Rantisi, Abdelaziz


Rantisi, Abdelaziz
(1947-2004)
   One of the founders of Hamas in 1987, one of its chief political activists in the Gaza Strip, and a principal proponent of Hamas's rejectionist ideology toward Israel. He took command of Hamas terrorist operations following the targeted assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Yassin by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on 22 March 2004.
   Rantisi was originally from Khan Yunis, a physician by profession, and a lecturer at the Islamic University. He moved to Gaza in September 2000. He was one of the founders of Hamas in September 1987. He served as head of Hamas in Khan Yunis and was among the senior leadership of Hamas during the first intifada. Rantisi was jailed between 1988 and 1990 and again briefly in 1991. In December 1992, he was temporarily expelled to Lebanon, where he served as a spokesperson for the group of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists, until their return in 1993. In December 1993, he was arrested again and was jailed until April 1997. Between 1997 and 2000, Rantisi was jailed periodically by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
   After the outbreak of the Al-Aksa intifada in September 2000, Rantisi's role included virulent incitement, repeatedly calling for suicide bombings inside Israel, continued attacks in Gaza, kidnapping of Israeli soldiers, and firing of mortar shells into Israel, while trying to undermine any diplomatic efforts of the PA. These public calls were taken as operational directives of the Hamas leadership. Rantisi was also responsible for establishing and overseeing secret terrorist cells.
   Rantisi was killed in an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip on 17 April 2004, in which the IDF targeted a car in which he was riding. He had recently been chosen to replace Sheikh Yassin as Hamas leader.
   See also Shin Bet (Shabak).

Historical Dictionary of Israel. .

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