Wide-spread Condemnation and Protest Against Israeli Killings
April 25, 2004
Israel's recent assassination of Palestinian leaders Abdel Aziz Rantisi and Ahmed Yassin has led to widespread condemnation and protests throughout the world.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians took to the streets throughout the West Bank on April 17, immediately after an Israeli helicopter fired a missile at Rantisi's car in Gaza City. At his funeral the next day, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians participated in the funeral, vowing to step-up their resistance to Israeli aggression and occupation of their homeland. Rantisi was the second Palestinian leader in the past month to be assassinated by Israel. In a similar attack by an Israeli helicopter on March 22, Sheik Ahmed Yassin and seven other Palestinians were killed in Gaza.
On April 18, at the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon in southern Lebanon, 10,000 demonstrators participated in a mass rally and protest to condemn the killings. At universities throughout Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Kuwait, Arabs protested and demanded an end to U.S.-backed Israeli aggression. Leaders from Canada, France, Greece, Iran, Japan, China, Russia, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, and Turkey also issued statements condemning Israeli's actions.
On April 20, Israeli leader, Ariel Sharon, said that Israel would continue the "extra-judicial killings" of Palestinian leaders and anti-occupation activists, vowing "We will not let up on them...it isn't over, and the list is not short." He also boasted that Israel had the approval of the United States for the killings, saying President Bush would "permit Israel to take care of its security." Since the assasinations, President Bush and other White House officials, as well as leading Congressman, have stated that such actions by Israel were justified in the fight "against terrorism."
Israeli Aggression Continues
Meanwhile, Israeli aggression continues unabated throughout the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Since March 22, the Israeli army has imposed a total closure over the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli army has prevented civilians from crossing the Green Line and entering Jerusalem, closed crossing points to workers, and restricted movement between cities in the West Bank.
On April 22, one day after shooting dead five Palestinians, columns of Israeli tanks backed by U.S.-made Apache helicopters stormed into the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya and killed four more Palestinians, raising the Palestinian death toll to 20 in a week and the number of wounded to at least 76.