GAZA CITY - The Middle East will be "a better place" without ailing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas said Thursday.
"The region will be a better place without Sharon. The world is on the verge of being rid of one of its worst leaders," chief Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said.
"Sharon's fate is divine intervention reserved for despots and evil-doers."
The head of the smaller radical faction Islamic Jihad also said his fighters "would not miss Sharon."
"God has had enough of Sharon, the torturer of Sabra and Shatila, and is freeing the world of him," said Khaled al-Batsh in reference to the 1982 massacres at the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon perpetrated by a Christian militia allied to Israel.
Sharon was forced out in disgrace of his post as defence minister in 1983 after being held indirectly responsible for the massacres.
Dozens of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have been killed by the Israeli army since Sharon came to power in 2001.
The Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP-GC) said Sharon's absence from the political scene would have no impact on Zionist ideology.
"We do not predict a real change in the Zionist ideology. Changes will come from the Palestinian people's struggle," PFLP official Ismail Debej said.
"The Zionist entity is a criminal entity that produced Sharon."