International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 25, 2004

March 25, 2004





**  Papers say "more hate and revenge" will lead to an "uncontrollable escalation" of violence.

**  Conservative outlets contend killing the "sheikh of terror" will "prove a significant victory."

**  Euro, Arab dailies predict Hamas will "become the dominant force in Gaza." 

**  Arab papers demand the U.S., or the international community, "stop Israeli aggression"




Sharon's 'deliberate criminal act' will launch a 'new bloody terrorist wave'--  Global dailies warned that the death of Yassin will only intensify the "infernal cycle" of hate in the region that is "leading both peoples to a collective suicide."  Writers questioned the "practical wisdom" of Sharon's "very risky path"; Israel's pluralist Yediot Aharonot saw "no strategy here; just bitter frustration."  Analysts said the move "shattered peace prospects," leaving the roadmap "dead."  The assassination gave "new impetus to the endless chain of violence" in the region and could "spill over into the international arena."  Russia's army-run Krasnaya Zvezda concluded that "global jihad has had a nourishing injection." 


No one should mourn the death of a 'mastermind of malicious murders'--  Right-of-center papers contended that global "criticism ignores the fact that Israel is at war."  The fighting is "not about territory, but our existence," according to the Jerusalem Post.  East European broadsheets concurred that putting Yassin on trial "would have been better," but that if necessary, force must be used against such a "serial, irredeemable murderer" who backed not just "the destruction of Israel" but "genocide against the Jews."  The independent Nigerian Tribune added that "terrorists are vermin" whom the world must "exterminate." 


'Hamas will only become stronger'--  Morocco's moderate Attajdid said that Yassin's "martyrdom" will make him "a living hero," which will "not weaken but strengthen" Hamas.  Observers such as Belgium's liberal Knack predicted an "implosion of Yasser Arafat's rudimentary state."  Many writers worried moderates will "lose their influence, to the benefit of the extremists" in Hamas, which will now be able to recruit "more willing suicide bombers."  The liberal Toronto Star alleged that Sharon seeks to throw "Hamas into disarray to prevent it from crying victory" ahead of Israel's Gaza pullout, but Euro papers still foresaw a "Hamas state on the territory of the Gaza strip."


Israel 'has to be reined in'--  Assailing Israel's "blind, barbaric nature," Arab and leftist critics worldwide said it was "time to intervene" and end "tolerance of Israel's continued terrorist acts."  Saudi papers declared the U.S. must "force Israel to halt its murders"; moderate Al-Bilad called on the U.S. and EU to "remove the Israeli government from power."  The U.S. was described as a "dishonest broker" by those who saw "almost complete congruency between American and Israeli schemes"; a Jordanian writer alleged Israel would not have killed Yassin without "the prior approval of America."  Left-leaning Euro and Asian dailies agreed the "illegal and immoral" assassination was a "blemish on the constitutional state of Israel."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 150 reports from 47 countries over 22 - 25 March 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Why Israel Killed Yassin"


The left-of-center Guardian declared (3/24):  "For surely it will be Israelis themselves who will pay the price, becoming the targets of a fierce and bloody revenge....  Israelis may feel better leaving Gaza having crushed the enemy (though heaven knows what fury they would have unleashed), but Hamas will still brag, with some justification, that their three years of 'armed struggle' achieved more than seven years of patient negotiation by the secularist moderates of Arafat's Palestinian Authority....  But the greatest danger is the one that is playing out right now--that, once again, Sharon has strengthened the extremists, empowering not the makers of peace, but the bringers of war."


"Blood On Their Hands"


Anas Altikriti, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, held in the left-of-center Guardian (3/23):  “The three rocket missiles that were fired yesterday from a U.S.-supplied Israeli helicopter at the break of day, on a procession of 15 Palestinians returning home after dawn prayers in a nearby mosque, may have brought to an end any prospect of peace in the Middle East....  If the Israeli prime minister and his cabinet thought that eliminating Ahmed Yassin would bring closer the chance of peace and resolution to a conflict that has brought unspoken misery and bloodshed, then it is a government suffering from serious self-delusion.  The murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is a turning point in the history of the struggle of a people.  Alas, it is not a turning point that brings promise of hope.”


“Israel Now Finds Itself More Isolated Than Ever”


The conservative Daily Telegraph contended (3/23):  “The vile cult of the suicide bomber, though alien to Islamic tradition, has acquired a spurious legitimacy in the Muslim world, and especially among Palestinians--mainly thanks to clerical demagogues such as Yassin.  Hamas, the terrorist network he founded, remains implacably opposed to compromise.  It regards any Israeli retreat from settlements in Gaza and the West Bank as a sign of decadence and weakness....  Whatever Yassin’s death was meant to achieve, its symbolism is disastrous for Israel....  Sharon’s decision to execute Yassin is worse than a crime:  it is a blunder.”


“Sharon Pours More Fuel On The Fire:  Israeli Realpolitik At Odds With The Fight Against Terrorism”


The independent Financial Times maintained (3/23):  “Yesterday’s assassination by Israel of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement, should be seen as an extremely stupid action....  While there is no Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process' worth the name currently being pursued, this killing is a big escalation in the conflict, which in addition will now probably spill over into the international arena."


“Shed No Tears Over The Killing Of The Sheikh Of Hate”


Michael Gove, Saturday editor, wrote in the conservative Times (3/23):  “But what will the consequences of Israel’s actions be?  Might this assassination lead to a backlash that could be avoided?  It is a question that should weigh heavily on Israel’s government, and on all of us who have a moral stake in fighting fundamentalist terror.”


“Israel’s Gamble:  Sharon Has To Show That He Has A Political Strategy As Well”


The conservative Times editorialized (3/23):  "Sheikh Ahmed Yassin has regularly been described as the 'spiritual leader' of Hamas.  This rather mild form of words might imply that he was, until yesterday, a local version of the Archbishop of Canterbury.  The truth is that the Sheikh had far more in common with Osama bin Laden than Rowan Williams....  If Mr. Sharon is to retain sympathy in the outside world, though, he has to convince others that he has a political strategy as well as an undoubted dedication to a national security....  A gamble for high stakes is inevitably a dangerous proposition.  Israel can limit the losses that it is suffering in the international theatre only if Mr. Sharon details how a secure Israel and a stable Palestine will co-exist.”


“The Calculus Of Killing”


The left-of-center Guardian held (3/23):  “Sheikh Yassin and the twisted remains of his wheelchair could, in death, be a far more potent symbol of Palestinian revolt than he was in life....  Everything is wrong with targeted assassinations if, as Peace Now says, the effect is to put barrels of petrol on a fire that is already out of control.  In the 1980s Israel supported Hamas, when it was the fledging cultural movement countering Yasser Arafat’s secular Palestine Liberation Organization.  Israel will one day have to negotiate with the enemy it helped create, but that day, after yesterday’s killings, is further away than ever.”


"It May Have Been Right To Kill Yassin, But It Was Also Stupid"


Foreign editor Alan Philps judged in the conservative Daily Telegraph (3/23):  “The fact that this paraplegic was killed as he returned from religious observance, on a route he used daily, will give Israel’s friends pause for concern.  We live in a world where image counts for a lot.  His wheelchair blown apart by the best of Israeli and American technology will become an icon for the Islamic world....  From a moral point of view, there is no question that Yassin had much blood on his hands....  If only this were true.  Yassin is now an Islamic martyr, his broken body made whole in Paradise, his utterances preserved forever.  In this conflict, it is often the dead who are the most powerful recruiting sergeants.  Mr. Arafat, for all his proclaimed desire for martyrdom, is made to look like a corrupt time-server.  It is unlikely that Yassin’s successor will obey Mr. Arafat’s police, let alone the Israelis.”


FRANCE:  “War In The Middle East”


Bruno Frappat noted in Catholic La Croix (3/24):  “Whether one calls it a ‘liquidation,’ an ‘elimination,’ an ‘execution,’ or simply an 'assassination,’ the death of Sheik Yassin is an act of war.  Whether they are called ‘terrorism’ ‘retaliation’ or ‘acts of resistance,’ the deaths of Israeli civilians are the result of acts of war....  Today’s Israeli and Palestinian leaders carry the burden of responsibility in the progression of these acts of war.  They have played a role in the sabotage of the Oslo agreements.  The specter of ‘ethnic purification’ haunts the holy land.  For many Palestinians, getting rid of the Israelis has become a possibility.  Keeping the Palestinians behind a security wall has become a practical goal.  The world cannot continue to watch as it counts the casualties.  It must separate the fighters through forced negotiations.  Acts of peace must be the answer to acts of war.”


“Those Who Cannot See”


Jean Daniel observed in left-of-center weekly Le Nouvel Observateur (3/24):  “The Israelis decided to assassinate Sheik Yassin, neglecting all the while the opinions and reactions of its allies.  In order for the assassination to be understood, the Israelis needed first to be acknowledged as authorized avengers.  This will never be the case as long as they occupy Palestinian territories.  One must be blind like Sharon and Bush to not see that this murder will unleash a wave of violence that will be intertwined with al-Qaida’s.”


"Sharon’s Free Hand"


Pierre Rousselin noted in right-of-center Le Figaro (3/23):  “If the elimination of Sheik Yassin meant the end of Hamas-led terrorist bombings in Israel, the world might have applauded the attack.  Unfortunately what we may expect after Sharon’s ‘targeted’ attack is the beginning a new explosion of violence between Palestinians and Israelis.  In the context of the war between al-Qaida’s Islamic terrorism and democracies, it is also possible that the reprisal may go beyond the boundaries of the Middle East.  The end of Sheik Yassin...will not put an end to the murderous ideology of a group like Hamas, which preaches the destruction of Israel.  No more than the capture of Saddam Hussein has resolved the Iraqi crisis or the capture of Bin Laden will resolve the problem of Al-Qaida....  The assassination of Sheik Yassin has been presented as an act of legitimate self-defense....  It is also Sharon’s way of preparing his unilateral withdrawal from Gaza...and of showing that the withdrawal is not a military failure....  Having chosen to act unilaterally, without consulting the Palestinians, Sharon has entered into a purely military logic.  The U.S. has shown its solidarity: it has refrained from condemning the assassination.  The Europeans are the only ones who continue to give the impression they still believe in the roadmap....  In fact, Sharon has a free hand. And this is what has the international community worried.”


“A Pandora’s Box”


Bernard Guetta said on state-run France Inter radio (3/23):  “Sheik Yassin was no angel....  For him, terrorism was more than a way to fight a military occupation. In the long run it was a way to make Israel disappear from the map....  When Europe, the Arab world and to some extent the U.S., condemn his assassination, no one means to sanctify the man. Yassin, dead or alive, remains a fanatic without scruples and with hands covered in blood....  But Sharon’s policy is nevertheless deadly because it will lead to more hate and more deaths....  The assassination of Sheik Yassin will accelerate the cycle of fear and resentment which is leading both peoples to a collective suicide. Never before have the chances for peace been as elusive.”




Gerard Dupuy maintained in left-of-center Liberation (3/23):  “Sharon was true to his word:  the Ashdod bombings did not go unpunished for long.  We can be sure that the promises made after Yassin’s assassination will also be kept....  The mechanism at work here is the tribal law of reprisal....  How can we put a stop to this vendetta cycle?  No one is coming forward with a solution....  European diplomacy, which does not go beyond expressions of goodwill, is perpetually deploring a situation which is perpetually getting worse.  As for President Bush’s America, which has taken its distance from the assassination but fallen short of condemning it, it is no longer even making believe it wants to deal with the conflict.  It is simply and routinely waving a roadmap that has increasingly become an illusion....   By offering a new martyr to a terrorist organization which loves to collect them, Sharon is keeping his country in an impasse of bloodshed and tragedy.”


GERMANY:  "Self-Poisoning"


Erik-Michael Bader commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/24):  "The method of preventive killings in order to fight Palestinian terror has hardly been effective to date, but this could change in the long run.  However, even if it were successful, the objection that a state, which is obliged to follow the rule of law in its fight against crimes--in this case inexcusable excessive acts of a justified resistance, is not allowed to do everything and is restricted in the choice of means is correct.  If the state acts against that it damages the condition of its dealings and surrenders ethical superiority.  To a certain extent, this self-restriction results in practical inferiority and is deeply unsatisfactory concerning a mastermind of malicious murders.   But in the long run it is the lesser evil compared to the self-poisoning of a state and a nation, which fights terror with terror....  If terrorists can lure Israel to counter them with terrorism and undermine ethical and legal standards ever more, this conflict will turn into an unhampered and inconceivable battle of two nations over one territory.  The stronger will win and this will be Israel today and in the foreseeable future.  But what will it do when tides turn in this animalistic conflict?"


"Circle Of Killings"


Peter Muench stated in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (3/23):  "This time the leader [Sharon] is wrong in two ways:   Yassin's death will not weaken but strengthen and radicalize Hamas.  The old and ailing preacher in a wheelchair was certainly no man of conciliation, as some are describing him now.  He was a man of terror, but despite being blind he was able to see political realities.  It was possible to negotiate ceasefires with him.  He was the only one able to control his organization.  Now, Hamas is unleashed and Yassin's successor will be less predictable.  His death will result in a unification of Palestinian forces.  Moderate suggestions will no longer be heard in this heated sentiment.  Israel's advantage that Hamas and Arafat's Palestinian authority were watching and fighting each other has gone.  The enmity toward Israel unites opponents.  The fronts stand firm and everybody knows that people on both sides will face enormous violence in the dynamics of this conflict.  Sharon might have demonstrated Israel's power once more, but he has done a bad job for his own country."


"Illegal Justice"


Clemens Wergin contended in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (3/23):  "Taking all considerations into account, one must not express sympathy with Yassin.  He was the head of the hierarchical organized terror organization Hamas, which declared war against Israel in its founding charter and often showed that it means it.  Hundreds of Israeli civilians have died during the last years when Hamas sent out suicide bombers.  Sent by Yassin, who was commanding his organization despite his handicap....  Those who now blame Israel should come up with alternatives first.  Last year, Hamas had several chances to change from a terror organization to a political force, but took none of them and continued to send more suicide bombers to Israel.  Yassin got the war he asked for."




Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger commented in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (3/23):  “The attack in Gaza could turn out to be a mistake because one can be certain that it is followed by retaliation attacks on Israelis.  Then, the damage would be bigger than the expected benefits.  Those who feel the paralyzing effect of terror attacks for years, those live in fear when their children go dancing may reject the foreign criticism as an expression of moral awfulness, but sooner or later Israelis must ask themselves, whether such methods in the fight against terrorists correspond with the claim of being a democracy and whether they aren’t corrupting its character.  Israel is still fighting for its existence and only evil minded people can disallow it the right to self-defense, but it cannot be denied that the number of its friends has diminished because the choice of its means is brutal, increasing the number of extremists, and because Sharon is taking away the livelihood of those Palestinians who would agree to compromise.”


