With orders from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s top spy agencies are working on plans to hunt down Hamas leaders living in Lebanon, Türkiye and Qatar, the small Gulf nation that has allowed the group to run a political office in Doha for a decade, the officials said.
Israeli assassins have hunted Palestinian militants in Beirut while dressed as women, and killed a Hamas leader in Dubai while disguised as tourists. Israel has used a car bomb to assassinate a Hezbollah leader in Syria and a remote-controlled rifle to kill a nuclear scientist in Iran, according to former Israeli officials.
Israel is already working to kill or capture Hamas leaders inside Gaza, the officials said. The question now for Israeli leaders isn’t about whether to try to kill Hamas leaders elsewhere in the world, but where - and how, the officials said.
The evolving plans are an extension of Israel’s war in Gaza and a reflection of its intentions to ensure that Hamas can never again pose a serious threat to Israel - just as the US led a global coalition against Islamic State militants who set up a self-proclaimed caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria. As part of the effort, Israel is also looking at whether it could forcibly expel thousands of low-level Hamas fighters from Gaza as a way to shorten the war.
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