Israel/Assassination

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Israeli military members stand over the body of a man shot during an Israeli security services operation in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on September 23, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Hazem Bader)
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Israel carries out assassinations through agencies such as the Mossad. Ronen Bergman, the intelligence correspondent for Yediot Aharonot newspaper, stated in his book Rise And Kill First that Israel has assassinated over 2700 people.[1] Despite the great range and number of these killings it would appear that (almost) nobody has ever been prosecuted and punished realistically for any of them.

Lists of assassinations

Assassinations of Jews by Zionists

The policy of killing political opponents is older than Israel, starting with the 1924 killing of Jaacob de Haan, a Jewish spokesman for the Orthodox Jews of Palestine, who wished to be independent of the Zionists. The Wikipedia article calls him a Dutch Jewish literary writer and journalist, assassinated by Haganah for his anti-Zionist political activities and contacts with Arab leaders.

Chaim Arlosoroff, Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency (the World Zionist Organization's "Palestine centre") was shot dead on a Tel-Aviv beach in front of his wife on 16th Jun 1933. It is most likely that the assassins were Revisionist Zionists upset that the World Zionist Organisation proposed (and the Jewish Agency subsequently implemented, under Moshe Shertok) a joint project with Hitler to evacuate wealthier Jews from Germany to Palestine with at least some of their assets. According to Lenni Brenner, without this deal, the Zionist project was in trouble.[2] There were three suspects but no convictions, see Wiki on "Assassination of Haim Arlosoroff".

The most famous and well known assassination, however, is the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.

Assassinations of western nationals

Stamps issued by Israel in 1982 to honour terrorists and others, including the war-time assassins of Lord Moyne, buried with full state and military honours on Mount Herzl in 1975.
2000s
  • 31 May 2010 - Furkan Dogan was on the Mavi Marmara (part of a fleet of ships aiming to carry aid to Gaza) in International waters when it was boarded by Israeli commandoes. Furkan received five gunshot wounds in the back of his head, nose, left leg, left ankle and in the back, all from close range. A citizen of the United States, Mr. Dogan was a 19-year-old high school student with ambitions of becoming a medical doctor. [3] Eight Turkish were also killed, some 600 internationals variously lost laptops cameras credit cards and sums of cash. Some of the damaged aid reached Gaza later, electric wheel-chairs having lost their batteries.
  • 25 Jul 2006 - Maj. Paeta Hess-von Kruedener of Kingston, Ont., a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was one of four UN military observers who died when the Israeli Defence Forces bombed a clearly marked United Nations post on July 25, 2006. In the words of his widow "... what are the odds that two operational errors (land and air) occurred within an hour of each other and in the same place? ... the UN Patrol Base was a solitary structure ... white; marked UN in big, black letters; ... well mapped ... for more than 30 years!". Kruedener had sent e-mails home to Canada reporting that Israel was bombing schools and waging "a campaign of terror against the Lebanese people".[4][5][6]
  • 13 Jan 2004 - Tom Hurndall - British, shot in the head in Gaza and denied transport to hospital by Israeli forces. Tom's mother Jocelyn Hurndall wrote a biography of him called Defy the Stars: The Life and Tragic Death of Tom Hurndall, published in April 2007. In early 2009, the family is reported to have accepted a payout of £1.5m payout.[7] and see the transcript of the "Film: The Killing Zone".
  • 2 May 2003 - James Miller - British film-maker shot and killed in Gaza. Miller and three colleagues visited a house in the al-Brazil area of Rafah. For several hours Israeli soldiers in nearby armored personnel carrier had been playing Arabic music loudly and shouting at them in Hebrew and Arabic. By 11 p.m. the situation had been quiet for at least an hour. Miller, his colleague Saira Shah, and translator `Abdullah Rahman `Abdullah left the house by the front door, wearing protective clothing with "TV" marked in fluorescent letters. Rahman held a white flag, Miller shined a flashlight on the flag, and Shah held a British passport in her upraised hands. Much of the incident was filmed by Dan Edge. The three walked towards where they believed the nearest armored personnel carrier (APC) to be, shouting in English and Arabic that they were journalists. An unseen Israeli soldier fired once towards the group. Shah cried out, "We are British journalists." Thirteen seconds later, a second shot hit Miller. Five more shots followed.[8]
  • 16 Mar 2003 - Rachel Corrie - a twenty-three-year-old American university student, was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while attempting to block it from demolishing a home. Her death, captured on camera by her colleagues, briefly attracted considerable media attention ... incident did not take place in the context of active hostilities, and did not threaten the safety of IDF personnel or other persons at the site.[9]
  • 22 Nov 2002 - Iain John Hook was project manager for UNRWA in Jenin, rebuilding the bulldozed refugee camp. He was shot from 20 feet away while within the UN compound. Israeli soldiers on the field delayed the ambulance sent to evacuate Hook and changed its route.[10][11] In 2007 the Israelis paid an undetermined sum as an ex gratia payment to his family. Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish visitor was shot in the thigh the same day.
1960 to 2000
  • Aug 1962 to end of 1963 - future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir organised letter/parcel bomb killings, shootings, abductions and threats to the families of German scientists developing rockets in Egypt.

