Calls to assassinate Hamas leadership as terror death tolls reaches 19

Three Israelis were murdered with knives and axes in the city of Elad in the latest attack


Israeli security and rescue personnel work at the scene of a terror attack, in Elad, May 5, 2022. Photo by Yossi Aloni/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** אלעד ירי מאבטח הרוג דוקר זירה טרור פיגוע דקירה

The terror wave which has claimed 19 lives over the past few weeks has prompted a heated debate in Israel over whether to target Hamas leadership for assassination in response.

In the most recent atrocity, three Israelis were murdered with knives and axes in the city of Elad last week. The victims were Oren Ben Yiftah, 35, Yonatan Havakuk, 44 and Boaz Gol, 49. All fathers, they leave behind a total of 16 children. Two suspects have since been arrested.

The attack came five days after Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar called on Palestinians to kill Israelis with a “cleaver or an axe, or a knife”. A poll by Channel 13 showed 59 per cent of Israelis agreed the government should kill Sinwar.

Among those calling for assassinations are high-ranking Likud lawmakers Yisrael Katz and Yoav Gallant.

But Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman said sensitive security decisions such as assassinations belong in the security cabinet and shouldn’t be discussed in the media.

The growing calls for Sinwar’s assassination prompted Hamas to warn that any killing of its leaders would be met with rockets at Tel Aviv and the resumption of suicide bombings in Israel.

A senior Israeli military official told Yediot Ahronot that while Israel has plans in place to assassinate Sinwar, the time isn’t right to put them into action.

While Hamas has praised all the attacks in the current wave of terror, it has claimed responsibility only for an Israeli security guard being shot dead at the entrance of the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank last month. An armed wing of Hamas’ rival Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, also claimed responsibility for the attack.

IDF officials are said to believe Hamas is exploiting the attacks for propaganda purposes, but not directly orchestrating them. Naftali Bennett disagrees with the IDF assessment, according to sources who spoke to Channel 12.

The prime minister ordered the assassination of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata in Gaza shortly after assuming his position as defence minister in 2019. Bennett is under heavy pressure from the opposition, which accuses his government of “relying on terror supporters,” a reference to the coalition party, United Arab List.

A senior Israeli security official told the JC that the Elad attack was considered a security failure, after the terrorists succeeded in crossing the West Bank fence without being intercepted. Israel is working on closing gaps in the fence.

On Sunday, an Israeli man shot and killed a Palestinian who infiltrated the Jewish settlement of Tekoa in the West Bank. The same night, a 24-year-old Israeli police officer was wounded after being stabbed in the neck by a Palestinian man at Damascus Gate in East Jerusalem. The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Palestinian, Nadheer Marzouq, from the West Bank town of Abwein near Ramallah, was shot and seriously wounded.

According to public broadcaster Kan, Israel has foiled 66 terror attacks since mid-March, and arrested more than 500 terror suspects with almost daily raids in the West Bank.

Israel has assassinated a number of Hamas leaders and commanders in the past, most notably its founder and spiritual leader, Ahmed Yassin in Gaza in 2004, and Ahmed Said Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing, Azzadin al-Qassam, in Gaza in 2012.

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