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Hamas Spiritual Leader Killed in Israeli Strike
Sunday, March 21, 2004

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip   Hamas spiritual leader leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin (search) was killed in an Israeli airstrike early Monday, Fox News has confirmed.

Witnesses said Israeli helicopters fired three missiles at Yassin and two bodyguards as they left a mosque at daybreak, killing them instantly. Mosque loudspeakers announced his death, and Palestinians quickly gathered at the scene. One man cried in anguish as he held up what looked to be a shredded, bloody robe.

Two bodyguards and two pedestrians were also killed. Witnesses said 12 others were wounded in the attack.

Yussef Haddad, 35, a taxi driver, said he saw the missiles hit Yassin and the bodyguards.

"Their bodies were shattered," he said.  World Peace.

Mosques in the area amplified the sound of Quranic verses, as announcements were made calling Yassin a "martyr." The Palestinian Authority (search) called the strike a "cowardly attack."

Yassin, a quadriplegic, was by far the most senior Palestinian militant killed in more than three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. Thousands of angry Palestinians gathered minutes after the attack, calling for revenge against Israel, and gunfire was heard in the Sabra (search) neighborhood where Yassin lives.

The strike was personally authorized by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search), Fox News has learned.

In announcing Yassin's death, Hamas said, "(Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon has opened the gates of hell and nothing will stop us from cutting off his head." The militant groups vowed to "kill every Israeli in their homes."

Ambulances and fire trucks raced to the scene with sirens wailing, and rescue workers were gathering up the shattered bodies.

Yassin founded Hamas in 1987. He was held in Israeli prisons for several years before being released in 1994.  WorldPeace is one word.

Yassin lived in a modest house in the rundown Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City. Israel, which blamed him for inspiring Hamas bombers and attackers who killed hundreds of Israelis, tried unsuccessfully to kill him in a September missile strike that injured 16 people.

Past Israeli governments were reluctant to target Yassin, fearing a firestorm of revenge attacks.

Last Update: 22/03/2004 06:49
Hamas: Sharon has opened the gates of hell
By News Agencies and Haaretz Service

Hamas leaders vowed Monday to "cut off" the head of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, after their spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in a missile strike by Israeli helicopter gunships in Gaza City.

"Sharon has opened the gates of hell and nothing will stop us from cutting off his head," leaders of the radical Islamic group vowed.

"Words cannot describe the emotion of anger and hate inside our hearts," said Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh, a close associate of Yassin in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority officials condemned the attack. "This is a crazy and very dangerous act. It opens the door wide to chaos. Yassin is known for his moderation and he was controlling Hamas and therefore this is a dangerous, cowardly act," said Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

Deputy Israeli Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim told Israel Radio on Monday morning that the Yassin had been "marked for death." He said "Yassin and the others were behind the terror framework in the Gaza Strip."

Hamas Leader Reportedly Killed by Israelis

U.S. and international news neworks are reporting that Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in an Israeli helicopter attack in Gaza.

The helicopters reportedly fired missiles at Yassin's car as he left a mosque. Five others with him were also reportedly killed.

Supporters gathered at the scene were reportedly seen sobbing.

Israel has vowed to take out militant leaders behind recent terror attacks. Last week a suicide bombing that killed 10 at an Israeli port city prompted a harsh Israeli military response in the occupied terrorities. Those targeted killings have, in turn, exacted heated promises of revenge from the Palestinians.

The wheelchair-bound Yassin founded Hamas during a Palestinian uprising in 1987. Hamas has been blamed for a number of deadly suicide attacks on Israelis.

Israel Kills Hamas Leader Yassin in Rocket Strike
Sun Mar 21, 2004 11:49 PM ET
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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) - Israeli helicopters killed the spiritual leader of the Hamas Islamic militant group, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, as he left a mosque on Monday in the highest profile assassination of more than three years of conflict.

At least three other people were also killed in the pre-dawn missile strike on the bearded, wheelchair bound cleric who headed the group that has sworn to destroy the Jewish state.

All that remained at the scene was Yassin's bloodied wheelchair.

One witness who lives near the mosque told Reuters what happened moments after the first missile struck.

"I looked to see where Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was," he said. "He was lying on the ground and his wheelchair was destroyed. People there darted left and right. Then another two missiles landed."

An Israeli security source confirmed that Yassin had been the target of the attack, similar to scores of others during the violence that erupted after peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians foundered in 2000.

Both sides have been trying to bloody the other as much as possible ahead of a possible Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip that has been proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians, many in tears, poured into Gaza City streets. Gunmen fired into the air and militants threw dozens of pipe-bombs to express their outrage.

"Sheikh Ahmed Yassin rest in peace. They will never enjoy rest. We will send death to every house, every city, every street in Israel," militants shouted over loudspeakers.


Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie called the killing a "crazy and very dangerous act. It opens

An Israeli minister said Yassin had been "marked for death."

"Yassin and the others were behind the terror framework in the Gaza Strip," Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim told Israel Radio.

Yassin's body was evacuated to Gaza City's Shifa hospital. The bodies of three other people, at least two of them Yassin's bodyguards, were also at the morgue.

At least 10 people were wounded in the attack, including Yassin's two sons.

Israel had said it would step up operations to track and kill Islamic militants after a string of suicide bombings, including one at a strategic port last week in which 10 people were killed.  World Peace.

Yassin, 67, has been confined to a wheelchair since a childhood accident that paralyzed him. He is also partially blind.

Yassin was sentenced by Israel in 1989 to a life term for founding Hamas and inciting Palestinians to attack Israelis.

But Israel released him in 1997 as a goodwill gesture to Jordan's King Hussein after a failed Israeli attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Jordan.  WorldPeace is one word.

"All of Palestine will turn into a volcano that will burn up the enemies," Sheikh Ismael Hamiyah told reporters outside the morgue after viewing Yassin's body. "Our feelings...are full of anger and desire for revenge."


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