Report: Israel Plans More Assassinations of Hamas Figures

Netanyahu can not accept a ceasefire, which would collapse his fragile coalition

Tel Aviv plans to ramp up its efforts to assassinate Hamas leaders in order to force the group toward accepting a ceasefire deal, a senior Israeli official told The Times. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has ruled out a ceasefire or a hostage deal to end the war, which would collapse his fragile far-right ruling coalition, instead seeking to annihilate Hamas and ethnically cleanse the Gaza Strip.

Speaking with the outlet on the condition of anonymity, the official said “following the refusal of the leadership of Hamas to accept the deal, Israel has international legitimacy to continue carrying out operations to assassinate senior Hamas members and release hostages.”

Though the stated goal of Netanyahu’s onslaught in Gaza is the eradication of Hamas, US intelligence, Israeli intelligence, and now the Israeli military believe that goal is unachievable. Regardless, Tel Aviv has assassinated some Hamas figures, including at least two senior members. In January, Saleh al-Arouri, an operations chief, was killed in an Israeli drone strike on Beirut. Marwan Issa, chief of staff of the al-Aqsa Brigades, was killed as well in March during a bombing of central Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp.

Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif, who leads the group’s military wing, remain alive, and Israeli intelligence claims they are hiding in tunnels beneath the city of Khan Yunis. According to The Times, “senior Hamas members outside Gaza, including members of its political bureau, are deemed targets as well.”

President Joe Biden unveiled a ceasefire proposal last month, which he framed as an Israeli conception despite Netanyahu’s immediate rejection of any halt in the mass slaughter campaign in Gaza. Subsequently, the offer was supported by the UN Security Council (UNSC) as well as Hamas.

The deal consisted of multiple phases. In the first phase there was to be a six-week truce along with an initial exchange of hostages and prisoners. It also proposed an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas, the return of displaced civilians to their homes, and a significant increase in humanitarian aid. Amidst the first phase, negotiations were to take place working towards a permanent ceasefire during the second phase. Israeli officials believed the language of the deal was vague enough that Israel and Hamas could enter the first stage without ultimately ending its genocidal war.

Recognizing this flaw, Hamas issued a response which contained, as the Washington Post described, “amendments… including a timeline for a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.” Since then, Israeli officials deemed this a “complete refusal” of the offer and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has blamed only Hamas for the lack of progress. Biden has said he believes a deal is unlikely any time soon and Israel has vowed, following the destruction of Rafah, the mass killing of the Palestinians in Gaza will continue apace.

Almost 40,000 Palestinians have been slaughtered, and over 85,000 wounded, amidst the Israeli starvation blockade and catastrophic bombardment. More than half of all buildings in Gaza have been destroyed.

This week, Navi Pillay, chairperson of the UN-backed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, told the UNSC that “Israeli authorities are responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

She added, the crimes include “extermination, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects, murder or willful killing using starvation as a method of War, forcible transfer, gender persecution, sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture and cruel or inhuman treatment.”

Connor Freeman is the assistant editor and a writer at the Libertarian Institute, primarily covering foreign policy. He is a co-host on the Conflicts of Interest podcast. His writing has been featured in media outlets such as, Counterpunch, and the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. He has also appeared on Liberty Weekly, Around the Empire, and Parallax Views. You can follow him on Twitter @FreemansMind96.