"The Shadow Of The Sheik"


Michael Stuermer opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (3/23):  "If Sheik Yassin had died peacefully nobody would have cried between Cairo and Amman, but his violent death forces even moderate Palestinians to express false solidarity and turns Gaza into a hornets' nest, which will cost more lives in Israel.  The Hamas founder hated Israel and preached Jihad, death and destruction.  Peace was not possible with him, but neither against him.  It could be that it is indeed his violent death that gives Hamas the pivotal role in the fight of Palestine warlords.  This is a fateful message for Israel, the Palestinians, the 'Road Map' and the entire region."


ITALY:  “Mediators’ Era Over”


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli held in leading, center-right Il Giornale (3/24):  “Sharon ordered the killing of the Hamas leader....  Hamas has nominated another leader who is committed to proceeding down the path of terror and swears he will avenge Yassin....  Sharon has announced that he will have the new leader killed as well, and then his successor.  The strategy is: 'we’ll kill them all'....  al-Qaida announced from some cave in the Middle East that it would personally see to Yassin’s revenge....  From Washington, Bush doesn’t condemn Sharon.  Rather, he reiterates that 'Israel has a right to defend itself.’  But he added that he hopes that the government of Jerusalem will ‘realize the consequences of its actions.’  In Jerusalem, 80 per cent of the population expects retribution and that there will be victims among them, but they don’t see any alternatives....  None of this is surprising....  Since America announced and inaugurated the ‘war on terrorism’ this practice has spread throughout the world.  Neither the Americans, nor the citizens of other countries feel safe any longer....  Especially given the electoral atmosphere, the Middle East resembles less and less the ‘lighthouse’ of democracy in the Islamic universe and is becoming more and more not only the battle field that is has been for the last half century, but also one of the ‘fronts’ of a war that is becoming worldwide, if not the third war of the twentieth century, it is certainly the first of the twenty-first century.”


"With A Single Blow Arafat Was Targeted As Well"


Marcella Emiliani said in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero (3/23):  “Yassin’s death has caused the breaking of the unspoken equilibrium that until today had made the Intifada-al Aqsa conflict only an Israeli one.  There is now a risk that this conflict will spread to all countries that are perceived as allies of the Israeli government, with the U.S. at the top.  This conflict could lead to the insertion of the Palestinian suicide bombers in al-Qaida’s circuit of international Islamic terrorism....  Arafat could always offer Hamas a power sharing that would transform the Palestinian Autonomy into an Islamic state. Is this what Sharon wanted?  In any case, Yassin’s death has opened a new Pandora’s box and it’s hard to imagine who will reap the benefits given the state of things.”


"Gaza Will Be Israel’s Crossroads"


Igor Man commented in centrist, influential La Stampa (3/23):  "The killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin was an act of war--the war between Hamas and Israel.  It’s as nasty as any war, perhaps nastier than many other wars, but war it is....  If we leave aside the customary Maoist language that promises a frightening question remains open: will the killing of the Hamas leader reinforce Sharon’s intentions to withdraw from Gaza or will it push him to stay put in the conviction that he is about to crush the snake’s head?  There’s only one bitter certainty: the already stunted hope for peace in the Holy Land runs the risk of taking its last breath.”


“Arafat’s Authority Is Now A Spectre”


Ugo Tramballi asserted in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (3/23):  “The attack carried out yesterday by Israel has promoted terrorism. If there used to be one thousand young Palestinians willing to become human bombs, today there are many more. If Hamas was a growing political, military and terrorist organization, yesterday Israel handed over to it Gaza and a good part of the West Bank. The already spectral Palestinian Authority of Arafat and Abu Ala are completely irrelevant: the Israelis will no longer be able to accuse it of not doing anything to stop terrorism....  Once again, the effects of the conflict have befallen on the region; it will cause frenzy among those who have Palestine’s future at heart.”


“Terror’s Countdown”


Sandro Viola judged in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (3/23):  “It’s hard to understand what pushed Sharon to want the elimination of the Hamas leader. Sharon knows the Arabs and he knows just how much Gaza has become Islamized in the last few years. He couldn’t ignore the devastating effects the murder of an old wheelchair-ridden paralytic, who was coming out of the mosque after morning prayer, would have on the Palestinians. He could not have overlooked that those symbols--old age, physical disability and the mosque--would have made Sheik Yassin’s death an inerasable event, full of new and terrible hatred in the Palestinian revolt against the Israeli occupation....  Indeed, Ahmed Yassin is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis....  He was the one who spread in Gaza and West Bank the culture of death from which the shaid emerged--the suicide bombers who first modified the relationship between the occupiers and the occupants....  But tonight’s most important point is not the sheik’s cruelty--it’s the political evaluation that led to his killing...(but) the fact that there was no hesitation in the face of the grave consequences that would come from it....  Yes, this is the point. It’s hard to understand what Sharon is aiming for and what he intends to do to keep his country safe from other adversities. It’s also hard to understand why the majority of Israelis continue to trust in him.”


RUSSIA:  "Choosing Lesser Evil"


Vadim Markushin contended in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (3/24):  "Global Jihad has had a nourishing injection.  The ideologues of a holy war against Jews, Americans and other enemies of Islam, suddenly, got a multimillion audience of those craving for revenge.  The Palestine-Israel

conflict area, bleeding as it is, is now ablaze, devoured by the flames of hatred and hunger for more blood.  The peace process machine, stalled earlier, is dead now.  It will take nothing short of a miracle to restart it.   As for the rest of the world, its 'flexible reaction' reflects a multifaceted, multi-vector strategy, a variety of interests and a desire to adapt to the reality, choose the least evil, and survive.   Assessments differ, none of them simple, as nobody feels safe in the face of the threat of a punishment for 'conniving at Zionism.'"


"Yassin Was In Everyone's Way"


Zakhar Gelman observed in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (3/24):  "Israel, in effect, had no choice.  Yassin declared the killing of Jews--men, women and children--a principle for Hamas to follow. He was an obstacle to Ariel Sharon's territorial delimitation plans. Indeed, should the Israeli troops leave Gaza, Hamas would take over in no time.   According to independent Palestinian journalists, Israel has been trying to crush Hamas so that official Ramallah could prevail following delimitation."


"Double Standards"


Natalia Gevorkian commented in business-oriented Kommersant (3/23):  "Using double standards is common.  The world is said to have been worried over the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, as all major television networks break the news and the world peace-loving public is thrilled by a hunt for Ayman Zawahiri, Al Qaida's man Number Two, somewhere in the mountains on the Pakistani border.  Will the world public weep on hearing about the Pakistanis getting their man?  They surely will if they miss the picture of his dead body, more so if they miss the moment of retribution.  The world is in transition, with habitual values being crushed, everyone deciding for himself/herself the question of 'to kill or not to kill,' based on his/her own interests.  The biblical commandment not to kill has become an anachronism.  This is a monstrous price to pay.  We have had to pay it, forced by those who stood behind 9/11 and set all hell loose by making the world play by their rules, the rules of terror."


"Israel Opens Door To Hell"


Georgiy Bovt and Vladimir Dunayev wrote in reformist Izvestiya (3/23):  "Britain and France have condemned the Yassin assassination as contradicting international law.  Moscow and Washington have been more cautious, speaking of a need to 'maintain composure and avoid the escalation of violence.'   This is another case of two conflicting approaches to what can and what cannot be done in the war on international terrorism.   The United States, Israel and Russia uphold an approach that, in principle, allows for an out-of-court elimination of terrorist leaders in an all-out war on terror.  The EU favors the milder option.  What makes the situation so dramatic is that neither has proved decisively effective in fighting Islamic, shakhid-type terrorism.   It is the kind of terror that has enveloped the world, showing no signs of abatement.  The assassination of the Hamas leader is likely to cause a flare-up of Islamic terror in Israel and elsewhere.   A stepped-up Intifada against the Jewish State would fit perfectly in the ongoing global Jihad. Ironically, Sheikh Yassin was considered a 'moderate.'   His assassination will bring to power the most frenzied of the Hamas radicals who may depose Arafat as the national leader and give up the very idea of talks with Israel."




Yulia Petrovskaya and Artur Blinov stated in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (3/23):  "The lull that was expected to prevail on the Palestinian-Israeli front for the duration of the presidential race in the U.S. won't come for some time yet.   The only official peace plan--the road map--is dead.   The question now is whether the Middle East will see a war of shakhids, in addition to that in Iraq, or perhaps what hostilities may take place will be limited in scale.   In any event, the situation in Israel and Palestinian territory is becoming as unpredictable as in Iraq."


"Israel Is In For Big Trouble"


Boris Markov predicted in reformist, youth-oriented Komsomol'skaya Pravda (3/23):  "The opinion in the world is that Israel has clearly overdone it. Hamas's Sheikh Yassin, an ideologue, was hardly involved in planning terrorist acts.   Destroying a figure that Palestinians revered so much is

fraught with an outbreak of violence in the region and will open a 'hunting season,' with Israeli politicians as targets."


"One Bitter Enemy Less"


Reformist Vremya Novostey remarked (3/23):  "Ahmed Yassin's death means that Israel now has one less bitter enemy and tens of thousands more enemies.   Since its inception Hamas has committed more terrorist acts and killed more Israelis than all other Palestinian terrorist groups put together."


"Sheikh Worst Of All"


Zakhar Gelman observed in official government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (3/23):  "Sheikh Yassin was perhaps the most evil of all leaders of Islamic radical groups, themselves not known for meekness.   Yassin called not only for the destruction of Israel but for genocide against Jews.   All who did not share his views were moderates to him."


AUSTRIA:  “The Hisbollah-Trauma”


Foreign affairs editor Gudrun Harrer noted in liberal Der Standard (3/23):  “The violent death of Sheikh Yassin...ought to be seen in the context of the Sharon administration’s plans to withdraw from the Gaza strip altogether, or at least from large parts of it. The usual controversy has arisen over this plan in Israel: several of Sharon’s critics think he is right at least in principle, whereas many of his party comrades accuse Sharon of thus granting Hamas a victory--a victory that has its roots in terrorism. This is why Israel is now trying to demonstrate strength in the Gaza strip, the central message being ‘when we leave, it won’t be out of weakness'....  Hamas will most likely take the credit for Israel’s withdrawal, but, once it happens, Israel at least wants Hamas too be in as bad a shape as possible. Realistically speaking, however, Israel should not expect to beat Hamas through actions like the murder of Sheikh Yassin....  In fact, a danger that could arise in the wake of a unilateral withdrawal that has not been coordinated with the Palestine authority is becoming increasingly real: the foundation of a Hamas state on the territory of the Gaza strip after the withdrawal of the Israeli troops.”


“When Politicians Keep Silent, The Weapons Talk”


Thomas Vieregge observed in centrist Die Presse (3/23):  “Whatever Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had in mind with the liquidation of Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, his decision was certainly not guided by a rational policy, but rather by blind revenge. It was a shortsighted act, which carries the seed of fresh violence, and can thus only be counterproductive. Or is this how Sharon imagines the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza--a scorched earth strategy? This execution will entail neither peace nor security for Israel, which was what the beefy Minister promised with such aplomb when he took up office. His long-suffering people will more likely harvest the grapes of wrath--the seeds of violence will bear plenty of fruit in Gaza and West Jordan, and neither fences, nor walls, nor rigorous security measures will be able to stop the attackers. The almost hysterical mass mourning in the Gaza yesterday gave a foretaste of what is expecting Israel now--suffering, pain, and grief....  Faced with the hopeless situation the region is in, it is not surprising that Hamas is drawing increasingly large crowds. Where politicians keep silent, or refuse a dialogue, the only winners are those who rely only on the impact of weapons.”


BELGIUM:  "Frightening"


Christian-Democrat Het Belang van Limburg opined (3/23):  "The consequences for the political developments in the Middle East cannot be predicted.  Immediately after the attack the Hamas followers vowed to take revenge.  Hamas is, so to say, an 'invention' of the Israeli establishment, created as a counterweight to weaken Yasser Arafat's secular Fatah movement.  The elimination of Yassin will strengthen Hamas even more and weaken the influence of the Palestinian Authority.  If there is one person who can stop Ariel Sharon, it is U.S. President George Bush.  Virtually the entire world condemned the attack yesterday.  In Washington, however, the murder of Yassin was received with barely hidden approval.  That is deplorable and frightening.  With this action Sharon has given new impetus to the endless chain of violence and hatred in the Middle East.  With the construction of the Apartheid wall on the Israeli-Palestinian border he deeply hurt the souls of the Palestinians.  With the elimination of Sheikh Yassin, Sharon lost his last grain of decency." 


"The Gates To Hell"


Chief editor Rik Van Cauwelaert stated in liberal weekly Knack (3/24):  "The murder of Yassin will certainly not weaken Hamas.  But, it will lead to the implosion of Yasser Arafat's rudimentary state.  The only thing (Arafat) can do is to watch helplessly from his wrecked residence how the Palestinian territories are drifting away into a civil war.  Although Sharon continues to claim that he must leave, Arafat's presence in Ramalah is of no political importance anymore....  His ambiguity and corruption made Arafat lose all his chances.  With each Israeli attack against Hamas the terrorist organization gains more power and popularity because the Palestinians view that movement as the only one that is pure--while Arafat only installed corruption after he returned in 1994.  Money and nice jobs were Arafat's only means to keep his PLO movement together.  He didn't know what to do with the Palestinian state that was given to him after the Oslo accords....  Now, the final phase in the confrontation has begun for Sharon: the war against Hamas.  It is outright tragic for the Middle East that only Ariel Sharon's extremist Likud Party and a terrorist movement like Hamas are in a position to end the conflict."


"Israel Fans Hatred"


Foreign editor Frank Schloemer wrote in independent De Morgen (3/23):  "Yassin could have been captured and arrested like the approximately 2,000 other Palestinians who are behind bars in Israel.  (Yassin) could have been tried for terrorism by professional judges and, if need be, be brought to an international tribunal.  Against the will of the world, however, Sharon took the right into his own hands.  His friends in the White House denounced that only lightly.  (The opposite) cannot be expected from politicians who order their own armed forces to invade an Arab country because it us suspected of possessing WMD--which have not been found even one year later.  Sharon has dealt a blow to all possible peace settlements.  The murder in Gaza City will probably lead to a new spiral of violence in the Middle East where thousands of Israelis and Palestinians have been killed in the last few years.  The peace dialogue was in a complete deadlock.  Since yesterday it can be considered dead.  Both the Palestinian terrorists and Ariel Sharon are responsible for that."


BULGARIA:  "The Terror Maze"


Socialist-affiliated Duma editorialized (3/23):  "The strike against the brain of the Palestinian radicals could prove to be the ideal ideological environment for the Al Qaeda network, Ansar Al Islam and their offshoots in America, Asia, North Africa and now in Europe, to use as justification for fresh bloody attacks.  After Madrid, these attacks demonstrate a drive to seek a destabilizing political effect of global proportions.  In terms of the Middle East conflict, the murder of Sheikh Yassin could definitely give the Palestinian cause a  radical makeover, pushing to the side the secular Palestinian Authority, which, although prepared for a dialogue with Israel, is helpless in dealing with terrorism.  This kind of development, which the

hostilities are only encouraging, could render the peace process totally meaningless."


