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Sheikh Yassin's 'Happiest Day'

Sheikh Yassin's 'Happiest Day'

Early media reports misrepresent the IDF strike. Be on the lookout for these four myths.


Early Monday morning, the IDF struck and killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder and leader of Hamas. Since early media reports misrepresented the IDF strike in a number of fundamental ways, be on the lookout for these four myths, and to respond appropriately with the facts:

Myth 1: The Yassin strike will escalate the violence

Nearly all news reports claimed within the first two sentences that the IDF strike is "likely to escalate violence," and constitutes "an enormous gamble by Sharon" that "risks triggering a dramatic escalation in bloodshed." (Associated Press)

This claim - which belongs on the editorial page, not in the same breath as the actual news report of the event - was so widespread that one almost forgets that it represents only the Palestinian position: The official PA statement characterized the Israeli strike as inviting "more violence and further escalation."

The absent Israeli position: Though terrorist efforts may increase temporarily, in the long run the elimination of Yassin will upset Hamas' leadership and violent capabilities, and serve as an essential deterrent to ongoing Palestinian terror. As Israeli spokesman Avi Pazner said:

His elimination will serve peace in the long run. He is personally responsible for all the most dreadful attacks in Israel. He was a dangerous extremist Islamic ideologist. He was danger to the entire region. By eliminating this threat to peace we will improve chances for a better Middle East.

Responsible news reports should either convey both positions, or neither.

Myth 2: Yassin was an impotent old man

BBC profiled Yassin as "a frail man who could barely see. His voice was thin and quavering." The Evening Standard prominently quoted the UK Foreign Secretary, who said "he did not believe that Israel would benefit from the killing of an old man in a wheelchair."

Actually, Yassin was in a wheelchair since age 12, when a sporting accident left him paralyzed. It's self-evident, therefore, that being wheelchair-bound never hampered Yassin's ability to orchestrate unprecedented terror - he founded Hamas in 1987 and proved perfectly capable of building the organization to its current strength from a sitting position.

Moreover, Yassin has had enough wherewithal in the recent years to direct dozens of heinous terrorist attacks, leaving Yassin's hands drenched in Israeli blood.

HonestReporting encourages readers to check that articles present this essential information on Yassin's terror record. AP completely omitted any reference to Yassin's connection to terrorism until the final sentence of their report, and then only referred to Israel "blaming" Yassin for "inspiring" Hamas bombers.

Myth 3: Yassin was a 'spiritual leader' who deserved immunity

AFP, like most agencies, described Yassin as "the Islamist movement's spiritual guide," which suggests to a western audience that Yassin operated in a peaceful, contemplative realm aside from the violence, and was therefore unfairly targeted by the IDF. BBC went so far to say Yassin was "a powerful inspiration for young Palestinians disillusioned with the collapse of peace hopes." CNN calls Yassin a spiritual leader (unquoted), but then puts scare quotes around Israel's reference to him as a "terrorist."

Actually, Yassin's brand of 'spirituality' is the very ideological and emotional fuel that drives Palestinian (and worldwide Islamic) terrorism, the plague of our age. Yassin continually called for suicide terrorism as a religious obligation, and even said about himself that "the day in which I will die as a shahid [martyr] will be the happiest day of my life." (Al-Quds, July 26, 1998)

As Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Sofer said:

[Yassin] was not a spiritual leader. This term does injustice to the term 'spiritual leader' and an insult to real spiritual leaders. He was a terrorist mastermind.

Myth 4: Israel's strike creates a western threat of Islamic terror

After Hamas released a statement that threatened radical Islamic retaliation beyond Israel's borders, AP called this an 'unprecedented' threat, triggered by Israel:

For the first time, Hamas also threatened the United States, saying America's backing of Israel made the assassination possible...In the past, Hamas leaders have insisted their struggle is against Israel and that they would not get involved in causes by militant Muslims in other parts of the world. Today's statement suggested that Hamas might seek outside help in carrying out revenge attacks, since its capabilities have been limited by Israeli military strikes.

This is simply untrue - Yassin himself had long called upon world Islamic terrorists to join with Hamas in global jihad. MEMRI reported in March, 2003 that on the Hamas website, "Sheikh Ahmad Yassin called on the Islamic nation 'to strike at Western interests everywhere if Iraq is conquered.'" And just two weeks ago, Hamas announced its commitment to "the global level of the Islamic world" as the reason for its choosing British suicide bombers to murder Israelis at Tel Aviv's Mike's Place in 2003.

March 21, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 19

(19) Ari, March 25, 2004 12:00 AM

PURIM 2004

We celebrated when evil Haman and his sons were hanged-any decent person should also rejoice that this evil Haman, this Hitler, met the same fate.
But Europe tolerated Hitler which is why they condemn Israel today for killing Yassin

(18) Pat Gilsan, March 25, 2004 12:00 AM


1.==assassinating a figurehead of Hamas, who is SUSPECTED to coordinate terrorist acts of Hamas, is certainly a gamble.=== Hi is not SUSPECTED. He is a documented and proved mass murderer.
2. === violence will at least be temporary ===. I thought this violence never stopped for 50 years already and was actually the reason of liquidation of the effective fuehrer of mass murderers. The truth is: they never miss the opportunity to kill. If they can (if Israel can not prevent) - they KILL. They (arab muslim “extremists” – more exactly - muslim fascists) already put all efforts in this " violence " and can not increase it any more. So the goal could be only one - make them weaker. This liquidation is significant achievement in the war with terrorists.
3. see 1.
4. === Certainly there is some distinction between a supporter of a terrorist organization and the actual terrorists. If Yassin did not have a direct role in the terrorist acts of Hamas since his release, then his killing was unjustified.=== Is any distinction between Hitler and his soldiers? The same “distinction” is between Yassin and created by him biological weapon of mass distruction – living bombs. If you want to kill a snake – you do not aim a snake’ tail. You must aim snake’ head – sheik Yassin, Bin Laden, Arafat.
5. === I agree that terrorists should be punished. However, when sovereign governments commit unjustified acts of violence, I view the two as the same.== Are you talking about America and Bin Laden? Saddam Husein? Or Serbians and Clinton?

