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Exodus: Chapter 15: "The Nations have heard of it and are enraged. Panic and shuddering have seized the denizens of Philistine Gaza. The leaders of Edom are frightened, while the champions of Moab tremble. And the courage of the pagan Canaanites melts away. Fear and Panic have fallen upon them. For Your might arm crushes them like a stone, while your people proceed ahead." (Editor's Note: For editorials on the Yassin assassination, please go to the Commentary page at

Arch-Murderer Dead in Israeli Missile Strike

Yassin Reviled as Terrorist, Admired as Hero

By VOA News, & Ha'aretz

Estimates of 150,000 Palestinians poured into the streets of Gaza Monday in a demonstration of anguish and rage following an early morning Israeli missile attack that killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, the Palestinian terror organization responsible for scores of suicide bombings and hundreds of attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers.

Normal life was suspended as Gazans mourned the loss of a man who was one of the best-known and most easily recognizable Palestinians in the world. Polls of Palestinians consistently ranked Yassin, 67, as the second most popular and trusted Palestinian leader after Yasir Arafat.

Yassin, who had been paralyzed from the neck down since an athletic accident at age 17, was killed early Monday, along with two of his sons, two other Hamas terrorists, and three others, by a barrage of three Israeli missiles about 100 yards from his house as he was being wheeled home from morning prayers at a local mosque.

Hamas is now calling for continued attacks against Israeli targets as well as calling upon the international Muslim community to strike out against the "Zionists" wherever they may be.

From his wheelchair, Yassin, 67, held great sway over the members of Hamas, which the State Department includes on its list of terrorist organizations. He also occupied a position of respect among millions of other Palestinians, and other Muslims, as a man of learning who refused to compromise his principles, even after eight years in an Israeli prison.

Although the Palestinian Authority routinely condemns attacks by Hamas, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Monday Israel would regret killing Yassin. "It's a cowardly, criminal act against a prominent Palestinian leader who devoted all his life to the favor of the independence of his people. Therefore we strongly condemn this act and we warn everybody of reaction that may happen."

Arafat echoed these thoughts, declaring three days of official mourning for a man he called one of the Palestinian people's greatest martyrs. But Israel said it only did something it should have done long ago. Since 1994, Israelis have buried their dead from Hamas suicide bombings and other terror attacks, inspired and guided by Yassin.

Israeli Army spokeswoman Ruth Yaron said the area was better off without him. "Ahmed Yassin was the chief of a terror organization, who was aiming at Israeli civilians, and his killing this morning is an action that will save many lives of Israelis who were his target."

Yassin was born in 1936 near the city of Ashkelon in British Palestine, now Israel, where a childhood accident left his arms and legs paralyzed for life. Still, he went on to become a scholar in Islamic studies at the al-Azhar University in Cairo. Through his studies, he became convinced that the area that is now Israel is Islamic land, and he committed himself to destroying the Jewish state in favor of a new nation under Muslim rule.

Sheikh Yassin first gained the attention of Israel after becoming a main founder of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, in 1987. Two years later, Israel arrested him for ordering the execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. An Israeli court sentenced him to life in prison. He was released eight years later as part of a prisoner exchange with Jordan.

The sheikh received a hero's welcome when he returned to Gaza, although he sometimes had strained relations with the Palestinian leadership. Arafat placed him under house arrest twice following Hamas terror attacks.

On Monday, as he does routinely every day, Yassin went to a mosque near his home in Gaza City for morning prayers. As he emerged from the mosque, helped in his wheelchair by several assistants, an Israeli aircraft fired a missile that killed him and several other people.

When he died, Yassin was almost blind and hard of hearing, and he could speak only in a soft, high-pitched whisper, due to his paralysis. But he retained enormous influence, providing spiritual and theological justification for attacks on Israel.

Since the beginning of the Oslo War in September 2000, Hamas has perpetrated 425 terrorist attacks of various types, killing a total of 377 Israelis and wounding 2,076 civilians and soldiers. Of these, 52 were suicide attacks, murdering 288 people. A full list of all deadly terrorist attacks during this period, including those perpetrated by Hamas, can be seen on the Foreign Ministry website at

Likud MK Ehud Yatom said that Hamas could be expected to try to retaliate for the killing, but that this should not deter Israel from killing terrorist leaders.