Sept 1962 - Heinz Krug, 49 assumed murdered in Egypt by Otto Skorzeny (alleged to be an ex-Nazi himself).[12]

Letter bomb to the Heliopolis rocket factory killed five Egyptian workers.[13]

27 Nov 1962 - letter bomb rocket injured secretary to Wolfgang Pilz.[14][15]

Feb 1963 - two shootings are unsuccessful, rocket scientist Hans Kleinwachter escapes death due to a malfunction [16] and a pistol is fired at a West German professor in the town of Lörrach (SW Germany).[14]

Threats - Heidi Goercke, daughter of Paul-Jens Goercke was threatened. They ordered her to persuade Goercke to return to Germany, threatening her family's safety if he did not comply.[13] They were arrested for coercion and illegal operation on behalf of a foreign state but released later.[14] The arrests caused a public scandal [17] but Israel publicly denied the claims.

The killings threats and diplomatic pressure drove all the German scientists out of Egypt by the end of 1963.[18] and the program came to an end by 1967 and Egypt turns to the Soviet Union for rockets.[19]

1945 to 1960
  • 27 Mar 1952 - a bomb hidden in an encyclopedia addressed to Chancellor Adenauer killed a bomb-disposal expert, injuring two others. Five Israeli suspects (former members of Irgun) were identified in Paris but allowed to return to Israel. Eliezer Sudit later revealed that the planner of the assassination attempt was Menachem Begin, later to become Prime Minister of Israel.[20] Begin aimed to prevent the signing of agreements which paid German reparations to the state of Israel rather than the Holocaust survivors themselves. [21] In June 2006 the link to Menachem Begin was confirmed in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, quoted by the Guardian. Begin had offered to sell his gold watch as the conspirators ran out of money. Adenauer (an impeccably anti-Nazi German) was targeted in order "to rouse the international media. It was clear to all of us there was no chance the package would reach Adenauer".[22]
  • 17 Sept 1948 - Count Folke Bernadotte was a member of the Swedish royal family, cousin to the King. He was second only to Wallenburg for rescuing Jews in the last months of WWII. On 14 May 1948, the day before the British Mandate expired, the UN appointed him as "Mediator" to watch over Israel's birth, 'to use his good offices with the local community and authorities in Palestine ... to promote a peaceful adjustment of the future situation in Palestine'.[23] Two months after his killing, and as a result of great international pressure, Israel arrested Nathan Yellin-Mor, the head of the Stern Gang, and Matitiahu Schmulevitz who were convicted and presently released. Yitzhak Shamir, the organization's operational commander and future Prime Minister of Israel, went into hiding.[24]
  • Summer 1947 - letter bombs (unsuccessful) were sent to Truman and various members of his staff at the White House according to his daughter Margaret[25] and other sources[26] - [and see letter bombs Jun 1946 below]. But in fact the story that had been broken much earlier in the autobiography of a White House staff mail reader under nine successive presidents, Ira Smith. "Explosives were contained in "a number of cream-coloured envelopes" Tri-City Herald 3 Dec 1973. Despite this, President Truman recognized the state of Israel immediately less than a year later on 14 May 1948.
  • July 25, 1947 - Sgt. Clifford Martin and Sgt. Mervyn Paice are taken hostage by Irgun in an attempt to save two condemned terrorists. The threat was ignored and the "Two Sergeants" killed.[27]The bodies are hung in an orange grove and booby-trapped, seriously wounding a British officer.[28]
  • 16 Apr 1947 - a large but unsuccessful Irgun bomb (24 sticks of French-made gelignite) aimed at causing maximum casualties was discovered in time after a (misleading) warning at the Colonial Office in London.[29] In June, Belgian police caught 22-year-old Betty Knouth and seasoned Stern Gang member and terrorist Yaacov Levstein (travelling as "Jacob Elias"), wanted for the killing of numerous police officers in Palestine and an attempt on the life of the British high commissioner. Both were linked to the failed bomb at the Colonial Office. He was given eight months and she a year in prison in prison in Belgium.
  • 31 Oct 1946 - Irgun bomb the British Embassy in Rome. Nearly half the building was destroyed and 3 people were injured.[30]
  • 1946 - far too many attacks and killings of British servicemen by the Zionist terrorists to list, but in a statement to Parliament on 30th April 1946, Prime Minister Clement Atlee said: "Within the past three weeks, sabotage of road and rail communications, including the blowing up of the principal bridges over the Jordan, has caused damage estimated at well over a quarter of a million pounds. On the night of 17th June the railway workshops at Haifa were seriously damaged by explosions and fire. The climax came on 18th June, when six British officers were kidnapped, and two others were seriously wounded. Three of those kidnapped are still held captive. These are the culminating events in a campaign of violence which since December has caused the death of 16 British soldiers and five police (including the seven soldiers murdered in cold blood at Tel Aviv on 25th April). The material damage has exceeded 400,000 Pounds."
During WW2
  • 6 Nov 1944 - the Stern Gang had been targeting the British in Palestine since 1940, making seven attempts on the life of the British High Commissioner, Sir Harold MacMichael. Instead of which, Lord Moyne (Walter Guinness, 1st Baron Moyne from Ireland, and one of the few in the British government to support partition of Palestine) was shot to death in Cairo, almost causing his good friend Churchill to abandon Zionism. In 1975, the bodies of the two executed assassins were returned to Israel to be honoured in the Jerusalem Hall of Heroism and buried in the military section of Mount Herzl in a state funeral with full military honors.[33] Britain lodged a formal protest, but Israel rejected the criticism, referring to Ben Zuri and Hakim as "heroic freedom fighters". In 1982, postage stamps were issued in their honour.
  • 25 Nov 1940 - the ship Patria arrived at Haifa with 1,700 illegal Jewish immigrants aboard. "Over 200" or 240 or 252 Jews were killed when the ship was bombed and sank. The Wikipedia notes that "50 crew and British soldiers" also died but does not record the source of this number. The Zionists were slow to admit that it was an official act of the Yishuv and the Haganah - see "Assassination of Jews by Zionists"

