What were they thinking?
Yesterday, Israel assassinated the founder and spiritual leader of Hamas, one of the deadliest terror groups in the Middle East. Hamas is widely considered the main instigator of suicide attacks against Israelis. Sheik Ahmed Yassin was first marked for death in January, when the Israelis dropped a bomb on a house where he was meeting. Yesterday, after morning prayers in a Gaza mosque, an Israeli missile landed on the ground next to his wheelchair, rendering him unrecognizable.
Millions of Palestinians have taken to the streets to mourn Sheik Yassin, and many have vowed revenge against Israel. Israelis contend that the sheik was directly linked to terrorism, and that he provided the impetus for suicide attacks on Israelis.
It is very likely that the next several weeks will be extremely bloody, violent, and tragic ones for Israelis and Palestinians. This attack may have added new vigor to a conflict that has been ongoing for three years. It would be difficult to imagine a different reaction in response to the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of the United States or some other group. The fury of many extremists in the Middle East would be great, and many would vow retribution.
This episode shows us that terror is not something that will easily be eradicated. Chopping off the head may leave the body free to move, and the body will thrash violently. The elimination of Sheik Yassin will undoubtedly breed more terror, at least in the short term. Hopefully, better solutions can be sought in the future. Perhaps this will include gestures of good will, such as the recent move to pull out of the Gaza Strip.
And then perhaps a real victory will have been achieved.
Mike Clark is a DSJ staff columnist. His views do not necessarily represent those of the entire staff.