The United States called on both sides to show restraint, while Great Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw condemned Israel for what he called the "unlawful killing." France, the European Union in general and The Vatican also condemned Israel for killing its archenemy. "Violence is never the answer," read the statement from Paris.

The IDF imposed a complete closure on all of Gaza and the West Bank following Monday's operation, with all of Israel's cities placed on heightened alert. Security forces have taken up positions inside and outside of the Knesset plenum, and general security has been increased in the Knesset building. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon instructed his forces to respond with "maximum restraint" to various phenomena of "active" mourning, protests and even rioting, although live fire was not permitted.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was directly involved in the strike against the Hamas chief, supervising the operation personally from his Shikmim Farm in the Negev.

Yassin was the author of suicide terrorism in Israel, encouraging the murder of Jews wherever they were found, and recently proposed that Israel be replaced by a Jewish state in Europe. Speaking with Der Spiegel in Germany, Yassin said that the purpose of the "Palestinian struggle is so that all Palestinians can live on their homeland... I am against a Jewish state on Palestinian land. The Jews should found a state in Europe."

Israel targeted Yassin six months ago, firing a missile at his house where he was meeting other Hamas leaders. He escaped from that attack with only minor injuries.

Hamas Vows Revenge After Israel Assassinates its Founder

By Ross Dunn (VOA-Jerusalem)

Hamas vowed to launch revenge attacks against Israel. Senior Hamas official Abdul Aziz Rantisi said his organization, which has carried out dozens of deadly attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, will now attempt to assassinate Israeli political and military leaders.

But Israeli officials met that warning with defiance. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called Sheikh Yassin the mastermind of Palestinian "terror" and a "mass-murderer who was among Israel's greatest enemies." Sharon also said Israel's fight against terrorism would continue.

Israeli Government spokesman Avi Pazner says the killing of Sheikh Yassin was completely justified. "Israel has eliminated the biggest threat to peace and stability in the region," he said. "Sheikh Yassin was personally responsible for the deaths of hundreds and hundreds of Israelis. Justice has been done."

Following the attack, senior Hamas official Abdul Aziz Rantisi said, the killing of Sheikh Yassin means that Hamas will now start targeting Israeli political figures. "The road is opened. It is an open war, I know that they [Hamas members] will succeed in assassinating the political leaders [in Israel]."

Report: Shin Bet Chief Argued Against Assassinating Yassin

By Ha'aretz

Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter was opposed to assassinating Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli missile strike early Monday morning in Gaza, Channel Two TV reported Monday evening. At last week's security cabinet meeting, during which the decision was made to target Yassin, Dichter argued that the costs of killing the Hamas leader outweighed the benefits to Israel, the report said.

However, a top Military Intelligence official said Monday that Israel's assassination of Yassin could motivate revenge attacks in the short term, but will ultimately leave a leadership vacuum in the movement. Hamas, Hizbullah and Yasir Arafat's Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade have all vowed revenge for the assassination.

Yossi Kuperwasser, head of the Military Intelligence research department, said Monday that the absence of leadership could harm Hamas activities. He said there were no other leaders in the organization who possess Yassin's leadership qualities. In Palestinian eyes, said Kuperwasser, Israel crossed a red line with the assassination of Yassin. He said the Palestinians are now bothered by the possibility Israel might cross the line again.

Yussef Haddad, 35, a taxi driver, said he saw the missiles hit and kill Yassin and the bodyguards. "Their bodies were shattered," he said. Ambulances and fire trucks raced to the scene, sirens wailing, and rescue workers were gathering up parts of the shattered bodies. Cars drove through the streets blaring calls for revenge over loudspeakers. Some aired recordings of Yassin, saying, "We chose this road, and will end with martyrdom or victory."

Sharon: Jewish Nation has Natural Right to Defend Itself

By Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon justified Monday the assassination earlier in the day of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Islamic militant Hamas organization, saying the Jewish people had a "natural right" to pursue those who would destroy it.

Yassin's ideology, Sharon told a meeting of his Likud Party parliamentary caucus, "was killing and murdering Jews, wherever they were, and the destruction of the State of Israel." He said Yassin was an "arch-terrorist."

