Will Mossad be allowed to assassinate Hamas leaders in Qatar? – analysis

Will Mossad be allowed to assassinate Hamas leaders in Qatar? – analysis

It is hard to say what is most unusual about the Mossad and its potential plans to assassinate Hamas leadership: that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly declared the Mossad would go after them anywhere around the world (usually the order is given secretly), that a story leaked that they would not be targeted in Qatar….where many of them currently reside, or that they might be killed anyway.

Last Wednesday, Netanyahu held a press conference together with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and National Unity Party and War Minister Benny Gantz, publicly stating that he had ordered the Mossad to act against the leaders of Hamas, including outside of Gaza.

Referring to the then-impending temporary ceasefire deal, he claimed that “there is no commitment in the agreement to not act in a truce against the leaders of Hamas, whoever they are.”

Gallant specifically cited Hamas’s leaders outside of Gaza, such as Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashal, saying, “They are living on borrowed time, all over the globe; they are all dead men.”

Next, French journalist Georges Malbrunot of “Le Figaro” reported from his sources that Netanyahu had pledged to Qatar that Israel would not act against the leaders of Hamas living in Qatar.

According to Le Figaro, Qatar received assurances from Israel that the Mossad would not carry out assassinations on its soil, and that “Doha presented its precondition to Israel a few weeks ago, before assuming its role as a mediator in the abductee issue.”

The Jerusalem Post has since indirectly confirmed that Israel made commitments to Qatar on this issue, though some Israeli officials who might be expected to know about such a commitment have pleaded ignorance.

Then again, there are past examples where Netanyahu issued orders on national security issues without even some top defense officials knowing about them, such as the decision to order additional nuclear-powered submarines from Germany, which led to Case 3000, the Submarine Affair.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office denied the report, saying the opposite was true, and referring to Netanyahu’s public instruction to the Mossad that all Hamas leaders are on notice for potential assassination.

So it might not be true, but what would this mean if it is true?

First of all, there are some top Hamas officials regularly in Lebanon and Turkey and who not infrequently visit Iran, and sometimes Syria, and other countries.

So leaving Qatar as a safe haven for Hamas would not preclude targeting some of their top leaders.

But some of them are in Qatar.

In fact, more of them may be in Qatar in the future.

Israel has failed to track down Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Sinwar and its military chief Mohammed Deif despite taking over all key parts of northern Gaza, where they likely resided until recently.

What is to stop them from fleeing into the Sinai and from there to Qatar? More directly, might Netanyahu agree to a future deal allowing some of Hamas’s leadership to flee to Qatar in exchange for returning Israeli hostages?
And if it becomes known that Qatar is their only safe haven, wouldn’t more of the Hamas leaders flee there from other countries as well?

What is Netanyahu’s aim?

Where is Netanyahu going with all of this?

Probably the first statement made publicly was a mix of domestic political tough-sounding headlines as well as to make the top leadership feel threatened enough to be more ready to agree to a hostage deal. Whether the statement was worth it or not, given that it put Netanyahu and the Mossad as being on record with a promise, probably depends on the fate of the war, the hostages, and whether the spy agency does in fact later dispose of some of those top terror officials.

The promise to Qatar, assuming it is true, was probably the price of doing business for hostages.

How could Qatar host Hamas officials in the same city as Mossad officials as part of negotiations if they were worried about the Hamas officials being killed?

So does this mean that any Hamas officials in Qatar are permanently off the book?

Not necessarily.

First, Sinai does not connect directly to Qatar and Sinai itself may leave Hamas officials open to attack. Other countries Hamas officials might use on the way to Qatar could also leave them open to attack.

Even once in Qatar, after some time passes, Hamas officials might think they could sneak out, and it might be necessary to raise funds or gain support in Iran or to maintain control of key chapters in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, and elsewhere.

The Mossad has shown it can operate in all of these countries.

Finally, even any promise to Qatar could have an expiration date.

If all the hostages are home, dead, or viewed as beyond Israel’s reach, a promise to Qatar that Hamas officials would be off limits would only be as solid as any other future potential interest between Israel and Qatar.

The Post understands that Israel has made such commitments in the past to certain Abraham Accords countries, but that was in exchange for normalization processes – a strategic game changer that Qatar is likely not close to doing.

What all of this probably means is that some Hamas officials may get a temporary reprieve in the near to medium term, due to Qatar’s involvement in the hostage issue. But they should not go to sleep at night too quietly, especially if they live anywhere else, travel anywhere else, or dream too far into the future.

Source » jpost.com