At five o'clock this morning, Israel assassinated the spiritual leader of Hamas, Sheik Achmad Yassin, in an airstrike as he left the mosque where he was saying morning prayers. He and some seven of his bodygaurds were killed.
Thousands and thousands of Palestinians marched at the funeral, crying and vowing revenge in the usual colorful terms--declaring that Sharon had "opened the gates of hell" and that they will not stop until they "cut off his head." Yassin was the founder of Hamas in 1987, jailed by the Israelis shortly thereafter, released in the late nineties in a peace aggreement with Jordan, and had already survived a previous assassination attempt in September.
All the students at Rothberg got an e-mail today warning us to steer clear of--well, pretty much everywhere--for the next few days at least. We talked about it endlessly in stilted Hebrew during Ulpan, and everyone has a different opinion.
I couldn't say what my opinion is. Certainly I believe this man was horrible, a hateful man who sent countless people to their deaths in the name of Islam, promising them however many virgins they get in the afterlife or whatever while he went on living quite comfortably. But even so, before I came to Israel, I was dead set against Israel's assassination policy, which flies in the face of democracy. Capitol punishment without a trial. But then again, the greatest democracy on Earth invaded a whole sovereign nation without trial or legislation, so there goes that argument. Apparently democracy has its limits?
But then again, it's different here. To many people, this is a war. In a war, the rules of democracy don't apply. Whether or not I see it as a war...I'm too close to it to make a just decision. It's too easy to stand on either side, when the reality is probably somewhere in the middle. I know that Hamas doesn't want a border at the green line, no matter what their rhetoric. I know that once they get it, terrorism will continue until Israel is no more. I also know that that will never happen. Israel is not going anywhere. The result: this.
I'm more scared than usual. Mad at everybody. Frustrated that I can't get at what is true here. All I know is that I'm going to lay low for a few days. See what happens.