Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of Hamas, was killed today by a helicopter gunship attack as he was leaving the mosque. Several other casualties reported in the vicinity.
The title of this posting is because (a) it’s approaching Passover, a traditional peak time for terrorist strikes anyway, and (b) this is, by far, the highest-level Hamas (or other terrorist) operative ever killed by Israeli forces, especially in quite so public a fashion. The result is almost certain to be tremendous violence, and it’s not at all clear to me why the hell the government thought that this would be a good idea. Violence has been at overall low levels recently, although this is in part because of very stringent enforcement efforts by the Israeli government – the wall, bad as it may be for other reasons, has been very effective at cutting down terrorist attacks, and a major attack was recently thwarted in the northern port city of Ashdod.
But this… this one is really asking for an opening to the gates of hell. It’s second only to killing Arafat for impact.
Some more analysis from Debka here. They seem about as confused as I am, although they offer some other points. Be aware that Debka has a right-wing (by Israeli politics axes, not American) bias.