(Communicated by Israeli security sources)
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, leader of the Hamas terror organization, was killed in an operation by Israeli security forces.
Rantisi, one of the founders of Hamas in the Gaza strip, was responsible for the Hamas terror policy and promoted the carrying out of deadly terror attacks.
Rantisi, 56, was recently chosen to head the Hamas organization, replacing Ahmed Yassin. Rantisi took part in establishing the terrorist policy of the organization and also served as its main spokesperson. He played a key and active role in inciting terror attacks.
Rantisi was one of the six founders of the Hamas in September 1987, along with Ahmed Yassin. He first served as head of the Hamas in Khan Yunis and was among the senior leadership of the Hamas during the first Palestinian 'Intifada'. He was jailed between 1988-1990 and following his release returned to activity in the Hamas. He was briefly jailed in 1991.
Rantisi, originally from Khan Yunis, was by profession a doctor and a lecturer at the Islamic University. With the start of the violence in September 2000 he moved to the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza.
In December 1992, he was removed to Lebanon where he served as a spokesperson for the group of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, until their return in 1993. In December 1993 he was arrested again after being named by other Hamas members as a contact for the terrorist network and for coordinating the appointment of operatives for various positions in the organization. For these activities he was jailed until April 1997.
Following his release from Israeli jail he began to reorganize the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. He expressed extremist positions and enjoyed the support of the extremist members of the terrorist apparatus and of the Hamas leadership abroad, based in Syria. He tried to replace the old leadership of Hamas, which was active between 1995-1997 in Gaza because he felt they were too moderate. In elections held may 1997, a new leadership of 30 activists was elected. Rantisi, with the encouragement of the Hamas abroad, represented this group and was appointed spokesperson for the Hamas in Gaza.
Between 1997-2000 Rantisi was jailed periodically by the Palestinian Authority, but was able to continue to act within the Hamas and worked to strengthen his position within the Hamas organization and specifically within the leadership.
Since the outbreak of violence in September 2000, Rantisi solidified his position within the Hamas leadership. His role included:
- Virulent incitement, repeatedly calling for suicide attack inside Israel, continued attacks in Gaza, kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and firing of mortar shells into Israel.
- Rantisi maintained contact with senior terror leaders within the Hamas and encouraged them to continue carrying out attacks. He was responsible for establishing and overseeing secret terrorist cells.
- He maintained contact with the Hamas leadership abroad and with senior members of the Palestinian Authority, advocating an extremist position which opposed any cease fire with Israel or any political arrangement between the PA and Israel. He called for continued terror attacks against Israel, all the while trying to undermine any diplomatic efforts of the PA.
Rantisi publicly called, at every possible opportunity, to continue armed attacks and specifically to increase the suicide attacks and attempt to kidnap Israeli soldiers. These public calls were taken as operational directive of the Hamas leadership.
Rantisi was officially named as the replacement of Ahmed Yassin.
The following are statements by Rantisi (source - Hamas internet site, 26 January 2004):
- "There will be no concession of one inch of Palestine, because it is Islamic Land."
- There will be no recognition of what is called the 'State of Israel.'"
- Any solution which includes recognizing what is called the 'State of Israel' or concession on one inch of historic Palestine is unacceptable and void, and doesn't obligate us at all."
- "[Violent] Resistance is the only option for the restoration of our stolen rights."
In an interview on April 9, 2004:
"We say to the Muslim people of Iraq, we are with you in your struggle against American terror and destruction, we are with you in your war in defense of Islam. We say to the fighter and commander Mokutada A-Sadr: Hamas stands by your side and blesses your Jihad (holy war) and wishes you with the help of God, that you will win and be victorious."