[FOUNTAIN]Terror and moralitySheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, was killed in a missile attack by an Israeli helicopter gunship as he was leaving a mosque in the Gaza Strip on March 22, 2004. The attack on the leader of the Palestinian group also killed nine other people.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was behind the “targeted killing.” He argued that Israel had the right to eradicate terrorists by cutting off the groups’ heads, not their toes.
Hamas elected Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi as its new leader and pledged retaliation. Mr. al-Rantissi called for the eradication of Israel by any available means, and on April 17, 2004, he and three companions were killed by Israeli rockets while riding in his car.
Shocked by his death, Hamas elected a new leader the next day but kept the choice secret. Even when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, its leadership structure was unknown.
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who Washington had called the “most wanted terrorist in Iraq,” was killed by a U.S. air strike on June 7, after a years-long chase.
Since the United States aimed at killing a certain individual, the assassination of al-Zarqawi can also be considered a targeted killing. The Al-Qaeda network in Iraq concealed the identity of its new leader, just as Hamas did. It announced the name Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, but Muhajir means “immigrant” or “exile” in Arabic and the name could well be a pseudonym.
Israel and the United States are not overly concerned about the collateral damage to innocent bystanders in the course of the fight against terrorism.
Terrorists who recklessly attack civilians in suicide bombings certainly present a huge problem, but Israel and the United States cannot avoid ethical criticism for firing missiles and dropping bombs on civilian quarters in order to target and kill one enemy leader without thinking about the lives of women and children.
Recently, six members of a Palestinian family were killed while at a beach picnic by shells presumed to have been fired by Israeli forces, although Israel denies that it was responsible for that incident.
Among the five people who were killed along with Mr. al-Zarqawi while having dinner were two women and one child. To those fighting for their convictions, their deaths would be called martyrdom or a noble sacrifice. But what does “jihad” or the “war against terrorism” mean to those innocent women and children who were killed just because they were in the vicinity of the targeted leaders?
by Chae In-taek
The writer is a deputy international news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.