RAMALLAH/GAZA – Hamas released a statement on Monday condemning the killing of Osama bin Laden, calling the event an "assassination" of an "Arab holy warrior."
Striking a very different tone, the Palestinian Authority said on Monday the killing of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by US forces was "good for the cause of peace."
There was no immediate reaction from the competing Hamas Islamist movement which governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas is critical of US policy in the Middle East and deeply hostile to Israel.
"Getting rid of bin Laden is good for the cause of peace worldwide but what counts is to overcome the discourse and the methods — the violent methods — that were created and encouraged by bin Laden and others in the world," PA spokesman Ghassan Khatib said.
Palestinians hit the headlines after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, carried out by al Qaida, when a small group were filmed celebrating in East Jerusalem.
At the time, there were bigger demonstrations in the Gaza Strip in support of the attacks. Palestinians partly blame their national plight on US support for Israel.
However, the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat banned such public displays and voiced sympathy for the dead in the United States.
In Ramallah, the PA's view was shared by Ahmed Saleh, a 58-year-old retired Palestinian. "The world is better without bin Laden. It has removed a pillar of evil from the world," he said. "His heinous actions were exploited to allow hostile policies toward the Arabs and Muslims."
But Umm Mohammed, a veiled woman, said she hoped news of bin Laden's death was a lie. "God willing, he will continue to conquer the West," she said.
In Gaza, Hamas now faces a challenge from al Qaida-inspired groups that consider it too moderate. One such group was behind last month's killing of a pro-Palestinian Italian activist in the territory.
Abdel-Qader Abu Shaaban, a 53-year-old Palestinian from Gaza, described bin Laden's killing as "a very criminal act".
"This is not a victory. If they assassinated bin Laden, there will be others stronger than him: politicians and military people," he said.