Hamas Warns of Assassinations
M. Junaid Alam
redjaguar at attbi.com
Tue Mar 11 00:54:08 MST 2003
I wonder what splits will open up now that the PA has become more and
more desperate in its submission to Washington while Hamas owns the
Palestinian street. I also wonder what the fuck happened to the Left in
that area and in that region in general.
Restraint is dead, warns Hamas
Assassination in Gaza sparks threats against Israeli cabinet
Chris McGreal in Gaza
Monday March 10, 2003
Hamas has accused Israel of launching a strategy to assassinate
Palestinian leaders who oppose Ariel Sharon's plans to impose an
emasculated form of independence on the occupied territories.
The militant Islamist organisation described the Israeli helicopter
rocket attack that killed one of its co-founders, Ibrahim Makadme, in
Gaza on Saturday as a marked shift towards the targeting of its
political leaders. Hamas said it would retaliate directly against Mr
Sharon, his cabinet and government officials.
"This opens new doors," said Mahmoud Zahar, a senior leader of Hamas's
political wing. "All Israeli officials have fixed addresses. We will hit
them in their homes, offices, cars. We are going to respond according to
the proverb: an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose."
The Israeli army described Makadme as a "terror policy maker" and a
"central figure who instigated, directed and approved the Hamas military
operations" for 20 years.
Hamas denies it, saying that Makadme was one of its principal political
strategists. But, at the very least, he was a bridge between the two
wings of the organisation.
What was not in doubt among the tens of thousands of people who followed
Makadme's funeral cortege through Gaza is that the assassination has
stung Hamas and that it views the Israelis as having crossed a
The two sides have maintained an informal but unacknowledged agreement
through most of the past two years of intifada in which the Israelis did
not touch the Hamas political leadership and Hamas limited its attacks
on Israeli civilians inside the 1967 borders. Yasser Arafat and the
Egyptian government pressed Hamas without success to formalise the
arrangement as a "ceasefire".
The first hint of an end to the de facto immunity came last week when
Israeli troops arrested another of the organisation's co-founders,
Mohammed Taha, during an army raid on Gaza's El-Bureij refugee camp.
Three of Mr Taha's sons were also detained and eight other Palestinians
That raid followed weeks of relative peace in Israel but which saw a
surge in bloodshed in the occupied territories with dozens of Hamas,
Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Brigade commanders killed in army raids, as
well as many civilians. Hamas fought back with a bomb attack on a tank
in Gaza that killed four Israeli soldiers.
While no civilians were killed inside Israel last month, more than 80
Palestinians died at the hands of the army, including at least a dozen
children. The bloodshed returned to Israel proper last week with a Hamas
suicide bombing on a Haifa bus that killed 16 people.
Hamas officials say that as Makadme lived openly, working as a dentist
in the Islamic University's clinical department, the decision to kill
him must have been a political, not a military one.
Yesterday, Israel's hawkish defence minister, General Shaul Mofaz,
confirmed that the government and army no longer drew a distinction
between Hamas's political and military leaders. "None of the terrorist
leaders, with emphasis on Hamas leaders, is immune. Anyone who
encourages terrorism, dispatches terrorism or is involved in terrorism
will be hit," he said.
"Hamas, especially in Gaza, has become an unrestrained monster of
terrorism, and there is a fear that it will keep getting stronger and
control everything done in the Gaza Strip."
At a memorial service at the Islamic University yesterday, Hamas leaders
spoke of a strategy to dispose of its political leadership because it
refused to be drawn into Israel's attempts to impose an emasculated
Palestinian state on the occupied territories.
A leader of Hamas's military wing, Abu Sabbah, noted that Mr Sharon and
Gen Mofaz yesterday praised the nomination of Yasser Arafat's deputy,
Mahmoud Abbas, to be Palestinian prime minister.
The Israelis favour Mr Abbas because he has consistently condemned
attacks on Israeli civilians and is thought likely to bring an early end
to the intifada.
But Abu Sabbah said Mr Abbas's appeal to the Israelis was that he is
pliable and likely to agree to a Palestinian state on almost any terms.
"Now the Israelis think that they can impose peace terms on the
Palestinians and they are removing those who will reject it," he said.
"Now we see [Mahmoud Abbas] as prime minister, the man the Israelis
want. Why do they want him? Because he will do what they want. But to
make that possible they have to remove those of us who will fight
against this betrayal. That is why they killed Makadme."
Abu Sabbah said that following the killing, the Hamas leadership had not
so much switched policy with its threat to target Mr Sharon and other
government officials as lifted the restraints.
"Hamas didn't change its policy. The military wing has always put on the
table that we should target Sharon and his terrorist cabinet but the
political leadership demanded restraint. From today the military wing
has a free hand. We can go after who we like," he said.
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