BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON RANTISSI
Attributed to Israeli security sources - distributed by the IDF Spokesperson
10 June 2003
Abd al-Aziz Rantissi, senior figure of Hamas in Gaza, responsible for
directing many terrorist attacks, and chief opponent of any cease-fire or
cessation of terrorist attacks against Israel.
Abd al-Aziz Rantissi is one of the senior leaders of the Hamas in the Gaza
Strip. He replaced Saleh Shehada and Ibriahim Macadma as one of the heads of
the Hamas. Rantissi is responsible for directing the policy of the Hamas
Rantissi is responsible for carrying out many terrorist attacks by the
Hamas, including involvement in the terrorist attack in which four Israeli
soldiers were killed at the Erez Checkpoint in the Gaza Strip Sunday.
He is also responsible for encouraging and inciting the Palestinian
population against Israel and for the continuation of terrorist attacks.
Hamas, has since September 2000, and increasingly so recently, perpetrated
terrorist attacks in a variety of forms: firing Qassam rockets toward
Israeli communities, infiltrations into Israeli communities to murder
Israeli civilians, explosive charges against IDF tanks and vehicles,
shooting toward civilian vehicles in the Gaza Strip, ambushes of IDF
soldiers, dispatching booby-trapped boats towards Israeli ships and sending
terrorists via the sea.
It also includes involvement in attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers for use
as "bargaining chips." Part of this activity was directed by Hamas prisoners
in Israeli prisons, and most of it by the Hamas headquarters in the Gaza
Strip, headed by Rantissi.
In addition, Hamas operatives smuggle weapons and terrorists from Egypt into
Gaza using underground tunnels and are involved in the development and
production of weapons.
Due to the elimination of the leadership of the Hamas in the West Bank in
recent months, the Hamas leadership in the Gaza perceives itself as the
central headquarters, and as such, directs and is responsible for terrorist
attacks through Hamas operatives in the West Bank.
The leadership of the Hamas maintains organizational ties with Hamas
headquarters around the world, and especially the Hamas headquarters in
The Hamas leadership in Gaza is involved in the recruitment and operation of
terrorist cells among Israeli Arabs, which has so far, been thwarted by
Israeli security forces . Rantissi was directly involved in directing and
guiding this activity.
The Hamas considers itself an alternative to the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas tries to present a separation between the political leadership and the
military wing, as if the military activity serves no political aim. In
practice, the formal "military leadership" of the Hamas is subordinate to
what is known as the "political leadership." However, it is this "political
echelon" of the terrorist organizations, which directs, instructs and
determines policy, including terrorist activity.
Interrogation of Hamas operatives point to Rantissi as directing Hamas
terrorist policy. His public statements serve as instructions for terrorists
to carry out attacks.
The Hamas in Gaza takes advantage of the fact that the IDF does not have the
presence in the Gaza Strip as it does in the West Bank, and thus Hamas
continues with its widespread terrorist activity in Gaza. At the same time,
none of the Palestinian security apparatuses operate to thwart the terrorist
attacks, which take a heavy toll in human life of Israeli civilians and
Rantissi began his career in the Hamas as one of the six founders of the
movement in December 1987, together with Sheikh Yassin and others. In
December 1992, he was expelled to Lebanon, as part of the expulsion of 416
Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, and emerged as general spokesman of
those expelled to southern Lebanon. Upon his return in 1993, he was
Rantissi was detained many times by the Palestinian Authority for his
criticism of the PA and Arafat, but in most cases, was released after a
After the return of Sheikh Yassin to the Gaza Strip in October 1997, Yassin,
together with the senior operatives including Rantissi, reorganized the
Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, in order to restore its activity.
In mid 1999, following his release from a PA prison, Rantissi returned to
his position as "right hand" to Yassin. During talks among the Hamas
leadership in Gaza and abroad and in its contact with the PA regarding
ceasing terror activity, Rantissi, together with Ibrahim Macadma and with
the support of the external leadership, was one of the main opponents to any
cease-fire and cessation of terrorist attacks inside Israel.
Rantissi has considerable influence over the Palestinian public, in general
and the Hamas operatives, in particular. He delivers sermons, addresses, and
interviews utilizing extreme language, in which he calls for the
continuation of the terrorist activity against the State of Israel and its
citizens, opposing any cease fire. This serves as instructions to the field
operatives in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to continue their terrorist
Since 1993, the Hamas has dispatched 113 suicide bombers, which comprise
half of all suicide bombers. Seventy-two suicide bombers were dispatched by
the Hamas since September 2000. The Hamas has recruited and operated 18
Israeli Arab cells. In these Hamas terror attacks since September 2000, 227
Israelis have been murdered and 1393 wounded.
Currently, there are 53 specific alerts of pending terrorist attacks, half
of them are linked to Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The following are a variety of public statements by Rantissi calling for and
encouraging attacks against Israel:
+January 2001: Rantissi, quoted on the Hamas website, calls to step up the
painful strikes against the "Zionist enemy" in order to create a balance of
deterrence and to bring about the expulsion of the enemy. He added that
"what happened in Lebanon, will also happen in Palestine."