CROATIA:  "Sharon Is, With Murder, Decreasing Resistance To Withdrawal from Gaza"


Stojan De Prato commented in Zagreb-based mass-circulation Vecernji list (3/23):  "After Yassin’s death, however, a peaceful solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stands an even smaller chance.  It will only increase the Palestinians’ sympathy toward Hamas, which, unlike the Palestinian Authority, is not shadowed by corruption odium....  Ahmad Qurai’s (who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown because of Arafat) government could, in the chaos which will follow inevitably, fall apart on its own.  However, even more Palestinian children will now be willing to accept Hamas’s explosive belt.  Expecting a new bloody terrorist wave, shares on the Tel Aviv stock-exchange have already started to sink.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Uday, Qusay, And Yassin"


Martin Komarek commented in leading, centrist MF Dnes (3/24):  "After September 11 and March 11, hardly anybody doubts that police actions alone are not enough to counter organized Islamic criminals.  Even western European governments, which quickly condemned Israel for killing the Hamas leader, now gladly talk about fighting terrorism.  Israel has been in this war for many years now.  So, let's be clear: the missile did not kill an ill old man, but a terrorist leader, serial, irredeemable murderer and also a supreme commander of the enemy's army.  We all concur that it would have been better to put him on a trial and try to re-educate him in a nice prison.  But this is impossible in our cruel world."


"Strange Regret Over Death Of The Old Man From The Mountain"


Jan Novak stressed in center-right Lidove Noviny (3/24):  "It is deplorable that innocent Israeli civilians murdered by Sheikh Yassin's people by the dozens have never received so much sorrow from Europeans as their murderer did.  And this is despite that fact that similar attitudes have already several times had deplorable consequences for Europeans in the past."


"Sharon Builds His Power Position"


Adam Cerny declared in leading business-oriented Hospodarske noviny (3/23):  "The Israeli premier had three reasons to kill Hamas leader Sheik Yassin....  It was an answer to recent suicide terrorist attacks; it is part of the ‘focused operations’ to liquidate Palestinian leaders; and finally by killing the founder of Hamas, Israel wants to prevent the Palestinian radicals from claiming that withdrawal from the Gaza strip has been the success of their terrorist actions....  However understandable all three reasons may seem...they will not lead to any reconciliation of the Israel-Palestinian conflict....  Ariel Sharon has only tried to strengthen his own power.  This may prove successful temporarily; but his policy will not bring peace to Israel or more security as he promised."


"A Blind Alley"


David Shorf noted in center-right Lidove noviny (3/23):  "Ariel Sharon must have known that the Hamas movement was supported by a third of Palestinians and that the liquidation of their guru will not deter the radicals from their terrorist attempts....  It is true that concessions to the Arabs should be compensated by an iron fist....  However, the conclusion of a pessimist is: Hamas will only become stronger and will attack Israel from outside and from within."


HUNGARY:  "The Rules Of Combat"


Liberal Hungarian-language Magyar Hirlap held (3/24):  "Sheikh Yassin's assassination is a clear message to the leaders of all other, not just the Palestinian, but the Lebanon based Hezbollah, extremist organizations and personally to Yasser Arafat.  The message is that there is no mercy to anybody who applies the tool of terrorism.  So those named will be the next [target].  A selective approach towards the terrorists is a mistake. Every terrorist has to be treated equally and, if necessary, force must be used against them.  Because that is the only language they understand."


"The Sheikh's Execution"


Gabor Miklos averred in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (3/23):  "Yassin wasn't a typical terrorist. The movement he founded [Hamas] was a political party, a social network and a ruthless military organization in one.  Although the countries of the world considered Yassin, the Hamas leader a terrorist,  Israel's conduct has still attracted overall indignation and anger,concern and criticism all over the world.   But the Israeli government could have hardly expected that the sheikh's murder would receive such an outpour of condemnation from even Israel's allies.  Because they are civilized states and they can't accept from a fellow democratic country that it applies tools that usually the terrorists use.  As claim Sharon's critics Sharon played into the hands of the fanatics because he 'offered' one more reason to Israel's enemies [to be angry] in the Arab world and Sharon has contributed to the revival of the anti-Israeli sentiment and of anti-Semitism in Europe.  But was it space to the escalation of terror?  The first commentaries agreed about the consequence [of the sheikh's murder]. They predicted that not only the terrorist leaders and their armed fighters but innocent civilians too would fall victim to the 'development' on both sides of the fence."


"Terrorist Elevated Into Heavens"


Right-wing conservative Hungarian-language Magyar Nemzet concluded (3/23):  "Had Sheikh Yassin died in bed, with his head on a pillow than would have the Western world felt a bit more relieved.  But the murderous Israeli missiles elevated the terrorist head of yesterday into the pantheon of heroes."


IRELAND:  "Sharon Plays A Dangerous Game"a


The center-left Irish Times maintained (3/23):  "The assassination….will have dire consequences for the safety of Israeli civilians and the stability of the Middle East…The twisted logic behind this piece of state terrorism is related to Mr Sharon's plan to withdraw Israeli troops from Gaza. It is a very costly occupation, with little strategic purpose and he believes it would be a suitable gesture to satisfy international opinion, especially that of the United States, that he is seriously interested in making peace. He has come under heavy political pressure from right-wing members of his coalition not to withdraw in such a way as to allow Hamas and other Palestinian organizations resisting Israeli occupation to claim a victory. According to this reasoning the assassination will demonstrate Israel's continuing power and enable more moderate forces to fill the political vacuum, backed up by Arab states which are to meet in Tunis next weekend. Mr Sharon is also under pressure to extract concessions from the United States linked to a withdrawal from Gaza. He hopes to avoid as much as possible dealing with the ‘quartet’ group involving the US, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, showing the Israeli public he is not bowing to international pressure…..It is perverse to take an action that is only likely to increase such terrorism. It smothers the other strong current in Israeli opinion, which seeks a peace settlement and is willing to accept a negotiated withdrawal from the occupied territories to get it. The assassination will have the same polarising effect on the Palestinian side.”


NETHERLANDS:  "Execution of a Terrorist"


Left-of-center Trouw commented (3/23):  "Yassin is not a man to mourn, but his assasination does not eliminate him. He now has the status of a martyr. Murders like this are a blemish on the constitutional state of Israel. A democracy must force itself to fight terrorism through the power of its own laws. Now Sharon has developed a Roadmap to Peace of his own. Apparently he wants to withdraw from the Gaza Strip with a show of strength. It is to be feared that violence will escalate. Even enormous international, especially American, pressure will not be able to change that."


"Assassination In Gaza"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant declared (3/23):  "Those who think that Israel has the right to take hard action against terrorists cannot ignore the moral aspect of the assassination. After all, this is a method that clashes with the rule of law that Israel wants to promote.  Some suggest that the murder of Yassin must help to give the impression that Israel's withdrawal from Gaza is not a sign of weakness. But what kind of Gaza is left behind?  With an even more weakened Palestinian Authority and an even more radical Hamas. It has added to the 'Roadmap to Peace' another desolate morass." 




Conservative De Telegraaf opined (3/23):  "It is true that the murder of Yassin is contrary to international law, but we should not forget that he had blood on his hands.  He thwarted any attempt to create peace between Israel and the Palestinian state.  Israel's retaliation, yesterday, will not contribute to a de-escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.  It will probably become worse.  That is sad in itself, but the Palestinians are also to blame."


NORWAY:  "Sheik Yassin"


Christian Democratic Vaart land opined (3/23):  "The killing of Yassin will not serve the moderates in the Palestinian society....  Sheik Yassin was certainly an enemy of Israel....  The probable result will be that Hamas will become the dominant force in Gaza , and that recruiting of Palestine youths will increase....  It has also not become easier for Israel to be viewed by sympathy in our part of the world."


"Expect More Violence"


Independent VG commented (3/23):  "There is every reason to strongly condemn the killing of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas....  The killing will certainly strengthen the radical groups further, especially in Gaza....  It is not easy to guess how Prime Minister Sharon wants this to end, but what he initiated yesterday, can hardly mean anything else than that he wants to escalate the conflict....  It is only American pressure that may get the parties in the Middle East to implement the 'Road map for peace'."


"Ariel Sharon Chose War"


Social democratic Dagsavisen asserted (3/23):  "With the killing of the Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin every hope of a new peace process is buried. In the foreseeable future more hate and revenge will be the situation in the Middle East....  That they got him was no great achievement. The liquidation resembles a trap set up by a man willing to sacrifice himself in order to speed up a war he had always wanted. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon may have walked straight into Yassin's trap."


POLAND:  “Wild Plains”


Dawid Warszawski opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (3/24):  “The wave of condemnation of Israel for killing Sheikh Yassin on Monday is justified in light of international law.  No country has a right to kill, either within its territory or beyond....  Let us imagine, though, that there are criminals who have a sovereign territory, some Wild Plains, where police are forbidden to act.  Would we condemn a policeman who killed a wanted criminal there?  Or would we rather conclude that the very existence of such Wild Plains is a legal absurdity?  The Palestinian Authority is not a criminal state--not yet.  The only way to prevent it is to grant Palestine independence--as quickly as possible, and within borders similar to those of 1967.  But Yassir Arafat rejected that Israeli offer as insufficient in 2000, and unleashed terror to impose better conditions, thus assuring Sharon an election victory, and bringing Israeli repressions against Palestinians....  Unless Arafat or someone in his place stops terror, it will not be possible to return to the negotiating table.”


“The Road To Nowhere”


Jerzy Haszczynski opined in centrist Rzeczpospolita (3/23):  “Known for his extremely anti-Jewish anti-Israeli statements, Sheikh [Yassin] was the main enemy of the state of Israel, just as Usama bin Laden continues to be enemy number one of the civilized world. This simile could have inspired Ariel Sharon to order to kill Ahmed Yassin....  Even though, however, bin Laden and Yassin are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, there is a big difference between them. While Usama bin Laden fights against the entire Western civilization, the Palestinians--including their sheikh who was killed--fight for their own state, even though their methods do not differ much from those used by Al Qaida....  The only reasonable explanation of the [death] sentence on Yassin is that Ariel Sharon is completely helpless in the face of attacks. The war on terror he has waged so far has had no effect. Perhaps this is why he decided to start a real Israeli-Palestinian war. But this is a road leading nowhere.”


PORTUGAL:  "Senseless Radicalization"


Respected center-left Diário de Notícias railed (3/24):  "Aside from the increase in hostilities, what can be expected of the effort to contain the tendency toward radicalization?  The U.S. could take a position of influence, but that is not what was signified by the way the Bush Administration reacted [to the death of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Yassin].  Only the State Department went a little farther by affirming that it was profoundly distrubed by the Israeli action.  It is doubtful that Washington will alter its support of Sharon, because up until now as has been the tradition in American presidential election years, the process of Middle East peace will realize no advances."


SPAIN:  "Sharon Stokes the Fire of Terror with the Killing of Yassin"


Independent El Mundo observed (3/23):  "Israeli analysts affirm that what happened can be seen as the prelude to the "present"  that Sharon plans to offer to President Bush for his presidential reelection campaign: Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza....  The Government of Israel wants now to clean out the territory that it plans to leave so that no one can say that his departure from Gaza was an Israeli defeat....  Zapatero has used this to restate, with reason, that this is another false expectation raised by those who were promoting the War in Iraq; it has not helped peace in the Middle East.  The U.S.--which did not condemn the attack--should think about whether it's possible to maintain its unconditional support for a Government such as Sharon's after what has happened."


"State Crime"


Conservative La Razon opined (3/23):  "What happened yesterday mostly prejudices Israel, which needs to think, and rapidly, about changing a policy of State crime which all find repugnant....  Israel has far fewer friends than it had yesterday because actions like that perpetrated against the terrorist leader Yassin only deserve the general reproach of the international community.  Under Arial Sharon, target of the International Criminal Court, Israel is a land with less liberty than when he came to power promising security.  Sharon, like Arafat, is a fundamental part of the problem in Palestine and he will have to leave if there is, still, any possible solution.   A solution that will come only, and necessarily, with international intervention and a radical change in the "comprehension" with which Washington treats the "hawks" today in the government of Israel."


"Provoking Rage"


Centrist La Vanguardia declared (3/23):  "Washington has limited itself to informing that it ignored the fact that Tel Aviv was planning an attack [to kill Hamas leader Yassin.]....  The escalation of violence in the Middle East cannot but cause worry as it adds to the tension in the Arab world.  While leaders try to satisfy their political bases, Sharon adds fuel to the fire and the White House looks the other way."


"The Holy Land: Opening The Gates Of Hell?"


Business-oriented Expansión contended (3/23):  "The incendiary action has little to do with the safety of Israel....  The attack, severely condemned by the EU and tepidly by the U.S., responds to a mere question of internal consumption....  Sharon is trying to avoid...criticism for his plan to withdraw from Gaza, and the best way is to leave the strip with firmness, trying to project the image that Israel is withdrawing on its own accord and not under the dictates of Hamas.  It is not the first time Sharon has jeopardized the Middle East peace plan for reasons of mere Israeli internal politics....  This has turned Sharon, like Arafat, into one more obstacle to reaching a solution to the Palestinian problem.  Yasin's death will not solve anything; it complicates everything and, in practice, will not mean any change in Hamas, from whose military leadership, the sheik, blind and in a wheelchair, was apart from."


SWEDEN:  "Missiles Against Terrorism"


Foreign Editor Per Ahlin wrote in independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter (3/23):  "It was a dangerous enemy that Israel eliminated on Monday. Hamas has taken responsibility for many suicide bombings and is branded as a terrorist organization both by the U.S. and the EU. The murdered leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, advocated for a future where the state of Israel would not exist....  But there is a risk that counter-force will, as always, strike back in this explosive conflict. Yassim has become a martyr, and possibly will be more influential dead than he was alive....  This new escalation of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians also casts a shadow over President George W. Bush’s explicitly expressed ambition to promote peace and democracy in the Mideast.”


"A Strike Against Terrorism"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (3/23):  "It is not difficult to understand Israel’s desire to strike against those who work to exterminate the country. But it is unacceptable to regularly issue and execute death sentences without a trial....  Israel would gain much by catching and taking those responsible for terrorism to court instead of killing them. To Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the death of the Hamas leader is a great political success. Whether or not what now has happened would be good also for Israel is another matter....  Hatred against Israel among the Palestinians has increased. The death of the Sheik might also have repercussions by inspiring Muslim terrorists in Europe and the U.S. to resort to new actions.”


