Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, says former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot down suggestions to target Hamas leaders for assassination during his time as premier. It was not clear which time frame Liberman was referring to.
Liberman tells Channel 12 Netanyahu was the one who approved the release of the terror group’s current leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, as part of the prisoner exchange deal for Gilad Shalit back in 2011.
Sinwar has spent decades in an Israeli prison after being convicted in 1989 of conducting the kidnapping and execution of two Israeli soldiers. He was known by his Israeli interrogators as “the Butcher from Khan Younis” due to his enthusiastic execution of Palestinians alleged to have collaborated with Israel.
Liberman says any resumption of targeted killings of terror leaders needs to be discussed in the security cabinet.
Israeli officials have reportedly indirectly warned Sinwar that it could retaliate against the group for encouraging a series of recent deadly terror attacks.
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, terror group chief Yahya Sinwar has repeatedly called for Palestinians to assault Israelis and the group has publicly praised the perpetrators, encouraging more attacks.
The terror group also claimed responsibility for an attack that killed a security officer guarding the West Bank settlement of Ariel on April 29.
According to Channel 12 news, diplomatic and security officials relayed a message to Sinwar that the Ariel attack, coupled with his messages championing terror, gave Israel freedom to respond militarily in Gaza.