Assassinations of non-western nationals

  • 1950s - two senior Egyptian military intelligence officials linked to fedayeen operations were killed by mail bombs sent by Israeli intelligence.[34] Israeli mines and other measures resulted in the death of between 2,700 and 5,000 infiltrators, mostly unarmed, before the attack on Suez and Gaza in 1956.[35] Israelis are divided on the actual number of deaths caused by the "fedayeen", Martin Gilbert claiming that 967 Israelis between 1951 and 1955.[36] Benny Morris says that this number is "3-5 times higher than the figures given in contemporary Israeli reports".[37]Dozens of these attacks are claimed by the Israeli government.[38][39] Israel was condemned by the UNSC for 17 raids into and 31 attacks on Arab towns.[40]United Nations reports indicate that Israel launched more than 17 raids on Egyptian territory and 31 attacks on Arab towns or military forces before 1956.[41] Another Israeli historian, Avi Shlaim claims that all Arab governments attempted to curb infiltration until 1954, when Egypt broke ranks.[42] Israeli sources cite the attacks as the reason for the 1956 attack on Suez, they certainly rose considerably in 1955, 260 killed or wounded according to the ADL.[43] Chomsky says there were no Israeli casualties when Israeli entered Khan Yunis[44] killing 275 Palestinians, and a further 111 in the Rafah refugee camp.[45] General Mustafa Hafez of Egypt is said to have founded Palestinian fedayeen units "to launch terrorist raids across Israel's southern border."[46] Ian Lustick writes that among the "engineered eve-of-war lies and deceptions [...] designed to give Israel the excuse needed to launch its strike [on Egypt]" was the presentation to journalists of a group of captured fedayeen, who were in fact Israeli soldiers.[47]

Assassinations of Palestinians in Europe

On July 21 1973, a team of Israeli hitmen shot dead a Moroccan waiter, Ahmed Bouchikhi, as he walked home from the cinema with his pregnant wife in the resort, 110 miles north of Oslo. He had been mistaken for Hassan Salameh, a PLO intelligence chief suspected of masterminding the Olympic killings. This was the Lillehammer affair of 1973.

Two members of the terrorist cell were seized the next day as they re-used a getaway car to go to the airport and they betrayed the rest of the cell. Incriminating documents and the keys to a network of safe houses were discovered.[48] However, the cell leader, Harari, escaped and Israel refused to extradite him.

Five agents - Marianne Gladinkoff, who was born in Sweden; Sylvia Rafael, of South Africa; Israeli Abraham Gehmer; Dan Aerbel, who was born in Denmark; and Brazilian-born Zvi Steinberg - were convicted, jailed and pardoned (1975) in Norway. About nine others are thought to have escaped from Norway, including the suspected leader, Michael Harari, a senior Mossad agent who has now retired. Norway reopened the case in 1990 and issued a global warrant for Mr Harari in 1997 but closed the case the next year.

In 1996, Israel paid US$283,000 compensation to the victim's wife and daughter, and a separate settlement of US$118,000 to a son from a previous marriage,[49] but without taking responsibility for the killing.[50]

Some of the following were indeed engaged in armed opposition to the occupation of their homeland but others were almost certainly innocents, targeted solely for representating the victims of land-grabbing, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Several were strongly opposed to violence, while others were known to Israel because they were attempting to negotiate or otherwise to offer a ceasefire.

  • 14th Feb 1988 - Abu Al Hassan Qasim and Hamdi Adwan died in a car bombing in Cyprus (also wounding Marwan Kanafami).[51][52]
  • 21st Oct 21 1986 - Munzer Abu Ghazala, a senior PLO official and member of the Palestinian National Council, was killed by a bomb in Athens.[51]
  • 10th Jun 1986, Khaled Ahmed Nazal, Secretary-General of the PLO's "Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine" faction gunned down in Athens.[51]
  • 21st Aug 21 1983 - Mamoun Meraish, PLO official, shot dead in his car in Athens by two Mossad operatives on a motorcycle. (No reference at Wikipedia).
  • 17th Jun 1982 - Nazeyh Mayer, a leading figure in the PLO's Rome office shot dead.[51]
  • 17th Jun 1982 - Kamal Husain, deputy director of the PLO office in Rome, killed by a shrapnel bomb in his car as he drove home, seven hours after helping the police with their investigation.[51]
  • 1982 - Yasser Arafat was repeatedly targeted in Beirut by booby-trapped cars and air attacks. A sniper reportedly had him in his sights during the PLO's farewell ceremony from Beirut but he was saved by the presence of American and other diplomats.[53]

In February 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon lamented that Israel had not killed Arafat in Lebanon when it had the chance to do so.[34]

  • 23rd Jul 1982 - Fadl Dani, deputy director of the PLO office in Paris, killed by a bomb in his car. (No reference at Wikipedia).
  • 15th Dec 1979 - Ali Salem Ahmed and Ibrahim Abdul Aziz shot dead with silenced weapons at point-blank range in Cyprus.[51]
  • 22nd Jan 1979 - Ali Hassan Salameh and four bodyguards, along with 4 innocent bystanders (one British, one German) were killed by a remote controlled car-bomb in a fashionable part of Beirut.[54] This was the 6th attempt on him,[55] the first having been the killing in Lillehammer. 17 agents are said to have fled the country.

