Russian expert: Yassin's elimination is Israeli leadership's political mistake

The elimination of the founder and spiritual leader of Palestine's HAMAS movement, sheik Ahmed Yassin is a big political mistake of the Israelis. This is the opinion that was voiced Monday in a RIA Novosti interview by Vitaly Naumkin, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences Oriental Studies Institute's Center of Arab Studies.

In the expert's opinion, with Yassin's death, HAMAS ideas will get a powerful impetus to further development. "Even those Palestinians, who had moderate positions earlier will now pass to the camp of hardliners," Mr. Naumkin said.

"Ahmed Yassin's elimination will help political mobilization of Palestinians around HAMAS slogans," the scientist said.

Mr. Naumkin did not rule out that "the idea to kill the HAMAS leader was put forward by forces who are not interested in the continuation of dialogue and getting peace process underway between Israel and Palestine." The Russian expert characterized what happened in the city of Gaza as "frustration of the peace process in the Middle East." "Another person may take Yassin's place, but it will be way harder now for Palestinians to make concessions in regard to Israelis," Mr. Naumkin said.

Yassin was killed today morning in Gaza. The automobile he and his two aides were inside of was shelled with missiles from Israeli military helicopters at the moment he was going to a local mosque.

The Fox TV company said the missile attack was sanctioned personally by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

A week ago the Israeli authorities announced the beginning of an operation to discover and eliminate the leaders of extremist Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, first of all, the leaders of HAMAS and Islamic Jihad. This measure is regarded as a response to two explosions committed by Palestinian suicide bombers in Ashdod port that killed eleven Israelis.

The PNA leadership condemned Yassin's murder. "It's an insane and very dangerous action," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Kurei stressed. "It opens the road to chaos. Yassin was known as a moderate leader, and he restrained HAMAS."

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