"The war against terror has not ended and will continue day after day, everywhere," Sharon told legislators from his Likud Party. This is a difficult struggle that all the countries of the enlightened world must participate in. It is the natural right of the Jewish people, like that of all nations in the world that love life, to hunt down those who rise to destroy it," Sharon said.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the caucus meeting that since the outbreak of the current Israeli-Palestinian violence in September 2000, Hamas has carried out 425 attacks, which caused the deaths of 377 Israelis and wounded 2,076 others.

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz (Shinui) warned Monday that many Israelis could pay with their lives for the IDF's assassination of Yassin. "Certainly those who are perpetrating terrorism, preparing a bomb which we know they are about to place somewhere have to be targeted. But Yassin was not a 'ticking bomb'," Poraz told Israel Radio. Poraz said he and Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, both of the centrist Shinui party, voted in the security cabinet last week against assassinating Yassin.

"I fear we have opened up a cycle here and that many will pay for it with their lives," Poraz said. "I am afraid that Hamas's motivation will increase. [Yassin] will become some sort of martyr... a national hero for them and I'm very sorry to say, this won't prevent Hamas from continuing its activities." Saying "every leader can be replaced," Poraz questioned the wisdom of targeting a Muslim cleric, even one "involved in terrorism. The result can be very dangerous."

Peace Now said killing Yassin would "turn all of us into Hamas's hostages. The only way to wipe out Hamas and other terror groups is through a diplomatic agreement." Leader of the left-wing Yahad Party and former justice minister Yossi Beilin criticized the assassination, asking, "How many Israelis will have to pay with their lives for this act?" He said the assassination was a "horrendous mistake that will cost Israel heavily."

Israel Welcomes a Special New Immigrant


It was no routine welcome ceremony last week when Simon Clyne arrived in Ben-Gurion International Airport from his native England.

The 100-year-old immigrant explained that he is attached to Israel and wants to complete his life here. He will be moving into a senior citizens complex in Ramat Rachel to be near his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

Hamas: You Can't Kill Our Killers

By Emanuel A. Winston (a Middle East analyst & commentator) (Editor's Note: Other OP-Eds may be found on the commentary page. We invite your response.)

It's instructive to observe Arab terrorists claim the right to plan terror, murder innocent civilians but, when their leaders are attacked, they cry "unfair". Israel's pinpoint bomb killed the Palestinian counterpart of Osama Bin Laden, the Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of the prime terrorist organization of Hamas on Monday morning March 22. Arab Muslims are threatening bloody revenge - which would ironic if the facts of their unremitting terror were not irrefutable facts.

Hamas in their hysterical frustration, screams it will take revenge against Israel and America. Here again, terror speaks as they use any excuse to kill any non-Muslims who oppose them. It is true that America, like Israel, is fighting terror. But the terrorists want a one-way street, that is - to kill but not to be killed.

Yassin was in every way the Arab Palestinian twin of Osama Bin Laden in terms of his responsibility for planning and promoting more deaths than any other terror group. Yassin cynically used the religion of Islam to send women and children (as well as boys and men) to blow themselves up in order to kill hundreds and maim thousands of Israelis.

Hamas means "zeal" in Arabic and is responsible for more homicide bombing deaths than any other terrorist groups.

Some of the news pundits are trying to soften his image with an appeal for sympathy by portraying him as a quadriplegic in a wheel chair. Do they believe him less of a terrorist because he had debilities from a childhood accident? Besides hundreds of dead Israelis (as well as Americans, Arabs and Christians) hundreds more will live in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives and many have nails in their bodies from the bombs Yassin sent.

It is true that America is trying to kill Osama Bin Laden and his second-in-command Ayman al-Zawaziri for planning and enabling terror, especially at 9/11. This is what the nations must do to fight terror.

Hamas, echoed by Fatah, called for vengeance against Israeli and Jewish targets overseas, because their typical Muslim killer was himself responsible for hundreds of killings and wounding of thousands more. Hamas called on Muslims the world over to join battle against Israel.

So, why isn't it 'OK' for Israel to seek vengeance on their killers or to pre-emptively prevent more violent terrorist attacks? Not so - according to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak who says killing Yassin was a "cowardly act." This is the word from Mubarak who has personally allowed Arab Palestinian smuggling tunnels to include terrorists transiting Egypt into Gaza unimpeded.