Golda Meir ordered the suspension of assassinations in Europe in the aftermath of the 1973 Lillehammer affair.[56] Revelations by captured agents compromised Mossad assets across Europe, including safe houses, agents, and operational methods.[57] New Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who had once called himself "The Father of Terrorism" re-started the operation five years later[58]

  • 21st Aug 1974 - a woman was killed in Amsterdam. She had supposedly seduced and shot dead a Mossad agent in London 3 months earlier. The agent, with two others, is thought to have been lured to London on behalf of Ali Hassan Salameh. This killing (and perhaps the one below, in Spain) earned a reprimand for the Kidon team leader.
  • mid-1974 - a security guard at a villa in Spain shot dead as Kidon team assassins approached looking for Ali Hassan Salameh.
  • 12th Jan 1974 - seeking Ali Hassan Salameh, 3 men who appeared to be Arab were shot dead in a church in Switzerland.[59]
  • 28th Jun 1973 - Mohammad Boudia, Algerian-born, allegedly director of operations for Black September in France killed by bomb in his car in Paris.[60]
  • 16th Apr 1973 - Dr. Basil al-Kubaissi, a law professor at the American University of Beirut suspected by Israel of providing arms logistics for Black September as well as being involved in other Palestinian plots,[61] was shot dead in Paris by two agents.
  • 9th Apr 1973 - Muhammad Youssef al-Najjar (Operations leader in Black September), Kamal Adwan (Chief of Operations in the PLO) and Kamal Nasser (PLO Executive Committee member and spokesman), each in different apartments, were killed by special forces landed in small boats from Israeli ships. Two Lebanese police officers, an Italian citizen, and Najjar's wife were also killed. Paratroopers led by Ehud Barak, the future prime minister, attacked the headquarters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, losing two dead but destroying the 6-story building and killing up to 100 PLO and PFLP suspects.[62]
  • 24th Jan 1973 - Hussein Al Bashir, the Jordanian Fatah representative in Cyprus bombed in his hotel room. Israel believed him to be the head of Black September in Cyprus, though another reason for his assassination may have been for his close ties with the KGB.[63]
  • 11th Apr 1973 - Zaiad Muchasi, replacement for Hussein Al Bashir in Cyprus, was killed by a bomb in his Athens hotel room on April 11.[64]
  • c. Apr 1973 - Abdel Hamid Shibi and Abdel Hadi Nakaa, two minor Black September members were injured by a bombing in their car in Rome.[64]
  • It is alleged that a killing took place in London, a Palestinian activist being pushed under a bus.[65]
  • 8th Dec 1972 - Dr. Mahmoud Hamshari, PLO representative in France, killed by a bomb planted in his office, activated along the telephone line. He was able to tell Parisian detectives how his office had been accessed but died several weeks later.[66]
  • 16th Oct 1972 - Wael Zwaiter, the PLO representative for Italy was killed, the first victim of the new campaign. Claims that he was a member of Black September and involved in a failed plot against an El Al airliner were denied. Salah Khalaf, deputy-chief of the PLO, stated that Zwaiter was "energetically" against terrorism.[67] There were thirteen deaths in the following 12 months.[34]

