Israeli military officials considered assassinating Hamas officials in a “targeted killing” campaign, Haaretz reports.
This statement comes after hundreds of bombings shocked the Gaza strip, along with hundreds of deaths during the March of Return protests. Israel has said that the targeted killings would have been preferable to the mass deaths.
Israeli officials may have avoided the targeted killings in order to provide a show of good faith in the developing peace agreement negotiations brokered by Egypt and UN Peace Envoy, Nickolay Mladenov.
But the history of Israel using targeted killings points to the frequency of this tactic in achieving Israel’s goals.
Citing the shooting of Mazen Fuqaha, a senior official in Hamas’ military wing, many took note of the confusion it caused in the higher ranks of the Hamas movement.
Israel never took responsibility for the assassination. Hamas executed three people it believed were conspiring with the shooter and struggled to fill the responsibility left by Fuqaha.
Targeted killings recently came to light again in the recent death of Syrian weapons scientist Aziz Asbar who was killed on his way home from work near Hama in Syria.
The international community was quick to point to Israel’s Mossad agency as responsible for the killing of the weapons scientist.
Brokers of the developing peace talks explicitly stated that Israel has a responsibility to avoid this tactic on Hamas officials, despite being in a vulnerable position as many traveled to Gaza from abroad.
One of the conditions of the agreement for starting peace talks was that Israel would not attempt to assassinate some of the Hamas officials, many of whom went through border crossings that where Israel would have military access.
A history of Israel’s use of targeted killings also shows that Hamas is likely to react violently with counterstrikes and military campaigns along the borders, likely leading to war. Both parties are currently working toward a ceasefire agreement.
Israeli officials are quoted saying that the plans to assassinate senior Hamas officials have reached an advanced stage, but would require additional preparations if members of the Netanyahu administration requested the assassinations.