TEHRAN — A popular central Tehran park was prepared for loyalists of the Islamic Republic to watch a live broadcast of the speech on Friday by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
The giant screen was one of many media and public relations gestures in anticipation of the "game-changing" speech. Iran's state television had predicted that Nasrallah's remarks would upend Israel's military plans to destroy the Hamas movement in Gaza, and would decide the future of the Middle East.
Many hardline outlets even focused on the speculation that the Lebanese cleric might openly declare war on Israel. The state-run Tasnim news agency reported on the Israeli army going into a state of high alert, while Nour News said the speech would be "the storm after the lull," referring to the Shiite leader breaking his three-week silence on the war.
But as it turned out, while maintaining his anti-Israeli tone, Nasrallah exercised caution, distancing his organization from Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks inside Israeli territory. It was a "100% Palestinian" job, he declared. The statement echoed the line put out earlier by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on the triumph for Gaza and the "resistance."