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March 22, 2004



I'm sure you're right that this is foolish from Sharon - but then, besides being a criminal he is also a fool - so what does one expect?

But if Israel is at war with Hamas, the PA couldn't/wouldn't arrest him (moderate or not, the leader of a terrorist group), and a raid to arrest him would only be even more bloody - is it murder as well as being foolish?

I find it hard to shed tears over this guy. (I'm not yet aware what the composition of the others who were killed is, i.e. civilians or Hamas).

the aardvark

No, hard to summon up tears for Yassin, agreed. But easy to summon tears and fears for what may follow from his death.

Jonathan Edelstein

Like James, I wouldn't call the assassination of Yassin an act of murder. Yassin was a military target (unless you buy Hamas' distinction between its military and political wings, which I don't for a minute). Whether it was foolish remains to be seen.

I suspect Sharon was trying to make a point similar to the one Hamas made last week in Ashdod. Both sides have an interest in spinning the upcoming Gaza withdrawal a certain way; Hamas wants to create an impression that Israel is retreating under fire, while Sharon wants to create an impression that the IDF is leaving with its job done. As such, pretty much anything lethal that enters or leaves Gaza right now can be interpreted as political theater, whether it takes the form of a suicide bombing, a raid or a missile attack. Whether any of these will actually convey their intended message is another story, which is where the foolishness may come in.

The future of Hamas could go a number of ways. I don't think a split is very likely; Rantisi seems to have the day-to-day command pretty well in hand. If he decides to go pragmatic, I think he'll have the standing to pull it off. And if Hamas does factionalize, then the ability of each component to carry out major terror attacks will be reduced (although certainly not eliminated). I don't think this assassination will do any good for Israel, but I also don't think the prophecies of doom are justified. Remember when "the Engineer" was killed and people made the same predictions? A month from now, the controversy du jour will be something entirely different, and events will follow their own logic as they have always done.

the aardvark

After the Engineer was killed, Hamas responded with a wave of terrorist attacks which brought down Shimon Peres and swept Netanyahu to power - breaking a Hamas truce which had held for several months, if I remember correctly. Not the best example...


We're all military targets. It's just a matter of years before we're each assigned an assassination drone.

Yassin was under house arrest by the PA when he was assassinated. The Israelis have become brutes.

Jonathan Edelstein

Paper Tigress: If Yassin was "under house arrest," why wasn't he home when he was killed?

AA: Good point. I suspect that the operational capability of Hamas isn't up to what it was in 1996, but the Yassin assassination may be more inflammatory than I'd previously thought. Also, the motivation of the attack (i.e., to dispel a perception of weakness) is eerily similar to the reason Peres took out the Engineer.

If Sharon's government falls because people think he's a loose cannon, though, that might not be the worst thing in the world.

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