Israeli spy agencies are reportedly planning to hunt down Hamas leaders around the world when its fighting in Gaza winds down, said a Wall Street Journal report.
Spy agencies have been ordered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to draw up plans to assassinate Hamas leaders who live outside Gaza, including in Turkey, Qatar and elsewhere, the WSJ report quotes unnamed Israeli officials.
Though there was an immediate call within Israel to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and others following the October 7 attack, the plan was pushed off as doing so on Qatari or Turkish soil could have sabotaged the diplomatic efforts to free hostages.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier warned that all Hamas members were "dead men walking — above and below ground, inside and outside Gaza."
Netanyahu's statement was not very well received by some in Israel as they referred to keeping the future campaign under wraps. Israel could also look to expel lower-level Hamas fighters from Gaza to shorten the war, the WSJ report added.
Meanwhile, an earlier report by the Telegraph mentioned how Israeli Intelligence has formed a unit to hunt down the perpetrators of the October 7 attack. The report added that the unit will be jointly led by Shin Bet and Mossad and echoes the years-long campaign to assassinate Palestinian terrorists involved in the Munich Olympics massacre.
The unit is reportedly named after the First World War-era Jewish underground organisation 'Nili', an acronym for a Hebrew phrase which translates as 'the Eternal One of Israel will not lie.'
It is said to be targeting Hamas's 2,500-strong Nukhba commando division which led the October 7 massacre. "It is significant [that] the Mossad is involved," Dr Ahron Bregman, a senior teaching fellow at King’s College London and author of several books on Israeli intelligence told the Telegraph.
"It means they are also going after people who are outside the occupied territories and Israel".
The 1970 campaign, called Operation Wrath of God was authorised by the then Prime Minister Golda Meir to assassinate those involved in the Munich Olympics massacre. Over 12 Black September and Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) operatives were killed in the operations across Europe and the Middle East. Some 20-35 individuals were placed on the initial kill list and the operation ran for more than 20 years.