IDF spokesman R-Adm. Daniel Hagari on Friday night referred to senior Hamas officials, saying that “they are being followed around in Gaza and around the world.”
Hagari’s warning signals to the Hamas leadership in Qatar and around the world that the IDF will pursue them wherever they are.
This calls back to several famous Israeli operations to eliminate the masterminds of terror attacks against Israelis, such as those operations that took place in the wake of the Munich Massacre.
During this era, Mossad would target Palestinians involved in planning attacks on Israelis, with most of them being in foreign countries.
This type of operation, involving Mossad agents, slowly disappeared after the Oslo Accords, with most targeted killings following Oslo being a result of the Second Intifada and consequently took on another form.
A new era
In this era, the operations were clearly distinct from the previous years. Where before operations involved long-term planning and infiltration in a variety of foreign countries, now they simply required locating the target in the West Bank or Gaza and sending Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) agents or IDF troops to carry out the killing.
This era changed a little after the withdrawal from Gaza, with more killings occurring there after the withdrawal due to the increased presence of Hamas and increased Hamas operations from the Gaza Strip.
Following the withdrawal and subsequent wars with Gaza, it remained the primary location of targeted killings but alleged Israeli eliminations of Iranian nuclear physicists increased, signaling a return of Mossad operations to the international arena.
The first alleged targeted killing of a Hamas official outside of Gaza and the West Bank since the Oslo Accords, occurred in 2010, when Mossad was accused of killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai.
Al-Mabhouh’s killing sparked controversy as Mossad was accused of using Irish passports to carry out the killing.
For the next 6 years, no killings were carried out, except in the Palestinian Territories and Iran.
Mossad was accused of killing Hamas engineers in Tunisia and Malaysia, but this change was minor and no killings have been carried out outside of the Palestinian Territories, Iran, and Syria since then.
If Hagari’s announcement signals a new era in targeted killings abroad, this could mean that the senior Hamas members holed up in Qatar suddenly find that they are unable to go about their daily lives without looking over their shoulders.