GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas threatened “100
unique reprisals” against Israel for killing its leader,
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, as hundreds of thousands of mourners flooded
the streets yesterday in a show of strength and fury.
But it remained unclear whether the Islamic militant group could
still carry out large-scale attacks. It has failed to do so in the
three weeks since Israel assassinated Rantisi’s predecessor,
Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, on March 22. Israel killed Hamas
leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi in a missile strike on his car Saturday,
along with two bodyguards.
Hamas chose a replacement for Rantisi yesterday, but did not
disclose his name — a sign that Israel’s systematic
campaign to wipe out the Hamas leadership ahead of a planned
withdrawal from the Gaza Strip has put the Islamic militant group
on the defensive.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday picked up the
support of key Cabinet ministers for his unilateral
“disengagement” plan, including the Gaza withdrawal,
assuring him of a Cabinet majority ahead of a hard-fought
referendum among the 200,000 members of his Likud Party.
Sharon told the Cabinet yesterday that he would forge ahead with
his plan and continue to “hit the terror organizations and
Cabinet minister Gideon Ezra said the overall Hamas leader,
Damascus-based Khaled Mashaal, was also a target. Rantisi was in
charge of the Palestinian areas and reported to Mashaal.
The killing of Rantisi set off demonstrations — some of
them violent — across Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in
In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot and critically wounded a
14-year-old Palestinian boy in a clash between stone throwers and
Israel rebuffed international criticism, including that of
several European countries. It said Rantisi — like Yassin
— was targeted because he directed bloody Hamas attacks
against Israelis and was planning more.