Sunday, April 18, 2004

Shortly after Sheikh Yassin was assassinated, his replacement as Hamas leader, Abdel Aziz Rantisi avowed that he would rather be killed by an Apache (helicopter) than by a heart attack. News editors around the world ran to their archives yesterday evening to dig out that clip, after the Israeli Air Force provided an excellent example of why you should be careful what you wish for in ridding the world of another arch-terrorist with the blood of innocents on his hands.

Israeli news commentators made the impressive claim that Israeli helicopters are constantly in the air, with permission to kill certain targets the moment that they slip up and emerge from their cover. The idea, that one phone call from a well placed informant, letting the relevant people know that Rantisi had left a safe haven, accompanied only by two bodyguards in a car of a certain type, led to a missile destroying that car literally seconds later, inspires me with an amazing degree of confidence in the security services. That it was done with pinpoint accuracy with no-one other than the targets being taken out, demonstrates the skill of the pilots and the importance that Israel attaches to the sensitive issue of non-combatant casualties.

Rantisi, like Yassin before him, was the leader of a terrorist organisation which has been proudly responsible for the murder of thousands of Israelis. The message has been sent out loud and clear once again, that Israel will strike at all levels of terrorist organisations whenever the opportunity presents itself. Hamas has allegedly appointed a new leader but is keeping his identity under wraps. I doubt that he will be able to escape the notice of Israel's intelligence community for very long...


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