Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi accused the West on Thursday of supporting Israel’s “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza, Reuters has reported. Raisi made his comment at the start of talks in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
As part of a burst of meetings focused on the Middle East, Putin greeted Raisi in the Kremlin a day after visiting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where he discussed oil prices and the wars in Gaza and Ukraine. In televised opening remarks, Putin said it was very important to discuss the situation in the Middle East, especially in the occupied Palestinian territories.
“What is happening in Palestine and Gaza is of course genocide and a crime against humanity,” responded Raisi through a translator.
Iran backs the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, the de facto ruling authority in Gaza which won the last Palestinian legislative election in 2006. Russia has relations with all of the key players in the Middle East, including Hamas and Israel, which it angered by hosting a Hamas delegation in Moscow in October.
Analysts say that the Gaza war has helped Russia by distracting world attention from what is happening in Ukraine, enabling Moscow to align itself with other developing countries in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Israel has previously and predictably said that allegations of genocide are deplorable and that its actions target Hamas, not civilians. Nevertheless, it has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians since 7 October, including 7,112 children and 4,885 women, and destroyed or damaged 305,000 homes in the process.
Like North Korea, whose leader Kim Jong Un held a summit with Putin in Russia’s far east in September, Iran is an avowed enemy of the US and has the capacity to provide Moscow with military hardware for its war in Ukraine, where Russia has made extensive use of Iranian drones. The US has voiced strong concern over the growing military cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, while supplying Israel with all of the extra arms and ammunition that it needs in its war against the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Kremlin last month said Russia and Iran were developing their relations, “including in the field of military-technical cooperation”, but declined to comment on a suggestion by the White House that Iran may be considering providing Russia with ballistic missiles.