Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a decree calling on Muslims worldwide to defend "the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible.:"
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims around the world on Sunday, ordering them to defend Palestinians against Israel's attacks on Gaza, state television said.
"All Palestinian combatants and all the Islamic world's pious people are obliged to defend the defenseless women, children and people in Gaza in any way possible. Whoever is killed in this legitimate defense is considered a martyr," state television quoted Khamenei as saying in a statement outlining the fatwa.
Khamenei also criticized some Arab governments for their "encouraging silence" towards the Israel's raids on Gaza. "The Zionist regime must by held accountable by Islamic governments. The heads of this regime must be held personally accountable for these crimes and the ongoing siege," the religious leader said.
Accordingly, a state TV report late Saturday quoted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying Iran will stand by the Palestinians. He also tried to garner greater support for the Palestinians by waging an informal PR campaign against Israel among Arab states.
"Israel is trying to take revenge against the Palestinians, but with God's help, it will be defeated," the president said to his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad. Ahmadinejad also spoke with Secretary General of the Islamic Jihad Ramadan Abdulla to express his support for the Palestinian group.
Ahmadinejad's statement is revealing. Note that he accuses Israel of "take[ing] revenge." This is an informal acknowledgment that Israel is responding to provocations by Hamas - an action that is defined under the UN Charter as self defense. Of course, the pious Iranian president defines Israel's action in religious terms; the Koran forbids revenge unless the party attacking is in the right.
This fatwa is unlikely to generate any more hate or terrorism directed against Israel than there is already. But it establishes Iran in the forefront of the "resistance" to Israel in the Middle East and can therefore be seen as more a political document than a religious decree.