Assassinations of Palestinians elsewhere in the Middle East

  • 19 Dec 2015 - Samir Kuntar killed with other seven Syrian nationals on 20 December 2015 by an Israeli airstrike in Jaramana, Syria.[68] On 22 April 1979, at the age of 16, Kuntar participated in a sea-born raid on the town of Nahariya. Four Israelis (and two of the militants) died, Kuntar being convicted of one of the killings (this is contested). Kuntar was released in a prisoner exchange after 29 years in 2008, and is alleged to have reached a high position in Hezbollah before his killing 7 years later.
  • 19 Jan 2010 - Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas commander and one of the founders of the al-Qassam Brigades, died in January 2010 by electrocution and/or the drug succinylcholine and/or by suffocation in his room in a five-star Dubai hotel. Dubai police said that Mossad was behind the killing.[69][70][71][72]
  • 12 Feb 2008 - Imad Mugniyah, senior Hezbollah commander, was killed by a car bomb in Syria "in the upscale neighborhood of Kafr Soussa in Damascus". No claim was made but it is generally accepted that Mossad was behind the killing.[73]
  • 25 Sep 1997 (failed) - Khaled Mashal is a leader of Hamas who was the target of an assassination attempt in Jordan in 1997. Two Mossad agents carrying Canadian passports entered Jordan and injected Mashal with an unknown nerve toxin. They were captured and a few days later, Netanyahu surrendered to international pressure and provided the antidote. The paraplegic Sheik Ahmed Yassin, who had founded Hamas on Israel's behalf, was also released from an Israeli prison, only to be killed in Gaza later.
  • 26 Oct 1995 - Fathi Shaqaqi [Shikaki], Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, killed by a Mossad team in front of a Maltese hotel om Valleta.[74][75][76]
  • 16 Feb 1992 - Abbas al-Musawi, Secretary General of Hezbollah, killed when Israeli Apache helicopters fired missiles at his motorcade in southern Lebanon. His wife, his five-year-old son, and four others were also killed.[77]
  • 16 Apr 1988 - Khalil al-Wazir, said to have been one of the founders and the Military Head of Fatah was killed in Tunis, even as the Reagan administration is trying to organize a conference to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The US State Department condemns the murder as an "act of political assassination." A further seven Palestinians are shot dead by Israeli forces as they protest.[78] Israel linked him to the hijacking of an Israeli bus in March 1988. Ehud Barak reportedly planned the joint Army/Mossad raid.[79]
  • 9 Jun 1986 - Khalid Nazzal, Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is shot dead by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece.[80]
  • 21 Aug 1983 - Mamoun Meraish was a senior PLO official and top aid to Yasser Arafat, shot and killed by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece. Later Israeli press reports link Tzipi Livni to this killing.[81] Two men on a motorcycle wearing crash helmets used silenced pistols to kill Mr. Meraish in his car at a traffic junction, also injuring Mustafa Aran Ali and Mr. Meraish's three children, aged 4, 9 and 13.
  • 28 Mar 1978 - Wadie Haddad was linked to hijackings, Carlos the Jackal and the Entebbe hijacking. He died in East Germany supposedly from leukemia but in the book "Striking Back" by Aaron J. Klein 2006 it is claimed that he was killed by Mossad, who sent the chocolate-loving Haddad Belgian chocolates coated with a slow-acting and undetectable poison which caused him to die several months later.[82]
  • 9 Apr 1973 - Muhammad Najar, Kammal Adwan, and Kammal Nasser killed in Beirut, accused of involvement in the death of 11 Israeli athletes in the 1972 Munich Massacre.[83]
  • 8 Jul 1972 - Ghassan Kanafani, 36 year old Palestinian author and intellectual and his 17-year-old niece are killed in Beirut by an Israeli car bomb. Kanafani was considered a major literary figure in the Arab world and beyond but was linked to the PFLP, and, after his killing alleged to be complicit in the Lod airport massacre, carried out by three members of the Japanese Red Army. (26 killed, mostly non-Israelis).

Assassinations of Palestinians in Gaza

  • 1 Jun 2012 - Zuhair al-Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees. A further 23 Palestinians were killed in the next 4 days and 200 rockets were fired at southern Israel, confining a million people to bomb shelters.[84]
  • 10 Mar 2012 - Mahdi Ahmad Mahmoud Abu Shawish. 25 year-old resident of Rafah, killed in Rafah district, by a missile fired from an aircraft.[85]
  • 9 Mar 2012 - Zuheir Musa Ahmad al-Qaysi, 49 year-old resident of a-Shaburah (R.C), Rafah district, killed in Gaza city, by a missile fired from an aircraft. Killed while riding in a vehicle with another armed man, Mahmoud Ahmad Hanani, 44 year-old resident of Gaza city.[85]
  • 8 Dec 2011 - Issam Subhi Isma'il al-Batsh, 43 year-old resident of Gaza city, killed in Gaza city, by a missile fired from an aircraft. Senior official in al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, killed in a car with his nephew, active in the military wing of Hamas.[85]
  • 29 Oct 2011 - Abd al-Karim Musa 'Odeh Shatat, 24 year-old from Khan Yunis, Bassem Muhammad Salman Abu al-'Ata, 33 year-old from Gaza city, Muhammad Khamis Mar'i 'Ashur 23 year-old from Khan Yunis, Ahmad Khalil 'Abd a-Latif a-Sheikh Khalil 36 year-old senior official in the military wing of Islamic Jihad, Ahmad Khalil 'Abd a-Latif a-Sheikh Khalil 36 year-old, Hassan Muhammad Hassan al-Khadari 26 year-old from Gaza city, all killed at an Islamic Jihad training camp.[85]
  • 24 Aug 2011 - Isma'il Zuhdi Isma'il al-Asmar, 36 year-old resident of Tall a-Sultan Camp, Rafah district, killed in Rafah district, by a missile fired from an aircraft. Activist in the military wing of Islamic Jihad.[85]
  • 19 Aug 2011 - Mu'ataz Bassem Hamdan Kreqa' 28 year-old resident of Gaza city, killed on 19.08.2011 in Gaza city, by a missile fired from an aircraft. Active in the military wing of Islamic Jihad, he was killed while riding on a motorcycle with his brother and his toddler son.[85]
  • 18 Aug 2011 - Kamal 'Awad Muhammad a-Nayrab, 43 year-old resident of a-Shaburah (R.C), Rafah district, killed in Rafah, by a missile fired from an aircraft. Senior member of the Popular Resistance Committees, killed while at a meeting with other activists of the organization at the house of one of them. Also killed were Khaled Hamad Sha'th Sha'th, 32 year-old resident of Rafah, activist in the Popular Resistance Committees, along with his infant son, 'Imad 'Abd al-Karim 'Abd al-Khaleq Hammad 40 year-old resident of a-Shaburah (R.C), Rafah district, senior member of the Popular Resistance Committees, Khaled Ibrahim Salman al-Masri, 26 year-old resident of Rafah, activist in the Popular Resistance Committees and Imad a-Ddin Na'im Sayed Naser, 46 year-old resident of Rafah, activist in the Popular Resistance Committees.[85]
  • 2 Feb 2011 - at least one Palestinian killed and three wounded in airstrike in Rafah. Israeli military said the vehicle targeted was carrying "terrorists". Palestinian sources confirmed that four missiles were fired at "a government car".[86]
  • 11 Jan 2011 - Muhammad Jamil Musa a-Najar, 23 year-old resident of Khan Yunis, killed next to Khan Yunis, by a missile fired from an aircraft while riding on a motorcycle on the Khan Yunis-Rafah road.[85]
  • 17 Nov 2010 - Islam Saleh 'Abd al-Hamid Yasin, 34 year-old resident of Jabalya, North Gaza district, killed on 17.11.2010 in Gaza city, by a missile. Killed with his brother by missile fire while they were riding in a car.[85][87]
  • 3 Nov 2010 Muhammad Jamal Fares a-Namnam, 25 year-old resident of a-Shati' Camp, Gaza district, killed in Gaza city by a missile. Wanted by Israel, killed while driving in Gaza City.[85]
  • 4 Mar 2009, Khaled Harb Khaled Sh'alan, 23 year-old resident of Gaza city, killed on 04.03.2009 in Gaza city, by a missile fired from a helicopter. He was the object of a targeted killing. Additional information: Killed while riding in his car.[85]
  • 27 Jan 2009, Hussein Faiz Hussein Shameyah, 25 year-old resident of Khan Yunis, injured on 27.01.2009 in Khan Yunis, and died on 08.02.2009. Attacked while riding a scooter in al-'Aqad area.
  • 15 Jan 2009, Sa'id Muhammad Sha'ban Siyam, 48 year-old minister in the Hamas government and resident of Gaza city, killed in Gaza city by a missile. IDF bombed his house. B'Tselem does not have sufficient information to determine which function he carried out in hostilities against Israel. Muhammad Isma'il Mahmoud Siyam, 27 year-old resident of Gaza city, bodyguard of Sa'id Siyam, killed in the bombing of Siyam's house.
  • 1 May 2008, Nafez Kamel Muhammad Mansur, 42 year-old resident of Rafah, killed in Rafah by a missile fired from a helicopter. Died walking the street in a-Shvura refugee camp.

