Yesterday in Jerusalem, with visiting American Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) at his side, Israeli PM Netanyahu heaped considerable praise on Shin Bet-Israel’s General Security Service – for the targeted killings of senior Hamas commanders in Rafah. The International Business Times(IBT) quoted Netanyahu saying:
The “hard work and professionalism” of Shin Bet had enabled the Israeli military to “carry out this operation against the Hamas leaders who plotted fatal attacks against Israelis,” Netanyahu reportedly said, referring to pre-dawn air strikes in Rafah that killed the three Hamas commanders.
“In the name of every Israeli citizen, I thank the Shin Bet, the heads of the intelligence and operational units, and the chief of the organization, Yoram Cohen,” he said, according to Ha’aretz. Meanwhile, the Israeli military said that it had killed six militants of the Islamic Jihad — a Palestinian Islamist organization — as they were “about to launch rockets into Israel.”
Possibly in retaliation, today, Hamas, publicly executed 18 ‘collaborators’. These public executions come in the midst of a rising wave of ‘collaborator’ executions in the terrorist stronghold of Gaza. Israel National News reported a series of such reprisals in an article, “Hamas Goes on an ‘Israel Collaborator’ Killing Spree”:
Majd, a website close to Hamas, on Thursday reported that Hamas’s military wing,the Al-Qassam Brigades, executed three Gaza residents and arrested seven others for ‘collaborating’ with Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
No date was given for the executions or arrests, but the Hamas security official quoted in the report said the three were killed after “revolutionary procedures” were completed against them.
The same website reported on August 6 that “a number” of Arab collaborators had been killed, again without giving a date.
In the last week of July, Palestinian sources reported that over 30 Gazans were executed by Hamas, most of them in the Shejaiya neighborhood. In that case too, Hamas claimed that they were collaborators with Israel.
The Times of Israel reported a revelation by a Lebanese publication that a phone call between Hamas leader Khalid Mashal in Qatar and Mohammed Deif, the elusive head of the Hamas military wing, may have provided Israel with intelligence that sealed the fate of both he and his family. According to the TOI Mashal may have broken protocol to discuss a possible cease fire with Israel. The Deif residence in Gaza was hit with several bunker buster bombs which cratered the structure. That resulted in a massive funeral purportedly for Deif’s wife and children. Hamas spokesman persist in conveying the impression that Deif escaped the fatal attack, and yet have not provided any proof of life. That attack signifies, as one source told me, that the IAF is flying missions with small bunker buster bombs, in just such a instance to make an instantaneous attack.
A report by the Shaham Palestinian news service published a picture of Deif along with this statement:
“The bodies arrived at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, after the occupation planes attacked the al-Dalo home, in the Rimal neighborhood in the north, in Gaza City, last night,” the report said. “The document we obtained was confiscated by an armed squad of the Al-Qassam brigade from Shifa’s archive, and also changed the check-in information in the hospital to erase Deif’s name from the list.”
“We at Saham News are forced to tell the Palestinian nation, with great sadness, of the death of Deif,” it concluded. “We belong to Allah, and to him we return.”
Shin Bet is also to be credited for its role in uncovering the Hamas power play against Fatah in the West Bank with funds and arms caches. Many observers believe this may have been a key part of the Rosh Ha Shanah attack plan by Hamas that included infiltration of suicide commandos through the terror tunnels dug across the frontier between Gaza and Israel. The joint IDF-Shin Bet Operation Brother’s Keeper that detained hundreds of Hamas operatives in the search for three murdered Jewish Yeshiva students may have provided the intelligence resulting in disclosures of the thwarted plot. Senior Hamas representative ensconced in Turkey, Salah al-Aruri, announced his role in orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish yeshiva students. The Jerusalem Post reported:
A senior Hamas official admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the organization’s armed wing, the Kassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in the West Bank in June, Channel 2 reported.
The Hamas official, Salah al-Aruri made the comments during a conference of Islamic clerics in Turkey. He praised the “heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron.”
Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan Leitner of Shurat ha Din (Israel Law Center) asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to invoke the extradition treaties between the US and Turkey to bring to justice al-Aruri for the murder of Israeli-American, Fraenkel. Meanwhile, PA President Abbas is reported to have had heated conversations in Doha, Qatar with Mashal triggered by Hamas’ plans to overthrow Fatah . Further, there are indications that pressure is building on the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to eject Mashal from his luxurious palace in Doha. Qatar has been a major funder of Hamas, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS, along with Erdogan’s Turkey. If that eventuated Mashal might then be subject to apprehension and possible trial in Egypt. Lest we forget, PM Netanyahu was caught in an embarrassing position in 1998, when an attempted assassination of Mashal by Mossad agents was disclosed by the late King Hussein of Jordan. Mashal also could have been taken out, while a resident in Damascus, before his departure for Qatar at the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Witness the Mossad assassination in February 2008 of Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh.
Whether it is human intelligence through cultivation of assets, or ELINT ears and eyes in the skies over Gaza, these targeted assassination episodes by the IDF with assistance from Shin bet have succeeded in decimating the military leadership of Hamas. These actions clearly indicate that unlike the Biblical Shimshon, Samson the Nazerite, Israel is not ‘sightless’ in Gaza.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.