Israel is conducting a “secret war,” assassinating top officials in Hamas and Hizbullah in order to hamper the terror groups’ communications with their backer Iran, the London-based Times reported Saturday.

“There has been growing co-operation between Gaza and Iran. Israel can read the writing on the wall and they know that with the help of Iran, the Hamas government in Gaza will become stronger and will fight better. But Israel is overstepping their boundaries. Other countries don’t want to become a killing field for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the paper quotes an unnamed Palestinian official in Ramallah as saying.

The official was referring to the assassination of Mahmoud el Mabhouh, a senior Hamas official who was liquidated in a Dubai hotel last month. Hamas has accused Israel of killing him.

The paper also cites an incident where a bus carrying Iranian officials and Hamas members exploded near Damascus, an attack on a meeting between Hizbullah and Hamas officials in the Hizbullah-controlled Dahiya district of Beirut and the killing of Hizbullah mastermind Imad Mughniyeh in February 2008.

The Times quotes Arab diplomats saying they are aware that covert Israeli operations had increased. “We watch their comings and goings; we are aware that there is more activity both on our ground and other countries in the region,” an Egyptian diplomat told the paper. “They are trying to embroil us all in their conflict.”

The incidents are often attributed to the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, which has seen a surge in reputation since Meir Dagan was appointed to lead the agency in 2002 by then-prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Israeli officials never admitted that the Mossad was involved in any of the killings.

Dagan’s tenure has been extended twice by Sharon’s successor Ehud Olmert and again by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Dagan received praise recently from an unexpected source when he was described in an opinion piece in a leading Egyptian daily paper as "the Superman of Israel."

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