TEHRAN, (Reuters) – Iranian students scuffled with riot police near the Jordanian embassy on Thursday after some hardline groups threatened to seize the building in the latest protest linked to Israel’s attacks in Gaza.
Demonstrators demanded the mission’s closure and pushed back police who had blocked the street leading to the embassy in Tehran, some of them briefly breaking through the cordon before being chased back.
A few hurled shoes at police, who fought back with batons. One young man with blood on his face was helped by a fellow student, a photograph made available to Reuters showed.
The rally ended after a representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told the crowd of hundreds of people not to break into embassies or clash with police.
Israel’s military action has prompted days of protests in the Islamic Republic, mainly by students who accuse Arab and Western leaders of not doing enough to stop the Jewish state. On Tuesday, students broke into a British diplomatic compound.
“You the Jordanian traitors — shame, shame,” protesters chanted at Thursday’s demonstration.
In another protest, thousands of students marched in downtown Tehran, some wearing white funeral shrouds showing they were “ready for martyrdom,” Iranian media reported. A small rally also took place outside the British embassy.
Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, has urged Muslims to defend Palestinians whatever way they can and a group of Iranian hardline clerics is signing up volunteers to fight in Gaza.
Iranian officials have condemned what they say is international inaction and bias towards Israel, Iran’s arch-foe.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who often predicts Israel’s demise, urged Arab leaders on Wednesday to act quickly to end Israeli air strikes that have killed at least 399 Palestinians.
An Iranian daily this week said hardline student groups had written letters to the Jordanian ambassador and the head of the Egyptian mission “giving them 48 hours to choose between clearly condemning Israel’s attack on Gaza or leaving Iran’s soil”.
Like Egypt, Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel.
If demands were not met by noon on Thursday students would “carry out their revolutionary duty as happened on 13th Aban, 1358”, the Iranian date when students stormed the U.S. embassy in 1979, the Seda-ye Edalat newspaper said.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear arm, a charge Tehran denies, and have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.