Hamas appointed a successor to Dr Rantissi hours after he was killed in an Israeli helicopter missile strike, but refused to reveal his identity after Israel assassinated two of the militant group’s top leaders in less than a month.
Dr Rantissi, 56, had replaced Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel late last month.
The US denied it gave Israel the green light to go after Dr Rantissi but refrained from condemning the assassination, saying only it was “gravely concerned” for Middle East stability.
Hours after two missiles slammed into Dr Rantissi’s car, killing the bearded Egyptian-trained pediatrician and two bodyguards, Hamas’s armed wing issued a statement vowing “100 retaliations” that will shake “the criminal entity”.
Israel’s two Arab peace partners, Egypt and Jordan, joined the European Union in condemning the killing and cautioning such assassinations could destroy any chance for Middle East peace.