Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for a referendum canvassing the Arabs and Jews that live in Israel in order to end the "Zionist state", but said until such a vote could be held, armed resistance was necessary.
Khamenei and his predecessor the Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini have called repeatedly over the years for an end to Israel, including through a referendum in the region, where Palestinians are in the majority.
In his first official comments on Israel since the start of its offensive on the Gaza Strip on July 8, Khamenei reiterated the call.
"There are logical and practical means to this end, which is for people who live and belong there to pick the government of their choice through a referendum. That would be the end of a usurping fake regime," Khamenei, who has the last word in all matters in Shi'te Muslim Iran, said in a speech to university students in Tehran on Wednesday.
Until then, Khamenei said, "while waiting for an end to this cold-blooded murderous regime, mighty armed resistance is the only way to deal with it."
Khamenei made clear for the first time that he was talking about the dismantling of the state of Israel, not the death of Jews.
"Israel's annihilation is the only real cure, but that doesn't mean destroying Jews in this region," he said in his speech, which was posted on his website.
Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani is trying to improve ties with Western countries, including the United States, in a public relations war with Israel.
More than 700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 32 Israeli soldiers had died in Israel's offensive against Gaza.
Iran is to mark "International Qods Day," an annual event falling on the last Friday of Ramadan, with nationwide organised demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel.
The story had been edited by Ahram Online