And so on - the B'tselem reference lists 8 such "targeted" killings in 2008 and 14 in 2007.

There were 22 such assassinations in 2006 and 22 in 2005.

  • 21 Oct 2004, Adnan al-Ghoul, assistant to Mohammed Deif, leader of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Rocketed from an Apache helicopter along with his assistant Imad Abbas.[88]
  • 22 Mar 2004, paraplegic Sheik Ahmed Ismail Yassin was rocketed to death in his wheel-chair along with 7 others, including bystanders, as he exited a mosque in al-Sabra, Gaza.[89][90] Sheikh Yassin had been jailed and released by Israel.
  • 17 Apr 2004 - Dr. Abdel Aziz Ali Abdulmajid al-Rantissi was the co-founder of Hamas with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin[91], and was the Hamas's political leader and spokesman in the Gaza Strip. Rantissi opposed any compromise with Israel and called for the creation of a state of Palestine (including the whole of the State of Israel). Rantissi claimed that the Holocaust did not occur as described by Western historians and that Zionists at one time supported and funded Nazi activities.[92]

There were a total of 38 assassinations in 2004 and 44 in 2003.

  • 21 Aug 2003 - Ismail Abu Shanab was one of the founders of Hamas, second to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin[93] and its political leader.[94] who argued strongly against suicide bombings and in favor of a long-term truce.[95] Also one of Hamas's three most senior leaders in Gaza City.[96]
  • 8 Mar 2003 - Ibrahim al-Makadmeh, a founder of Hamas and leader of the group's military wing, accused of engineering attacks that killed 28 Israelis.[97]
  • 22 Jul 2002 - Sheik Salah Mustafa Muhammad Shehade and his wife, his three sons, four other children and others were killed by a one-ton bomb in Gaza.[98][99] making 36 in 2002, 37 in 2001 and 9 in 2000 for a total of 255 Palestinians the object of a targeted killing in the Occupied Territories
  • 14 Jan 2002 - Raed al-Karmi, a leader of the Tanzim movement, his killing described by Baruch Kimmerling as an apparent political execution to provoke Palestinians during a ceasefire[100] and considered by Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to be 'the biggest mistake' Israel had made.[101] Eyal Weizman states its purpose was to derail peace talks. Killed by a bomb planted in a cemetery wall, set off by Shin Bet from a UAV circling above when he passed by it on a visit to his mistress, to create the impression he had blown himself up accidentally.[102][103]
  • 2001/2 - many "mid-level fighters"[34], being militants named by Palestinian collaborators. Until the spring of 2002, Israel would hand a list of wanted terrorists to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and, if the PA did not arrest the individuals, Israel killed them.[104][105]
  • 27th Aug 2001, Mustafa Zibri (Abu Ali Mustafa) Secretary-General of the PFLP was killed by two rockets as he sat at his desk in his office in Ramallah.[106][107][108] Over 50,000 mourners attended his funeral.
  • 5 Jan 1996 - Famous bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash, "the Engineer" was killed by an elaborately planted cell phone said to contain "50 grams of high-grade explosives." in Beit Lahya, Gaza.[109] Four suicide bus bombings, assumed to be in retaliation, occurred in the next two months killing more than sixty Israelis.[34]
  • 1971 - 104 Palestinians were killed and 742 arrested by Ariel Sharon's unit, often posing as Arab civilians, in Gaza.[110]

Assassinations of Palestinians in West Bank

There is a long history of these assassinations.

