Back in June 1998, only ten years ago, we announced that we would allowed Hamas "religious" leader Sheik Yassin back into Gaza! On June 15th today's "Golden Oldie" was published. Eleven days later on June 26, the NY Times ran the following story:
Hamas Sheik Back in Gaza After Touring Arab Capitals
By SERGE SCHMEMANN
Published: June 25, 1998
" Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder and spiritual leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas, returned to Gaza tonight after a medical trip that turned into a triumphant and reportedly lucrative four-month tour of Arab capitals.
The 62-year-old Islamic cleric, a quadriplegic with failing eyesight and hearing, was released from an Israeli jail in October in exchange for Israeli agents seized after a botched attempt on the life of a Hamas official in Jordan.
At his home in Gaza City, the sheik's motorcade was greeted with festive gunfire from Hamas bodyguards, and a placard reading, ''The Islamic nation is proud of Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who returned to the nation its dignity and glory, and from his wheelchair moved the whole nation.''
In a brief statement to about 100 followers, the sheik said: ''I am returning after several months to Gaza, to my Palestinian homeland. We are determined to continue the struggle. We will never accept the occupation of our homeland, and we will use all our means until we remove the occupation and our people go back home.''
The sheik's return had been a matter of some suspense, as Israel debated whether to allow him back or not after a tour in which he issued militant statements and reportedly netted tens of millions of dollars for his Islamic movement, which adamantly opposes the Palestinian peace agreements with Israel and whose secretive military wing is responsible for most of the suicide bombings in Israel in recent years." -more