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Iran airlifts wounded Palestinians for treatment

TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) -- Iran has flown in for treatment a group of Palestinians wounded by Israeli gunfire, the official Iranian news agency IRNA reported on Friday.

Fourteen Palestinians, aged between 12 and 20, and 10 companions arrived on an Iran Air flight in Tehran late on Thursday, it said.

They were greeted by senior clerics and the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Yahya Rahim Safavi.

It was the second group of Palestinians to come to Iran for treatment since the outbreak of violence 10 weeks ago, which has left around 300 people dead, mainly Palestinians.

Seven Palestinians have already been treated and flown back home.

Iran is opposed to the U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace process and supports the Palestinian uprising against Israel, a state Tehran considers to be illegitimate.

Iran's state-run media have tried to whip up anti-Israeli sentiments and several demonstrations have been organized in Iran in support of the Palestinians, mainly by Islamic hardliners.

Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, a hardline cleric, said on Friday he was disappointed by the lukewarm display of solidarity in Iran for the Palestinian uprising.

"We expected to see student rallies in support of the uprising throughout Iran every day. But we are sleeping comfortably while Palestinians are becoming martyrs," he told Friday prayers worshippers at Tehran University.

In a meeting with moderate President Mohammad Khatami on Wednesday, thousands of his student supporters appeared more concerned about freedom and democracy within Iran.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.



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