Iran arrests three after erecting billboard featuring Israeli soldiers
JALAA MAREY (AFP)
Iranian authorities have detained three people after a billboard accidentally featuring Israeli soldiers was erected in the south of the country amid its annual commemoration of the Iran-Iraq War, Iran’s semi official ISNA news agency reported on Friday.
The image, which was photoshopped to remove the female officer, shows the backs of three male Israeli soldiers overlooking a hillside. It appeared next to a quote from poet Ali Moalem Damghani which commemorates “martyrs” from previous wars.
After it was put up in a square in the city of Shiraz earlier this week, Iranians began to notice that the troops were wearing Israel Defense Forces (IDF) uniforms and were armed with M16 rifles, which the Iranian military do not use.
Outrage began to pour in as the photo circulated across social media.
"I felt burnt when I saw this billboard in the middle of Sacred Defence Week,” said one Twitter user wrote in Farsi referring to the official name for the weeks long remembrance of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War which is often marked by military parades.
"M16 guns, straps, clothes, hat on their shoulders; all of these belong to Zionists. In the best case scenario I can say you did something idiotic,” the user continued.
In city of #Shiraz, a billboard is taken down overnight after it turned out its image -that was supposed to hail Iranian soldiers & martyrs of 1980-88 war- belong to IDF soldiers (with a female soldier removed).#Iran— Fereshteh Sadeghi (@fresh_sadegh) September 26, 2018
(First tweeted by an Israeli account) pic.twitter.com/90NRC3wI9U
The Israeli foreign ministry’s Persian Twitter feed also responded to the photo and noted that that Iranians had quickly removed the image overnight after mistakenly posting it.
Israel and Iran are long standing arch-foes and after the 1979 Revolution, the newly established Islamic government severed all diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.
Since, Tehran has vociferously expressed its hostility towards Israel refusing to recognize its legitimacy and has engaged in fiery rhetoric seeking its annihilation.
Iran is a known financier of the Gaza-based group Hamas and has reportedly provided significant sums of money to assist in the recent slew of border protests. It also provides another of Israel’s principal enemies, the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah, with extensive training, weaponry and financial aid.
According to the BBC citing local Iranian media, on Thursday morning the head of Shiraz city council Seyyed Ahmad Dastgheyb ordered cultural officials to undertake an investigation into the incident.
If it was confirmed a picture of soldiers of the "usurper Zionist regime" had been used, he said and said it would be "necessary to deal seriously with those responsible".
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It seems that a segment of Iranians, fed up with mullahs, is sympathetic to Israel after all.