March 25, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 92  

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Turmoil over Israel’s Yassin assassination

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

Israel’s assassination Monday of Sheik Yassin, the leader of the terrorist group Hamas, drew an international rebuke from Canada, the United States and the European Union for jeopardizing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — but others maintain Yassin’s death was necessary and justified.

“I can understand [Israel’s] reasoning for doing it but I don’t agree with it,” said Paul Rowe, a lecturer of political science at Western. “I think it’s quite counter-productive and doesn’t affect peace.”

Rowe said the assassination was a political and tactical move to, in part, drum up public support for the Israeli government led by Ariel Sharon, which is facing domestic anger over its plan to pull army troops out of the Gaza Strip, a region heavily populated with Palestinians. “It’s quite clear that Israelis are quite supportive of it,” he said of Yassin’s death.

According to Rowe, Hamas’ newly elected leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, should expect a similar fate. “He’s going to have to watch his back,” he said, but added he sees no short or long-term Israeli strategy inherent in their practice of assassinations.

King’s College political science professor Tozun Bahcheli said Israel was “absolutely not legally justified” in killing Yassin since he was not subject to any due process. “Israel had the option of apprehending him,” he said. “It’s another blow to the peace process.”

As for Rantisi, Bahcheli said he is seen as a hardliner and will fully commit himself to Hamas’ stated goal of destroying Israel. “Hamas is not going to go away,” he said. “We can expect some retribution attacks.”

But a professor of international relations at the University of Toronto said defining a Hamas follower as “hard-line” is nonsensical. “There are no moderates in Hamas,” said Aurel Braun. “It’s a distinction without a difference.”

Braun said there was both a legal and moral justification for Israel to kill Yassin, given that he showed utter contempt for international law by leading a terrorist organization that is “nihilistic [and] celebrates death.

“In such circumstances, by most notions of justice, [the assassination] is justified,” he added. “Every leader of a nation has a duty to protect their own people,” he said of Sharon.

If anything, international condemnation has irresponsibly made it seem the assassination was not necessary, Braun said. “We have sent the wrong kind of signal which might have made the situation worse.

“What we’re looking at is a leader very much like Osama Bin Laden,” Braun said of Yassin. “In the end, the man who symbolized a most extreme hatred of a people has been brought to justice.”



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