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Hamas Leader Al-Rantisi Assassinated by Israel

Hamas’s Leader Al-Rantisi Assassinated by IOF Missiles

GAZA, Palestine -- The Israeli occupying forces (IOF) extra-judicially executed the new leader of Hamas movement in Gaza Strip, Dr. Abdel Aziz Al Rantisi, and two of his bodyguards on Saturday night, medical sources and eyewitnesses confirmed.

Sources at the Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City confirmed that the Hamas leader Al-Rantisi died of serious wounds few minutes after arriving at the hospital, while his two bodyguards, identified as Akram Nassar and Ahmad Al Ghurra were wounded. Five more civilian bystanders were also wounded.

Eyewitnesses mentioned that the car Al Rantisi was traveling in was struck with two missiles fired from an Israeli combat helicopter, reducing his car into a heap of charred metal.

"I heard two explosions then ran out to see a devastated white car. Al Rantisi ran out of the car for about 15 yards then collapsed and fell unconscious," a local shop owner said.

Following the announcement of Al Rantisi's death, thousands of angry citizens took to the streets in protest of such a hideous crime, as shop owners began to close down their shops in protest.

"His blood will not go in vain. We will avenge his killing," a Hamas senior leader Ismail Haniya said outside the hospital where Al Rantisi was.

Al Rantisi was named as the new leader of Hamas following the extrajudicial execution of the movement's founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin. Upon his naming, he vowed to continue the path of the resistance and called to avenge the killing of Sheikh Yassin.

He survived, with wounds to his right leg, an attempt on his life back in June, 2003 when Israeli combat helicopters fired at least seven missiles at a jeep he was driving down a busy Gaza road, completely destroying the jeep and killing two civilian bystanders.

Background: Dr. Abdel Aziz Al Rantisi

Abdel Aziz Ali Al Rantisi was born on October 23, 1947 in the village of Yebna, on the road linking the cities of Jaffa and Asqalan, which Israel occupied in 1948. When he was just six months old, his family sought refuge in Gaza Strip after the 1948-Cataclysm (Al Nakba), and settled in Khan Younis refugee camp.

Growing up between nine brothers and two sisters, Al Rantisi studied at an UNRWA-operated school in the refugee camp and work at the same time (by the age of six) to help support his large family.

In 1965, young Abdel Aziz graduated from high school with excellence and went to Alexandria to study medicine there. Finishing in 1972 on top of his class, Dr. Al Rantisi returned to the Gaza Strip, later to return again to Alexandria and obtain a M.A. in pediatrics.

In 1976, he returned again to Gaza Strip and worked as a resident physician in Nasser hospital in the city of Khan Younis. Al Rantisi is married with six children –two boys and four girls.

Al Rantisi was also a member of several medical societies in Gaza Strip, including a member in the executive committee of the Islamic Complex, the Arab Medical Association in Gaza and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. He also worked as a lecturer of Heredity and Parasitology in the Islamic University of Gaza since its establishment in 1978.

In 1983, he was dismissed from Nasser hospital by the Israeli occupying authorities for refusing to pay taxes to Israel. After being released from prison. Later, he was jailed for three weeks in 1988.

Along with a group of fellow Islamic Brothers activists in Gaza Strip, he participated in forming the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in 1987. The Israeli occupying authorities jailed him again in 1988 for two and a half years for participating in anti-occupation activities. He was released on September 4, 1990 and then arrested again in December 14, 1990 and held on administrative detention (without trial or charge) for a year.

On December 17, 1992, Al Rantisi and 400 other Palestinian resistance activists were expelled to the Lebanese border town of Marj Al Zuhoor. He stood out as a spokesman for the expelled activists who remained camping in the area where they were expelled to force the occupying authorities to return them.

Following his return from Marj Al Zuhoor, he was immediately arrested by the occupying forces, where an Israeli martial court sentenced him to prison until mid 1997, where he was released to continue his role as one of Hamas leaders.

On June 10, 2003 Al Rantisi survived an attempt on his life by the Israeli occupying forces when the car he was driving in was bombed with missiles. Al Rantisi and his son, Mohammed, were taken to hospital, where doctors said that their wounds were minor.

On March 24, 2004 he was named as leader of Hamas movement in Gaza Strip, succeeding Sheikh Ahmad Yassin after the latter's assassination by Israel. The Israeli government has declared that they will hunt down Al Rantisi, as part of their extrajudicial execution policy against Palestinian leaders and resistance activists. In response to that he said, " We will all die one day. Nothing will change. If by Apache or by cardiac arrest, I prefer Apache."

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