Analysis: Senior military officials tell Ynet on condition of anonymity that Israel should carry out targeted killing of high-profile Gaza officials only when suitable to its interests, and now the time is not right

Israel’s defense establishment appears to be against calls to assassinate Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar despite calls to do so in the wake of the recent terror wave.

A senior military official has told Ynet on condition of anonymity the IDF has plans in place to assassinate senior Gaza officials, including Sinwar and the commander of the Hamas military wing, Mohammed Deif, but does not believe the time is right to put them into action at the moment.

יחיא סינוואר אביב כוכבי
Chief of Military Staff Aviv Kochavi, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (Photo: Yair Sagi, Reuters)


Spokesman for the military wing of the terror group, Abu Obeida, warned earlier that if Sinwar is killed by Israel’s military, the organization will respond with an attack of Israel that would be “akin to an earthquake”.

“Whomever decides to assassinate Sinwar will unleash a catastrophe and will pay dearly in blood and destruction,” Abu Obeida said.

But a senior security official said Hamas was hysterical and the reactions of the group are reminiscent of their desperate pleas for a ceasefire amid last May’s war in Gaza.

The IDF regards Deif as a target whose demise would have the most impact on Hamas, as were other targeted killings such as the senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al Ata, who was killed in 2019 when a missile was fired into his apartment.

חיסול בהא אבו על עטא הג'יהאד האיסלאמי
Senior commander of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza Baha Abu al Ata who was killed in an IDF strike in 2019 (Photo: AFP)


The military sources, however, say targeted killings of Hamas leaders should be carried out when most advantageous to Israel, and not just when the opportunity presents itself.

During the fighting last year, IDF commanders said their objectives were reached after five days of fighting but then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the military to continue for another week.

Bring me the head of Sinwar of Deif, I have the American go ahead,” Netanyahu apparently told the military. The attempts to dispose of Deif, however, had failed.

According to sources, a targeted killing of a Hamas official would not be an impromptu operation and certainly not the subject of public discourse. They require planning and subterfuge.

פלסטינים חוגגים בחאן יונס את הפיגוע באלעד
Palestinians in Gaza celebrate terror attack in central Israel city of Elad on Thursday


The IDF has apparently recommended to the political leadership that in the meantime, the policy of separating events in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank should continue.

Calls to assassinate Sinwar came soon after the terror attack in Elad on Thursday, when three men were killed by hatchets, and four others were wounded.

The murderous killing spree came less than a week after Sinwar called on Arab citizens of Israel and on Palestinians in the West bank to use hatchets to attack Jews.

As reported by Ynetnews