Kingdom Seeks Protection For Palestinians

RIYADH/BURAIDAH, 23 March 2004 — Saudi Arabia yesterday denounced Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and called for international protection for Palestinians. “The Kingdom strongly condemns this criminal act, which flouts all international and humanitarian norms,” said a Cabinet statement.

It said by killing Yassin, Israel aimed “in the first place to kill international efforts designed to revive the Middle East peace process.” The Kingdom also urged the international community to face up to its responsibility and stop the continuing Israeli aggression on the Palestinians.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, also sent condolences to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and to Yassin’s family.

The Kingdom’s Shoura Council blasted the murder and urged other consultative and parliamentary bodies worldwide to expose Israel’s terrorism, the Saudi Press Agency said.

The council said Yassin was “a symbol of resistance, who was a defender of his religion, homeland and people.”

Prominent Saudis were united in shock and outrage.

“It is an unforgivable crime, and I pray that the Palestinians find the courage to overcome this huge loss,” said Abdullah Omar Naseef, a former deputy chairman of the Shoura Council.

“This has aggravated anger and anxiety across the Arab and Islamic world, and that may have serious implications,” he warned.

Naseef praised Yassin, who became “acceptable to a growing number of people and nations across the world because of his moderate views and rational approach.”

Prominent Saudi Scholar Sheikh Salman ibn Fahd Al-Ouda called upon the governments and private institutions of the Muslim world to support the Islamic resistance in Palestine. He also slammed a US government appeal to show restraint. “A civilian is killed by a government that calls this assassination an achievement, and then we hear them ask for restraint,” Al-Ouda said.

News of the Israeli attack sent shockwaves through the Kingdom. In Jeddah’s Bab Makkah district, Arab expatriates were seen openly weeping.

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