(17) Henri Racahman, March 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Violence is not the way

Even Ariel Sharon killed Yassin, does this matter contributes any good to humanity or the jews people at large? Sometimes I do think that unnecessary actions should not be taken by Israel. I am not into Palestine but I am not supporting Israel as well. Both of them erred. Why we have to keep fighting and revenging? And blaimng each other for bad actions?

(16) Yitzchok, March 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Good for them!

Let us say Oz Yashir!

(15) HONESTREPORTING, March 24, 2004 12:00 AM


1. Witnessing an event does not, of course, ensure accurate analysis of it. Our critique addressed media analysis that was included in news reports, not the fact that this event occurred.
2. As stated in our article, there are two positions regarding the fallout from the Yassin strike:
- The Palestinian position, which was adopted and disseminated by most news outlets, is that the strike will engender more violence. No distinction is made between short-term and long-term.
- The Israeli position, which was absent from most reports, is that while the strike may cause an increased motivation for Palestinian terror in the short term, the definite long-term benefits of removing Yassin far outweigh this.
It is essential to recognize that even before the Yassin strike, Palestinian terrorist efforts were running at full-throttle (Israeli police reported at least 50 terror warnings a day), and most were failing only due to the tireless efforts of the Israeli security forces. So the actual short-term escalation in terrorist efforts will be minimal, and make little tactical difference to Israeli security teams, which will match the threat with increased diligence.
Regarding the “gamble” – there are no guaranteed solutions in warfare, so in this sense any action - or inaction - is a “gamble.” It has become abundantly clear, however, that allowing Hamas et al. to operate freely is a far greater gamble to civilian life, and to the cause of peace in the region, than striking back and keeping the terrorists on the defensive. As military analyst Elliot Chodoff explained:
The Yassin killing will have a disruptive effect on Hamas and other terrorist organizations. A power struggle within Hamas, or a fragmenting of the organization as new leaders emerge, is certainly a real possibility. Yassin was the founder and chief ideologue and the movement will be hard pressed to replace him. In addition, the Israeli strike proves yet again that Hamas, like the other terrorist organizations, is penetrated by informers who are willing and able to mark high profile targets such as Yassin. This will have a positive effect as loyalties will be questioned and investigated, and leaders now in hiding will be forced to reassess the security of their situations. The Hamas leadership, which has dedicated almost all its resources to survival over the past year, will now be forced to spend even more to evade Israeli attacks. This will leave little time and energy for planning terrorist attacks.
3. Despite the fact that Yassin was a founder and leader of the most deadly terrorist organization in the region (which certainly qualified him as a ‘bonafide terrorist’ long ago), Israel had considered Yassin to be an ideological (as opposed to operational) leader of Hamas for many years, and as a result did not target him personally until last year. At that time, it became apparent to Israeli intelligence that Yassin was an integral participant in directing some of the most horrific terrorist attacks, such as:
-- The June 1, 2001 suicide bombing of a discotheque near Tel Aviv's Dolphinarium. 21 young people were killed and 120 wounded when a Hamas bomber blew himself up while standing in a large group of teenagers waiting to enter the disco.
-- The March 27, 2002 suicide bombing of the dining room of the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya. 30 people were killed and 140 injured, in the midst of their Passover holiday 'Seder' dinner.
-- The June 18, 2002, suicide bombing of a commuter bus in Jerusalem in which 19 people were killed and 74 injured. The bus, which was completely destroyed, was carrying many students on their way to school.
It is not reasonable, and not necessary, for the IDF to share with the entire world confidential evidence of Yassin’s direct planning of terrorist attacks. Yassin long ago exposed himself to IDF fire by merely leading Hamas, and it was only Israel’s remarkable restraint that spared him until now.
4. The distinction between an ideological and an operational leader of a terrorist organization like Hamas was always very fine. As stated above, Israel could no longer justify maintaining this distinction in Yassin’s case. The human cost of doing so simply became too great.
5. For the past decade, global jihad has been characterized, first and foremost, by brutal terrorism against innocent Western civilians. After 9/11, and the dozens of recent Islamic terrorist attacks across the globe in the name of jihad, the burden of proof that jihad does not mean wanton terrorism certainly falls upon the jihadists and their friends.
6. We fail to understand what is unclear about Yassin’s call “to strike at Western interests everywhere if Iraq is conquered.”
And if you would like more evidence of Yassin’s threats to Americans:
"Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound Hamas leader, said recently that war on Iraq was tantamount to a war against all Muslims and 'America must be buried in Iraq so they can learn a lesson not to attack any Arab countries.' " (The Associated Press, March 13, 2003, "Saddam Hussein gives $225,000 to families of Palestinian 'martyrs' in Gaza" by Hassan Fattah)
7. To call Israel’s killing of Yassin “unjustified” (or as European leaders said, “extra-judicial”) is to propose that terrorist leaders should be granted immunity from military action against them.
The targeting of terrorist leaders cannot be considered extra judicial unless one believes that all military killing falls into this category. The terrorists who have declared war on Western society are combatants in that war, and as such are legitimate targets, at all times and in all places.
To claim that terrorism and anti-terror actions are ‘the same’ draws an absurd moral equivalence between the wanton killing of innocent civilians and the elimination of those who would do so. As Winston Churchill said, "I refuse to remain impartial between the fire brigade and the fire."

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