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Lebanon, Qatar cited as locations where strikes could occur

Israel said prepping teams to carry out targeted killings of Hamas leaders abroad

Jerusalem reportedly tells allies that hits on terror leaders are planned in retaliation for attacks; UK Times newspaper names Saleh al-Arouri, Zaher Jabarin as potential targets

(R) Saleh al-Arouri in undated YouTube video (Screen grab) and (L) Zaher Jabarin gives an interview to pro-Hezbollah television network al-Mayadeen on April 17, 2022 (Screen grab)
(R) Saleh al-Arouri in undated YouTube video (Screen grab) and (L) Zaher Jabarin gives an interview to pro-Hezbollah television network al-Mayadeen on April 17, 2022 (Screen grab)

Israel has reportedly told foreign allies that it is readying teams to carry out the targeted killing of leaders of the Hamas terrorist group who live abroad in retaliation for a wave of deadly terror attacks.

Unnamed intelligence sources told Britain’s The Times newspaper in an article published Monday that a “clear message” needed to be sent to the terror organization.

While Hamas has not taken responsibility for most of the attacks since March 22 that have left 19 people in Israel and the West Bank dead, the group’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar has repeatedly called for Palestinians to assault Israelis and the group has publicly praised the perpetrators, encouraging more attacks.

However, the terror group did claim responsibility for an attack that killed a security officer guarding the West Bank settlement of Ariel last month.

According to The Times report, while some Israeli legislators and pundits have advocated killing Sinwar in response to the current terror wave, which he has urged on from the coastal enclave, officials are wary of carrying out targeted killings in Gaza or the West Bank for fear it could spark rocket fire on Israeli towns and cities.

The report said that, instead, any potential targeted killings are more likely to take place in other countries in the region where Hamas leaders live, with Lebanon and Qatar given as examples.

Palestinians chant slogans and wave Hamas flags after Friday prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan near the Dome of the Rock at the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, April 22, 2022. (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

The report said targets could include Saleh al-Arouri, a deputy leader of the terror group who splits his time between Qatar, Turkey and Lebanon and is in charge of West Bank operations.

The newspaper also named Zaher Jabarin, a senior figure in Hamas responsible for its finances.

The report said that Hamas is thought to have been warned of the potential resumption of targeted killings, by the intelligence agencies of a number of countries in Europe and the Middle East.

Israeli security forces have conducted numerous targeted killing operations over the country’s 74-year history. Use of the tool peaked during the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, when Israeli forces took out Hamas leaders in an attempt to staunch a wave of attacks in Israeli cities.

Israel has previously also been accused of carrying out hits on Hamas terror operatives abroad. Hamas has blamed Israel for the 2016 killing of Mohammed al-Zoari, a Tunisian aviation scientist and engineer who developed the terror group’s unmanned drones.

In 2018, Fadi Mohammed al-Batsh, a Gaza-born electrical engineer and avowed Hamas member, was gunned down by two motorcyclists as he walked to dawn prayers in Kuala Lumpur in 2018, in a killing widely blamed on Israel.

In Dubai, in 2010, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a key Hamas missile purchaser and importer, was assassinated in his hotel room in a killing widely attributed to Mossad.

Palestinians carry a picture of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, as others carry his coffin, left, during his funeral procession at Yarmouk, near Damascus, Syria, January 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi/File)

In 1997, Israeli Mossad agents attempted to poison senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal in Jordan.  The attempt failed and several years later Mashaal went on to become the leader of the terror group.

Hamas warned on Saturday that if Jerusalem resumed its policy of targeted killings of senior terror figures, the terror group would go back to carrying out suicide bombings and “burn” Israeli cities.

The group’s military wing also issued a threat of an “unprecedented response” and a “regional earthquake” should Israel attempt to harm any of its top leadership, especially Sinwar.

Sinwar has made incendiary speeches and statements in recent weeks that have been seen to be inciting the terror wave.

In a speech Saturday, he threatened violent consequences should Israelis continue visiting the flashpoint Temple Mount site. The Jerusalem compound is the holiest site for Jews, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits atop the Temple Mount, is the third-holiest shrine for Muslims.

Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a meeting in Gaza City, on April 30, 2022. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

Sinwar also urged Palestinians to strike Israelis with whatever they had — including axes. That speech came days before two Palestinian terrorists killed three men with an axe and knife in the central city of Elad.

Palestinians and Israeli forces have clashed repeatedly at the Temple Mount over the past few weeks. The violence echoed scenes from last year when rioting at the site helped spark a war between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups led by Hamas.

Ever since the May 2021 war, Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel, has threatened to fire rockets at Israel if it violated the organization’s “red lines” in Jerusalem. The terror group has hailed its “deterrence” against Israel in the contested capital as a key achievement of the war, which wrought widespread destruction in Gaza.

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