Israel Threatens to Resume Assassinations, Hamas Vows ‘Much Bigger’ Response Outside the Temple Walls

Israel Threatens to Resume Assassinations, Hamas Vows ‘Much Bigger’ Response

Monday, 24 April, 2023 – 09:15

Flowers are placed on a grave at al-Sheikh Redwan cemetery during Eid al-Fitr in Gaza City, 21 April 2023. (EPA)

Ramallah – Kifah Zboun

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the possibility of resuming assassinations against members of Hamas and other factions over any possible future escalation.

Israeli media focused on Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, as the number one target. Hamas commented on by warning that it would have a “much bigger” response.

During a Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu called on his ministers to avoid public talk about the option of returning to a policy of assassinations, reported Israel’s Channel 12. His request came after a discussion on the issue, within the framework of a broader debate focused on restoring Israel’s “eroded deterrence”.

The channel reported that the Cabinet deliberated on reactivating the policy of assassinations, even if it led to a new round of fighting with the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli government concluded that Hamas leaders must understand that they would not be able to hide behind their activists in the West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon, and that Israel intended to restore deterrence and respond in the future.

The leaks about Israel’s intention to resume the assassinations came at a time when Israeli media focused on al-Arouri, describing him as “the most wanted person”, as he stands behind the development of Hamas’ military base in the West Bank and Lebanon.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that because of al-Arouri, a real war almost broke out during the Jewish Passover holiday. It described him as the most charismatic figure in Hamas, who has contacts with Tehran, Beirut, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and planned to attack Israel from the different fronts.

Israel had accused al-Arouri of being behind the missile attacks that were launched from Lebanon during the month of Ramadan in response to the Israeli forces’ storming of the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem.

Former Israeli generals called for the immediate assassination of al-Arouri. Retired Major General Eitan Dangot, a former secretary for different security ministers, described him as the most dangerous Hamas figure.

Officers in the Shin Bet and Mossad, and former security and military experts agreed that he should be the first target, according to the newspaper.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman, said the response by the Palestinian factions to any Israeli action would be “much bigger” than Israel would expect.

“The Palestinian people are not afraid of such threats and will continue their legitimate struggle against the occupation,” Qassem warned.

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