This is not first instance of Israeli officials openly stating their intention to carry out illegal assassinations abroad.
Israel will pursue killing Hamas figures in Qatar, Lebanon, and Turkey, even if it takes years, the chief of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.
The timing of Shin Bet head Ronen Bar’s comments and the intended audience remain unclear, as the agency itself declined to comment on the report.
“The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar. It will take a few years but we will be there to do it,” Bar said.
Bar’s reference to “our Munich” refers to the occupation’s response to members of the Palestinian Black September Organisation breaking into the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972, killing two athletes from Israel’s national team and taking nine more hostages.
The organisation’s members had hoped to use this to release Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
In the aftermath, Israel initiated a targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organisers across multiple countries over several years.
This is not first such instance where Israeli officials have openly stated their intention to carry out targeted killings of Hamas officials abroad.
French journalist Georges Malbrunot reported last month that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had allegedly communicated to Doha that Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, would not carry out assassinations within the Gulf country’s borders.
Malbrunot said sources told him that Qatar set this condition before stepping into its role as a mediator for the ceasefire talks between the Israeli regime and the resistance group.
Netanyahu had previously given orders for Mossad to assassinate senior Hamas officials: “I instructed the Mossad to act against Hamas leaders where they are,” he told reporters on Novermber 22.
During the press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Netanyahu explicitly stated that he had instructed Mossad to take action against Hamas leaders.
Netanyahu said: “there is no commitment in the agreement to not act in a truce against the leaders of Hamas, whoever they are.”
In response to questions during the press conference about a possible clause in the ceasefire agreement granting immunity to Hamas leaders, Netanyahu insisted that “such a clause does not exist.”
Gallant further threatened that Hamas officials were “living on borrowed time, all over the globe; they are all dead men.”
The Israeli official comments come despite Doha’s pivotal role in mediating a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, that began on November 24 and was renewed twice before ending on Friday morning, lasting a total of seven days.
Last Wednesday, Israel said it opted to temporarily set aside its differences with Qatar over the course of the negotiations with Hamas, but it will “settle accounts” with the Gulf country after the brutal war in Gaza ends, an Israeli foreign ministry official said.
In an interview on Israeli Army Radio, deputy director general for strategic affairs at Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Joshua Zarka, questioned Qatar’s “role in everything related to hosting and legitimising Hamas’s activities” and said Israel would need to reassess the relationship once the war is over.
“Right now we need them. But when this thing passes from the world, we will settle accounts with them,” Zarka said.
Qatar does not have official ties with Israel and has repeatedly reaffirmed its stance against normalising diplomatic relations with the occupation, unlike other Gulf Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
Doha has also been hosting Hamas’ political office since 2012, following a request from Washington to establish channels of communication.
Qatar insists the Doha-based Hamas office serves as an establishment dedicated to peace efforts.
Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani defended the Hamas office on October 14, and said it is a way “of communicating and bringing peace and calm to the region.”