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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 April, 2004, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Rantissi killing: World reaction
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi addresses supporters at the Islamic University in Gaza City
Rantissi: Hardliner and firebrand orator
The head of the militant Islamic movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, has been killed in an Israeli attack on his vehicle.

Reaction to the killing has been coming in from the region and around the world:

Raanan Gissin, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon:

"Abdel Aziz Rantissi was clearly one of those that was leading the battle against Israel, against Jews, co-ordinating actions between the various terrorist organisations in Gaza - and, since we failed to bring him to justice, we brought justice to him today. And so we will do with the rest of the heads of the terrorist organisation."

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman:

"I think that the demise of this man, the fact that he is no longer with us, is very good news for the freedom-loving world, for the war against terror and in fact should be greeted with very great satisfaction by the moderate Arab states."

Israeli Likud MP Yuval Steinitz:

"Why is the death of Rantissi against international law and the death, say, of [Osama] Bin Laden is consistent with international law when Rantissi said just said a few weeks ago that he is going to kill all Jews in the land of Israel, and by the way, that he is also going to target Americans?

"How do you like us to fight terrorism?"

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei:

"The Palestinian Cabinet considers this terrorist Israeli campaign is a direct result of American encouragement and the complete bias of the American administration towards the Israeli government."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat:

"I have always said what we need is not the mentality of revenge and retaliation. When nation states like Israel act like mafia and gangsters and (with) assassinations, and incursions and demolishing of homes and collective punishment I don't think this will lead the Israelis to more peace."

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi:

"I think this is just another escalation in a policy of utter lawlessness and cruelty by the Israeli occupation. And all this spin about Israel defending itself is entirely unacceptable and immoral, in addition to being illegal. You cannot adopt a policy of assassination; you cannot decide that you are judge, jury and executioner.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan:

"As we have repeatedly made clear, Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorist attacks...

"The United States is gravely concerned for regional peace and stability. The United States strongly urges Israel to consider carefully the consequences of its actions, and we again urge all parties to exercise maximum restraint at this time. This is especially true at a moment when there is hope that an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will bring a new opportunity for progress toward peace."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana:

"The European Union has consistently condemned extrajudicial killings. Israel has a right to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, but actions of this type are not only unlawful, they are not conducive to lowering tension."

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw:

"The British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called 'targeted assassinations' of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counter-productive."

French Foreign Ministry statement:

France "declares once again that extrajudicial executions contravene international law and are unacceptable."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini:

"Italy, like the whole of the European Union, has always condemned the practice of targeted assassinations, which contribute to furthering the spiral of hatred and violence."

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko:

"Moscow is seriously concerned about the potential consequences and worsening tensions in the Middle East. Russia has repeatedly stressed the unacceptability of extrajudicial settling of scores and 'targeted killings',"

"We do not contest Israel's right to defend itself from terrorist acts and protect its citizens but it must act within international law."

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer:

"At the end of the day it's unwise to be assassinating, successively, the leaders of Hamas. It's likely to inflame the situation."

Arab League spokesman Hossam Zaki:

"We are condemning this. It is state terrorism and this is clear proof that Israel cannot live in a climate of stability. They do not want a climate of stability. They need a climate of tension and violence."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher:

"The policies of assassination and destruction pursued by Israel will only widen the circle of violence and will not lead to security and peace."

Israel "uses every chance to fool the world, to kill opportunities for peace and push the region to the edge of the abyss."

Lebanese Culture Minister Ghazi al-Aridi:

"This is an ongoing soap opera and we'll see more murders of Palestinian leaders... This is absolute terrorism in all senses of the word."

Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khodr:

"The Jordanian government denounces this odious crime and sees it as a loss in hopes for achieving peace in the region. Jordan has always denounced this policy of assassination and its position on this has always been clear."

Statement from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:

"The secretary-general condemns Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Abdelaziz Rantissi."

"He reiterates that extrajudicial killings are violations of international law and calls on the government of Israel to immediately end this practice."

"He is apprehensive that such an action would lead to further deterioration of an already distressing and fragile situation."

Israel and the Palestinians



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