Israeli aircraft attacked and killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader and founder of Hamas and Israel’s top target this morning as he was leaving a Gaza City mosque.
Yassin, who was in his late ’60s, has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident as a teenager that paralysed him. He is also partially blind.
“This is a crazy and very dangerous act. It opens the door wide to chaos. Yassin is known for his moderation and he was controlling Hamas and therefore this is a dangerous, cowardly act,” said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurai.
At least nine people died in the attack including at least two of Yassin’s bodyguards. Ten more were wounded.
In an interview with the Washington Post in August 2001, Yassin said he was aware that Israel’s government had targeted him.
“We are a people not afraid of death, and when one of us dies, it’s like a wedding day for him,” Yassin said. “One who is martyred attains a very high spiritual level, and so his death is like a celebration — we offer candy, sweets and cold drinks, because we know he’ll be so high in heaven.”