+January 2001: Rantissi notes that it is clear to all that the military wing
of Hamas, the Az a-Din Al Qassam, is responsible for military "operations"
against the "Israeli occupation forces." Rantissi also calls for the
continuation of the armed "Intifada," and states that [the hurling of
stones] will not suffice.
+April 2001: Rantissi admitted publicly that the Hamas fires mortars, and
notes that in the future Israeli cities will be targeted.
+May 2001: Rantissi calls on Hamas in Gaza to wage an all out war against
+June 2001: Rantissi states on the Hamas website the intention to continue
with suicide bombings. In addition, Rantissi praises the suicide bombers.
+July 2001: Rantissi calls to strike every Israeli politician, especially
Sharon and Peres (following the killing of Hamas operatives in Nablus) and
noted that Az a-Din Al-Qassam operatives will respond.
+March 2002: Rantissi, on the Hamas website, calls on the military wing of
Hamas to carry out suicide attacks in Israel.
+March 2002: During a television interview, Rantissi states that with
"Allah's help," we will also kill Prime Minister Sharon.
+April 2002: In an interview on the Hamas website following the terrorist
attack in Adura, Rantissi states that this is the beginning of a cycle of
revenge and that every drop of Palestinian blood will be avenged.
+October 2002: During a television interview, Rantissi calls for the
military wing of Hamas to carry out suicide bombings in all Israeli
+March 2003: Rantissi is quoted in a Reuters article following the attack on
Macadma, as stating that a new phase in the war against the Jews has been
initiated, and that all Israeli leaders are legitimate targets.
+March 2003: An announcement by Hamas in the Gaza Strip calls for the Az
a-Din Al Qassam to strike at Israeli ministers and Knesset members.
+May 2003: Rantissi calls for the continuation of Jihad (holy war) and
"resistance" against Israeli soldiers, and states that this is "the only way
to free the prisoners."
+May 24, 2003: Rantissi, on Radio Teheran, states that the "Road Map" is a
"scheme of Sharon's." Rantissi also notes that Sharon's acceptance of the
"Road Map" is a conspiracy against the Palestinian nation and against the
+June 2003: Interviewed in "A-Sharq al-Awsat" newspaper, Rantissi stated
that he does not know why Abu Mazen is optimistic about a cease-fire. He
stressed that resistance to the "occupation" will continue.
Additional statements by Rantissi regarding suicide bombings, including
calls for such bombings against American targets:
+On April 7, 2003, the Hamas website, quoted Rantissi discussing the suicide
attack by two women against American soldiers in Iraq. Rantissi called for
Muslims to blow themselves up against U.S. soldiers.
+In a Reuters article on March 31, 2003, Rantissi notes that the Iraqi
suicide bombings against American soldiers encourages Hamas to carry out
suicide bombings against Israeli targets.
+Rantissi and his associates opposed the creation of the new Palestinian
government and flatly rejected any intention to cooperate with it to reduce
+On April 23, Rantissi tells a French news agency that this is not the time
to establish a government, but rather, is the time for "Jihad." Rantissi
also notes that Hams would accept a Government if it would tolerate
terrorism against the Zionist entity, but would not support a government
that did not allow terrorist activities.
+In a March 30 interview to the above-mentioned agency, Rantissi states that
Hamas would not accept a government which accepts Oslo and recognizes the
State of Israel.
A Chronology of Terrorist Attacks Carried out by the Hamas Since September
+May 19, 2003: A Hamas terrorist on a bicycle blows himself up next to a
military jeep in Kfar Darom (Gaza Strip). 3 soldiers are wounded.
+May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber, with an explosives filled bag, blows
himself up near the A-Ram Junction in Jerusalem.
+May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive blows himself up on a
bus at the French Hill Junction in Jerusalem. 7 Israelis are killed and 20
+May 17, 2003: A suicide bomber dressed as a religious Jew, wearing an
explosive belt, blows himself up in Hebron's Gross Square, killing 2 Israeli
+April 30, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt at the
entrance to a pub on the Tel Aviv boardwalk. 3 Israeli civilians are killed,
and 62 are wounded.
+ March 5, 2003: A suicide bomber blows himself up on the #37 bus in Haifa.
15 Israeli civilians are killed, and 42 are wounded.
+January 17, 2003: An explosives lade raft, guided by a suicide bomber,
explodes after Israeli Navy ships fire at the craft 4 kilometers from Dugit,
in the northern Gaza Strip.
+November 21, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt on the #20
bus on Mexico Street in Jerusalem. 11 Israelis are killed, and 50 are
+October 27, 2002: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blows himself
up at the gas station near the entrance to the city of Ariel. 3 Israeli
civilians are killed, and 17 are wounded.
+October 11, 2002: A suicide bomber is arrested at the entrance to a café
before he could detonate his explosive belt.
+October 10, 2002: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt at the
"Coca-Cola" Junction/Bar Ilan Bridge. An Israeli civilian is killed, and 20
+September 19, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden bag on
the #4 bus on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv.
