviet Union? It disappeared, disappeared from the face of the Earth. Was it because of war? No. It was through the decision of the people.”
In October 2005, he caused outrage in the West when he said in a speech that Israel’s “Zionist regime should be wiped off the map.”
His supporters have argued Ahmadinejad’s words were mistranslated and should have been better translated as “vanish from the pages of time” – implying Israel would vanish on its own rather be destroyed.