Hardline student groups in Iran have asked the government for authorization to send suicide brigades to Israel, in response to that country's strikes on Hamas strongholds in the Gaza strip.
The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has not yet responded to the calls, but said of Israel Wednesday that "this hated regime is on the slope of a crash and with the grace of God soon will fall and nothing can save it."
Volunteer suicide groups have made similar requests in the past and the government never responded to their calls. The groups' activities appear to be mainly for propaganda purposes, and there has been no sign of Iranians carrying out suicide attacks in Israel.
It is not clear how such martyr brigades would get to Israel, if they are even deployed, and some say the call to martyrdom may be more of a symbolic measure than anything else.
The fact that Iran's hardline leadership has lashed out at Israel is not unexpected. Iran frequently has made the Palestinian cause one of its main rallying cries, and Iran is Hamas' main backer, providing it considerable financial aid, something Tehran denies.
On Sunday, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a religious decree to Muslims to defend the people of Gaza in any way possible and said anyone who died from this would be a martyr.
Following that, five hard-line student groups and the Combatant Clergy Society began signing up volunteers for military, financial or propaganda aid to Gaza.
Criticism of Hamas is rare in Iran. However, in an unusual move, the Iranian Kargozaran newspaper published a letter from another student group which called Hamas a terrorist organization for taking refuge in "kindergartens and hospitals." Following this, the Kargozaran, a reformist publication close to former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, was shut down.
Despite the Iranian government's time and money spent on the Palestinian cause, many Iranians feel indifferent toward both Hamas and Hezbollah, because they say they would prefer their government look after its own people first and foremost.
But one prominent Iranian journalist told FOX News this recent incursion has struck a chord with many Iranians who are sympathic toward Palestinians, as they watch pictures of the dead and injured in Gaza on television.
The bombardment of Gaza, which has killed hundreds of Palestinians, has sparked outrage in Iran and throughout the rest of the Muslim world. Israel defends its military action in Gaza, saying it launched its campaign in retaliation for rockets fired by Hamas at civilians in southern Israeli towns.
There have been 200 demonstrations over the past week in Iran, including a march Tuesday night in which dozens of hardline students forcibly entered a British residence for diplomats in the north of Tehran. They took down the British flag and replaced it with a Palestinian flag, condemning what they called British support of Israel. No one was hurt.
One Iran analyst in Tehran said he thinks Iranian hardliners are trying to assert themselves in order to limit former president Mohammad Khatami's chances of winning the next presidential election in 2009. Khatami has not officially decided whether or not to run, but the splits between hardliners and reformists are big news in Iran.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.