"From Symbol To Martyr"


Independent, Malmo-based Sydsvenskan declared (3/23):  "By killing Shiek Yassin Israel is not only taking the risk that the base of recruitment for Hamas widens, but that the number of suicide bombers grows. The support for the Palestinian Authority, the most likely opposite party in a future peace agreement, might weaken correspondingly. By resorting to what the EU Foreign Minister have called “extra-judicial executions,” Israel has opened itself to criticism for undermining a state ruled by law....  During his lifetime Sheik Ahmad Yassin did not make the world a better and more peaceful place, and he likely will not do that as a martyr."


TURKEY:  “Invitation To A Bloodbath”


Cengiz Candar observed in mass appeal DB-Tercuman (3/23):  “In the killing of Sheikh Yasin, Israel’s calculations go far beyond an effort to strike a heavy blow against an arch-enemy.  The Sharon government may have been trying to divide and weaken the Palestinian movement.  Palestine and the international community had been uneasy over Israel’s declaration of withdrawal from Gaza in the absence of a larger peace agreement.  Such a move would render meaningless the U.S. ‘roadmap’ for a solution.  If Israel does this, Gaza and the West Bank will break away from each other.  Gaza will collapse, and Israel will implement a tighter military control over the West Bank.  Israel will now focus on the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an organization affiliated with Arafat that also uses suicide attacks.  Such a development will make Arafat a target just like Sheikh Yasin.  By killing Yasin, Israel has taken its conflict with Palestine down a path of no return.”


“Sharon’s Message: No Softening”


Soli Ozel commented in mass appeal Sabah (3/23):  “The killing of Sheikh Yasin gives Hamas and other Palestinian groups the message that the reason for the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza is not the Palestinian resistance, but a political decision of Israel.  Before its withdrawal, Israel is ensuring that there will be no room for the Palestinian authority in Gaza....  Peace is not possible without strong outside pressure on Israel and Palestine from outside.  Since the U.S. will not be able to do much on the issue until after the elections, we should not be surprised at bloody developments in the region over the next seven months.  If the US is serious in its intention of achieving a reasonable political and economic system in the Middle East, it must see that for such a project will never have any legitimacy unless the Palestinian-Israeli problem is resolved.”


“Anatomy Of An Assassination”


Fehmi Koru opined in Islamist/opinion maker Yeni Safak (3/23):  “Ariel Sharon’s latest action, the killing of Sheikh Yasin, has taken his government to the lower rungs of terrorism....  Sharon’s main target is Arafat....  Tension will rise again in Palestine, and the few moderates who still believe in peace will lose their influence, to the benefit of the extremists.  This may actually be the real aim of Sharon.  Will the international system continue regarding Sharon’s Israel as legitimate, or will it do something to halt the threat?”


"Martyrs Are Immortal"


Ahmet Tasgetiren asserted in Islamist/opinion maker Yeni Safak (3/23):  “It is not a show of skill to kill a person who is incautious enough to make his morning prayers at a mosque....  The blood of this savagery is splashed over the face of Bush as well as Sharon....  This murder was decided by the Israeli cabinet.  Washington is aware that the biggest obstacle to its Greater Middle East project is the murderous policy against Palestine.  And yet the Americans cannot prevent the ferocious killing of Sheikh Yasin.  Sharon is a killer armed to the teeth who regularly commits murder in the Middle East.  And America looks on....  Sharon has done a great disservice to his nation....  How can the Israeli nation now feel safe?  Yesterday, rage--not tears--flowed through the streets of Palestine.  I wonder how these people under the burden of such pain are seen from Washington?”




ISRAEL:   "A Welcome Assassination"


Conservative columnist Avraham Tirosh wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (3/24):  "Shimon Peres said on Monday that the most effective solution to terror is to eradicate the causes of terror, and not its leaders.  Theoretically, he is right.  In practice, in the case of Hamas--he isn't.  Because the only thing that sparks Hamas terrorism is the very existence of Israel in the region, and not the occupation of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.  'Eradicating the causes of terror' in this case means, therefore, eradicating the State of Israel.  That, in succinct form, was the ideology of the 'spiritual leader,' Sheikh Ahmed Yassin....  Therefore, in a situation in which you cannot eradicate the causes of terror, you should eradicate its leaders, whose goal is to eradicate you.  Prevent them from seizing control of the Palestinian territories so that you are left with a chance of engaging in dialogue and achieving an agreement.  It is people, like me, who support disengagement from Gaza and most of the territories in Judea and Samaria, and dialogue with the Palestinian Authority, who ought to support the elimination of murderous terrorists of Yassin's kind, who commit criminal acts to prevent any chance of that happening."


"Deterrence And Horror"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz asserted (3/24):  "Official [Israeli] spokesmen confirm that in the short run the assassination [of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin] will indeed make Israelis and Jews worldwide more vulnerable, but promise that in the short run everyone will see that the killing was worthwhile.  That assumption rests on very shaky ground....  Last week's cabinet decision to kill off the Hamas leadership broke the rules of the game, and could move the armed conflict to areas never seen before....  The approach that chooses to deal with Palestinian terror by assassinating individual leaders, instead of a determined effort to reach an agreement with the PA on renewing dialogue, is wrongheaded....  The cabinet decision could yet go down a serious negative change of direction in the history of the conflict."


"Still, Why Was Yassin Assassinated?"


Yaron London opined in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/24):  "And perhaps there is a 'critical mass' of assassination victims, which will cause a turnabout?  Certainly.  When we kill all the Palestinians, big and small, there will be no one left to kill us.  Until then, we can presume that every assassination increases the pool of terrorists and fuels the murderous rhetoric.  It is true that among the educated, largely secular Palestinian elite, voices can be heard that show a more sober view, but this group, upon which the government has pinned its hopes, the group that is the basis for the vision of the Geneva plan's architects, and with whom Jewish peace activists talk, has zero influence on the prevalent trend....  The dead Yassin is stronger than the live Yassin, and his image as the most senior of Muslim saints is already inflaming the imagination of the masses and narrowing the freedom of action enjoyed by the moderate Palestinian leaders.  If the government had explained to Israelis sincerely what its considerations were before it decided on the strike--what it feared, what it hoped for and what tipped the scales--we would be able to agree or disagree with it, but either way we would feel like citizens who are partners to deciding their fate.  But we were not given any solid or clear explanation, and we do not know how the assassination fits in with the vision of the political arrangement with the Palestinians, how it will benefit our security and what dangers it involves.  In its silence and enigmatic talk, the government humiliates its citizens and puts them into a fatalistic mood, which weakens their staying power."


"Operation From The Gut"


Nahum Barnea wrote in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (3/23):  "From a moral standpoint, there was nothing wrong with killing Sheikh Yassin.  Every terrorist in the past few years who embarked on a suicide-bombing mission carried with him Yassin's ideology stuffed inside his bomb belt....  Did he deserve to die?  Of course he did.  The question is whether we deserve it.  It seems to me that there are two governing approaches to security for the Israeli government: the one focuses on inflicting pain on the other side.  The other focuses on minimizing the pain caused to our side.  The fence, for instance, was geared to minimize the Israelis' pain.  That is the secret of its allure.  The government, which did not want the fence, is building it on a route that inflicts pain on tens of thousands of Palestinians.  That pain only serves to add fuel to the bonfire of terrorism.  The result is a fence that undermines itself.  The policy of targeted killings, conversely, stems from the second approach, the one that derives satisfaction from the pain of the other side....  No one in the system, not even Sharon, believes that the assassination of the sheikh will reduce the scope of terror.  There is no strategy here: just bitter frustration and mounting difficulty to look the voters in the eye.  Opposite that stand the dangers:  the fear of a rekindled popular uprising....  The fear of a mega-terrorist attack.  The fear of a religious, Jewish-Islamic war.  The fear of attacks on Jewish communities, from Istanbul to Buenos Aires.  Sheikh Yassin bears responsibility for the death of hundreds of Jews in his life.  The question that ought to trouble us now is how many Jews he will kill in his death."


"Save The Palestinian People From Massacres And Occupation"


Far-left, Arabic-language Al-Ittihad editorialized (3/23):  "The Israeli occupation forces have committed an organized terror operation...missiles were shot from an American Apache warship to assassinate Hamas's leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin....  This crazy Sharonic escalation will trigger the conflict with more fire and violence....  A historic responsibility demands serious initiative of the Arab-Jewish peace movements to forge unity to restrain the occupation government crimes....  The international community has the duty to pressure Sharon's government to stop the bloodshed and to save the Palestinian people from this colonial occupation."


"Targeted Killing Of Disengagement"


Dan Margalit noted in popular, pluralist Maariv (3/23):  "Sharon is angry with himself.  He is distressed by his own current stance--support for the evacuation of all Gaza Strip settlements.  The Right views Arik as an ideological deserter.  He no longer is 'the settlements' father'.  Yassin's assassination is a compensation for the disengagement plan....  The long-term consequence [of Yassin's assassination] is bad for Israel, because Sharon has made the implementation of the disengagement plan harder....  The disengagement could bring about a level of tense calm in Gaza....  On the other hand, the killing of Yassin has intensified another front.  Despite all denials, there a was a silent understanding that the sides refrain from harming the political leadership."


"Direct Hit at the Target"


Efraim Ganor stated in popular, pluralist Russian-language Novosty Nedely (3/23):  "This half-paralyzed old man [Sheikh Yassin] was not only a Hamas leader, but he also inspired and organized most bloody operations carried out by Hamas militants....  Yassin never hid his attitude towards Israel; he honestly warned that Hamas's goal is to build an independent Palestine on the ruins of the Zionist state....  Sheikh Yassin not only declared, he also provoked...he practically founded, organized, and pampered a big terror organization.  His biography is a 68-year-long

history of hatred, terror and destruction....  A decision regarding the expediency of Sheikh Yassin's assassination was made quite a while ago...[as] Israel's political and security leaders understood very well what consequences were to follow.   Current comments that Yassin's death will

bolster terrorism are unnecessary.  It was difficult to expect Hamas and the other extremists not to use Yassin's assassination as a reason for bloody actions.  But when Yassin was alive they [Hamas] did not treat Israel with excessive consideration; so they need no additional causes."


"Sharon's Order"


Ben Caspit wrote in popular, pluralist Maariv (3/23):  "With one hand, Sharon is dumping the Gaza Strip and throwing it over his shoulder, while with the other hand, he plans to do what he has tried to do his entire life: instate order, usually leading to a great deal of violence....  Sharon's problem is that generally, it begins like this, with small, calculated steps that are successful in their own right, with a lot of maps and sketches, but it ends in tears, blood, bereavement and a state commission of inquiry.  This time, Sharon is convinced it won't happen to him.  He is determined to return home safely, without a commission, with a new order in Gaza, perhaps even with a bit of quiet at home.  As of Monday, quiet is the thing farthest away in the world."


"Now Hamas Could Align With Al Qaida"


Zvi Bar'el noted in liberal, left-leaning Ha'aretz (3/23): "The immediate danger is that Hamas, lacking a clear cut leader, will split into factions, as happened to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Jihad in Algeria, with some of the groups aligning with Al Qaida.  Such factions create their own ideologies and operations that don't necessarily take into consideration the local conditions.  Palestinian groups have so far been careful to stay clear of alignment with Al Qaida. But Monday Abdel Aziz Rantisi announced that Hamas had opened a special account with Israel, calling the assassination of Yassin a declaration of war on Islam.  That will have real significance if Hamas decides to turn its back on years of strategy and begin operations outside the country, striking at Israeli, Jewish or American targets overseas.  There are many infrastructures overseas ready to cooperate with Hamas and the dilemma for the organization now is whether to become part of a global organization, which it has so far avoided.  The answer apparently depends largely on their assessments on how it would affect the Palestinian cause if Palestinian terror begins operating overseas again.  And another question is if the organization is ready to endanger its position in Syria and other countries, by taking action internationally to protest the killing of Yassin."


"Assassination And Its Price"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (3/23):  "The Yassin assassination was justified, no less so than American assassinations (which have yet to succeed) of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts would be justified.  But 'justified' does not mean necessary and wise:  to say something is 'permitted' does not always mean that it is 'worthwhile'....  His activity undermined the shared Israeli-Palestinian interest in attaining an Israeli majority for the Gaza pullout, and transferring the region to orderly PA control.  Yassin's assassination, however, was not a necessity in terms of thwarting terror attacks; and a very high price is likely to be paid for it....  But the true measure of the decision to assassinate Yassin will be seen in months to come, after the storms abate:  the wisdom of Monday's assassination is to be measured by the extent to which moderates on both sides consolidate their positions, and the conflict moves from a stage of escalation to one of reconciliation."


"Our Bin Laden"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post held (3/23):  "Ahmed Yassin's death is a signal victory for Israel and for the war against terrorism.  He was the military and spiritual leader of the terror war against Israel, just as Osama bin Laden is, or was, the military and spiritual leader of the war against the West....  We must continue to prove that terror itself is futile, not the war against it....  If any government in the world knows this, it is the administration of President George W. Bush.  Yet...why was the U.S. State Department so quick to imply that Israel and Hamas must both be 'restrained?'  Is there nothing worthy of praise in the elimination of the leader of an organization that has murdered numerous American citizens and places prominently on the U.S. terrorist list?....  Israel has no option of losing this war, which is not about territory, but our existence.  Our options are only to win more quickly, or to prolong it through our own ambivalence over whether to fight."


WEST BANK:  "Sharon Assassinates The Sheikh"


Hani Habib wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (3/24):  "This assassination has unified the Palestinian street more than ever.  In Israel, conversely, opinions increasingly diverged as the right wing in the Likud and in the government, which are close to Sharon, see it as throwing dust in the eyes to cover for the 'concessions' [Sharon] will convey to Washington as part of his disengagement plan.  Even though some political analysts in Israel asserted that the assassination was an inseparable part of the disengagement plan, others argued that it was meant to regain the deterrent power Israel has lost during the second Palestinian Intifada.  Most importantly, there are differing views on the timing of the assassination."


"Where's Heroism In The Killing Of Sheikh Yassin?"


Ahmed Rub’i commented in independent Al-Quds (3/24):  "The killing of Shaykh Ahmad Yasin is not a heroic action; on the contrary, it is a cowardly act, against a crippled man, committed by a state that possesses all sorts of weapons including those of mass destruction....  The operation is a strike against all peace efforts and every Arab endeavor, particularly the Egyptian and the Jordanian....  The U.S. and Europe, both of which have called for a halt of assassinations against Palestinian activists, face a credibility test....  Shaykh Yasin's killing will not weaken Palestinians; quite the reverse, all [Palestinians] will feel targeted by the Israeli army and may use greater violence as a kind of self-defense.  Calls for self-restraint and calm by some international parties will fail because they place both the murderer and the victim on the same level while Israel continues to trample every resolution on international legitimacy."