Breaking the Silence, an Israeli organization of ex-soldiers, reports that, after after six Israeli soldiers were killed in Ein Arik in February 2002, a revenge operation was ordered in which Palestinian police officers would be murdered. A soldier who took part in a raid which killed four or five Palestinian policemen at a checkpoint 24 hours after Ein Arik said: "It felt bad even at that time. They said Palestinian police are connected to terror and that the [killers] passed through the checkpoint. Maybe the police are connected to terror but for sure they didn't pass through all the checkpoints [attacked that day]."[111]

One Palestinian retaliation assassination

  • 17th Oct 2001 - Rehavam Ze'evi, Israeli tourist minister and strong supporter of "targeted killings"[112] was himself assassinated by Hamdi Quran and three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP stated that the assassination was in retaliation for the Aug 27, 2001, killing of Abu Ali Mustafa, their Secretary General.

A tiny number of Israeli's punished for murder

  • Dec 2003[113] - Israeli Military Police arrested and questioned Tom Hurndall’s killer, Sgt. Taysir, a member of a Bedouin patrol battalion. Although he at first maintained he returned fire after being shot at by an armed Palestinian, he later admitted to firing "in proximity to an unarmed civilian as a deterrent."[114] The soldier was initially charged with "infliction of pre-meditated, aggravated bodily injury" ... After Tom Hurndall died in January 2004, and with pressure from the Hurndall family and the British Foreign Office, the investigation was re-opened, and Sgt. Taysir was charged with manslaughter. During trial proceedings in December 2004, Sgt. Taysir admitted he had lied when he said Tom Hurndall was carrying a gun, but said he was under orders to open fire even on unarmed people.[115] The defendant’s lawyer and the Hurndall family both voiced concern that the soldiers facing charges were being used as scapegoats to avoid scrutiny of a wider culture of impunity that exists in the IDF.[116]

Assassination as policy

Israel (and pre-Israel Zionists) have openly used assassination, killing 100s of their opponents, British, Palestinian, European and some Jews since 1924.

The policy took on a new lease of life in 2000. In June 2002, Professor Steven R David of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies said (to a meeting in Maryland):

Israel has openly pursued a policy of targeted killing since the inception of the second intifada in September 2000. The Israelis have identified, located and then killed alleged Palestinian terrorists with helicopter gunships, fighter aircraft, tanks, car bombs, booby traps and bullets. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed ... I argue that the policy of targeted killing is in Israel's interests and, subject to certain guidelines, should be retained. I argue this despite my conclusion that targeted killing has not appreciably diminished the costs of terrorist attacks and may have even increased them. Targeted killing is effective, however, in providing retribution and revenge for a population under siege and may, over the long term, help create conditions for a more secure Israel ... No other Israeli policy, including incursions into Palestinian territory, arrests of militants, the erection of a wall, or forced transfer of Palestinians from the territories to neighboring Arab countries enjoys the support received by targeted killing".[34][117]

Perhaps the best known campaign was the one in Europe subsequent to the 1972 Munich massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games. Unfazed by the notorious Lillehammer affair of 1973, the policy continued until at least 1988, killing at least 25 Palestinians, only some of whom may have been involved in any terrorism. The Wikipedia article on "Operation Wrath of God" is a gloating memorial to the size of this campaign.

Support for assassination

A poll published by Ma'ariv in July 2001 (before there were large scale suicide bombing against Israel) found that 90 percent of the Israeli public supported the policy. (Surveys of this kind normally exclude the views of citizens of Palestinian origin, around 20% of the population of Israel).

Many American policy makers and academics also support assassinations and did so even before drone attacks became technically practical in the mid-2000s, eg Israeli Professor David (see above):

... Targeted killing has also proven effective in the battle for public relations throughout the world. Although Israel has been criticized in the media for slaying Palestinian militants, the criticism has been far less than afforded other policies. When, for example, Israel attacks Palestinian cities, there is no lack of coverage of the innocent deaths that result or the widespread suffering imposed on a mostly non-combatant society. Targeted killings, at least, focus on specific adversaries who mean Israel harm. That there is rarely television coverage of the actual operation is another benefit."[34]

However, it should be noted that Professor David (much quoted below), while saying that the policy of targeted killing is in Israel's interest, also said that Israel "must refrain from killing political leaders". The killing of Palestinian leaders such as Abu Jihad and Abu Ali Mustafa was a mistake, even though they were linked to terrorism. If Israel kills everyone who has been involved in terrorism there will be no one left with any standing among the Palestinians with whom to negotiate. When targeted killing eliminates those who can potentially arrange a settlement, Israeli interests are severely damaged.

