On Saturday evening, 17 April 2004, Israeli occupying forces assassinated Dr. ‘Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantissi, 57, leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the Gaza Strip. The attack also killed two of Dr. al-Rantissi’s bodyguards, and wounded four civilian bystanders. This illegal and belligerent act is implemented within the context of Israeli authorities’ threats to assassinate Hamas leaders, which have been articulated by Israeli political and military officials for the past two years. This assassination came less than one month following the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader and founder of Hamas, who was assassinated by Israeli occupying forces on 22 March 2004.
According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 20:35 on Saturday, 17 April 2004, an Israeli helicopter gunship launched a missile at a civilian car, a white Subaru, traveling on al-Lababidi Street, approximately 150 meters away from al-Jalaa’ crossroads in the center of Gaza City, a densely populated area. Dr. al-Rantissi and two of his bodyguards were traveling in the car when the missile struck the car. The two bodyguards were instantly killed:
1. Akram Mansi Nassar, 36; and
2. Ahmed ‘Abdullah al-Ghurra, 38, both from al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City.
Dr. al-Rantissi died shortly from sustaining serious injuries after he was evacuated to the hospital. Four civilian bystanders, including a 14-year-old child, were injured.
Dr. al-Rantissi had survived an assassination attempt carried out by Israeli occupying forces on 10 June 2004. The attack left 2 Palestinian civilians dead and injured 30 others, including a number of children and Dr. al-Rantissi’s son.
PCHR strongly condemns this illegal act, which was committed in the context of the policy of extra-judicial assassination officially adopted by the Israeli government, in violation of international law and humanitarian law. Such actions signify that the Israeli government and Prime Minister Sharon have decided to intentionally escalate tension in the whole region. PCHR calls upon international community to immediately intervene to prevent further deterioration in the region and provide protection for the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, who face the destructive Israeli arsenal, unwilling to respect international humanitarian and human rights law.
For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972-8-282-4776 or +972-8-282-5893. PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. http://www.pchrgaza.org.