"Why Do They Change It Into A Clash Of Destinies?"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (3/24):  "The Israeli authorities' declaration of a crackdown on the rival Palestinian movements...and the move to implement this plan, including the awful crime of assassinating...Shaykh Ahmad Yasin and a large number of activists...dangerously signifies the transformation of...what until now has been a dispute of limited time and place into a clash of destinies or a war between Israel and whoever is supporting it on one side and, on the other, the Palestinians and whoever backs them or will have to do so."


"The Assassination Of Ahmad Yassin:  Dropping The Negotiated Solution"


Hani Masri concluded in independent Al-Ayyam (3/23):  "The assassination of Shaykh Ahmad Yasin took place despite growing indications that Hamas was moving toward making strategic progress in its policies and mechanisms....  It was Ahmad Yasin who weighed in to make the truce announced last June by Hamas and other Palestinian factions a successful one until Israel thwarted it.  It was also he who launched an initiative to keep the civilians on both sides neutral; however Israel thwarted this too.  Sharon wants a military war and, in the meantime, doesn't want any popular resistance on the street. Ahmad Yasin has stated more than once in the past few months, or rather days, Hamas's willingness to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and to agree on a 10-15 month truce.  He has also expressed readiness to halt armed resistance for a considerable period of time if the Israeli forces pulled out totally from the Gaza Strip....  Nonetheless, the Sharon government...which has not helped either the [former] Abu Mazen government or the [present] Abu Ala'a government, is not interested in a settlement, in negotiations, or in a political process.  Rather, it wants to impose its own goals on Palestinians by means of force and via unilateral measures.  Sharon wants to bury the negotiated solution forever." 


"A Crime By All Measures"


Independent Al-Quds editorialized (3/23):  "If the Israeli government had enough wisdom and prudence prior to assassinating Shaykh Ahmad Yasin, it would have realized that such a crime would make his wish [martyrdom] come true and inflame Palestinian, Arab and Islamic anger.  Certainly this Israeli recklessness, which clearly is bravado, will not achieve any of the Israeli government's goals.  It will reinforce the incentive for escalation and more violence and will gravely harm the so-called peace process."


"No To Revenge...Yes To A Comprehensive National Response"


Muhannad Abdul Hamid opined in independent Al-Ayyam (3/23):  "We don't want revenge in the literal sense of the word as we don't want to go back to the square of [Israeli] security and [Palestinian] state terrorism, which Sharon is trying to push us into.  Instead of revenge, we want a national response that takes the form of a long-term national and popular struggle since our battle seems a lengthy one and shouldn’t waste energies without any payoff....  This requires the return of international political and judicial protection to our national struggle and legal resistance.  There's some optimism, somehow, as the international, regional and Arab reactions sound encouraging for us to demand international protection with UN supervision.  Yet achieving such protection can't be viable without Palestinian (PA, PLO and Islamic opposition) commitment to a national struggle strategy that reins in all forms of chaos....  The spontaneous Palestinian public reaction has so far been wonderful; it can certainly be developed and used as a foundation to build on."


"The Assassination"


Basem Abu Sumaya held in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (3/23):  "If Israel wants us to pay with our lives as a price for its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, raising its hand in the victory sign, it has put itself in an impasse that will cost it not only the finger that pulls the trigger but also more human losses among civilians who are not responsible for their government's madness."


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Zionist Crime And American Collaboration"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad stated (3/25):  "This horrific crime against a symbolic Palestinian figure would not have happened if Sharon had not had a green light from Washington to go forward with his demolition plan.  This incident is another dangerous episode in a series of Israeli crimes, and America collaborated to cover up Sharon’s devilish acts.  Sharon should be persecuted as a criminal of war for all his crimes.  In light of these atrocities, Palestinians find themselves obliged to strengthen their national unity, and to stand united in the face of this Israeli aggression, and against America, which is the cause of every evil in our nation."


"Murder Of Resolve Toward Peace"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (3/23):  "The U.S. position toward this hideous crime not only reflects the policy of double standards, which we are used to, but also supported the butcher against the victim, and took revenge against the murdered rather than the killer."


"Sharon's Terrorism And International Disgrace"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad maintained (3/23):  "It would be disgraceful if peace-loving nations, and those who are committed to justice and liberty, observe this unprecedented violence by the Israeli Prime Minister and his gladiators in cold blood.  We want the U.S. and the EU to take decisive action about Sharon’s terrorism.  It is not enough to merely condemn a terrorist act of this magnitude.  The U.S. and the EU must remove the Israeli government from power.  Otherwise, none of their theoretical peace programs will see the light of day."


"Crime Accrued After Al-Fajer Prayer"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh declared (3/23):  "Israel knows exactly what it means to kill an Islamic figure as he walks out of the mosque....  Israel is in a coma if it thinks that killing such a figure is the solution to the problem....  The irony is that the U.S. asks both sides for self-restraint...but if the murdered person was Sharon, Netanyahu or a big Rabbi leader, the incident would probably be cast as a global catastrophe....  Meanwhile, the U.S. is holding up the banner of the fight against terrorism, calling the Israeli crime 'self defense.'  In this, the U.S. is feeding extremism." 


"The Greater Middle East On Fire"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina declared (3/23):  "The American request to Arabs to remain calm after the Israeli crime is a clear indication of America’s biased position in favor of Israel....  If Washington wants to uphold its reputation, it should declare war on Sharon's terrorism.  The U.S. weapons that are used in these terrorist attacks should not be exported to Israel."  


"Open War"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah editorialized (3/23):  "Following the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, most major countries urged the Palestinians to remain calm, but did not express their condemnation of this crime.  Once the Palestinians take revenge, these countries will condemn the Palestinian response and treat it as an act of terrorism.  Sharon gave the signal to launch an open war, because he does not recognize Sheikh Yassin or Arafat or any other Palestinian leader.  The Palestinians understood the purpose behind this crime, and readied themselves for war.  The world should move quickly to avoid a real catastrophe: Israel decided to launch total war, and the Palestinians are preparing to respond in kind.  What happened yesterday is a turning point in the Palestinian cause, and it seems that the future is filled with terrible and unpredictable events." 


"Sowing The Wind"


The English-language pro-government Arab News editorialized (3/23):  "The murder of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by Israel was an act of terrorism, and an insane one at that.  It has not only opened the gates of hell, as one incensed Hamas official declared, it has also slammed shut the door of peace.  If for one moment the Israeli leadership imagined that assassinating the Hamas leader would stem the tide of violence, they were deluded.  Sheikh Yassin’s murder will not diminish suicide killings, it will increase them.  Hamas will want to retaliate, as massively as possible, to retain credibility in Palestinian eyes.  Other groups too...will retaliate, because they want revenge and because they too want to gain credibility and prove that they are the viable, powerful, sole opposition to the Israelis....  For Israel, the Sheikh may have seemed to a major part of the problem.  But he was also potentially a significant part of the solution.  By killing Hamas’ spiritual head, the Israelis have struck down someone they might one day have been able to talk to....  A leader who...could have called a halt to militant violence, and would have been listened to had he done so.  Instead, Israel will reap the whirlwind.  There is likely to be a struggle for power within Hamas and between Hamas and its rivals.  But that struggle will be played out through suicide bombs and counted in the number of dead Israelis.  The killing will be anarchic, uncoordinated, but all the more deadly--and it is entirely Sharon’s doing....  He is clearly willing to sacrifice Israeli lives for the sake of destabilizing the Palestinian resistance....  At this critical time, the Palestinians stand united against Israel; so do the Arabs....  There must be a determination at last to force Israel to halt its murders....  It must be forced to the negotiating table, forced into concessions.  There is only one state that can do this.  The U.S.  We demand action by Washington to rein in the Israeli murderers, to stop Israeli terror.  Is Washington sincere in its commitment to justice, or is it as usual only going to mouth platitudes and do nothing?  To quote George Bush, if it is not with us, it is against us."


ALGERIA:  “The Law Of The Jungle”


Influential, French-language El Watan commented (3/24):  "The head of the Zionist government (Ariel Sharon) dealt a severe blow to the peace militants, and he did it on purpose.  He acted because he feels protected by the powerful America and especially by Bush’s administration, which, for the most part, believes that the existence of Israel is ordained by the Bible.  Washington, by its blind support of Tel Aviv, is either not assessing the tragic consequences of its policy or it is refusing to see them.  (U.S. policy) continuously encourages the repression of Palestinians.  By letting Sharon act this way, the White House motivates Islamist fundamentalists to indulge in terrorism and sow terror throughout the world.” 


JORDAN: "Going Back To The Negotiating Table:  Is This Still An Option For The PA And The Arab Political Regime?"


Samih Ma'aytah concluded in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (3/23):  "One of the most superficial analyses is the one that says that Sharon directed the assassination [of Sheikh Yassin] as a message to the Arab summit scheduled in a few days.  Sharon, like the Arab people on the street, does not care about such Arab protocols. He knows that they are nothing more than a political market to practice speech and rhetoric.  There is one issue on Sharon's agenda and that is to implement his security program that is based on criminality and killing.  He is not concerned with any noise about it, because the key lies in the hands of Washington, which is dealing the order of the day to capitals....  The major story is not the martyrdom of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, but the conviction that some within the PA maintain that negotiations remain necessary and must resume, as if what happened to Sheikh Yassin was a car accident and not a criminal aggression, as if what Sharon is doing on daily basis does not indicate the fact that he has turned his back to everything related to settlement.  Sharon, who killed the Sheikh and kills the people of Palestine every day, is not concerned with political reactions.  He knows that his aggressive security program has an easy path towards implementation.  After what the Sharon government has carried out over the past years, it is a political requirement for the Palestinian Authority and the Arab political establishments to find an answer to the question 'what's the alternative?'  This question tells the Palestinian and Arab decision-makers to stop the meaningless rhetoric about resuming negotiations and reviving the roadmap and other initiatives.  What do these decision-makers have to say to the people after more than ten years of negotiations, agreements and dialogues?"


"The Assassination Crime And Its Role In American Israeli Schemes"


George Haddad asserted in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/23):  "This almost complete congruency between American and Israeli schemes for the Middle East region is no secret.  Therefore, any serious and genuine reading of the situation and these developments would be incomplete, in fact wrong, if it does not take this alliance into consideration.  Everything that Israel is doing at this stage is being done in consultation and in coordination with its biggest ally, the U.S., and of course this ally is not going to approve any Israeli action that is not in line with its own schemes.  All the talk and the statements mean nothing.  A major operation that entails serious repercussions such as assassinating Sheikh Ahmad Yassin cannot happen without the prior approval of America.  As for the statement of the White House and that of the National Security Advisor Rice denying knowledge of or approval for the operation, they mean nothing.  A question then poses itself: why would the Americans approve an operation that they know very well would have costly repercussions and would not serve to calm things down and move towards peace?  The answer is simply that the operation, with its repercussions, plays a role in redirecting and developing events regionally and thus can be used to bring out American schemes that aim at redrawing a new map for the region, where American interests are secure."


"Assassinating Peace"


Chief Editor Taher Udwan wrote in independent, mass-appeal Al-Arab Al-Yawm (3/23):  "The Arab people are waiting for revenge against Israel in retaliation for the crime of assassinating Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, which means the anticipation of a martyrdom operation in the streets of occupied Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.  This reaction by the people is not only expressed among Palestinians, but also among the broad swaths of the Arab people....  Sharon's actions, crimes, assassinations and walls are the main source for hatred and grudges and the feeder for the spirit of violence and the desire for vengeance that beats in the heart of every Arab.  If revenge against Sharon's crimes comes by means of a martyrdom operation that would be called terrorism in Washington, then this 'terrorism' has earned popular support.  It has become not just a religious and patriotic ideology but rational logic to declare that if you are surrounded by a criminal who wants to kill you, destroy your home and wipe out your people, then what is left to you but turn your body into a bomb?  Sharon is not a man of peace, as described by the sponsor of his crimes, President Bush, neither is he qualified to be a partner in any peace process.  This today more dangerous, not because he doubled the amount of bloodshed, but because he has supporters among the Israelis and because behind him stands the American occupation force with its big armies in Iraq and the Gulf.  Assassinating the Sheikh is the assassination of peace and a declaration that the peace process with Israel has reached a dead end and that the conflict has gone back to the original slogan: a conflict about survival not of borders."


"Sheikh Yassin's Assassination And The Illusions Of Peace"


Ibrahim Al-Absi noted in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour (3/23):  "After the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and its spiritual leader--under the direct and declared supervision of the butcher of Sabra and Shatilla and the prominent racist, fascist and blood-thirsty leader in the Zionist entity, Ariel Sharon--there is no more room for illusions of peace and peace projects and peace initiatives with this Zionist entity.  Moreover, there is nothing more that Washington can hide behind in talking about terrorism and terrorists, when it, itself, was party to committing this very ugly crime when it gave Sharon the green light to assassinate Sheikh Yassin by virtue of the fact that it did not add to its reaction anything other than call on the Palestinians to exercise restrain and calm, as if it is telling them to die silently and quietly and to restrain themselves as they are being slaughtered."


"Time To Intervene"


The independent, elite, English-language Jordan Times declared (3/23):  "Israel has to be reined in.  Its violent and increasingly irrational actions are ratcheting the situation to a fever pitch....  The assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin marks a new and unprecedented escalation.  Needless to say, it will push any hopes of a resumption of negotiations well out of the picture and, in the meantime, the military wings of Hamas and all the other Palestinian factions will redouble their efforts at retaliation.  A cycle of violence will ensue that may reach hitherto untouched levels.  This is in no one's interest except, perhaps, the Israeli prime minister's.  In fact, it may be argued that Sharon is in a win-win position.  By assassinating Yassin, he has shown the loony right in Israel that he is a 'tough' leader ahead of any possible withdrawal from Gaza.  By provoking the inevitable retaliation, he can retrospectively justify to a toothless West the need for even harsher military action, and postpone indefinitely, if he should choose, such a withdrawal....  It is time for the international community, spearheaded by the U.S., to step in in no uncertain terms.  Jordan, Egypt, Iran and the EU have condemned the assassination....  But the only voice that resonates in Israel is that of the U.S., and to issue a statement calling on 'both sides to show restraint' is simply a complete abdication of its duty.  Washington must start to realise that for as long as the Israeli government is allowed to act with complete impunity, without respect for international law or human life, nothing, not in the Palestinian-Israeli sphere, nor at a regional level, will change.  The U.S. proclaims itself willing to intervene in countries in the name of preserving and promoting human rights.  It is time it proved it."


KUWAIT:  “Why Has Sheikh Yaseen Fallen”


Jassem Boodai, editor-in-chief, observed in independent Al-Rai Al-A’am (3/23):  "Ariel Sharon finally succeeded to pin one more star of criminality on his shoulder.  Sharon successfully exploited absolute American support from an “ideal partner” in the war on terrorism.  He also exploited Arab weakness, collusion, primitivism, and Arab division to accomplish a new massacre.  Whether one agrees or not with Sheikh Yaseen’s political or military methods, one cannot but respect his resistance.  Ahmad Yaseen fell because he was active and a doer, and because his killer holds power of attorney over us, power of attorney from the one known to all.”


