April 17, 2017 marks the 13th death anniversary of one of Hamas icons and co-founders, Dr. Abdul Aziz al-Rantisi.
Nicknamed the "Lion of Palestine”, al-Rantisi was the co-founder of the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, along with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
Al-Rantisi was Hamas's political leader and spokesman in the Gaza Strip following the Israeli killing of Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March 2004.
He opposed compromise with Israel and called for the creation of an independent Palestinian state through armed resistance.
Al-Rantisi was born in Yibna, between Jaffa and Ashkelon, on 23 October 1947. Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, his family sought refuge in the Gaza Strip. In 1956, when he was nine, Israeli troopers killed his uncle in the Khan Younis massacre.
He studied pediatric medicine and genetics at Egypt's Alexandria University, graduating first in his class. He was a certified physician. In 1976, he returned to Gaza to teach parasitology and genetics.
During the First Intifada, al-Rantisi joined with Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and Salah Shehadeh, among others, in instructing people to exit the mosques chanting Allahu Akbar. This was the start of the First Intifada, following which Hamas was formed later that year. "Intifada" is the Arabic word for "uprising", in this case an uprising against the Israeli occupation.
In December 1992, al-Rantisi was deported to southern Lebanon, as part of the expulsion of 416 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad anti-occupation operatives, and emerged as the general spokesman of the expellees.
On 17 April 2004, the occupation forces killed al-Rantisi by firing Hellfire missiles from an AH-64 Apache helicopter at his car. British Foreign Minister Jack Straw condemned the action, saying: "The British government has made it repeatedly clear that so-called 'targeted assassinations' of this kind are unlawful, unjustified and counter-productive."
He had been held for seven years in Israeli jails. He was the first Hamas leader to be arrested in January 15, 1988.
Today, al-Rantisi stands for an icon of anti-occupation activism across the occupied Palestinian territories.