JERUSALEM – Following a statement by the terrorist group Hamas referring to Osama bin Laden as a “holy warrior” and promising a bloody retaliation to avenge his death at the hands of American forces, Israel, as well as Jewish institutions across the United States, began beefing up their security.
Hamas’ incendiary statements were especially worrisome in light of the reconciliation agreement that Hamas and the Fatah movement are set to sign in Cairo tomorrow, leading to the creation of a unity government. Hamas leaders are calling for Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) current prime minister, to be replaced with a new prime minister from Gaza. Fayyad is seen in Washington as a moderate Palestinian voice.
Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007 when it ousted from power Fatah, the party of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Hundreds died during the fighting.
Meanwhile, there are growing signs that Bin Laden’s jihadist terror group, al-Qaeda, is active in Gaza. As far back as 2008, Abbas confirmed that Hamas helped al-Qaeda gain a presence in Gaza.
About 330 rockets and mortars were launched from Gaza at Israel so far this year. A 16-year old boy, Daniel Viflic, was killed when a guided anti-tank missile launched from Gaza hit his school bus as he was returning home last month.
Like many Jewish groups around the world, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauded the killing of Bin Laden, calling it “a resounding victory for justice, freedom and the common values of all democracies that are resolutelyt fighting shoulder to shoulder against terrorism.” Still, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak cautioned against complacence, telling Skye News that terrorists will continue to “target Israel and other members of the free world.”
Terrorists search for opportunities worldwide, said Shabtai Shavit, the former head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, on Israel Radio yesterday.
Shavit said bin Laden was perhaps the most “advanced” terrorist in the last two decades but that his death will not necessarily hinder al-Qaeda’s abilities.
ADL’s Abraham Foxman agreed. “One recurring theme of bin Laden’s videotaped messages was a special hatred for Israel, often expressed in anti-semitic terms,” he said in a statement. “Past plots in the U.S. motivated by the ideologies of extreme intolerance have often targeted Jewish and Israeli institutions. We mus remain vigilant against the ever-present threat of new acts of terrorist violence inspired by his death.”