Or, I should say, Yassin was:
Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader and founder of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, was killed early Monday by an Israeli missile that struck him as he left a mosque in Gaza City, his family and Hamas officials said. They said at least two bodyguards had been killed with him.
Sheik Yassin, a symbol to Palestinians of resistance to Israel and to Israelis of Palestinian terrorism, was by far the most significant Palestinian militant killed by Israel in more than three years of conflict.
Black smoke curled over Gaza City as Palestinians began burning tires in the streets and demonstrators chanted for revenge. Mosque loudspeakers blared a message across Gaza of mourning for Sheik Yassin in the name of Hamas and another militant group, Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades.
Remember that to the Palestinians, Hamas is a champion striking back at an occupying power. The basic rationale for targeting civilians is that Israel is nominally a democracy and thus the civilians have ultimate responsibility for the actions of their government - in fact, as Steven den Beste puts it, there is no such thing as a civilian.
Intellectually, I accept the logic that legitimizes me and my family (including my 2 year old daughter) as targets for enemies of my country that seek to avenge wrongs inflicted upon them by my government, which I have the power to affect. The logic does not hold for oppressed people such as Arabs who are ruled by tyrants (themselves having gained power with American support during the Cold War) and who have no power over their governments beyond mass violence and civil unrest - an outcome that the tyrants avoid by feeding them a diet of anti-Semitic paranoia as a distraction.
Personally, the death of Yassin does not motivate me to weep tears of remorse. Far more significant tears were shed in mourning as the result of Yassin's life than in his passing.
I do think that Matthew is on to something. Not about the curious timing of the attack - after all, Sharon needs to pacify the right as he prepares for the Gaza pullout and as the security fence gets re-routed (I'm waiting for Jonathan to weigh in on this). Rather, on the long-term strategy - that the policy of killing the leaders of Hamas will have a net positive result. Ultimately, targeting spiritual leaders tends to validate their otherwise-poor arguments. It would have been better to isolate or perhaps even "disappear" Yassin rather than simply give him the martyrdom he longed for.
curious about my sneer quotes in the first sentence? The terms mean something very different to a Bohra. Very different indeed. I refer you to your library copy of Mullahs on the Mainframe.