“How Sad”


Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief, wrote in independent Al-Seyassah (3/23):  "Sheikh Yaseen’s assassination as he was coming out of a mosque exposed the weakness of all Arabs.  The Arabs’ complete and utter weakness presented Israel’s PM the opportunity to implement his plans in the region.  Now that Sheikh Yaseen is dead, what have the Arab leaders done other than to express outrage? No amount of condemnation is going to stop Sharon from going forward with his plans.  Instead of condemning the act, Arabs must prepare a strategy to counter and foil Sharon’s plans.  It is sad that the most vicious attacks by Sharon are not drawing the attention of Europe or America.”




Dr. Waleed Al-Tabtabai wrote in independent Al-Watan (3/23):  “The Jews have finally done it and killed the dignified sheikh.  However, it is no surprise, since Jews are known to be the killers of prophets, and inciters of wars.  Israel, who is armed to the teeth with the most dangerous weapons, conspires against an old frail sick quadriplegic.  This sick old man who suffered various illnesses was considered by Israel as its most dangerous of enemies and eventually killed him.  What cowards you are, Arab rulers.”


“The Martyr”


Fuad Al-Hashem said in independent Al-Watan (3/23):  “The assassination of the founder and leader of Hamas, sheikh Ahmad Yaseen, was a stupid Israeli act.  No more stupid than their decision to occupy southern Lebanon for twenty-two years, without any clear advantage, only to eventually withdraw as if nothing ever happened.  Israelis believe that death is the best sort of punishment for the Palestinians.  But, they don’t know that for Palestinians who live on less than three dollars per month, without housing, or education and with no health care, death is the best solution, and no harm in taking a few Israelis on the way [suicide bombers].  It can also be said, that for the Israeli extreme right, Sheikh Yaseen’s assassination was clever, because it would prolong the cycle of violence for another fifty years, which by then, Jews will have been able to control the whole of Palestine.”


LEBANON:  "Sheikh Ahmad Yassin Does Not Count The Days Of Martyrdom"


Ghassan Tueni concluded in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (3/23):  “History never witnessed an event where a prime minister of a country, that claims that it is legitimate and that it belongs to the world community, announces with unprecedented insolence that he was the one who ordered...the assassination of Sheikh Yassin, noting that this assassination, barbarian as it was, was a big victory for Israel!....  Sharon is not only the biggest enemy of the Palestinians and Arabs, but he is also an enemy of Israel.”


“People In Danger”


Joseph Samaha asserted in Arab nationalist As-Safir (3/23):  "The assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin is a station on a road; however, this station is extremely important.  Ahamd Yassin is a spiritual symbol.  He is not a body because his body is weak and crippled....  He was assassinated the moment he finished his prayers which reinforces the merger between what is religious and what is nationalistic....  Sharon wants to dissolve the Palestinian will to resist...his criteria for success is trying to show that there is no difference between Ahmad Yassin and Usama Bin Laden, or between Yasser Arafat and Mullah Muhammad Omar....  No country accepts this reasoning except the U.S...which has imprisoned itself in an ideology that believes that any negative reaction towards the U.S. is the result of hatred or envy....  Washington, similar to Israel, refuses to pinpoint the real problem, which is the Israeli occupation of Palestine....  For this reason the U.S. can digest an event like the assassination of Ahmad Yassin and changing Ramallah into something similar to Guantanamo.”


“Palestinian Sources Talk About Two More Targets: Arafat And Nasrallah”


Naseer Al-Asaad maintained in pro-Hariri Al-Mustaqbal (3/23):  “Informed Palestinian sources believe that Israel assassinated Sheikh Ahmad Yassin because it wants to stop any effort to change Gaza into a base for national struggle towards an independent Palestinian state.  Same sources also believe that all Israeli threats against Arafat should be taken seriously...noting that Israel might assassinate Arafat....  As for Lebanon, it is believed that Israel will be monitoring reaction from Lebanon over the assassination of Yassin and might eventually embark upon an important security operation against Hizballah, specifically against its Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.”


“Ahmad Yassin, A Martyr In Our Memory”


Bechara Charbel opined in independent Al-Balad (3/23):  “The world after September 11 hit the intifada in its core....  It gave Sharon the opportunity to kill in the shadow of an international war against terrorism that mixed concepts, and abolished distinction between what is resistance and what is terrorism and gave countries the opportunity to characterize Hamas as a terrorist organization....  What will the Palestinians do?  There is no doubt that when Sharon decided to assassinate Yassin he took into consideration that there will be a bloody response.  Perhaps he wants to use this possible response as a justification to strike the remaining Palestinian leaderships or perhaps kill Arafat.”


MOROCCO:  "The Assassination Of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin: Why Specifically Now And for What Purpose?"


Khalil Jebrane held in  socialist Arabic-language Al Ittihad Al Ishtiraki (3/24):  "The assassination of Sheikh Yassin--in Ariel Sharon's view--will further involve the U.S. administration and strengthen the U.S.-Israeli alliance. This is what has already occurred since the U.S. is the only country that refrained from condemning the assassination, allowing Israel to feel secure and happy under the pretext that America and Israel stand in the same camp against world terrorism."


"The Third Intifada"


Moderate Islamic Arabic-language Attajdid stated (3/24):  "There is not a shadow of a doubt that the liberation of Palestine will put an end to Zionist barbarism and American arrogance. Thus men will be liberated from oppression in the holy lands first, and in the Arab/Muslim world afterwards....  The martyrdom of Sheikh Yassin will make him a living hero until victory and liberation (come about) by Allah's will."


"Infernal Cycle"


Abdelmounaim Dilami, Director of business-oriented French-language L'Economiste, asserted (3/23):  "Sheikh Yassin's assassination by the Israeli army is an act that reflects the image of the age in which we live.  The murder was orchestrated and carried out by a government that is a member of the United Nations and, above all, the U.S.’ principle ally in the region.  We don’t share Sheikh Yassin’s ideological choices, but we can understand his political motives.  The U.S. and Israel have imposed on the world a global orientation based on the wielding of power, with righteousness itself being justified through power: might is right, no matter what the cause.  But this orientation will sooner or later...drag the world into an infernal cycle of hatred and violence.  The technological war, led by the U.S. and Israel, will, in turn, spawn an asymmetrical war supported by terrorism....  Whoever succeeds Bush as president of the U.S., his administration will have marked the beginning of disaster for humanity, for despite all the good intentions in the world (if any good intentions manifest themselves) it will be impossible to return to the world as it once was.”


"State Terrorism"


Director Mohammed Idrissi Kaitouni wrote in top-circulation French-language L'Opinion (3/23):  "The U.S. occupied Afghanistan and Iraq for the sake of the so-called war on terrorism, but when it comes to state terrorism perpetrated by Tel Aviv, the U.S. closes its eyes and allows Israel to act as it wishes, leading targeted operations, committing the most odious crimes, even killing small children.  Washington is heavily responsible for the Palestinians’ desperate situation, which will have grave consequences for the entire region.”


SYRIA:  "Sheikh Yassin's Assassination And Israel's Crisis"


Ahmad Hamadeh commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (3/24):  "The crime of Sheikh Yassin's assassination proves the racism of Israeli leaders and that they are the distinctive masters of organized crime....  Why did the U.S. restrict itself to demanding that parties to the conflict exercise self-restraint without any effort to condemn this heinous crime? Why didn't the U.S. characterize the assassination as terrorism especially since it strives to combat terrorism in the east and the west?  Where is U.S.' concern for the Geneva Convention on protecting civilians during wars? Where is its zealousness about freedom, human rights and democracy which are the major goals of its Greater Middle East Initiative and which it strives to promote in the region?  Israel would not have committed this ugly crime without U.S. support for its terrorist policies. It continues to support Israeli leaders and exempt them from abiding by international law; by this the U.S. has also allowed (Israel) to violate the U.S.' ethics and standing."


TUNISIA:  “The Foul, The Abject, The Immoral”


Senior editor Hajer Jeridi declared in independent French-language Le Temps (3/23):  “Israel has crossed the red line....  It assassinated Cheikh Yassine, a pillar of the Palestinian fight for independence and liberation....  The Sharon government has not an ounce of humanity or morality; its blind, barbaric nature drove it even to attack an infirm man--which all universal ethics vow to respect and protect--and assassinate him as he left a mosque.  By undertaking this scandalous act, Israel humiliated not only the Palestinians, but also Arabs and Muslims....  Israel recoils before nobody.  It is determined to complete its policy of ethnic purification and extermination of the Palestinian people.  And we the Arabs and Muslims who watch, via satellite, these spectacles of terrorism in its primary state?  Poor us! Poor Arab world whose decadence and decline seem daily more irreversible.  Poor (Arab) world that stands by as a spectator of the worst modern tragedy, confirming its helplessness and signaling its death as a sovereign entity able to decide for itself its present and its future.  Poor is this Arab world that continues to be taken in, taxed as it is by violence, terrorism, ideological and cultural repression, political, social and economic underdevelopment, and is, at the same time, under the imperious and cynical regard of the ‘civilized’ world....  What more must happen before the Arab countries wake up from their stupor and address, with determination and courage, side by side with their Palestinian brothers, the Israeli state?”


“Towards Radicalization”


Senior editor Chokri Baccouche stated in independent French-language Le Quotidien (3/23):  “Emblematic and charismatic figure of the Resistance, Cheikh Ahmed Yassine was renowned for his firm stand against the occupation and his hostile and lyrical flights of oratory against the Israeli Prime Minister.  During his life, he enjoyed a great notoriety and was particularly appreciated by the Palestinian street who found in him, after each difficult test, all of the comfort and moral support to continue the fight to the end....  Man of the people and for the people...he represented the pride and the fierce determination of the Palestinians to recover their rights and their liberties, taken from them at a very high cost.  Cheikh Ahmed Yassine could not have asked for a better end: dying as a martyr, as he had hoped ever since the day he had sworn to sacrifice his life at the Palestinian altar....  Ariel Sharon does not understand that he has committed a serious mistake in opening the gates of hell.”


“Where Is The International Legality?”


Senior editor Kamel Ben Younes asked in independent Arabic-language As-Sabah (3/23):  “Tunisia has officially condemned the killing of Hamas’ spiritual leader, Cheikh Ahmad Yassine....  Once again, the Israeli colonial forces violated all the international red lines....  It seems that Sharon provoked all the Palestinians factions on purpose in order to have a strong Palestinian reaction that will in turn allow him to carry out more oppressive acts against them....  Sharon is relying on Washington’s silence during the seven months that precede the American elections....  But the Arab responsibility--both of governments and people--is very big. They should use their political, economic and information influence in the U.S. and Europe to serve their interests...and the suffering of the Palestinian people should be on the top of the agenda.”


UAE:  "Yassin's Murder Is An Act Of Savagery"


The English-language, expatriate-oriented Gulf News opined (3/23):  "The assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was a terrible act of savagery which no excuses from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can pardon.  To target and murder a political and spiritual leader is a deliberate criminal act which should never be permitted, or agreed to, by any government.  Yet Sharon's administration has signalled that this killing is not the last....  This only proves yet again that Sharon does not want peace and that his government will do anything to avoid any commitment to peace.  When any talk of the supposed roadmap to peace comes up, it is important to remember that any commitment by Sharon has proved illusory, and that he himself is the individual who helped to deliberately trigger the second Intifada when he and his paramilitaries desecrated the Haram Al Sharif.  Israel's murder of Sheikh Yassin will increase tension between Israel and Palestinians of all political persuasions...and retaliation will certainly follow.  The grim cycle of increasing violence will now escalate.   Sheikh Yassin's murder has been condemned by governments all across Europe, Asia and the Arab world. Yasser Arafat, who was a political rival to Sheikh Yassin, mourned him as a martyr and great leader.  The U.S. did not condemn the killing yesterday, but called on all parties to exercise restraint.  This is not enough.  The international community should be explicit that targeted assassination is wrong, and is a crime.  Tolerance of Israel's continued terrorist acts has to stop, and move to action to stop Israeli aggression, and to institute protection for the harassed and tormented people of Palestine."




AUSTRALIA:  “Israel Acts To End A Roadblock To Peace”


The national conservative Australian observed (3/24):  “For a civilized state to use peacetime murder as an instrument of policy is deeply troubling. The ambivalence and antipathy that even friends of Israel feel over the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is understandable....  Rather than just condemn Israel, the opponents of Sheikh Yassin's execution should ask themselves why a government should have no right to defend its people, Jews and Muslims alike, against such an implacable foe. Any argument that the sheikh should have been left untouched, free to promote Hamas's dream of the destruction of the Jewish state, is far more morally ambiguous than Israel's act....  His execution sends a clear message to the entire Palestinian leadership, especially Yasser Arafat, they can be held accountable for their actions in either encouraging or ordering terror attacks. Despite the denunciations of Israel's action, practical Palestinian politicians who know the Jewish state cannot be destroyed will not regret the death of Sheikh Yassin. His death is one small step along the path away from perpetual war.”


"Sharon Risks Much With Assassination"


The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized (3/23):  “In its war against Hamas, Israel finds ample justification for the targeted assassination of Sheik Ahmed Yassin....  Using Sheik Yassin's responsibility as Hamas leader for the suicide attacks by his followers as the justification for assassinating him is one thing.  The practical wisdom of such an extreme policy as assassinating him is another question....  This conflict will never cease without a supervening political settlement to undercut the extremists' reason for continuing to kill, using terrorist means, and their communities to be killed in retaliation.  The possibility of a political settlement of Israeli and Palestinian differences is nowhere in sight, and has not been since the U.S. became preoccupied with Iraq.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely unlikely to be resolved without outside help, and in the absence of outside pressure for peace, the conflict will worsen....  Even on the coldest calculation of practical results--removing a person Mr. Sharon and perhaps most Israelis regarded as a terrorist--it could prove a terrible mistake, given the likely response.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Cycle Of Vengeance Must Be Broken"


Independent English-language South China Morning Post remarked (3/24):  "Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was no angel and no friend of Zionism.  He called for a complete dismantling of the Israeli state and advocated violence to achieve this aim. But the Israeli assassination of Yassin this week represented yet another wrong turn in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's increasingly unrealistic attempt to end attacks on his countrymen by cracking down on Palestinian militants and their leaders.  The government-sponsored murder is not only illegal and immoral, it is hypocritical when coming from a democratic state that professes adherence to international laws and human rights principles....  No one expects Mr. Sharon to negotiate with Hamas.  Yet there is also no visible engagement with moderate Palestinians, such as prime minister Ahmed Qorei.  Closing off the avenues moderates offer while conducting aggressive raids and targeting leaders such as Yassin can only be a recipe for stronger resistance--and much bloodshed on both sides.  Getting back to the negotiating table after the events of this year will not be easy.  But if Mr. Sharon, Mr. Arafat and Mr. Qorei want to save the road map, this is the only option."


