Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Sunday he would keep hunting down Hamas leaders while pushing forward with his plan to "evacuate" all Gaza Strip and some West Bank settlements.
Also Sunday, according to Army radio, Israeli Minister Gideon Ezra said Hamas overall chief Khaled Mashal is also a "target". "The fate of Khaled Mashal is the fate of Rantisi," Ezra said.
Syria-based Mashal is chief of the Hamas political bureau who escaped a Mossad assassination in Amman in 1997.
Ezra said in response to Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi's assassination that, "it is an incredible operation from the intelligence and operational aspects".
"Undoubtedly", the Minister added, "it is our duty to behave in the same manner to all Hamas leaders who activate terror". Ezra added that "in this war, we are obliged to stand behind the government".
Rantisi was killed in an airstrike less than a month after Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed in a similar attack in Gaza.
On his part, at the start of a weekly Cabinet meeting, Sharon thanked and praised the Israeli forces for Saturday's "successful" operation, in which Rantisi was killed.
"This policy of making an effort on the one hand to advance a political process and on the other hand to hit the terror organizations and their leaders will continue," Sharon said.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )