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Features

Fear and Hope Divide Iranians Amid Offensive Against Israel

April 15, 2024
Roghayeh Rezaei
5 min read
در جبهه خبری نیست؛ سایه جنگ روی سر شهروندان ایرانی
Many Iranians expressed deep disappointment and fatigue as they watched the events unfold on television.

In the early hours of Sunday, Iran launched dozens of drones and missiles at Israel. Around 99 percent of these projectiles were intercepted. A seven-year-old girl was injured.

However, many Iranians expressed deep disappointment and fatigue as they watched the events unfold on television. 

Some feared the possibility of war, while others harbored hopes that a conflict would arise as a means to overthrow the Islamic Republic.

'War Takes Fathers, Lives'

Numerous Iranian citizens and social media users have taken to various platforms to express their dread of the ravages of war and their inability to endure such hardship again. 

Across Instagram stories, anti-war sentiments are being shared widely, serving as stark reminders of the harsh and painful realities of the Iran-Iraq war.

One such message says, "Don't joke about war, war takes fathers, homes, and innocent lives."

Parisa is among those who shared this message on her Instagram account. She vividly remembers the final months of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

Speaking to IranWire, she recalls, "I witnessed the war from Tehran, although the experience would have been vastly different for people in Ahvaz, Abadan, or Kurdistan. 

"Our home was in Naziabad at that time, and even as a child, I can vividly remember the night when bombs rained down on people's homes. The streets were strewn with shrapnel and broken glass. It was terrifying."

The woman from Tehran says that her friend's father was killed on the front lines. "That child was forever changed by the loss. I still fear the sights and sounds of war—the sirens, the announcements, the funerals of martyrs, and the blaring of air raid sirens."

"I wish Israel would refrain from attacking," she said. 

Another Tehran citizen expressed his concerns, saying, "I worry about my loved ones, about the potential loss of lives in a war.

'I worry about the children, about the young boys who would be conscripted to the front lines if war breaks out. 

"I worry about all our people who work tirelessly to raise their children amidst hardship and adversity. 

"The thought of young lives being cut short fills me with dread. I was born into war, and I don't believe the people of Iran can endure another one," he adds.

A teenager who recently turned 18 said, "I didn't sleep a wink last night. I just turned 18 a few days ago, and I fear being conscripted to war."

Simultaneously, numerous users have taken to social media to voice their apprehensions about the prospect of war. 

The hashtag "No to war" has been trending, with hundreds of users expressing opposition to the conflict.

A user on the X social network stated, "War doesn't come with courtesy or respect, and it doesn't afford citizens the choice of whether to participate."

Another user tweeted, "Tonight, I was transported back to my childhood during the war. We played in the streets and sought refuge in shelters at the sound of air defense alarms. 

"The thought of red sirens, long queues, rationing, and power outages fills me with anxiety, as it resurrects memories of the past. 

War doesn't just take one step backwards—it's a hundred steps backwards."

"My childhood was overshadowed by war—the anxieties of seeking refuge in shelters and the cross stickers on windows still haunt me," another user said. 

"Even now, loud noises startle me, despite knowing their source. Every child deserves to grow up in safety. Security should never be a missing link for the children of the sixties," they added.

'Our Hope is in War'

Unlike the first group, who fears war and protests the IRGC's attack on Israel on Sunday morning along with the warmongering rhetoric of the Iranian government, another group of Iranian citizens view war as a means to rid themselves of the Islamic Republic.

A protesting citizen, who was also arrested during the Woman, Life, Freedom protests, tells IranWire: "Our hope was for war, in which Israel would defeat this government, providing relief for us. 

"Our economic and security situation cannot deteriorate any further, can it? With 70,000 tomans for each dollar.

"But unlike people seeking peace worldwide, we desire war to overthrow the mullahs. It's lamentable, but we see no alternative."

Another young man from one of the Kurdish provinces believes that "people are no longer afraid of war, the problem lies in inflation and the worsening economic situation." 

He explains: "If Israel does not respond, the Islamic Republic will persist in its policies, both domestically and internationally. Even now, the economic toll from the stock market plummet and the dollar's price surge is too severe."

Economic experts argue that despite Iran's claim of dealing an economic blow to Israel, the primary impact has been on Iran's fragile economy itself.

Similarly, before the Islamic Republic attacked Israel, slogans and graffiti advocating for Israel to strike the Islamic Republic were observed on Tehran's streets. 

These messages implored Israel to deliver further blows to the Islamic Republic, saying the government lacked the courage to initiate an attack.

'Main War for Women is on the Streets'

Amidst the IRGC's missile and drone assault on Israel, numerous women, who have faced threats and violence for challenging the mandatory hijab in recent days, have taken to social media to share their ordeals. 

The primary arena for this struggle unfolds on the streets of Iran, where confrontations with Iranian authorities, including the Morality Police, occur.

Pardis Rabiei, a women's rights activist, voiced her concerns on the X, stating, "As a woman, the risk of encountering violence from a morality patrol officer is much greater than facing an attack from the Israeli army. At least, for now."

Similarly, Zeinab Zaman, a feminist activist and daughter of the late singer Hossein Zaman, tweeted, "A woman's body is akin to a battlefield. The fight for women's rights continues..."

Meanwhile, Fateme Rajabi, an economic journalist, expressed on X, "The anxiety of war with Israel transitions from night to day, and now it's the anxiety of facing the morality patrol during the day, and the stress of financial struggles in the evening."

The focus of women's rights activists on the daily struggle between women's rights in choosing their attire and the government's insistence on the mandatory hijab intensified following a speech by Ali Khamenei. 

This has sparked a fresh wave of violence and police mistreatment towards women who defy the hijab mandate.

Termed the "Noor Plan" by Iranian authorities, this initiative effectively reintroduces guidance patrols, which were disbanded after the death of Mahsa Amini in their custody.

In the two days since the start of this crackdown on women in Tehran and other Iranian cities, numerous accounts detailing humiliation, verbal abuse, harassment, and physical assault by police forces have surfaced.

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