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Sunday, March 28, 2004
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Israel defends killing of sheik as the public
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Tracking The Terrorists
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
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The Israel Defense Forces said Yassin
had been directly responsible for hun-
dreds of terrorist attacks. Hamas has
ondemnations may be echo-
killed nearly 400 Israelis in suicide
ing from nearly every part of
attacks during the last 3V2years. Yassin
the globe, but Israeli leaders
•founded Hamas in 1987, soon after the
are making no apologies for
start of the first Palestinian intifada.
Sharon told a meeting of his Likud
killing Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed
Party's parliamentary caucus that the
Yassin, likening him to Osama bin
Jewish people had a "natural right" to
"The State of Israel hit the first and
pursue those seeking to destroy it.
foremost leader of Palestinian terrorist
Yassin's ideology "was killing and mur-
murderers," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon deringjews, wherever they were, and the
told reporters after Israeli helicopter gun- destruction of the State of Israel,"
Sharon said. "The war against terror has
ships killed Yassin in a predawn airstrike
not ended and will continue day after
in the Gaza Strip on Monday, March
22. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz called
The rest of the Israeli political estab-
Yassin Israel's bin Laden.
lishment was divided on the assassina-
Yassin, a 67-year-old, wheelchair-
bound cleric who was sworn to Israel's
tion. The centrist Shinui Party and left-
wing parties were against it, while right-
destruction, was killed around 5 a.m. by
three missiles fired from helicopters as he wing Knesset members and organiza-
was being taken home from morning
tions supported it.
In public opinion polls, most Israelis
prayers in Gaza City. Two bodyguards
and five other Palestinians were killed in
supported the assassination — about 60
percent, according to two major Israeli
the strike and 17 people were reported
wounded, including two of Yassin's sons.
daily newspapers — though many
feared it would prompt an upsurge in
Within hours, tens of thousandsof
mourners jammed Gaza City streets for
For their part, Hamas leaders vowed
the funeral procession, the largest in
revenge not only against Israel but
Gaza in about a decade. Twenty-one
against the United States. "The Zionists
Palestinian Authority police officers
didn't carry out their operation without
formed an honor guard as the coffin
getting the consent of the terrorist
holding Yassin's mangled body was car-
American administration, and it must
ried out of Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
take responsibility for this crime," a
"Sharon has opened the gates of hell
Hamas statement said. In response,
and nothing will stop us from cutting
authorities in New York stepped up
off his head," the Hamas leadership said
security at Jewish institutions and syna-
in a statement announcing the death.
gogues and around Jewish neighbor-
Clashes with Israeli troops were
reported throughout the Palestinian-
Around the globe, much of the inter-
populated territories and in eastern
national community condemned the
Jerusalem following news of the killing,
attack. "Not only are extrajudicial
and at least two Palestinians were killed.
killings contrary to international law,
In Nazareth on Tuesday, 2,500 Israeli
they undermine the concept of the rule
Arabs also protested Israel's strike. On
Israel's northern border, Hezbollah - forces of law, which is a key element in the
fight against terrorism," the European
in southern Lebanon fired rockets at
The U.N. Security Council discussed
Near Gaza, Palestinians fired rockets
the assassination Tuesday.
at Israeli towns in the Negev Desert.
Israeli troops then moved into the
northern Gaza Strip late Monday night.
Already on alert for suicide bombings by U.S. officials also criticized Yassin's
killing. "We find it deeply troubling,"
Hamas, Israel went on. high alert after
State Department spokesman Richard
the killing, sealing off the West Bank
Boucher said. "We find the conse-
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