The spiritual leader of the Islamist resistance group was injured after a quarter-tonne bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 slammed into a Palestinian apartment block in a densely populated area of Gaza City.

“The Israeli enemy have lost their minds completely,” he told Aljazeera in an exclusive interview later in the day.

“They deal with everything by force, and forget that they are facing the Palestinian people, who will never surrender.”

Appeal

He also appealed to the international community to hear the plight of the Palestinian people. “We say to the world: Where are you? When a Zionist is killed you stand up and take notice, but when a Palestinian is killed you are silent,” he said.

The wheelchair-bound Yasin, a co-founder of Hamas and its revered spiritual leader, has been treated for injuries to his right shoulder and hand at Shifa Hospital.

Yasin was among several Hamas leaders holding a meeting at the home of senior Hamas official and Islamic University lecturer, Dr Marwan Abu Ras, immediately before the strike.

“Israel is forgetting that it is faced by people who seek martyrdom”

Shaikh Ahmad Yasin,
Hamas founder and spiritual leader

Among them were high-ranking officials Muhammad Daiff and Ismail Haniyeh.

Abu Ras said the missile struck his home moments after Yasin and Haniyeh evacuated the building after hearing Israeli aircraft overhead.

Seventeen other people were injured in the attack, most of them women and children.

No white flag

Yasin threatened counter-attacks, confirming fears that the strikes would perpetuate the cycle of violence, especially in the wake of the resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas, who had previously persuaded Hamas and other resistance groups to observe a ceasefire.

“Israel is forgetting that it is faced by people who seek martyrdom,” Yasin said. “If they think that targeting me or any leaders of Hamas will discourage them from jihad, they are deluding themselves.

“If they expect us to raise the white flag this is also a delusion,” he added.

The attack is the latest in a series of Israeli assassination attempts on leaders of Hamas. Shaikh Yasin is the most senior figure within the group to be targeted. It has, however, assassinated scores of the radical group's leaders. 

Since 21 August Israel has killed 11 Hamas members and four civilian bystanders in helicopter missile strikes in Gaza.

Abbas's caretaker government condemned the attack on Yasin as "a grave escalation that wrecks all efforts exerted by the Palestinian leadership to reach calm, and renew a ceasefire".

Israeli admission

The Israeli missile hit a densely populated area of Gaza City

The Israeli army has confirmed it attempted to assassinate Shaikh Yasin and warned that the Jewish state would pursue its "relentless war" against the Islamic movement.

"Israeli security forces acted this afternoon in Gaza in an Israeli airforce strike against a building in which the terrorist leadership of Hamas headed by Sheikh Yasin was meeting to plan future terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens," the army statement read.

"The IDF (Israeli army) will continue to wage a relentless war against Hamas and other terrorist organisations," it added.

The admission was met with an assurance from Yasin that war would be waged in return.

“They should know that the battle will continue and that our people, mujahidin and fighters, will hold them to account and make them pay the price of their crimes,” he said.

“If I am killed there will arise a thousand like me, and if they kill a commander tens more will replace him,” he added.