Ariel attack

"Ariel attack" Continued...

Issue: "Darwin's meltdown," April 3, 2004

Wheelchair or no, the Hamas founder was a man of fighting words.

"Muslims should threaten Western interests and strike them everywhere," he said a year ago in a letter to Hamas followers in Gaza. With the United States prepared to attack Iraq, he encouraged the Saddam Hussein regime to "open its borders to all Muslims across the world so that they can play their part in the defensive battle of the [Islamic] nation."

Since launching Hamas in 1986, Mr. Yassin had called for the elimination of Israel and declared violent jihad "the personal obligation of every Muslim man and woman."

Israelis blame him for inciting a wave of suicide bombings and point to a specific tally of 425 attacks since 2000 that killed 377 Israelis. The latest took place in March at Ashdod and killed 10 Israelis. Additionally, Mr. Yassin plotted a 2002 Hamas attack on Jerusalem's Hebrew University that killed five Americans.

He was plainly the "moral force" behind militant Palestinian tactics. When the Muslim Brotherhood presented eight fresh suicide bombers to a crowd of thousands at Al Azhar University in Cairo two years ago, Mr. Yassin was there via cell phone, congratulating the death squad. That same year, when a 27-year-old Palestinian woman named Wafa Idris became the terrorist movement's first female suicide bomber, he expressed only momentary reservation. She should have been accompanied by a male chaperone, he said. He later qualified that statement. Unless a female bomber is gone overnight, she does not need a chaperone.

If Israel insists it has dealt a severe blow to Palestinian terrorists, their leaders haven't received the memo yet. A Hamas statement called the assassination "insane," saying, "If for one moment the Israeli leadership imagined that assassinating the Hamas leader would stem the tide of violence, they were deluded." Hezbollah threatened to launch attacks on Israel from the north, and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades issued a statement declaring "war, war, war on the sons of Zion. An eye for an eye. There will be a response within hours. Allah willing." Mohammed Mahdi Akef, speaking for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, told al Jazeera, "There can be no life for the Americans and Zionists in the region. We will not rest until they are expelled from the region."

The terrorists may be fierce, but they are also desperate. Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades sent a 16-year-old Palestinian to an Israeli roadblock on March 24 with a bomb-laden vest strapped to his body. Israeli Defense Forces jumped behind barricades, and a standoff began. The soldiers persuaded the youth to take off the vest and sent out a yellow robot to deliver scissors. The young man cut off the vest.

Without a clear and workable plan for peace, new generations of militants will continue to heed the teaching of Mr. Yassin. He once said in an interview, "The day in which I will die as a martyr will be the happiest day of my life."


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