U reacts to Sheikh Yassin’s death

The founder of Hamas was killed in a missile strike that was authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and carried out by the Israeli military in U.S. Apache helicopters Monday.

Three missiles fell on a vehicle killing Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, two bodyguards, one bystander and injuring 13 others, including two of Yassin’s sons.

Sheikh Yassin’s 70-year-old quadriplegic figure was somewhat misleading, hiding his capability and immediacy in influencing the social and political status of the Middle East.

Israel has faced additional criticism due to Yassin’s disability and frail nature, but some say it was a minor detail.

Rabbi Yossi Mandel, a program director with Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, says he believes preventing further murders should be done by any means necessary.

“[Yassin] may have been bound to a wheelchair, but the words that came out still encouraged terrorism,” Mandel said. “It’s unfortunate that lives have become so cheap that we can politicize taking out the master terrorist.”

In the eyes of supporters, however, Yassin was a spiritual leader-a view re-enforced by the fact that he was assassinated on his way home from dawn prayers at a mosque.

U student Anwar Arafat met Sheikh Yassin a few times in the past and said that he was a holy man.

“He can barely talk, but just his presence is so spiritually uplifting,” Arafat said. “He didn’t have anything to do with the military aspect at all-I know that for sure. Hamas political leaders don’t even know the military leaders. They’re two separate entities.”

Through the lens of onlooking outsiders, however, Yassin was one of the most severe threats to the already meager prospects of a prosperous existence on Israeli and Palestinian soil.

“It’s the death of a terrorist and a cause for rejoicing to any humane person,” Mandel said.

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice responded to the murder of Yassin on NBC’s “Today” Monday saying, “Sheikh Yassin has himself, personally we believe, been involved in terrorist planning.”

Israel says Yassin masterminded scores of suicide bombings that have killed a total of 377 people. Israelis and ministers have described him as the Palestinian Osama bin Laden, “his hands tainted with the blood of hundreds of Israelis, children, women and babies,” according to the BBC.

The organization he established has become notorious for carrying out resistance attacks against Israel and has been put in the same class as organizations such as Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad and the Martyrs Brigade by many.

Hamas literally means “zeal,” but is also an Arabic acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have heightened since the incident, and prospects for peace seem to be growing even more slim.

“It’s just a cycle. You never know what’s going to happen,” U political science professor Hakan Yavuz said.

Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi was chosen to be the new leader of Hamas in Gaza Tuesday.

Al-Rantisi declared to thousands of mourners, who were gathered in a Gaza soccer stadium, that Israelis “will not knowsecurity.”

“We will hit them everywhere. We will chase them everywhere. We will teach them lessons in confrontation,” he said.

Hamas supporters responded with a steady chant: “We will sacrifice our blood and souls for you.”

Israel has not backed down in light of the threats, nor have they wasted any time in issuing their fair share of warnings against Hamas.

Israeli leaders have threatened to kill the entire Hamas leadership and implied that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat could join the hit list in the future.

“They say when Sharon signed off on killing Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, he signed off on killing hundreds of more Palestinians and Israelis,” U student Anwar Arafat said. “I definitely think it will cause more death.”

Mandel disagrees.

“You can’t further tensions when one side desires to kill every single Jew, which Hamas and the PLO have called for,” he said.

The Bush administration has expressed shifting views regarding the murder of Yassin.

Shortly after Rice’s initial comments on the “Today” show condemning Yassin as a terrorist, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “We are deeply troubled by this morning’s incident in Gaza.”

State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher added, “I think if you ask the Israelis, you’ll find that they take these actions with full knowledge of the United States’ positions, including our concern about some of these actions, our position on actions that have been taken in the past, but also knowing that we do not approve of actions like this.”

Mandel says he believes the situation is an Israeli internal affair and that the United States should stay out of it.

“It is Israel’s policy to hunt down terrorists,” Mandel said.

“As the number of terrorists decreases, the violence will go down as well.”

Anwar disagrees.

He says there is a difference between what the United States is doing and what it should be doing.

“[Israel] had already tried to assassinate [Yassin] in September, so there’s no doubt in my mind that America knew something was going on. America should take a firmer stance and not support Israeli occupation.”

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