TEHRAN (CBSNewYork) — The Iranian government said 12 demonstrators and a police officer have died in five days of protests.
Iranian state TV said most of the deaths happened when protesters tried to storm military bases and police stations.
Iranian President Rouhani is blaming the U.S. and Israel for provoking the unrest in an attempt to destabilize the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said that was laughable and fired back in a video posted to social media.
“Brave Iranians are pouring into the streets. They seek freedom, justice. They seek the basic liberties that have been denied to them for decades,” he said.
The cause of the unrest is complex. Most demonstrators are young, and angry about corruption, unemployment, and inflation.
Others seem to want regime change, setting fire to pictures of Iran’s Supreme Islamic Leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei and shouting ‘death to the dictator.’
The events 6,000 miles away were of keen interest in Great Neck where hundreds of Iranian Jews relocated after the Islamic revolution in 1979.
“Where we left lives, property, homes, family,” Sharona said.
She said her heart breaks for young Iranians demanding basic democratic rights and better futures.
“It’s just sad, I feel sad for them. I feel bad for them because they have no future. They are poor, they have no freedom,” she said. “They are a generation that are innocent, and been through lots of economic hardships. I wish them the best.”
“You have millions of Iranians who want, desperately want a free, stable, democratic Iran,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Suffolk County) said.
It’s clear the regime is rattled by the boldest challenge in almost a decade.
Sharona — who fled in 1979 — offered a New Year’s wish for the country.
“A year of hope of prosperity, of freedom, of good life for all of them,” she said.