Michael Shurkin
The Hamas Class of 1992:
The Force and Farce of International Law, p.2

Mahmud Abu Hanudeh was the ringleader behind the Mahane Yehudah and the Ben Yehudah blasts of July and September, 1997. Though on the Palestinian Authority's most-wanted list for his actions, he sheltered under Arafat's nose until 2000, when Israeli troops besieged his village and tried to arrest him. Three IDF soldiers died in the attempt, and Hanudeh escaped Israel's net by turning himself in to the PA's police. Arafat released him soon after.

And then there are the leaders: Ismail Haniye and Mahmoud al-Zahar, who has recently been named Rantisi's replacement as Hamas head; Mohammed Taha, the co-founder of Hamas, and his son Ayman, who is regarded as an assistant to the head of Hamas's armed wing in Gaza, Muhamed Deif.

Finally, there are the two most prominent members of the Hamas class of 1992, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantisi. Yassin had been in Israeli custody until released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a personal intervention by Jordan's King Hussein, who demanded payback for Israel's botched attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Amman.

Together these men are responsible not just for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli citizens and soldiers but, arguably, of the entire peace process. What would have happened if Israel had simply imprisoned them? Or if, like Algeria, it had quietly killed them?

While Israel took back its Class of 1992, Algeria stewed in its own blood. The Islamic radicals there massacred and bombed, killing thousands; the government fought back and ultimately prevailed by killing, arresting, and "disappearing" thousands. France had its own bombing wave in 1995, which killed ten and wounded 250, however French police managed to dismantle the terrorist networks-all Algerian Islamic groups -rapidly. It arrested several of those involved and gunned down one of the leaders, an Algerian named Khaled Kelkal, at a bus stop. Another leader, Ali Touchent, disappeared until 1998, when the Algerian police claimed to have killed him in an Algiers hotel room in 1997.

Since the "Second Intifada" began, Israel has, indeed, seemed to follow the lead of France and Algeria. Rahman Hamad fell to a sniper's bullet in 2001; Jamal Dmouni and Jamal Mansour died together during an IDF raid that same year. Zahar was the target of a large bombed dropped from a fighter jet, although he survived the attack (his son did not). Hanudeh, after the Palestinian Authority released him from prison so that he could resume his terrorist activities, fell to a Hellfire anti-tank missile in 2001. Yassin and Rantisi's fate is well known.

Have France and Algeria reluctantly welcomed Israel into their fold, into the sorry class of nations who meet terror with military might?

Hardly. Algeria filled its draft resolution with anti-Israel rhetoric, and complained that Israel had violated international law. France voted for the measure. So did Russia, which has massacred thousands of Muslim insurgents in the occupied republic of Chechnya, and China, whose Communist Party holds the record for the most genocidal regime still in power, having murdered over one million Tibetans since 1959. Spain also voted for it, prompting Israel's ambassador bitterly to ask his Spanish counterpart if Spain would have killed the Madrid bombers had it known what was being planned.

Although the UK abstained from the vote, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also condemned the "extrajudicial" nature of the killing. Indeed, the main complaint expressed by relatively neutral powers, not to mention the major international papers such as Le Monde, Libération, and Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung , is that Israel did the wrong thing because it broke the law. Yassin should have been tried properly. Sueddeutsche Zeitung, for example, cited legal scholars who argued that self-defense in international law only applies to striking against foreign powers. In fact, according to the papers' legal experts, not even the law that allows police sharp-shooters to take out hostage-takers would apply here. Clearly, the editorial insisted, Israel could have stormed the Sheikh's residence and arrested him. Never mind the fact that IDF soldiers and Palestinian civilians invariably get killed or wounded in the battles that result from such arrest attempts, or that, when "international law" is not being debated, Palestine is indeed regarded as a "foreign power" relative to Israel. Other papers pointed out that Israel had held the Sheikh in captivity in the past, thus it was wrong and seemingly arbitrary to execute him now. The United States alone rejected the resolution and cited Israel's legitimate right of self-defense.

When right-wingers wonder about the confluence of anti-Zionism and antisemitism, this is what they mean.

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Image of Mahmud Abu Hanudeh: http://arab.fc2web.com/palestina/abu-hunud.htm Image of Mohammed Taha: Israeli embassy Image of Mahmoud Zahar (after surviving Israeli assassination attempt): http://www.tribuneindia.com

May 2004

The Hamas Class of 1992
Michael Shurkin

Every City has a Soul
Jill Hammer

Wagner in Israel
Margaret Strother

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Jay Michaelson

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The Stable
Ira Stone

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