JAPAN:  "Intervention Necessary To Stop Full-Scale Israel-Palestinian Clash"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (3/24):  "Israel's assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Yassin can only be described as a reckless act. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon described the assassination as necessary to stop acts of terrorism by Hamas members against Israelis.  But the use of violence to eliminate opponents is itself a blatant act of terrorism. Sharon no longer has the right to criticize terrorism.  Israel and the Palestinians should be aware from decades of bloodshed that terrorism only repeats terrorism.  Criticism alone is no longer sufficient to force the Sharon government to stop carrying out acts of terrorism against Palestinian radicals....  The international community should not waste any more time in preventing terrorist attacks and a full-scale clash between Israel and the Palestinians.  The UN Security Council should also address the issue in order to prevent the U.S.-initiated peace roadmap from collapsing.  But first and foremost, Israel and the Palestinians must exercise self-restraint."


"Israel's Killing Of Yassin Blocks Way Toward Peace"


Liberal Asahi maintained (3/23):  "Israel's assassination of Palestinian leader Yassin was a blatant act that could block the way toward peace in the Middle East as well as incite a sense of jihad (holy war) in the Islamic world.  The killing could also turn future tit-for-tat Israel-Palestinian bloodshed into a full-fledged religious war.  The U.S. has urged the two rivals to exercise self-restraint....  While promising to work for peaceful co-existence between Israel and the Palestinians, the Bush administration's support for the Sharon government has dimmed the prospects for peace....  A rise in distrust toward the U.S. could also cause an increase in anti-U.S. feelings and potentially block U.S.-led Iraq's reconstruction efforts.  The UNSC should intervene to prevent a possible escalation of Israel-Palestinian bloodshed."


NEW ZEALAND:  "Little Hope Of Peace As The Killing Spirals"


The moderate, top-circulation New Zealand Herald declared (3/24):  "Nothing is more certain than that in days or weeks or months the assassination of the Hamas leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, will be followed by some dreadful reprisal, probably another suicide bomb in a place chosen to cause maximum carnage....  So continues the deadly tit-for-tat that has characterised much of Israel's short history but particularly the three years since the collapse of the last sustained peace effort. It is hard to see that either side is making any progress with present methods....  Sheikh Yassin seems a particularly bad target....  An ageing cleric confined to a wheelchair...a 'spiritual' leader of Hamas rather than an active commander....  If he was inspiring for the cause from the pulpit he probably will inspire it even more so in death.  None of these assassinations adds anything to the security of Israel....  State-sponsored murder is justifiable only between nations at war....  That is the mistake Israel and its apologists make when they claim legitimacy for its policy of assassination from the international war on terror. True, the U.S.  may care little for due process when it spots suspected terrorists in the Yemeni desert or anywhere else outside its borders. But the U.S. claims to be in a state of war with an external foe. Israel regards Palestinians within the occupied territories as subject to Israeli law. It cannot deny them sovereign statehood and at same time treat them as enemies it can execute without trial....  Israel has the power to provide space for the national aspirations of Palestinians if it chooses. So far the terms it has offered--limited self-government in pockets of the territories occupied since 1967--have not satisfied Palestinian aspirations and the carnage continues.  Israelis are understandably wary of satisfying aspirations which they still believe stop at nothing short of the displacement of the Jewish state. But the Palestinian leadership has said it accepts Israel's right to exist....  In fact, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has announced a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, which perversely may explain the latest assassination. Both sides have increased the level of violence in preparation for the withdrawal, as though each wanted to give the other a parting message....  It does not augur well for the two-state solution, or the U.S. 'roadmap' to that end. But nothing in this vengeful region gives much hope of a lasting solution."


THAILAND:  “Terror Is The Victor Again In Mideast”


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation read (3/24):  “But the satisfaction that Israel may have taken from Yassin’s demise is certain to be short-lived. Among the other casualties of Monday’s missile strike were the political position of Palestinian moderates, and most likely the moribund U.S.-led 'road map' to peace.  Hamas’ unprecedented show of strength on Monday--hundreds of thousands participated in Yassin’s funeral--also suggested the killing has given the movement a massive boost at the expense of Qureia’s moderate Palestinian Authority.  Indeed, it could end up drawing a wave of recruits to the movement and broaden its hard-line appeal.  It is also seems facile to argue Yassin’s death will disrupt Hamas’ ability to carry out terror attacks. Over the last three and a half years Israel has wiped out the group’s entire military leadership but it continues to regroup.  This time too, Hamas will recover quickly and the only result will be an escalation of violence.  Israel has opened the door to chaos.”




INDIA:  "The Continuous Circle Of Terrorism"


Independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika maintained (3/24):  "Clearly Sharon is ostracized and he and his western godfather, the U.S., do not want to term the killing as nothing more than 'unfortunate.'  It is not only Europe, even Britain, but also the UN Secretary General who has criticized the Israeli act in unhesitatingly clear language.  The only exception is the U.S. Searching for and identifying terrorist states throughout the world is one of the pastimes of the Bush Administration but it never finds out the world's worst terrorist state is Israel....  Since the last fifty years, it is America that has provided moral and diplomatic support to Israel to disobey resolutions at the UN  The question is why did Sharon, who had agreed to hand over Zionist-occupied territory of Palestine to the Palestinians some time ago, do this.  Apparently, neither does he want to project this spontaneous Israeli backtracking as evidence of a defeat of his military policy, nor would he like to give credit to Hamas for this.  The leader, therefore, is killed early so the backbone of the militant organization is broken....  Maybe, Hamas will face a leadership crisis but parallel terrorist organizations like the Islamic Jihad or Hizbullah might make up for the loss."  


"Brutal And Senseless" 


The centrist Hindu asserted (3/23):  "Israel's assassination on Monday of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin...was an act of utter barbarism and recklessness....  The killing of Sheikh Yassin was senseless even from a tactical point of view.  He no doubt crafted a political ideology that calls for the destruction of Israel and he did extol the cult of the suicide bomber.  But, it is difficult to believe the Israeli claim that the murder of this septuagenarian paraplegic will make a material difference to the levels of militancy.  To the contrary, the assassination is more likely to exacerbate the violence....  The considerable following that Hamas has at the grassroots level will only grow with their leader becoming the foremost Palestinian to be martyred in recent times.  This outrage will further undermine the PA and reduce its capability to curb the militants among its people....  Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon...bears prime responsibility for this atrocity.   However, the U.S. is almost as guilty since it has persistently condoned the brutal methods that the Sharon Government has used against the Palestinians.  The promise that once existed of a peaceful West Asian future in which two nations would exist side by side has withered because Washington could not shake off its partiality for Israel.  Although the American leadership knows very well that the injustice perpetrated on the Palestinians is a root cause of Islamist extremism, it refuses to address the issue even as it prates about its campaign against terror.  The U.S. might soon have reason to regret its inhumane attitude to the Palestinians.  Hamas not only condemned Washington for having made Sheikh Yassin's murder possible by extending unstinted support to Israel but also declared that all Muslims would be honored to join in the retaliation."


"Lighting Another Fuse In West Asia"


An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times read (3/23):  "Rarely has violence in West Asia threatened to spin out of control as it does now in the wake of the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin....  For all his fiery rhetoric, the quadriplegic cleric was arguably the moderate face of Palestinian Islamists, and probably the only one who could bring his followers to sit at the negotiating table with the Israelis some day....  It's intriguing that Israeli PM Ariel Sharon should have ordered the missile strike on the Hamas leader when the Israeli government is trying to pull out its forces from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The only explanation seems to be that Sharon wanted to hit the militants so hard that they will not be able to claim even a victory of sorts....  What is not so apparent, however, is that the planned withdrawal from West Bank only includes the removal of some wildcat settlements, which leaves behind what in effect would be a rump Palestinian State hemmed in by Israel's controversial 'security fence'.  Sharon's haste is understandable, given that most Israelis now believe the occupation of Palestinian land is untenable, and certainly not worth the cost of protecting the illegal settlements.  They are unimpressed by Sharon's failure to keep the suicide bombers at bay and this is reflected in his nose-diving approval ratings. Killing Sheikh Yassin may only queer the pitch further for him."


"Israel Shell-Shocks World" 


K.P. Nayar wrote in the centrist Calcutta-based Telegraph (3/23):  "The assassination of the elderly, wheelchair-bound likely to engulf West Asia in a severe cycle of violence. It has belied even slim hopes that the so-called roadmap for peace...could survive the current turbulence in the region....  The present White House, which is closely identified with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was in a tizzy...hours after Yassin's assassination as it sent conflicting signals....  Indicating the paralysis in diplomacy here, a State Department spokesman was non-committal in America's initial reaction....  India will seek to balance its friendship with Israel with the morality of targeted killings and Sharon's policies of brinkmanship in dealing with Palestinians. But it is expected that at the end of the day, India will be critical of the Israeli action. Indian officials are on record in the past that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. There have been allegations that in its efforts to get India to condemn and act against Hamas, Israel has been passing spurious intelligence to Indians about the activities of the organization within India, especially in Hyderabad and Lucknow." 


"Assassination Of Hamas Leader"


Independent Urdu-language Awam opined (3/23):  "The dastardly assassination of Sheikh Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the Hamas Palestinian group struggling against Israel's brutal occupation of their land, has not surprised anyone. But, it has definitely shattered peace prospects, giving an extremely dangerous turn to the situation in the Middle East. The missile raid has only reaffirmed the fact that the Zionist leaders in Israel are bent upon imposing peace only on Palestinians' dead bodies. Furious calls for revenge as given by various Palestinian groups should leave no one in doubt that the coming days were going to be even bloodier. It should make the world community act with greater sense of urgency and responsibility as the arrogant and U.S.-backed Sharon is pushing the Middle East to a point that would be disastrous to the region with serious repercussion for the entire world....  With its call to the people in the Middle East for maintaining peace and patience, the U.S. has just maintained its record of justifying Israel's tyrannical policies against Arabs. This unfortunate support to Sharon's dastardly act could have dire implications for the U.S. as well."


PAKISTAN:  "Israel’s Extremely Shameful And Barbaric Act"


Lahore-based independent Urdu-language Din contended (3/24):  "Although the U.S. has said that it was unaware of the Israeli measure (of assassinating Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmad Yaseen), but has desisted from condemning the Israeli act, which shows silent approval--a policy that the U.S. has always adopted with regards to Israel....  However, the U.S. must keep in mind that Israel causes the most harm to its war against terror.  The U.S. must prevent Israel from taking steps that strengthen extremism and defeat tolerance." 


"Savage Tragedy Of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin's Martyrdom"


Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt asserted (3/24):  "With the martyrdom of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin the U.S. roadmap for the Middle East has died its own death.  This action may not fulfill Israel's desire to weaken or disappoint Hamas, but it would lead to increase in suicide attacks.  Had Palestinians been backed by a militarily strong Muslim power the Israeli administration would have not adopted policy of target killing.  America and Britain too would not have backed Israel in such an eventuality."


"Israel's Latest Outrage"


The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times observed (3/23):  "Washington has chosen to remain deaf to the cries of not only the Arabs and the rest of the world but also the Israeli peace bloc.  On Monday, all Washington had to say was to advise restraint on all sides, making it clear that it was not about to squarely condemn Mr. Sharon. Perhaps Mr. Bush should realize that the consequences of this dastardly act could hurt his own re-election bid.  If not for the cause of justice then at least for his own enlightened self-interest he needs to restrain Mr. Sharon and his cohorts."


"The Tragedy Of Martyrdom Of Shaikh Ahmad Yasin"


Leading mass circulation Urdu-language Jang noted (3/23):  "The martyrdom of Shaikh Ahmad Yasin is not an ordinary incident. This is a very tragic incident and has all the possibilities of being the most dangerous incident of the history of Palestine and Israel."


"Radicalizing Palestinians"


The center-right national English-language Nation editorialized (3/23):  "U.S. government is likely to pamper not discipline Israel and more Muslim countries now assume silence on the duplicity of Washington's foreign policy, Mr. Sharon is free to practice the art of massacre and assassination he acquired as the Butcher of Chatilla and Sabra.  Why is Sharon determined to create the conditions for a radicalization of the Palestinian people?  Is that how he justifies his policy of elimination and occupation?"


BANGLADESH:  “Sheik Yassin Killed: Sharon To Blame For Consequences”


The independent English-language Daily Star observed (3/23):  "Israel’s decision to assassinate Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin with a missile strike in Gaza City on Monday once again shows the moral bankruptcy of its policies in the occupied territories.  Seemingly not content with its unlawful military occupation, the Israelis long ago dispensed with democratic niceties and the rule of law in the policing of Palestinian territories.  Palestinian public opinion was split between those who favor a two-state solution with a return to the pre-1967 borders, and those, like Hamas, who want a single Palestinian state within the pre-1948 borders.  However, prior to Monday’s killing, there was always hope that Hamas and the other like-minded Palestinians would be convinced to accept a two-state solution and live in harmony side by side with Israel.  Now we fear that that hope has been extinguished....  Indeed, the killing of Sheik Yassin, who was known for his moderation within Hamas, can only be expected to further radicalize even the moderate Palestinian people.  Sharon has signaled that he does not wish to live in peace with the Palestinian people.  He does not want a two-state solution.  He wants all-out war between the two sides that will only end when one of side is annihilated.  That is the war he wants, and now, with the killing of Sheik Yassin, that’s the war he may get." 


SRI LANKA:  "Shocking Incident"


Pro-LTTE Tamil-language Sudar Oli commented (3/24):  "A shocking incident took place during this week.  Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed by the Israeli helicopter attack....  Other than Israel and America, leaders of all other countries, including UN, EU and other organizations, have condemned this brutal killing.  Ahmed Yassin is not a terrorist who fought with weapons.  He was a cripple....  Although he was instrumental in forming Hamas, he was the spiritual leader preaching the doctrine of Islam....  The Israeli Prime Minister is jubilant about killing such a religious leader, who was an invalid.  America is showing its dictatorial suppressive stand by not condemning such a brutal killing....  By brutally killing him, the Israeli premier has made Yassin a great hero and made himself a stupid person....  America that declared war against terrorism is assisting the terrorist deeds of Israel....  The views of the Israeli leaders show that they will not hesitate to kill Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat.   If such a situation arises the result will be disastrous, and Middle East peace will be a daydream.  Therefore, the international community should warn and threaten Israel for acting against the international law.  Otherwise, the international community will be helpless when Israeli terrorism becomes uncontrollable." 




NIGERIA:  "Truth And Sincerity Reduces Terrorism"


Ibadan-based independent Nigerian Tribune declared (3/23):  "Truth and sincerity can reduce the violent tensions in the world.  The Palestinian problem is the excuse for the existence of murderous groups like al-Qaida.  The Middle East impasse can be broken using the gentle tools of sincerity and fairness.  Justice and respect for the interests of others can defuse bombs of the most virulent hatred.  But nothing excuses terrorism, like the attacks that shattered the bodies of unsuspecting commuters in Madrid on March 11.  Terrorists are vermin and countries should come together to exterminate them."


