Israeli Airstrike Wounds Hamas Founder
Israeli Warplane Drops Bomb in Gaza City, Wounding Hamas Founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin, 15 Others
The Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Sept. 6 —
An Israeli warplane dropped a bomb on a house in Gaza City Saturday, wounding Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin and 15 other people in an airstrike that Israeli officials confirmed was an attempt to wipe out the Islamic group's top leaders as they assembled for a meeting.
The bomb hit a third-floor apartment in a building belonging to a well-known Hamas activist, Marwan Abu Rass. Yassin and another senior Hamas official, Ismail Hanieh, were in the building at the time.
Hamas officials said Yassin was lightly injured in the hand. He was carried out of the building by his bodyguards and driven away in a car. Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the militant group, is a quadriplegic.
After the strike, a large crowd rushed to the building. The bomb tore a large hole into the ceiling of the apartment.
Senior military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the strike targeted a meeting of the three top Hamas chiefs. The officials said the strike failed because a relatively small quantity of explosives 250 kilograms (550 pounds) were used in an effort to avoid killing innocents.
A neighbor, Nasser Zaide, ran to his balcony after the explosion rocked the street and watched Yassin being rushed from the house. He said the strike destroyed the building's third floor.
Rescue workers searched through the rubble. Hospital officials said nine people were wounded, among them children.
A grocer, Raouf Abu Khaled, 52, helped carry the wounded to ambulances.
"I was sitting outside my shop when I saw the jeep of the sheik coming from the side of the street and five minutes later there was a huge explosion. I saw the F-16 jet leaving the area."
It's unclear where Yassin was taken. He was not being treated at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital.
Abdelsalam Hanieh, 22, a son of the Yassin Aide who was with the sheik during the strike, said the two men were well.
"I just contacted my father, and he told me that God protected his life and the life of the sheik," he said. "They are doing very well. The Zionists have failed in this crime, and he and the Sheik are in a safer place."
He didn't know why the two men were visiting the house.
Yassin is the highest-ranking Hamas official to be targeted by Israel, which has killed 12 members of the group in seven helicopter missile strikes in the past three weeks. Five bystanders have also been killed in these attacks.
Israel's military has up-to-the-minute intelligence on the movement of Palestinian militants, allowing them to launch quick strikes on leaders, often with helicopter gunships and F-16 fighter jets.
Yassin's recognizable brown four-wheel drive Land Rover, driven by his son, was parked outside the house, witnesses said.
*Allahumma unsur al-mujahideena fi kulli makaan, wa ij'alna minhum*
..: Muslim American Society
September 5, 2003 ALERT:
MUSLIM GOING TO JAIL 2ND TIME FOR REFUSING TO TESTIFY
(Chicago, IL--- 9/3/2003) On Friday, September 5, 2203, Dr. Abdelhaleem Ashqar surrender himself to U.S. Marshals. Ashqar was charged with civil contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury in Chicago this summer and may spend up to 18 months prison as the government attempts to coerce him to testify in what he has described as an Israeli politically motivated investigation. This will be the 2nd time that Ashqar has been jailed for refusing to testify.
In 1998 Ashqar was summoned to testify, but refused to do so out of fear that despite being given immunity, his statements would be used against him by Israel. He was jailed for contempt and began an immediate hunger strike that lasted for six months, winning him release, but also leaving him with permanent physical ailments.
Ashqar came to this country from Palestine on a government sponsored scholarship in 1989. Since then he has been the target of government harassment and surveillance, but has neither been accused of, nor charged with any wrongdoing in the United States.
Prior to coming to America, Dr. Ashqar was a well known student activist in the Palestine territories. His political views which are critical of Israeli occupation and mistreatment of Palestinians lead to his arrest and torture by the Israeli military.
Dr. Ashqar has stated that he would die before he testifies because his religious and political beliefs will not let him participate in a politically charged investigation that may harm him, and other Palestinians who have dared to speak out against Israel's occupation.
Individuals interested in supporting Dr. Ashqar should call the MAS Freedom office or contact the Free Dr. Ashqar Committee in care of MAS Freedom Foundation 1050 17th St. Suite #600 N.W., Washington, DC 20036.
MAS Freedom Foundation
1050 17th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
202-496-1288 or 703-998-6525