Hamas Chief's Assassination Condemned by Holy See

Says the Killing «Cannot Be Justified in Any State of Law»

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See condemned the assassination of Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, who died during an Israeli airstrike.

A note issued today by Joaquín Navarro-Valls, director of the Vatican press office, said: «The Holy See joins the international community to reprove this act of violence that cannot be justified in any state of law.»

«Authentic and lasting peace cannot be the fruit of a mere ostentation of force; it is above all the fruit of moral and juridical action,» the spokesman said.

Navarro-Valls repeated the appeal for dialogue made by John Paul II to Palestinian and Israeli leaders in his Jan. 12 address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Yassin, 68, a quadriplegic since the age of 12, was assassinated by Israeli forces in Gaza City today when they fired missiles at him as he left a mosque in his neighborhood of Sabra after dawn prayers. At least seven other people were also killed.

Since Yassin founded Hamas in 1987, the group has killed hundreds of Israelis in scores of attacks, the Associated Press said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon justified the assassination, saying: «It is the natural right of the Jewish people, like that of all nations in the world that love life, to hunt down those who rise to destroy it.»

The United States has denied any implication in the attack. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said that Washington was not aware of Israel’s intentions to kill Yassin.

The Council of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Ministers condemned the «selective assassination,» considering it an act that «has inflamed the situation.»

Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel, also condemned the killing. Russia expressed its concern over a possible «wave of violence,» and Japan called for «moderation.»

Yassin’s assassination is the culmination of the great offensive of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in some 50 Palestinian deaths.

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