Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in Gaza Thursday that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's comatose condition is "a sign from Allah" and punishment for Sharon's ordering the 2004 elimination of former Hamas leader and co-founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sharon remains hospitalized after suffering a massive stroke more than two years ago.
"The man is not dead or alive, and the leaders following him who are trying to make Hamas disappear will disappear themselves and Hamas will prevail," Haniyeh declared. He added, "Whoever replaces [Prime Minister Ehud Olmert] will also disappear but we will continue to exist."
Sharon once described Yassin as "one of Israel's greatest enemies...and the greatest arch-murderer of Palestinian terrorism" who sought to "kill Jews everywhere and eliminate... Israel.' While Yassin was being wheeled out of an early morning prayer session on March 22, 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship fired Hellfire missiles at him and both of his bodyguards. They were killed instantly.
Following the elimination of Yassin, Sharon congratulated the IDF in a live broadcast in which he said, "The war against terrorism is not over and will continue every day and everywhere."
The former Prime Minister suffered a mild stroke in October 2005, and three months later, the night before a scheduled catheterization, he suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Ehud Olmert, who was his deputy at the time, took over the government temporarily when Sharon was officially deemed to be incapacitated until elections were held the following March.
Sharon is hospitalized in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, and doctors have said there is virtually no chance of his waking up from his coma.