Leaders of Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, Syria and Lebanon are concerned that Israel may resume its policy of targeted killings in response to the recent spate of terror attacks.
Palestinian sources said that several leaders of the Iranian-backed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have taken “unprecedented precautionary measures” in light of unconfirmed reports in the Israeli media concerning the resumption of the policy of assassinations.
The terror groups believe that Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, and Saleh Arouri, deputy chairman of the group’s political bureau, are at the top of Israel’s list of targeted killings.
Sinwar is responsible for building up Hamas’ military capabilities in the Gaza Strip in preparation for the next round of fighting with Israel.
Arouri, who is currently based in Lebanon, is reportedly responsible for a series of terror attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers in the West Bank. He is also said to be responsible for coordination between Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s terror proxy in Lebanon.
Terrorist officials warn that targeted killings will lead to violence
In public statements over the past 24 hours, Hamas and PIJ officials warned that a return to the policy of targeted killings would lead to more violence.
Hamas-affiliated websites quoted Arouri as saying that he does not take lightly the talk in Israel about assassinating senior leaders of Palestinian terror groups.
“We don’t underestimate the threats of the occupation, but we’re not afraid and we will respond,” Arouri said. “We don’t rule out the possibility that the [Israeli] enemy might carry out aggression at any moment. We won’t accept any aggression on Hamas or any Palestinian.”
“We don’t underestimate the threats of the occupation, but we’re not afraid and we will respond.”Saleh Arouri
Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanou said the talk about assassinating leaders of Palestinian factions came in the context of an internal debate inside Israel. He said that the Palestinian factions were prepared to respond to any Israeli “aggression” on more than one front.
Hazem Qassem, another Hamas spokesman, said the talk about targeting leaders of Palestinian factions aims to “bolster” Israel’s image in the aftermath of the recent terror attacks. He added that the response of the Palestinian factions to any Israeli “idiotic” action would be “much bigger” than Israel would expect. “The Palestinian people are not afraid of such threats and will continue their legitimate struggle against the occupation,” Qassem cautioned.
PIJ representative Tareq Silmi also said that his group was not afraid of the threats to assassinate top terrorists. “The policy of assassinations won’t change the rules of engagement with the Zionist enemy,” Silimi stated. “The threats to carry out assassinations are a failed attempt to restore [Israel’s] deterrence power.”
The PIJ official warned that Israel would pay a “heavy price” if it resumes the policy of targeted killings.
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the threats to assassinate “leaders and symbols of the Palestinian resistance” would only increase the Palestinian people’s support for the “resistance.”
The group warned that the Palestinian factions would respond to any Israeli “crime.” It further called on all the Palestinian factions and their leaders to take precautionary measures and to remain on high alert to thwart all Israeli “schemes” against the Palestinians.