NewsHour Extra Feature Stories
NewsHour Extra features stories can help students identify and interpret key issues
in current events. This activity anticipates one class period, but the follow-up
essay might be assigned as homework, or in another period.
Up: Use initiating questions to introduce the topic and find out how much
your students know.
Activity: Have students read NewsHour Extra's feature story and answer the
questions on the reading comprehension handout.
Use discussion questions to encourage students to think about how the issues outlined
in the story affect their lives and express and debate different opinions.
Students can write an 500-word editorial on the topic expressing their views
and send it to NewsHour Extra [email@example.com]
for possible publication.
Students are graded on their answers to reading comprehension questions and/or
NewsHour Extra: Israel Vows to Kill Palestinian Militant Leaders: 3/24/04
1. Who are
the Palestinians? Where do they live?
2. What is a terrorist? What is
a freedom fighter?
3. Can governments try to kill terrorists?
Comprehension Questions: (click here
Who is Sheikh Ahmed Yassin? Why is he significant?
Ahmed Yassin, who founded Hamas in 1987 and is said to have masterminded scores
of suicide attacks, was killed by a helicopter strike as he left a Gaza City mosque
Monday. A quadriplegic since an accident at age 12, the wheelchair-bound spiritual
leader rarely left his home.
What is Hamas?
is the largest Palestinian militant Islamist organization. It was created at the
beginning of the first intifada -- the Palestinian uprising against Israel's occupation
in the West Bank and Gaza.
and many Western countries consider Hamas a terrorist organization, while Hamas
supporters see the group as a legitimate force that defends the rights of Palestinians.
What are Hamas' goals? How does it attempt to achieve its goals?
Hamas' short-term goal is to drive
Israel out of the occupied territories. The group's long-term goal is to establish
an Islamic state on all of historic Palestine, an area that has been inside the
borders of Israel since the Jewish state was created in 1948.
achieve its goals, Hamas has used violent means such as suicide bombings and armed
assaults that have killed hundreds and wounded thousands of Israelis, including
Why has Israel targeted militant leaders such as Yassin?
By killing Yassin, Israel hopes
to destroy the foundations of Hamas and prevent other Palestinians from joining
who is involved in terrorism in Gaza or the West Bank
knows after [Yassin's]
assassination that no one is immune," said Israel's police minister, Tzahi
How have Israeli officials attempted to justify their targeting policy?
Israeli officials have justified
the policy by referencing the actions of the United States. Following the Sept.
11 terrorist attacks, President Bush effectively lifted a 25-year U.S. ban on
foreign assassinations to allow the Central Intelligence Agency to target the
elusive al-Qaida chief, Osama bin Laden, and other terrorists.
Who will lead Hamas in the Gaza Strip? What is the new leader's reaction to the
announced that spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi would replace Yassin in the Gaza Strip.
Trained as a medical doctor, Rantisi is one of the original founders of Hamas
and considered a hard-liner.
reacted strongly to the assassination, saying Israel had "opened the gates
will be unified in the trenches of resistance. We will not surrender, we will
never surrender to Israeli terror," Rantisi told the Associated Press.
Did Hamas threaten the U.S.? Explain your answer.
Hamas had made veiled threats against the United States for supporting the Israeli
government, Rantisi said Wednesday that its militant activities were aimed solely
are inside Palestinian land and acting only inside Palestinian land. We are resisting
the occupation, nothing else," Rantisi said. "Our resistance will continue
just inside our border, here inside our country."
Questions (more research might be needed):
1. What is the difference
between an assassination and killing someone in combat? Should governments be
allowed to assassinate people who they think threaten their security? Why or why
2. Is Hamas a terrorist organization or a legitimate force fighting
for the freedom of its people? Can it be both? Explain your answer.
3. If you give speeches encouraging terrorist acts are you as guilty, less guilty
or more guilty than the individuals who commit those acts?
your answers, in essay form, to firstname.lastname@example.org
for possible publication!