+August 4, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to
his body on a bus travelling near Mt. Meron (northern Israel). 9 Israeli
civilians are killed, and 48 are wounded.
+June 18, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden bag on a bus
travelling along Dov-Yosef Street in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. 19
civlians are killed, and 50 are wounded.
+ May 7, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt and an
additional explosive device (in a bag) at a snooker club in Rishon Letzion.
16 Israeli civilians are killed, and 51 are wounded.
+March 31, 2002: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the "Matzah"
restaurant in Haifa. 15 Israeli civilians are killed, and 31 are wounded.
+March 27, 2002: A suicide bomber blows himself up with an explosive belt
Park Hotel in Netanya. 29 Israeli civilians are killed, and 144 are wounded.
+March 9, 2002: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to
his body at the entrance the the "Moment Café" in Jerusalem. 11 Israeli
civilians are killed, and 58 are wounded.
+March 7, 2002: A suicide bomber attempts to detonate an explosive device on
his back in the "Kafit" café on Emek Rafaim Street in Jerusalem.
+February 6, 2002: A suicide bomber boards a bus travelling between the city
of Maale Adumim and Jerusalem and attempts to detonate an explosive belt.
+December 12, 2001: 2 suicide bombers detonate explosive devices next to
Israeli vehicles in the area of Ganei Tal (Gaza Strip), while an additional
explosive device is detonated towards another Israeli vehicle. 3 Israeli
civilians are killed.
+December 2, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device concealed
under a coat on a bus near Yad L'banim in Haifa. 15 civilians are killed and
35 are wounded.
+December 1, 2001: 2 suicide bombers detonate explosive devices concealed in
bags as well as explosive belts on Ben Yehudah Street in Jerusalem.
Immediately afterwards, a booby-trapped car explodes. 11 civilians are
killed and 170 are wounded.
+November 26, 2001: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt at the Erez
Checkpoint (Gaza Strip). 2 IDF soldiers are wounded.
+November 8, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped
to his body in the area of Bakah Al Sharikah as he attempted to travel to
Israel. 2 IDF soldiers are wounded.
+September 9, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped
to his body at the train station in Nahariya. 3 Israeli civilians are
killed, and 46 are wounded.
+September 4, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped
to his body on Neviim Street in Jerusalem. 13 Israeli civilians are wounded.
+August 9, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the Sbarro restaurant
in Jerusale, located on King George and Jaffa Street in Jerusalem. 15
Israelis are killed and 110 wounded.
+August 8, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car next to the
Bekaot chcekpoint in the West Bank.
+July 9, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car next to an IDF
vehicle in the area of Gush Katif (Gaza Strip). 1 IDF soldier is wounded.
+June 22, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car near IDF
forces in Alei Sinai (Gush Katif). 2 IDF soldiers are killed, and another
soldier is wounded.
+June 1, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up at the entrance to the
"Dolphinarium" club in Tel Aviv. 22 Israeli civilians are killed, and 83 are
+May 29, 2001: 2 terrorists approach an IDF position at the "Tofah" Junction
(Gaza Strip). 1 terrorist detonates an explosive device strapped to his
body, and the other hurled grenades and opened fire. 2 IDF soldiers are
+May 25, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explsosives filled container
weighing 48 kilograms and 3 gas ballons at the Netzarim Junction in the Gaza
+May 18, 2003: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to
his body at the entrance to a Netanya Mall. 5 Israeli civilians are killed,
and 86 are wounded.
+April 29, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates a booby-trapped car near a bus
carrying children at Dir Sharif Junction.
+April 22, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosive device strapped to
his body near a bus stop in the city of Kfar Sabba. 1 Israeli was killed,
and 50 are wounded.
+March 28, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up near a gas station at the
Neveh Yamin/Kfar Sabba Junction. 2 Israeli civilians are killed, and 4 are
+March 27, 2001: A suicide bomber bomber detonates an explosive strapped to
his body, near an Israeli bus at French Hill Junction in Jerusalem. The
suicide bomber was killed. 21 Israeli civilians were wounded.
+March 4, 2001: A suicide bomber detonates an explosives laden case on the
main street of Netanaya.
+March 1, 2001: A suicide bomber blows himself up while in a taxi, near Mi
Ami Junction. 1 Israeli civilian is killed, and 10 are wounded.
+January 1, 2003: A booby-trapped car explodes in Netanya. 35 Israeli
civilians are wounded.
+December 22, 2000: A suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt, blows
himself up at the entrance to a resturant in the Jordan Valley. 3 Israeli
civilians are wounded.
+December 15, 2000: A suicide bomber attempts to detonate an explosive belt
against Israeli security forces near the Erez Checkpoint. The suicide bomber
also attempts to stab Israeli security personnel.
+November 6, 2000: A booby-trapped raft explodes near an Israeli Navy
"Dabur" craft, near the Israel-Egypt border in Rafah.
Since Septermber 2000, 227 Israeli civilians have been killed, and 1393
wounded in suicide bombings carried out by the Hamas.
Since September 2000, 271 Israeli civilians have been killed, and 1,803
wounded in suicide bombings, infiltrations and "self-sacrifice" attacks.