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JERUSALEM, Israel – Iran officially called off its annual anti-Israel al-Quds Day rallies due to the coronavirus outbreak.

"Al-Quds" is the Arabic word for Jerusalem and every year on the last Friday of Ramadan, Iran calls for international demonstrations in support of the Palestinians and against Israel and Zionism.

"The fact is that we are not in a normal situation because of the coronavirus and therefore cannot organize the al-Quds rallies as in previous years," IRGC spokesman Ramzan Sharif told the Tasnim news agency.

Sharif said the rallies can be held online but did not give further details.
Iran created al-Quds Day in 1979 and rallies usually involve the burning of the Israeli flag and chants of "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Iran also takes time to condemn its other main rival in the region – Saudi Arabia.

The rallies are predominately held in the Middle East but also take place in Europe and can draw thousands of participants.

Iran has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Islamic Republic has reported more than 98,600 cases and over 6,200 deaths.

However, international and local experts believe the numbers are being underreported and are much higher. 

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