Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced today that he would ban Iranians from leaving the country to carry out suicide attacks against Israel. The ban is an attempt to silence calls by Iran’s far right to take a direct role in confronting Israel on its attacks on the Gaza Strip.
Earlier this week it was reported that student groups had solicited over 70,000 volunteers to participate in suicide bombings against Israel in response to the war on Gaza. The volunteer drives were a response to a statement in which Khamenei declared that anyone killed defending the people of Gaza would be considered a martyr.
The volunteer drive started off slow, but swelled after Israel began its ground invasion to include an enormous number who sought permission from President Ahmadinejad to head for Israel. Ahmadinejad was under growing pressure to grant the request, though Khamenei’s ban suggests his comments were not intended to organize the people of Iran to go to Israel to fight in the war. He did however say that Iran would assist Hamas in other ways.