Israel’s policy of targeted killings is a failure – and the Mossad knows it


Expressing themselves in uncharacteristically candid fashion, three former Mossad chiefs have publicly conceded that political assassinations are of dubious strategic value

Palestinians commemorate the 7th anniversary of the 1988 Israeli assassination of PLO deputy Abu Jihad

Richard Silverstein writes in Middle East Eye:

Though many countries have used political assassinations to defend or protect their interests, Israel has employed the tactic the most systematically over the past seven decades.

In Rise and Kill First, author Ronen Bergman writes: “Since World War II, Israel has assassinated more people than any other country in the Western world.” He cites more than 2,000 murders committed by Israel’s military and intelligence agencies.

The victims have included Palestinian Muslims and Christians, Lebanese Hezbollah commanders, the deputy chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and Syrian generals; they have included engineers, scientists, poets, arms dealers, military commanders, waiters and shop owners. The killings have been carried out in more than a dozen countries and four continents.

When Israel wants to brag about its prowess, it showcases the skill of Mossad assassins in hitting their targets. Movies have been produced. Books have been written. Legends have been made. Newspaper and magazine articles have boasted of the exploits of the agency’s Kidon unit.

But almost no one has assessed the relative value of these operations. What are their short- and long-term goals, and are they achieved? I have argued for years that such operations (aside from their immorality) do not advance Israeli interests in the long term, and sometimes not even in the short term. Many leave Israel worse off than before.

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