Ankara warns of “serious consequences” as Israel allegedly plans to assassinate Hamas members in countries including Turkey, Qatar and Lebanon.
Turkey has warned Israel will face “serious consequences” if it attempts to assassinate Hamas members inside its territory.
“Necessary warnings were made to the interlocutors based on the news of Israeli officials’ statements, and it was expressed to Israel that [such an act] would have serious consequences,” a Turkish intelligence official said, according to Reuters.
The warning came after statements by the head of Israel’s domestic security agency indicating Israel intends to hunt down Hamas figures in Qatar, Turkey, and Lebanon, even if it takes years, according to a recording published by Israeli broadcaster Kan.
“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,” Shin Bet head Ronen Bar said in the recording aired on Sunday.
The timing of Bar’s comments and the intended audience remain unclear, as the agency itself declined to comment on the report.
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.
That was not the first such instance where Israeli officials openly stated their intentions to carry out targeted killings of Hamas officials abroad.
Israel’s plans to pursue Hamas leaders globally were first reported by the Wall Street Journal over the weekend.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reportedly instructed intelligence agencies to develop strategies for assassinating the organisation’s top leaders residing outside of Gaza, including those in Turkey, Qatar, and other locations, according to Israeli officials cited by the WSJ article.
As per the report, suggestions were made to immediately target Hamas leaders residing in Doha following October 7, however carrying out such actions on Qatari or Turkish territory could have strained or jeopardised diplomatic efforts aimed at securing the release of hostages.
Netanyahu made his intentions clear in a nationwide address on November 22 during a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
“I instructed the Mossad to act against Hamas leaders where they are,” he told reporters on November 22.
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”.
Meanwhile, French journalist Georges Malbrunot reported last month that 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 Israel and the Palestinian movement.
The Israeli official’s controversial 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 throughout 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 occupying force, unlike other Gulf Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain which normalised ties with the Zionist state in recent years.
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.”