Opposition to assassinations

Similarly, there is a wide range of opposition to this policy "prompting international condemnation, domestic soul searching and bloody retaliation".[34]

A selection of opposition view-points:

  • UN - Secretary-General Kofi Annan repeatedly urged Israel to end targeted killings, saying it violates international law and undermines efforts at achieving a Middle East peace.[34]
  • American - Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned the policy in 2001, declaring at one point, "We continue to express our distress and opposition to these kinds of targeted killings and we will continue to do so."[118]
  • American - US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk "The United States government is very clearly on the record as against targeted assassinations." They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that."[119]
  • American - The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stated "A program of targeted killing far from any battlefield, without charge or trial, violates the constitutional guarantee of due process. It also violates international law, under which lethal force may be used outside armed conflict zones only as a last resort to prevent imminent threats, when non-lethal means are not available. Targeting people who are suspected of terrorism for execution, far from any war zone, turns the whole world into a battlefield."[120]
  • Israeli - Research director of B’Tselem, "The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories", Yael Stein, stated in an article "By Any Name Illegal and Immoral: Response to 'Israel's Policy of Targeted Killing'": The argument that this policy affords the public a sense of revenge and retribution could serve to justify acts both illegal and immoral. Clearly, lawbreakers ought to be punished. Yet, no matter how horrific their deeds, as the targeting of Israeli civilians indeed is, they should be punished according to the law. David’s arguments in "FATAL CHOICES: ISRAEL'S POLICY OF TARGETED KILLING" could, in principle, justify the abolition of formal legal systems altogether.[121]
  • Egypt - Ibrahim Nafie, writing in Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly in 2001, criticized the U.S. for agreeing with "the Israeli spin that calls ... its official policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders 'targeted killing.'"[122]

Organization of assassination teams

The most ambitious assassinations, those in Europe from 1972 to 1988, were carried out by a unit under Mossad agent Michael Harari.[123] UK author Simon Reeve details the arrangement of the squad:

...fifteen people divided into five squads: "Aleph", two trained killers; "Bet", two guards who would shadow the Alephs; "Het", two agents who would establish cover for the rest of the team by renting hotel rooms, apartments, cars, and so on; "Ayin", comprising between six and eight agents who formed the backbone of the operation, shadowing targets and establishing an escape route for the Aleph and Bet squads; and "Qoph", two agents specializing in communications.[124]

Victor Ostrovsky describes similar teams but calls them Kidon.[125] Author Gordon Thomas was given access to reports of eight Kidon and 80 backup members.[126] Ostrovsky p.179 thinks there were 35 names on the original list of those to be killed, while Reeve p.162 gives the number as 20.

Author Aaron Klein says Kidon was a development of a unit called Caesarea.[127] Harari eventually commanded three Caesarea teams of around 12 members each, sub-divided into logistics, surveillance, and assassination squads.[128]

An article in Time magazine put the number of personnel in the Lillehammer affair at 15.[129]

Alexander B. Calahan, in his thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Military Studies, April 1995, has related details concerning the book Vengeance by George Jonas in 1984.[130] The book says that each assassination unit consisted of five members and they were outside any direct Israeli control. Their only contact was Harari

George Jonas was a producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in Toronto and was in approximately six months of discussions with "Avner", after which he concluded that the events described to him were true. "Avner"'s recall of small details was "excellent" and in combination with Jonas' personal research convinced him that Avner's account was authentic. Jonas related that he attempted to verify events through outside sources and establish the likelihood of those events. "Avner" never identified Mike Harari by name, this was done through later publications. Calahan contacted "Avner" who related that the Mossad recently (ie 1995) released an official statement confirming that the events published in Jonas' book, Vengeance, are, in fact, true. "Avner" assured Mr. Jonas that the personalities and specialties relating to each team member are accurate; hence, they are not composites to disguise the actual team. Calahan says that Mike Harari and the names of the officers involved in the Lillehammer incident were identified and cross referenced through more recently published material.

David B. Tinnin's book, The Hit Team, published in 1976, also provides an account of a team traveling through Europe assassinating PLO terrorists, though numerous discrepancies of tactical details of the operations exist between Tinnin's and Avner's accounts.

In 2010, the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh (see below) in his hotel room in Dubai was carried out by at least 11 people, with 15 or 16 more thought likely.[1]

Wikipedia startlingly light on this subject

Wikipedia has pages on Assassination, Criticism of the Israeli government, and Targeted killing which are full of opinion and justification but are startlingly thin on detail. While what's presented has been selected and edited so as to give a distorted impression.

Wikipedia is full of lists and has entire articles covering the most trivial of details (eg "artistic" photo-shopping that don't influence the story or seek to decieve anyone in any way - here and here) but brushes aside this much more important topic.

Books Referenced in the text above and the notes below

Klein: Striking Back: The 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and Israel's Deadly Response. Aaron J. Klein 2005.

Morris: Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services. Benny Morris 1991.

Morris: Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict 1881-1999. Benny Morris 1999

Ostrovsky: By Way of Deception: The making and unmaking of a Mossad Officer. Victor Ostrovsky 1990.

Raviv: Every Spy a Prince: The Complete History of Israel's Intelligence Community, Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, 1990.

Reeve: One Day in September: The Full Story of the 1972 Munich Olympics Massacre and the Israeli Revenge Operation "Wrath of God". Simon Reeve. New York City: Arcade Publishing, 2006.


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  114. [Jocelyn Hurndall, "What Price a Life?", The Guardian, January 10, 2004.]
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