Israel identifies ‘new Hamas boss’


Hamas has refused to reveal the name of the man chosen to replace Abdel Aziz Rantisi, the Hamas leader killed in an Israeli airstrike April 17.

The group’s leaders in Gaza have been in hiding since the Hamas founder, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, was assassinated by Israel on March 22. Israel has said the group’s entire leadership is marked for death.

Hamas has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings that have killed more than 300 Israelis over the past 3½ years.

In Gaza, meanwhile, about 500 Palestinian medical workers demonstrated near the Shifa Hospital to show support for Mr Arafat.

Mr Sharon said over the weekend that he no longer considered himself bound to a pledge to the United States not to harm the Palestinian leader.

Yesterday, Israeli officials backed off Mr Sharon’s threats, saying there were no immediate plans to target Mr Arafat.