TEHRAN, Iran, AP -Iran’s hard-line president warned Friday that continued Israeli strikes against Palestinians could lead to an Islamic “explosion” targeting Israel and its Western supporters.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told thousands of demonstrators gathered in the capital, Tehran, to condemn the strikes in the Gaza Strip that Israel’s supporters could be the target of revenge by Muslims.
“They should not let things reach a point where an explosion occurs in the Islamic world,” he said. “If an explosion occurs, then it won’t be limited to geographical boundaries. It will also burn all those who created (Israel) over the past 60 years,” he said.
Ahmadinejad once again questioned Israel’s right to exist.
“This is a fake regime … it won’t be able to survive. I think the only way (forward) is that those who created it (the West) take it away themselves,” the president said.
Ahmadinejad, who last year called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” has repeatedly voiced fiery rhetoric against the Jewish state.
Iran supports — and has varying degrees of influence on — Islamic militant groups in the region including Hamas, Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Islamic republic also is locked in a standoff with Western nations, over its purportedly peaceful nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is camouflage for developing an atomic bomb.
At least 24 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier have been killed in fighting since Israeli army moved into northern Gaza on Thursday.
The offensive is aimed at freeing a soldier captured by Palestinian militants on June 25, as well as destroying the increasingly powerful rockets that militants have been firing at Israel.
Hamas’ representative in Iran, Abu Osamah Abdulmota, said Cpl. Gilad Shalit would only be set free in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
“They (Israel) should know that Palestinian combatants won’t release this Israeli prisoner … (unless) Palestinian prisoners are freed from Zionist jails,” he said in a pre-sermon speech before weekly Friday prayers in Tehran.