Iranians on edge as leaders say 'Tel Aviv is our battleground'

Iranians on edge as leaders say 'Tel Aviv is our battleground'

Tehran is tense, two days after Iran's unprecedented direct attack on Israel.

Worried about war and its impact on Iran's already flailing economy, a significant proportion of Iranians oppose what they see as the reckless adventurism of the country's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which fired more than 300 drones and missiles on Saturday night.

In a letter sent to BBC Persian, a long list of Iranian activists both inside the country and abroad criticised Iran's and Israel's actions and saying "No to warmongering!"

Many Iranians also see the Iran-Israel confrontation now emerging from the shadows as being orchestrated by the Iranian government rather than reflective of the will of the Iranian people.

This perception is underscored by a heavy police presence on the streets of Tehran - ostensibly about enforcing strict Islamic dress codes requiring women to cover their hair but which many suspect is mainly about crushing any possible protests.

Some decision-makers fear that if Iranian security forces and the IRGC's command centres are hit in a war with Israel and the US, this could reignite nationwide protests that erupted in 2022 after the death of a young woman in police custody.

Some graffiti has appeared on walls in Iranian cities - "Israel, strike the supreme leader's [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's] house," reads one. "Israel hit them, they lack the courage to retaliate," read another.

The government has its own billboards - "Tel Aviv is our battleground, not Tehran," reads one.

Immediately after the IRGC attack, supporters of the Islamic Republic celebrated and a banner warning Israelis that "the next slap will be fiercer" was hung from a building in Tehran.

"I believe it was the right decision to attack Israel to prevent further killings of Iranian commanders in Syria and elsewhere," one woman said in a voice message sent to BBC Persian.

But another said: "Iranians themselves are in a state of war with the current regime. We harbour no animosity towards any nation, including Israel."

Meanwhile a woman said she was concerned about a wider war. Such fears appeared to prompt people to scramble to stock up on essentials like food and fuel, with pictures showing queues forming outside petrol stations in Tehran and supermarkets inundated with shoppers.

With the official inflation rate standing at just over 40% and tens of millions of people struggling with the cost of living, a military confrontation with Israel was the last thing most Iranians wanted.

The value of the Iranian rial, already at a historic low, declined further against the US dollar following Israel's attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria.

Many worry that, sooner or later, the military escalations will hike the prices of many goods, from mobile phones to home appliances and many foodstuffs.

source: BBC

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