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April 18, 2004
Hamas Cancels Its Inaugural Ball

After seeing its founder killed by Israel and his replacement likewise killed less than a month later, Hamas has decided that discretion may be the better part of terrorism:

Hamas secretly appointed a new Gaza Strip chief early Sunday, but refused to reveal his identity after Israel assassinated two Hamas leaders in less than a month.

Unfortunately, not all of the Hamas leadership has read the memo on secrecy quite yet:

"Hamas will move ahead and will continue the resistance march," said local Hamas leader Ahmad Sahar, a friend of Rantisi's. ... "Yesterday they said that they killed Rantisi to weaken Hamas. They are dreaming. Every time a martyr falls, Hamas is strengthened," Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, told more than 70,000 mourners gathered at the city's largest mosque for the funeral.

Sounds like the Israelis have two more names that they can add to the probable nominees for the top spot. Especially humorous is Haniyeh's contention that killing its leadership strengthens Hamas. If it did, Hamas would have loudly proclaimed the name of its new leader today from its newspapers in Gaza and the West Bank. If martyring Rantisi and Yassin makes Hamas stronger, then the Rantisis and Yassins would be carrying the suicide belts into Israel, not developmentally-disabled teenagers.

No, I think that Hamas understands perfectly that killing off its leadership not only severely degrades its planning and support capability, but it also discourages people from moving up into the organization. In that sense, Hamas and Israel see eye to eye. Expect further communiqus from Hamas to all use noms de guerre from this point forward.

UPDATE: Someone can't keep a secret: The AP reports further that Mahmoud Zahar, Rantisi's second in command, has been chosen as the Hamas Leader of the Month, as announced by Israel Army Radio. The Israeli Army promises fireworks for the celebration.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 18, 2004 9:00 AM

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