[News] PFLP founder George Habash dies
news at freedomarchives.org
Sun Jan 27 13:23:40 EST 2008
SATURDAY, JANUARY 26, 2008
22:36 MECCA TIME, 19:36 GMT
PFLP founder George Habash dies
Habash, a paediatrician, was a popular, if
controversial, Palestinian leader [EPA]
George Habash, the Palestinian leader and a longtime rival of Yasser
Arafat, the former Palestinian president, has died in Jordan, aged 80.
Habash, who passed away on Saturday, founded the Popular Front for
the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which carried out the hijackings
of several aircraft in the 1970s.
"He had a severe heart attack and he died instantly," Leila Khaled, a
member of the Palestine National Council and a leading member of the
Khaled spoke by telephone from Jordan Hospital in Amman, where she
said Habash died at 8:15pm (1815GMT) on Saturday.
In Damascus, Maher al-Taher, the PFLP's spokesman, confirmed Habash's
death. Habash had been living in Amman since 1992, he said.
The office of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has declared
a three-day mourning period for Habash.
In Gaza, Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader, said Habash "spent his life
Habash founded the PFLP, which promoted armed resistance, in December
1967 - six months after the war in which Israel seized east
Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
The group was responsible for the hijackings of four Western
airliners over the US, Europe, the Far East and the Gulf in 1970.
The aircraft were blown up in the Middle East after their passengers
and crews had disembarked.
Born into a wealthy Christian Arab family, Habash became a refugee
after the 1948 creation of Israel.
He graduated in 1951 from the American University of Beirut, going on
to become a pediatrician.
He was a co-founder of Harakat Al Qawmeyon Al Arab, a pan-Arab
nationalist movement founded in 1952 that has had a profound impact
on Palestinian and Arab political thought.
He later espoused Marxism and emerged as an internationally
recognized leader of the Palestinian liberation movement and the
broader struggle for political and social justice.
For many Arabs, he was one of the few leaders who embodied the
His PFLP movement favoured armed struggle to establish a Palestinian
state and opposed Arafat, breaking completely with him over the
signing of the Oslo Peace Accords in 1993.
However, he wrote one of the most moving eulogies for Arafat.
Habash resigned as secretary-general of the PFLP in 2000, citing
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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