"Fertile Ground for Terrorism"


Lagos-based independent This Day averred (3/23):  "It is easy to condemn acts of terrorism as inhuman and unjustifiable.  But it must also be admitted that the evil is sometimes a fall-out of the widening economic inequities that exist in the world.  As the saying goes, when the poor cannot eat, the rich cannot sleep.  For as long as three-fifths of the world is plagued by abject poverty while the other basks in affluence, terrorist groups that purport to champion all manner of causes will find it easy to recruit into their ranks.  This is clear from the confessions of some of the suspects in the September 11 attack on the U.S.  There is also deep-seated anger that is hard to deny in the Arab world over the Middle East crisis.  Ultra Arab nationalists blame the United States and Britain for the plight of the Palestinians who, despite assurances by the U.S. in particular, have yet to have a real homeland.  Many militant Arab groups see the U.S. as a dishonest broker that deserves to be a target to terrorist attacks.  While condemning all forms of terrorism we urge the international community not to lose sight of the factors that fuel it."


TANZANIA:  "Israel:  Grant Palestinians Their Rights So That Peace May Prevail"


Pro-government Kiswahili-language tabloid Uhuru concluded (3/25):  "The Israelis have succeeded in killing Sheikh Yassin, but they have not succeeded in extinguishing the resolve of the Palestinian people to fight for their right to determine their own future and for their land, which is under Israeli occupation....  The Israelis should not think that killing Palestinians and their leaders is the best way to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict; in fact, by so doing they are just escalating the animosity between them.  They should instead ask themselves why Palestinians are ready to retaliate by sacrificing their lives each time they are attacked. They should realize that the conflict can never be solved through war because it seems Palestinians are ready to fight to the last man....  The only way to solve this problem is for Israel to withdraw from all the Palestinian land it is occupying by force. As we join the rest of the world in condemning Israel for planning and executing the murder of Sheikh Yassin, we want to warn Israel to realize that Palestinian suicide attacks will continue until Israel leaves their land....  People committing suicide attacks are not insane.  They know exactly what they are doing and this is their only method for highlighting their plight. The retaliatory steps they might now take could be too devastating for Israel; they could destroy peace in the whole Middle East Region and the world at large.  For peace to prevail in the Middle East, the first precondition is that justice must be done. And justice means granting Palestinians the right to have their own nation and govern themselves.”


UGANDA:  "Terror Won't Stop Terror"


The state-owned New Vision said (3/24):  "The assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual head of the Palestinian group, Hamas, is yet another spanner in the works that are already the difficult way to peace in the Middle East.  Israel blames him for personally being responsible for Palestinian suicide attacks that have killed and maimed scores of Israelis over the years.  The action contravenes international law because it was an extra-judicial killing.  More critically, as sure as the Middle Eastern desert temperatures will hit the extreme highs in the next few months, Palestinian extremists will strike violently back at Israel. At a stroke, the assassination would only have succeeded in recruiting more willing suicide bombers for Hamas.  It would also have undermined the moderate middle ground of both the Palestinian masses and leadership that would favor a negotiated settlement.  Terror tactics by either side--Palestinian suicide attacks, Israeli targeted assassinations--will not solve anything.  If anything, just perpetuate the cycle of violence. The best approach is still a negotiated peace and territorial settlement, aided by the various powers, the U.S.  and the UN foremost."  




CANADA:  "To Kill A Terrorist"


The conservative National Post opined (3/23):  "In the short run, Monday's assassination of Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin will make Israel a more dangerous place. Suicide bombings may increase during the coming weeks. Hamas may recruit dozens of new 'martyrs.'  Israeli Cabinet ministers may be targeted for reprisal killings and donations from Hamas supporters at Western mosques will increase.  But in the long run, cutting off Hamas's head will prove a significant victory. Deprived of its leader, the group's attacks should decline; it may even splinter into rival factions....  No one need shed a tear for the sheik. No major Hamas bombing or missile attack on Israel was carried out without his personal approval. And there have been many....  Yet judging from Europe's reaction to yesterday's attack, one might have thought Israel killed some random innocent. France and Britain insisted the attack violates international law....  Such criticism ignores the fact that Israel is at war. Notwithstanding his physical feebleness, Sheik Yassin was an enemy combatant....  Moreover, what did Tony Blair's spokesman mean when he said, 'We recognize Israel's right to protect itself from terror. But any steps should ... not be disproportional or excessive.' What is 'excessive' about dispatching an arch-terrorist along with three aides and bodyguards?  No one outside Yassin's entourage was killed. To us, this sounds surgical....  Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia vowed to go to the UN to seek condemnation for Yassin's assassination. No doubt he will get what he wants: The Third World bloc at the UN rarely passes up a chance to slap Israel around on one spurious pretext or another. But the fact remains that few terrorists deserved 'martyrdom' more than Yassin. In the long run, his death will make the Middle East a safer place."


"The Assassination Of Sheik Yassin"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (3/23):  "Few foes of Israel were more implacable than Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the militant Palestinian 'seeker of martyrdom' who found it yesterday....  Yassin led Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamic Resistance Movement, which Israelis blame for much of the killing since 2000 in a futile struggle....  Canada outlawed Hamas in 2002, saying 'it is in a war with the Jewish people,' not just Israel. Yet Canadians recoil from assassination.  Short of targeting President Yasser Arafat, who fears he may be next, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could not have struck a higher-profile target. Or given Palestinians more reason to become radicalized. Or exposed Israelis--and their American allies--to greater risk of reprisal.  Sharon hopes to throw Hamas into disarray to prevent it from crying victory as he pulls troops from Gaza. He also aims to mollify domestic critics who regard the pullout as a retreat. And he may hope to strengthen Arafat's crumbling Palestinian Authority in Gaza by hammering a radical rival. Sharon still dreams of forcing Arafat to accept 40 per cent of the occupied areas, something Yassin would have rejected out of hand....  But as the Canadian government, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Amnesty International and others rightly note, Sharon's 'extrajudicial killing' of a senior Palestinian figure was unacceptable, unjustified and inflammatory....  Israelis have every right to defend themselves. But Sharon could have arrested Yassin as he has many others. Indeed, Israel tried Yassin in 1989 for killing collaborators. He got life but was later freed. He could have been held anew. Instead, the Mideast has its highest-profile martyr yet....  Yesterday, the White House urged...calm.  At Yassin's funeral, 200,000 heard that Sharon has opened the gates of hell."


ARGENTINA:  "Sharon And Maquiavelo's Unlearnt Lessons"


Oscar Raul Cardoso contended in leading Clarin (3/24):  "The lessons of history that were not learnt can be much worse than absolute ignorance, something that PM Ariel Sharon may discover through his decision to turn military murder into a political tool in order to obtain international respect. The murder of Yassin...can well be the door leading Sharon to this unhappy discovery. Through his plan to create an 'Israeli fortress'...and obsessed by the idea of getting U.S. approval for finally getting the territory in dispute with the Palestinians, Sharon seems to have applied only part of Maquiavelo's principles....  'Being feared is safer than being loved'....  If Sharon believed that by giving a conclusive sign that Israel is not willing to yield under the terrorist pressure, we should agree that the view of a disabled 60-year-old man massacred in his wheelchair was not something the Israeli cause needed....  The problem is that Sharon affected the perception of illegitimacy of any future response. Sharon, like Bush, believes that the campaign against terrorism should be carried out in every way, even by dismissing national, international law and the most elementary humanitarian guarantees."


"Danger Of Triggering An Uncontrollable Spiral Of Violence"


Paula Lugones opined in leading Clarin (3/23):  "More than the specific organizer of terrorist attacks, Yassin was a highly influential figure, responsible for a broad network of social aid in the devastated occupied territories, who motivated many of his followers to give their lives for the Palestinian cause....  It wouldn't be strange then for Yassin to become the top symbol of the ideology of 'self-immolation' which he himself promoted and that his murder lead his followers to an uncontrollable escalation of violence. This is what the world fears. This is what Sharon is determined to ignore.  The so-called 'selective elimination' policy of Israel's government has been going on for some years now but, on Monday, it reached its maximum expression. According to Israel, in the long run this will deter youngsters from joining terrorism. But the selective murders of Palestinian leaders--in addition to being a method condemned by all leaders in the world, by international law and human rights organizations--haven't proved they stop terrorist attacks or violence. Instead, they've done completely the opposite....  The U.S.--submerged in the chaos of Iraq--stares at the Palestinian-Israeli powder keg. But inaction is dangerous because there's a new element we have to underscore. Hamas' number two man Rantisi said Washington allowed Israel to carry out Yassin's murder and that 'all Muslims around the world will have the honor to unite in retaliation for this crime.' At least until yesterday, unlike other radical groups, Hamas only extended its circle of violence to Israel and the Jewish colonies.  Rantisi's declaration may open the door to an even bloodier escalation, with broader goals, with alliances with international groups that count on an even larger power than Hamas. An additional piece of information: last night, a communiqué issued by a group of the Al Qaida network, Al Masri's brigades, called for revenge of the blind leader's death."


"Except Washington, World Condemns Yassin's Death"


Independent La Prensa editorialized (3/23):  "Headed by UN Secretary Annan and the EU, the unanimous international condemnation of the murder of spiritual leader Yassin had only one discordant voice: the U.S., which reminded everyone that the victim 'was personally involved in the design of terrorist attacks' and also made clear that the Jewish government hadn't anticipated their plans to eliminate the Hamas leader....  The silence of the Bush administration was briefly interrupted with the testimony of a State Department spokesman, who confessed he was 'deeply disturbed' by the growing tension in the region, and by a Republican official who said 'We're not a street light that gives a red or green wink to everybody else's actions.'"


BRAZIL:  "The Strategy Of Utter Darkness"


Luiz Weis averred in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (3/24):  "There is no doubt that the elimination of Yassin has inaugurated a new, utterly dark stage in the Middle East conflict. We must not expect that revenge for the selective murders will be restricted to the Middle East. The response to Sharon's state terrorism will not respect borders, will not make distinctions between Israeli Jews and those of other nationalities and will not be carried out exclusively by Palestinians....  Sharon has just given terror carried out in the name of Allah an incandescent reason to multiply its atrocities throughout the world."




Center-right O Globo contended (3/23):  "It’s unlikely that Sheik Ahmed Yassin’s death will have positive effects for peace in the Middle Eastern or that it may contribute to Israel’s security.  To Israelis he was a monstrous terrorist; to Palestinians, a symbol of resistance.  The premise that killing enemy leaders--cutting of Hydra's head--gets you anywhere is an illusion.  If History serves as a lesson, what usually takes place is exactly the opposite:  attacks are the starting point of conflicts, rather than the end....  It’s certain that Yassin’s post won’t remain empty for long....  And from vengeance to vengeance gets you precisely where Israelis and Palestinians are today.  Sheik Yassin has always denied he had any involvement in the planning of attacks on Israeli citizens.  He had the reputation of a moderate as claimed by the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, as he condemned the attack.  But whatever it may be, he had his hands dirty with the blood of innocents.  And the objective declared by the group he founded, the Hamas, is to destroy Israel, not only force it to leave occupied territories.  Therefore, none of this justifies the ordered act....  Similarily, there is no reason to imagine that killing Sharon or any high Israeli authority by some fanatic Palestinian would grant any progress in the Palestinian cause.  It’s difficult to see any victory for Israel in any sense with Sheik Yassin's death.”


"Gunpowder On The Fire"


Liberal Folha de S. Paulo declared (3/23):  "The murder of Sheik Ahmed Yassin by Israeli forces is equal to throwing gunpowder on a fire....  With its selective murder policy, Israel has already announced the elimination of several dozen members of Hamas' highest echelon....  One must recognize that two or three volunteers emerge to replace every assassinated leader. Each Israeli blow against Hamas has only increased the prestige of the terrorist group among the Palestinians. To go on in this direction seems to be a blind alley for Ariel Sharon....  Hamas' actions are hateful and must repudiated by the international community. Radicalization, however, only leads to more radicalization."


"Appalling Escalation Of Violence In The Middle East"


Business-oriented Valor Economico commented (3/23):  "The murder of Hamas' leader Ahmed Yassin by the Israeli government deepens the escalation of violence in the Middle East. Yassin's 'selective murder' ordered by Ariel Sharon indicates that radicals are leading actions in both sides and that the map of the future does not indicate a road to peace, but a massacre of both Palestinians and Israelis....  The U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have changed the scenario in the region with a visible political and military strengthening of Israel....  Under the umbrella of the U.S.-led fight against terror, Sharon has gained power to use the methods he wants against his enemies....  There is nothing on the horizon capable of stopping the bloody attacks by Islamic radical groups and the consequent and increasingly intense Israeli retaliations. Yassin's assassination has the potential of causing attacks never seen before against Israel....  The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has become a matter of world security and is at the root of the creation of radical groups that attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11 and Madrid on March 11....  The Bush administration's missionary rhetoric has only encouraged the Israeli government's radicalism. As a result, Washington has weakened the political fight against terrorism and favored open demonstrations of brute force, in addition to pushing the Middle East conflict into a blind alley."


"Terrorism Vs. Terrorism"


Clovis Rossi held in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (3/23):  "Regardless of how much one may understand the sentiments of Israeli victims of terrorist attacks, it is not possible to justify murder. That means accepting retaliations, which only cause more pain, more assassinations, more response to murders, more pain--an infernal cycle....  The Israeli government has used selective murders in an attempt to undermine a movement that developed as a result of the Palestinian government's demoralization, which was caused by the Sharon administration's demolition work. It is an eternal attempt to flee forward, instead of facing the fact that the Palestinians' terrorism results at least in part from the illegal occupation of their territories. But one must also recognize that in a world where the most powerful leaders, such as Bush and Blair, can lie in order to attack a nation, the rules seem to be no-holds-barred."  


CHILE:  "A Wrong Strategy"


Leading popular Santiago-based La Tercera asserted (3/23):  "Yassin’s murder is a victory for Sharon’s ‘hawks,’ but is a grave blow to the security of the Israeli people and the hope for peace in the region....  It is evident that Yassin, founder and spiritual leader of the terrorist organization Hamas, was not a force for peace in the region, but what did Israel gain by eliminating him?  Nothing.  It has made Yassin a martyr whose death is already igniting a dangerous escalation of violence in the region....  Why does Israel insist on selective murders when it has carried them out for decades to no avail? ... The policy only gives terrorist groups in the region justification and stirs things in other parts of the world.  Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself from attack, but has chosen a very risky path to do so.”


GUATEMALA:  “State Slaughter”


Afternoon-published left-of-center La Hora editorialized (3/22):  "The assassination...of the founder of Palestine’s radical group Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, perpetrated by Israel’s armed forces, constitutes an act which seriously compromises the fight against terrorism.  What Sharon’s government did was to sow the seeds of hatred, which will reap more violence against Israel and its allies.”



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