Despite the predictable denunciations, Israel was every bit as justified in assassinating Sheikh Yassin– who was more than just the “spiritual leader” of Hamas– as the US would be in assassinating Osama bin Laden if it got the chance.
That said, was it a wise thing to do? That’s a much different question, and a far more difficult one. Trying to “cut off the head” of organizations like Hamas and Hizbollah seems to me a dubious tactic. In the short term, perhaps, Israelis will pay a price in blood. In the longer term– who knows? Anyone who predicts– as a result of the Yassin killing– either an unprecedented apocalypse of violence, or the demise of Palestinian terrorism, is being foolish.
Update: Those staunch defenders of freedom and justice, the Muslim Association of Britain, declared: “For millions of Muslims around the world and for many freedom lovers and justice defenders across the globe Sheikh Yassin was a symbol of struggle for freedom and justice.”
This is the symbol of freedom and justice who was pleased to order privately, and applaud publicly, the deliberate murder of Israeli children.
The MAB website also features prominently the comments of their comrade George Galloway: “It’s an act of criminal insanity from the criminally insane (Prime Minister) Sharon. It will add petrol to the flames already burning from the Mediterranean to the Gulf.”
I would guess Galloway managed to restrain his anger about the attack on the Ashdod port, which killed 11 Israeli workers.
Further update: Allison Kaplan Sommer, an American olah (immigrant) living in Israel, has some thoughts about the Yassin assassination which resonate with me. Although I spent most of my years in Israel trying to convince myself otherwise.