The issue of martyrdom operations and their religious legitimacy has been repeatedly discussed by Iranian ayatollahs. In a recent fatwa posted on his website in response to an online inquiry, Iranian Ayatollah Taqi Mesbah-e Yazdi ruled that martyrdom operations were not only legitimate but were a duty incumbent upon every Muslim.
The inquirer asked whether such operations were considered suicide and were therefore forbidden, and whether Israeli civilians, especially children, were to be regarded as illegitimate targets, like civilians elsewhere.
In his reply, Ayatollah Mesbah-e Yazdi expressed regret that the inquirer had apparently bought into the propaganda of the enemies of Islam, which presented martyrdom operations as suicide, and that the inquirer was wasting his time on this issue instead of focusing on “uprooting the Zionist regime” and its supporters. The Ayatollah ruled that when defending Islam and the Muslim ummah necessitated martyrdom, it was not considered suicide.
Regarding the question about Israeli civilians, he ruled that it was forbidden to harm them only if they had openly declared their opposition to their government. He said it was even permissible to target Israeli civilians used as human shields and in other cases when fighting “the aggressors,” i.e. Israel, necessitated it.