What Hope for Peace?

Ahmad Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), died in Gaza as the result of a “targeted killing” carried out by an Israeli helicopter at dawn on March 22. An Israeli radio reported that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “personally supervised and green-lighted” the assassination and “supervised the operation.”

The killing of Yassin appeared to be part of Sharon’s bid to smash the most potent Palestinian militant group and prevent it from claiming
victory, if he goes ahead with a planned unilateral withdrawal of troops and settlers from Gaza.

Sharon may have unexpectedly played the role of peace killer in an effort to seek peace.

Recognized throughout his military and political career as someone who “lets no hostile act go unpunished,” Sharon decided to risk Israel’s international reputation, his political career and a new wave of Palestinian reprisals to order the assassination and plot a hit list of Hamas leaders.

The assassination enflamed Palestinians and their allies and sympathizers around the world. Analysts believe it marked a turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the end to the peace process. Analysts are also afraid that the backlash could lead to increased terrorist attacks worldwide.

It seems that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is locked in a cycle of violence in which assassinations, suicide bombings and mutual demonization are destined only to grow.

“Such actions [assassinations] are not only contrary to international law, but they do not do anything to help the search for a peaceful solution.”

Kofi Annan

UN Secretary-General

“We think that the ‘targeted assassination’ adopted by Israel is unhelpful to resolving the problem.”

Kong Quan

spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry

“I understand that Israel defends its own country. However the picture of a wheelchair-bound person who was killed with a rocket is probably not the best way of promoting Israeli security.”

Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz

Polish Foreign Minister

“Assassinations, incursions, wars, will not produce peace and security, on the contrary, it will just add fuel to the fire.”

Saeb Erekat

Palestinian Cabinet Minister

“The problem with the planned killing of someone like Sheikh Yassin is that it will very likely only lead to a surge of support for hard-line Islamist movements, not just in the West Bank and Gaza, but across the Arab world.”

Lewis Roth

Assistant Executive Director of Americans for Peace Now

“At a time when it is important to mobilize for the relaunch of the peace process, such acts can only fuel the cycle of violence.”

Dominique de Villepin

French Foreign Minister