Tens of thousands of Palestinians were marching through the Gaza Strip on Sunday at the funeral procession for Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi, who was assassinated by Israel Saturday evening.
Three days of mourning have been declared in the Palestinian territories and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat has set up a mourners' tent at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
In a statement following the assassination of Dr. al- Rantisi, Arafat and the Palestinian leadership called on the international community to provide "international protection" to the Palestinian people and their leadership.
"Israeli government's practices against the Palestinian people will not weaken the resistance of the Palestinians in face of the occupation, colonization and Israel's arrogance," the statement said. "The Palestinian leadership confirmed that the atrocious assassination crimes will strengthen our steadfastness and consolidate our national unity in the face of Israeli state terror." The statement concluded by saying that the "Palestinian people are firmly determined to confront the continued Israeli crimes through resistance and steadfastness. There is no way, for the Palestinian people, but the way of freedom to liberate their land and establish the independent Palestinian state."
Meanwhile, Israeli security forces were on high alert on Sunday, fearing reprisals for the helicopter attack on Rantisi's car in the Gaza Strip.
According to Israeli media reports, security forces had over 50 warnings of possible attacks and are concerned of spontaneous ones, similar to those carried out in the Tel Aviv-region following the March 22 assassination of Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )