Preemptive Revenge

Uh-oh. Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin ? along with four other terrorists ? was blown to smithereens by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter gunship on Monday. Now they're mad over at Hamas HQ. Who knows, they may even be angry enough to - oh, I don't know - send a suicide bomber into an Israeli city or something. Imagine that.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz,

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Uh-oh. Hamas leader Ahmad Yassin ? along with four other terrorists ? was blown to smithereens by a missile fired from an Israeli helicopter gunship on Monday. Now they're mad over at Hamas HQ. Who knows, they may even be angry enough to - oh, I don't know - send a suicide bomber into an Israeli city or something. Imagine that.

Security sources in Israel called Ahmad Yassin "the senior authority in the decision-making process for carrying out terrorist attacks, and was the main address in all matters concerning the determining the policy for terrorism?."

More succinctly, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz called him our local version of Bin Laden.

Another Hamas leader, English-speaking media favorite Abdel Aziz Rantisi, declared to the thousands of Gazan Arabs who poured into the streets when the death of Yassin became known: "War is henceforth open with these murderers, these criminals and these terrorists."

Of course, that's not really news. Hamas unambiguously declared war on the Jews through its Covenant, published in 1988: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." (Preamble)

How? "There is no solution for the Palestinian problem except by Jihad." (Article 13)

However, as the Covenant makes clear, it is not just Israel that is a problem for Hamas: "Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. 'May the cowards never sleep.'" (Article 28)

The Hamas Covenant also quotes a tradition recorded in an authoritative Islamic text (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Fitan wa Ashrat As-Sa'a, Ch. 16, No. 6985): "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'" (Article 7)

Rantisi said similar things just last year, after he himself survived an Israeli targeted strike: "By G-d we will not leave one Jew alive in Palestine." (Al-Jazeera satellite television, June 10, 2003).

Using loudspeakers at the gatherings in Gaza this week, Hamas rabble-rousers chanted: "Sheikh Ahmad Yassin rest in peace. They will never enjoy rest. We will send death to every house, every city, every street in Israel!"

And that will be different from prior to the arch-terrorist's early retirement how, exactly?

Hamas ? with Yassin at its head ? was responsible for the deaths of 377 Israelis in at least 425 terrorist attacks over the past three-and-a-half years of the Palestinian Authority's war against Israel. Among the most devastating attacks Hamas has claimed was their doing were: the Park Hotel Passover Massacre in Netanya (March 27, 2002; 29 killed, including six husband-and-wife couples); a suicide bombing of the no. 2 bus from the Western Wall (Aug. 19, 2003; 23 killed, including three children and two babies); a suicide bombing at the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv (June 1, 2001; 22 killed, mostly teens); a suicide bombing of Sbarro's Pizzeria in Jerusalem (Aug. 9, 2001; 15 killed, including the parents and three children of one family); a suicide bombing of the Matza restaurant in Haifa (March 31, 2002; 15 killed, including two sets of a father and two children), etc., etc.

"Every house, every city, every street" in Israel has already been affected in some way ? many irreversibly so.

But that's not all. The last attack for which Yassin could be held responsible, the one that galvanized the Israeli cabinet to undertake a deep military offensive against Hamas, could have led to the deaths of hundreds.

Two suicide bombers infiltrated the Ashdod port on March 14 and detonated themselves, killing ten people. However, according to officials of the Environment Ministry, of the Port Authority and of the defense establishment, the entire area, for several miles in every direction, could have ended up engulfed in a "dirty bomb" cloud had the terrorists succeeded in getting closer than they did to the hundreds of tons of bromide, fuel and ammonia stored in tanks at the port.

Was that attack ? designed to kill hundreds, at least ? preemptive revenge for the death of Ahmed Yassin one week later?

Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likes to call such things as the Arab threats of "revenge" for the Yassin assassination "reversal of causality". It is a common feature of Arab propaganda efforts on every front in our bitter conflict.

Another feature of Arab PR is lionizing men such as Yassin, no matter how bloody and craven they are. The Palestinian Authority ? that body that is supposed to fight terrorism and negotiate peace with Israel, remember? ? declared three days of mourning for the slain Hamas leader.

More disturbing, however, is that Arab citizens of Israel also declared a day of mourning for Ahmad Yassin. Political parties with representatives in Israel's parliament ? the pan-Arab Balad and the communist Hadash parties ? held mourning rallies in Arab towns on Monday night.

In the wake of the Yassin assassination, there have been stepped up opportunistic stabbing, stoning, shelling and shooting attacks, security forces are on high alert and Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon ? calling themselves the Martyr Yassin Brigades ? have shelled IDF positions along the northern border. However, all of that is, sadly, not terribly unusual in this neighborhood. In fact, it bears noting that Hizbullah did not attempt to shell Israeli civilian centers, something clearly in its capabilities. Might that be because Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah is now concerned for his personal safety? Perhaps.

One thing is certain. PLO leader Yasser Arafat's people are tightening security around their boss in Ramallah.

[A modified version of the above article appeared on National Review Online on March 23.]




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