The martyrdom of Dr Abdul Aziz Rantisi shaheed

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Crescent International

Rabi' al-Awwal 11, 1425 2004-05-01

Occupied Arab World

by Crescent International (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 33, No. 3, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1425)

Dr Abdul Aziz Rantisi, who was appointed head of Hamas in Ghazzah following the martyrdom of Shaikh Ahmed Yassin in March, was himself assassinated by the Israelis on April 17. His car was hit by seven missiles fired from Israeli helicopters near his home in Ghazzah...

Dr Abdul Aziz Rantisi, who was appointed head of Hamas in Ghazzah following the martyrdom of Shaikh Ahmed Yassin in March, was himself assassinated by the Israelis on April 17. His car was hit by seven missiles fired from Israeli helicopters near his home in Ghazzah. He was taken to hospital with what were described as severe head wounds, but later declared to have died. Two of his bodyguards were also martyred, as were two passersby, a young mother and her five-year-old daughter.

Like Shaikh Yassin, Dr Rantisi had long been a target for Israeli assassination. He and his teenage son were wounded in an earlier attempt when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at his car last June. Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to mourn him as news of his martyrdom spread.

Dr Abdul Aziz Rantisi was among the founders of Hamas, along with Shaikh Ahmed Yassin, and rose to prominence during the first intifada in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He spent several years in jail, before being illegally deported to Lebanon along with more than 400 other Palestinian activists in 1992. As the deportees remained in camps near the border, refusing to accept their deportation, he emerged as a leader in his camp, Marj al-Zahur.

After his return to Palestine, he became a prominent critic of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, criticising them for their compromises with Israel. He was arrested by the PA in 1998, and again in 2001.

He was a close aide to Shaikh Yassin during the last few years, and one of Hamas’s top political leaders. He was particularly well known around the world as he often appeared in the media explaining Hamas’s actions and positions. Like Shaikh Yassin, his assassination was widely expected, and like Shaikh Yassin he refused to go into hiding.

Dr Rantisi’s assassination leaves Khalid Misha’al, based in Damascus, as the seniormost Hamas leader. The identity of his successor as Hamas head in Ghazzah has been kept confidential in order to prevent his also being targeted.

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