GAZA CITY ø Israel has assassinated the new leader of Hamas after intelligence reports pinpointed his location.
An Israeli AH-64A Apache helicopter fired at least two missiles toward a
vehicle that contained Hamas leader Abdul Aziz Rantisi. Rantisi, 57, and his
two bodyguards were killed and his son was injured in the Israeli strike on
"This was an operation that involved both Humint and Sigint," Knesset
member Danny Yatom, a former Mossad director, said. "There's no question
that there was an intelligence network that provided an alert the minute he
[Rantisi] made a mistake."
Israeli officials said authorities have been on high alert for Hamas
retaliation since the assassination of Yassin, Middle East Newsline reported. They said authorities were
bracing for simultaneous suicide bombing attacks on several Israeli civilian
It was the second time in less than a month that Israel killed a Hamas
leader. The first assassination was that of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin on
Rantisi, who survived an Israeli attack in June 2003, was said to have
shared leadership of Hamas with Khaled Masha'al, chief of the political
bureau and based in Damascus. Masha'al, himself, survived an Israeli
assassination attempt in 1997 in Amman, Jordan.
"They have chosen a successor to the martyr Abdul Aziz Rantisi,"
Masha'al said. "But they will not publicize his name. They will not
publicize his name. They will not publicize his name."
[In Washington, the State Department termed Hamas a terrorist group, but
urged Israel to consider the consequences of its actions. The department
reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself.]
Prospective Hamas caretakers were said to include Rantisi's deputy,
Mahmoud A-Zahar, as well as Ismail Haniya and Said Sayam. Hamas sources said
the movement's military chief, Mohammed Deif, would be brought into the
"We have alerted all of our combat cells until the 100 revenge attacks,
which will shake the criminal entity [Israel], are completed," Hamas's
Izzedin Kassam said in a statement.
On early Sunday, a Palestinian insurgent infiltrated the Israeli
community of Netsarim, south of Gaza City. Earlier, a Palestinian insurgent
blew himself up at the Erez border terminal in the northern Gaza Strip,
killing an Israeli police officer and injuring three others.