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Palestinian intellectuals, officials urge restraint
Updated: 2004-03-26 11:22

A group of 70 Palestinian intellectuals and officials urged restraint on Thursday over Israel's killing of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, calling for peaceful protests instead of bloody revenge.

Hamas and other militant groups have vowed unprecedented violence to pay back the Jewish state for assassinating the spiritual leader of the Islamic faction that killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings.

In a newspaper advert, the group that included three ministers from Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, urged people to "restrain their anger and rise again in a peaceful large-scale uprising."

The Middle East has been stuck in a cycle of attacks and counter-strikes since the start of a Palestinian uprising three and a half years ago. Little has come of numerous peace initiatives, including the latest U.S.-backed "road map."

Arafat, whose authority is willing to negotiate with Israel for a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, reiterated on Wednesday that he opposed attacks on Israeli civilians.

But Hamas warned all Israelis from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon down that they would be targets after the killing of Yassin. Hamas is bent on destroying Israel to set up an Islamic state and has ruled out all negotiation.

Signatories of Thursday's appeal for restraint said Palestinians would do better to adopt peaceful means.

"Responding to Sharon could be by showing his moral and political bankruptcy rather than adopting his methods and exacting revenge," Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi told Reuters. "Resistance does not have to be violent resistance."

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