Amid the heated debate in Israel regarding the possibility of a solo attack on Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's harsh statements against the Jewish state, Ayatollah Yousef Sanei, one of the leading interpreters of Muslim law in Iran, has urged the Islamic Republic not to fan the flames of war with Israel.
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"We must all do our best to prevent the Zionist attacks on Iran, because if they happen, Iran will be hurt greatly, even though the Zionist regime will be hurt even more," the ayatollah was quoted as saying by the British Broadcasting Corporation's Parsi service.
"We should not act, God forbid, as warmongers in our country and provoke a war. The nation is currently in a special condition, and the most important task is to shut the Zionist regime up with our thoughts, pen, and correct efforts and actions," he said.
Speaking at an observance of the Eid Al-Fitr holiday in Qom, Sanei said "everyone should make an effort so that a possible war with the Zionist regime does not break out, because although the Zionist regime will suffer the hardest, Iran will be damaged."
According to the BBC, he added, "An Israeli attack on Iran would be the greatest crime against the Iranian nation."
After rebuking Israel for its and threats against Iran, Sanei declared, "I support human rights and freedom for all the people, but it is our duty to respond to any possible attack by the Zionist regime in such a way that this regime will never think of such things.
"I warn the Zionist regime that if it takes any military action against Iran, it will be playing with gunpowder and the reaction that it will experience will be such that it will not recover from it; in that case we will not be caring about human rights," he said.
Sanei was one of the clerics who supported opposition elements that contested the results of the 2009 presidential elections. He is viewed as a liberal cleric who is affiliated with the reformist movement.
Ahmadinejad said this week that very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humanity."
In the speech which was broadcast live on Iranian TV in honor of al-Quds Day, the Iranian president added that "the western powers cannot tolerate criticism of the Zionist regime. They feel compelled to defend it."