By Khristov Exoucia, BosNewsLide Special Coorespondent with BosNewsLife Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos
TEHRAN/JERUSALEM (BosNewsLife) — Iran says tens of thousands of students are preparing themselves for suicide attacks against Israel, in revenge for the Israeli offensive against militants of the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip.
In comments monitored Tuesday, January 6, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) said over 70,000 Iranian students have volunteered to be suicide bombers against Israel.
IRNA added the students are waiting on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s response to their request in an open letter for permission to fight Israel in support of Hamas. “Volunteer student suicide groups … are determined to go to Gaza. You are expected to issue orders to the relevant authorities to pave the way for such action,” the published letter said.
There was no immediate response from the hard-line Iranian leader, but Ahmadinejad said earlier that Israel should be “wiped out from the map” and cast doubt on the Holocaust in which an estimated six million Jews died.
Director of the Public Relations Department at Students’ Basij Organization Esmaeel Ahmadi said the students would form special battalions and his group published a document showing thousands are ready to die.
IRNA said five hard-line student groups and clerics launched a registration drive for suicide bombers last week, but it was unclear how many had registered.
The latest reported preparations for suicide attacks came shortly after IRNA reported that several Iranian students broke into the British Embassy residence in Tehran, accusing Britain of supporting Israel. There were no reports if injuries and the protest soon ended.
Earlier Iran’s top Islamic leaders gave a religious decree on December 28 saying anyone killed while defending Palestinians in the Gaza Strip against “Israeli attacks” would be considered “a martyr” from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His voice overrides all others in the hierarchy.
Israel says Iran is actively supporting Hamas, but Tehran denied it is sending weapons to Hamas and the other Islamic militant group, Hezbollah, based in Lebanon.
The Israeli government has defended its operations in the Gaza Strip saying, “Eight years and 6,000 rockets is enough, the time for restraint ended 10 days ago.”
Not all Iranian students support Hamas. In a December 30, 2008 communique the Iranian Student Group ‘Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat’ condemned Hamas as a “terrorist organization”.
“Those who have armed and encouraged groups like Hamas – which did not hide its sympathy for the criminal [Iraqi leader] Saddam Hussein, and which declared three days of mourning after his death – have innocent blood on their hands: [the blood of those killed] in the [recent] hostilities [in Gaza],” the group said in translated remarks. “Now it is they who must be accountable to humanity, and it is they who must explain this tragic situation.”
While it condemned “Israel’s current crimes in Gaza” it was “equally [important] to condemn the terror organizations that use kindergartens and hospitals as a shield against the [Israeli] attacks. [Hamas’s use of human shields] prepares the ground for intensified bombardment [by Israel] and for the killing of children and civilians…,” the group added.