Sunday, March 21, 2004

I hope this is good news

The Israeli Government has killed Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, in an airstrike.

Witnesses said Israeli helicopters fired three missiles at the wheelchair-bound Yassin and two bodyguards as they left the mosque, killing them instantly.

A total of four people were killed and 12 were wounded in the attack, witnesses said.

Sheik Ahmed Yassin will never plan another suicide bombing. That's a good thing.

I do, however, have two major problems with this. One is the problem I always have when the Israeli Government carries out one of these airstrikes. I'd like to know who the other three people and twelve injured were. If the usual is true (and it may not be, if the other dead and injured turn out to be Hamas members or others of that ilk I will gladly retract this statement,) then they were probably innocent bystanders exiting a mosque. [**see update below**]

Let me put it this way. If the F.B.I. had dropped a bomb on Terry Nichols as he was exiting church along with the rest of his innocent congregation, killing three people and injuring twelve others, would that be considered justified?

Somehow, I think there might be a bit of an outcry. Especially if the dead or injured included children, as is so often the case in the Occupied Territories. What is the Israeli Government supposed to say to the mothers of these children? "Oh, I'm sorry, but the actions of someone your kid happened to be born in the same neighborhood as left us no choice but to kill them?" And what are they going to do to keep the older brothers and sisters of these dead kids turning to suicide bombings? They've already learned that life has no value!

My second problem with this is that this murderer is now a hero, a martyr in the eyes of many Palestinians. I don't expect this to put any kind of a halt to attacks on innocent Israelis (and I'm hoping to have to eat my words on this). Indeed, I wouldn't be surprised if it had the opposite effect, as Hamas attempts to take revenge.

And please, don't call me an anti-Semite. Just because I don't think certian factions of the Israeli Government should be allowed to do whatever they want doesn't mean I hate Jewish people. And nothing in the above post excuses suicide bombings, either.

Anyway, maybe I'm wrong about this and the dead and injured were not innocent and the death of this murderer will halt or at least slow down suicide attacks against Israel. I certianly hope so.

**UPDATE** Well, nevermind.

Among those killed were several of Yassin's bodyguards and his son-in-law. Seventeen people were wounded, including two of Yassin's sons.

I still believe my point is valid, though. Firing a missile into a non-military area is not exaclty the way a civilized nation goes about dealing with murderers. And this guy has defninitely turned into a martyr.

More than 200,000 Palestinians, some carrying billowing green Hamas flags, poured into the streets of Gaza City for Yassin's funeral procession, the largest gathering here in recent memory. Tens of thousands of furious Palestinians rallied across the West Bank.

Mourners in Gaza jostled to touch Yassin's flag-draped coffin, and women ululated and threw flowers and candy. Two Israeli helicopters flew above, and the sky was blackened from the smoke of burning tires.

I really, really hope this doesn't escalate.

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