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Vatican condemns Hamas leader assassination

The Vatican immediately condemned yesterday's killing of Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, saying that such assassinations are "unjustifiable in any state of law".

Yassin was killed by an Israeli rocket, launched from a helicopter, as he left a mosque in the Gaza Strip on yesterday morning.

In a statement released shortly after the killing, papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls repeated Pope John Paul II's 12 January insistence that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be settled by violence.

On that occasion, the Holy Father condemned "the recourse to terrorism on one hand and vendettas on the other".

A month later, while holding an audience with Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei at the Vatican, the Pope again called for negotiation, saying that the residents of the Holy Land should reject the temptation toward vengeance and build "bridges, not walls".

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Israel was "not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing". The assassination was "unjustified" and "very unlikely to achieve its objectives".

While US State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said the US "urges all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint", National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice appeared to justify the assassination, saying the Hamas is a terrorist organisation and Sheik Yassin has, the US believes, been personally involved in terrorist planning."

There was condemnation from governments in Europe and the Middle East, but no statement yet from Australia.

condemns killing of Hamas leader (Catholic World News 22/3/04)

Britain leads condemnation of killing (The Age 23/3/04)

Hamas founder killed in Israeli airstrike (Associated Press/Salon 22/3/04)
Hamas cries for blood of assassins (Sydney Morning Herald 23/3/04)
Vatican slams Sheik slaying (The Mercury 23/3/04)
Pope meets Israeli foreign minister (CathNews 12/12/03)
Vatican cardinal condemns Israel security wall (CathNews 14/11/03)

John Paul II Urges Hope in the Wake of Madrid (Zenit 21/3/04)
Pope Hails Newly Beatified as Witnesses of Love (Zenit 21/3/04)
Taizé Founder Has a Papal Audience (Zenit 21/3/04)

23 Mar 2004