The killing of Hamas leader and practicing terrorist Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was not an "assassination," as it was described in most press reports, nor an "unlawful killing," as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw incorrectly labeled it. Rather, it was an act of self-defense in the midst of war and as such was fully justified.
Brig. Gen. Ruth Yaron, the spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), said Yassin "is the man who perfected the art of death by sending human bombs into the streets, into schools and killing children. For us Israelis, Ahmed Yassin was the embodiment of terror."
According to Israeli security sources, since September, 2000, when the current terrorist conflict began inside Israel, the Hamas organization has been responsible for carrying out 425 attacks, resulting in the death of 377 people and the wounding of 2,076 Israeli citizens and soldiers. These include 52 homicide attacks, killing 288 Israelis and injuring 1,646. Isn't it defensible, and shouldn't it be expected, that the leader of these attacks must himself be a prime target for elimination?
European political leaders promptly and predictably condemned the killing of Yassin with far more fervor than they have mustered for Israelis killed on his orders. They continue to engage in the fantasy that this will somehow make peace more difficult, as if there is a correlation between the behavior of Israel and that of her enemies. In fact, Yassin himself revealed the ultimate objective of his and virtually every other anti-Israeli force and government in the region when he recently told Fox News Channel's Jennifer Griffin, "All Israel from the Jordan to the Mediterranean is Islamic land. I issued a fatwa (Islamic religious edict) to resist Americans in Iraq. (It is) legal and right to fight the Americans."
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Israel is "doomed to extinction" because of Yassin's killing. In a March 22 message to his nation, Khamenei said, "Those criminals who have usurped the land of Palestine must know that their stupid display of power is a great testimony to their weakness and defeat. The Zionist regime is a usurper regime, and its government is an artificial government. They are doomed to extinction. Palestine belongs to the Palestinian nation and obduracy in the face of this inalienable right will result in nothing but failure and defeat."
Does there appear to be any diplomatic "wiggle room" in these statements? Any hint of compromise? Any desire to coexist in peace with Israel?
The media are playing their familiar role. The Associated Press said the strike by the Israeli Defense Forces is "likely to escalate violence" and constituted "an enormous gamble by (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon" that "risks triggering a dramatic escalation in bloodshed." Notice that Hamas attacks never risk an escalation in bloodshed, even though such attacks cause the shedding of blood. The AP offered an opinion in the place of reporting the news.
The media portrayed Yassin as nearly blind and in a wheelchair, not reporting that a sports accident at age 12 left him paralyzed and that his mind was clear enough to plan terrorist bombings while seated.
Numerous networks and newspapers call Yassin a "spiritual leader," though he frequently called for suicide terrorism as a religious obligation. What kind of credible religion exults in the death and dismemberment of children?
The biggest myth of all, often promoted by the media, is that Israel's strike makes the West a more likely target. Where have they been for the past decade? Have they forgotten Sept. 11, as well as other attacks on Western targets before and since?
The Bush administration properly noted that Israel has a right to defend itself, but White House spokesman Scott McClellan added the usual mumbo-jumbo about all parties needing to demonstrate "restraint." When have terrorists ever exercised restraint? All anti-terrorist parties should be going after these killers and liquidating them.
By taking out Yassin, Israel removed one of many heads from the terrorist hydra. Instead of recoiling in the face of criticism from the usual sources, Israel, the United States and those not suffering from spinelessness should take out as many of the rest of them as can be found and targeted.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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