Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has taken aim at Israel over social media in a first-ever Hebrew-language message posted on X, formerly Twitter, as the country continues to battle with a comprehensive attack launched by Hamas over the weekend.
“Zionist Tyrants: You will never arise from your defeat on the Sabbath, the 7th of October. You brought this calamity upon yourselves,” Khamenei tweeted Tuesday, as translated from Hebrew to English.
The message followed a televised speech earlier Tuesday in which Khamenei lauded Hamas for its brazen, multi-pronged assault that has killed more than 1,000 Israelis since Saturday. He denied that Iran played a role in the operation.
U.S. and Israeli officials have said they had no evidence of a direct Iranian role in the attack, though they have noted Tehran’s longstanding support for Hamas.
While the message marked a first for Khamenei since his account was established in March 2009, at least one other senior Iranian official has tweeted in Hebrew on several occasions.
In May 2021, then-Supreme National Security Council Secretary-General Ali Shamkhani twice commented via Hebrew-language tweets on another outbreak of Israeli-Palestinian violence as Hamas fired rockets into Israel and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) conducted strikes on the Palestinian enclave, as well as U.S. plans to withdraw from Afghanistan.
Then, in August 2021, Shamkhani again twice channeled Hebrew on the platform to discuss a recent conversation with his Russian counterpart regarding Afghanistan, Syria and the Persian Gulf, and to assert that Israel would be expelled from the West Bank. In October of that same year, Shamkhani wrote in Hebrew about Iran having thwarted a cyberattack meant to undermine the country.
The official language of Iran is Persian, though it is home to significant populations speaking other languages such as Kurdish. Khamenei’s office regularly disseminates material in Arabic, Azeri, English, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.
While Iranian authorities have largely restricted access to X outside the use of third-party tools, a number of government officials and prominent figures continue to use the platform. Khamenei’s posts have at times been subject to censorship by the site, however.
X applied a label to an English-language post by Khamenei on Saturday that stated “God willing, the cancer of the usurper Zionist regime will be eradicated at the hands of the Palestinian people and the Resistance forces throughout the region” alongside a video purporting to show a large gathering of Palestinians running in the initial stages of the Hamas attack, saying the post “violated the X rules.” The post remains visible, however, as “X has determined that it may be in the public’s interest” to see it.
X owner Elon Musk weighed in on Sunday, saying “Khamenei’s official position is clear that the eradication of Israel is the actual goal, not just supporting Palestinians.”
“That will not happen. All that actually happens, decade after decade, is a never-ending cycle of violence and vengeance,” Musk wrote on his own platform. “Stoking the fires of hatred isn’t working. Perhaps it is time to consider something else.”
This is a developing story and will be updated as further information becomes available.