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Cut Oil Sales To Israel Backers, Iranian Official Says

Anger protesters in Tehran condemn Israeli assault on Gaza Strip.

Anger protesters in Tehran condemn Israeli assault on Gaza Strip.

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- An Iranian military commander has called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to Israel's supporters in response to the Jewish state's offensive in Gaza, the official IRNA news agency reported.

IRNA, giving only his last name, quoted commander Bagherzadeh as saying oil was "one of the powerful elements of pressure" on the Jewish state's Western backers in the "unequal war" faced by Palestinians in Gaza.

"Pointing at Westerners' dependence on the Islamic countries' oil and energy resources, he [Bagherzadeh] called for cutting the export of crude oil to the Zionist regime's supporters the world over," IRNA said.

Iran is the world's fourth-largest oil producer and a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled in Gaza on January 4 after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the most serious fighting in the conflict in decades.

Israel's attacks on Gaza have sparked repeated protests in Iran, which does not recognize Israel.

IRNA, which did not provide direct supporting quotes, said Bagherzadeh was speaking about the measures Islamic countries could take in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza.

"Among the tactics the world of Islam can use to help the innocent Palestinian people, Bagherzadeh called oil one of the powerful elements of pressure on the Zionists' European and American supporters in the unequal war," IRNA said.

Bagherzadeh is the director of Iran's Foundation for the Preservation of Works and Publications of Sacred Defense Values, IRNA said.