Sunday, April 18 2004 @ 05:50 AM MSD
|Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi was killed in an Israeli helicopter missile strike on his car Saturday evening. The attack took place a block from Rantisi's house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City. |
Two other people were killed in the strike, witnesses said.
Rantisi was the newly-appointed head of Hamas in Gaza Strip, following the assassination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in a similar Israeli strike on March 22.
Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, 57, was the co-founder of Hamas.
Rantissi was born in Yubna, near Jaffa, but in 1948 his family resettled in the Gaza Strip. He studied pediatrics in Egypt for nine years and was a certified physician. In 1976 he returned to Gaza.
In 1987 four residents of the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza were killed in a traffic accident. According to al-Rantisi, he joined with Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, 'Abdel Fattah Dukhan, Mohammed Shama', Dr. Ibrahim al-Yazour, Issa al-Najjar, and Salah Shehadeh and instructed people to exit the mosques chanting Allahu Akbar ("God is great"). This would be the start of the first intifada, according to Rantisi, under whose leadership what would subsequently be known as Hamas grew together later that year.
When Yassin took over Hamas, Rantissi was his right-hand man.
In December 1992, he was expelled to southern Lebanon, as part of the expulsion of 416 Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, and emerged as the chief spokesman of the expellees. Upon his return in 1993, he was arrested by Israel, but later released. He was also detained many times, over longer periods, by the Palestinian Authority for his criticism of the PA and Yasser Arafat, most recently in mid-1999.
On June 10, 2003, Rantissi survived an Israeli helicopter attack on a car in which he was travelling. He was lightly wounded in the attack.