"Once again Israel has chosen to violate
international law instead of using alternative lawful means.
Sheikh Yassin could have been arrested and prosecuted. The
Israeli army has arrested tens of thousands of Palestinians in
frequent raids in refugee camps, towns and villages throughout
the Gaza Strip and West Bank in the past two years.
"The assassination of Sheikh Yassin is likely to
further escalate a spiral of violence that has claimed the lives
of some 2,500 Palestinians and 900 Israelis, most of them
civilians, in the past three and a half years."
The 66-year-old Sheikh Yassin, who was
paralysed and wheelchair-bound, was assassinated by Israeli army
helicopter-launched missiles as he was leaving a mosque after
dawn prayers in Gaza City.
Sheikh Yassin was previously arrested in 1989
by the Israeli army and was sentenced to life imprisonment on
charges of ordering the killing of Palestinians accused of
collaborating with Israeli security and intelligence services.
Israel subsequently released him in exchange for two Israeli
intelligence agents who had tried to assassinate a Hamas leader
in Jordan and who were detained there.
Israel has resorted to extrajudicial
executions for several years without offering proof of guilt or
right of defence. The Israeli army has assassinated some 200
Palestinians in the past three and a half years. Such attacks
have also resulted in the unlawful killing of more than 100
bystanders, including dozens of children. Amnesty International
has repeatedly condemned these acts as unlawful.
Amnesty International calls on Israel to put
an immediate end to its policy of assassinations. The
organisation also calls on Hamas and other Palestinian armed
groups to immediately stop targeting Israeli civilians in
indiscriminate suicide bombings and other attacks. The
Palestinian Authority must also deploy its utmost efforts to
prevent such attacks by Palestinian armed groups