Sheikh Ahmed Yassin

(1938-2004) A Palestinian political and religious figure. Yassin was the co-founder and spiritual leader of Hamas. Due to a childhood accident, he was paralyzed and left partially blind. As a Palestinian refugee in Gaza after the 1948 War, Yassin worked as a teacher, imam and community leader. He spent many years in Israeli prison, first for being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and later (in 1989) for ordering the killing of Palestinians accused of collaborating with the Israeli army.He was released in 1997 in exchange for the return of two Israeli Mossad agents who had been detained in Jordan. The Israeli military attempted to assassinate Yassin on several occasions, stating that he masterminded suicide attacks on Israelis. Yassin opposed the Oslo Process, was a proponent of armed resistance, and made frequent public statements in support of suicide bombings. Yassin also worked to maintain a good relationship with the Palestinian Authority, believing that internal conflict would not be in the best interests of the Palestinian people. Prior to his death, he proposed a ceasefire with Israel on condition that they withdraw to 1967 borders and cease their policy of targeted assassinations. The Israeli military assassinated Yassin by air strike on March 22, 2004. See "Sheikh Yassin: Spiritual figurehead," BBC, March 22, 2004.

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