Yassin said publicly in a FOX NEWS interview with Jennifer Griffin: "All Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is Islamic land. I issued a "Fatwa" (Islamic religious edict) to resist Americans in Iraq. Legal and right to fight the Americans". (Taped earlier, rebroadcast March 22)

Muslim terrorist leaders are saying this is an attack on Islam. Perhaps these Muslims have forgotten that it was Yassin who issued "Fatwas" for Islam to war on Israel and America. This was followed by homicide bombings and suicide attacks, further proving that Islam was at war - not only against Israel and America but, the entire non-Muslim West.

For a brief moment we have seen the old warrior, Arik Sharon, emerge to protect his people. Will he continue? No one knows. Israel has rid the world of a terrorist murderer. American should be proud if she can do the same.

Yassin Embraced as Martyr by Arafat, Much Like Jogger Khouri

By Michael Widlanski (Commentary)

Yasir Arafat's Palestinian National Authority publicly embraced the slain Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, leader of the Hamas movement, as a "brother warrior," following his fiery death by helicopter-borne Israeli missiles.

Yassin, who was crippled in a soccer game in his youth, had been the active spiritual leader of the Hamas (an abbreviation in Arabic for Harakat al-Muqawwima al-Islamiyya: The Islamic Resistance Movement), which calls for Israel's destruction and has taken responsibility for more than several hundred murders of Israelis.

"Today is a bloody day in Gaza" declared Palestinian State television from Gaza only minutes after Israeli missiles caught Sheikh Yassin in his wheel chair as he emerged from the dawn prayers, known as al-Fajr, from a mosque in Gaza. "This is a day that has bought the red blood and the pure body of the Sheikh, the crippled sheikh, who had led the Islamic resistance movement," proclaimed Arafat's state television, which called Yassin a "shaheed"-Arabic for "martyr" or "witness to Allah's greatness."

It was the second day in a row that Arafat's PNA and his Fatah movement publicly identified themselves with a policy of terror attacks against Israel. In Sunday's programming, the Palestinian state broadcasting media opened with an elaborate public apology from Arafat and his colleagues to the parents of George Elias Khouri who had been shot down by Fatah gunmen in a Jerusalem neighborhood on Friday night while he was jogging.

Arafat and his colleagues, speaking through Voice of Palestine Radio, made it clear that their actions were an innocent but tragic mistake not because they had murdered an unarmed man in Jerusalem but because the man turned out to be an Arab and not a Jew. The murder of Khouri, a student at Hebrew University, was doubly embarrassing to Arafat because the 20-year-old student was the son of Elias Khouri, a wealthy lawyer who has defended PNA and FATAH members in Israeli courts.

The Voice of Palestine radio and PA TV emphasized that the Fatah declared George Khouri "a shaheed"-a martyr, but lawyer Elias Khouri, a Christian rejected the Islamic-tinged complement even as other PA officials sheepishly acknowledged their discomfort. "Mistakes happen," admitted Ziad Abu-Zayad, one of the PNA's top officials in the Jerusalem area.

Arafat's Fatah movement originally bragged about the killing of the "settler" in the "settlement" of French Hill at the foot of Mount Scopus, the original campus of the Hebrew University which had been Jewish-owned territory even before 1948. Rather than dissociate itself from terror actions or condemning or hemming in the Hamas or the Fatah "Martyrs' Brigades," Arafat's state media have returned their programming to incessant incitement, playing martial music, songs of martyrdom and showing film montages of bloody clashes between Palestinians and Israel. "This is another example of the state terror and the assassinations of Israel," declared PA television from Gaza shortly after 7 a.m. Monday.

The Palestinian media gave great stress to the Israeli reports that Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who is facing severe political and legal problems, personally directed "the cowardly assassination operation." The tone of the broadcasts suggested that a personal revenge attempt against the Israeli leader was actually being encouraged. "These are the actions of a crazy state that does not care about inflaming the entire region," declared PA television.

(Dr. Michael Widlanski teaches at the Hebrew University's Rothberg School. He recently completed a seven-year research project on the Palestinian broadcast media.)

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