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Israel may target Hamas leaders abroad

Israel may carry out assassination attempts against Hamas leaders living abroad who it believes were involved in the kidnapping of the three missing Israeli settlers.

Israel formally accused Saleh Al-Arouri, a Hamas official currently based in Ankara, Turkey, of the kidnapping operation.

The head of the political and security circle in the Israeli Ministry of Defence, General Amos Gilad, claimed Al-Arouri's relationship with this particular kidnapping is uncertain, but he emphasised that Al-Arouri was closely involved in previous attempted kidnapping operations over the past two years and that these kidnappings were at a much larger scale. Gilad also accused Al-Arouri of organising a number of shootings in the West Bank in recent years.

Last week, during an interview with the online news portal Walla! Israeli journalist Avi Sakharov asked Gilad if the Israeli government had sought the help of Turkish intelligence in order to stop Al-Arouri. The official said all communication between Ankara and Tel Aviv had been suspended.

"It is Israel's duty to ensure that this individual is not given any more opportunity to carry out such operations. He must be stopped from doing such things," Gilad said. Many believe this is a hint that Israel plans to target Al-Arouri abroad.

On Friday, the Israeli army demolished Al-Arouri's house in his hometown of Arura, located northwest of Ramallah following a decision by the cabinet of security affairs.

The Israeli government also accused Khaled Meshaal, the chief of the Hamas Political Bureau of having a direct role in the kidnappings. Israeli security officials stated that Meshaal assured Hamas' political prisoners, and members of the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades in particular, that Hamas was keen on doing whatever it takes to achieve their liberation.

Security officials in Tel Aviv saw Meshaal's speech as a general invitation for Hamas members in the West Bank to carry out a kidnapping operation against soldiers or settlers.

Meanwhile, an Israeli channel recently revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become aware of the crucial role that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plays in ensuring Israeli interests.

Veteran Israeli journalist Amnon Abramovich said last night that Netanyahu greatly appreciates the speech that was recently given by Abbas in front of a delegation of foreign ministers from Arab countries in Jeddah in which he condemned the kidnappings. Abbas said that the perpetrators and the kidnapping threatened cooperation with Israel on matters of stability and security.

According to Abramovich, Netanyahu considers Abbas' speech to be unprecedented since it negates the legitimacy of the argument that Palestinians have the right to practise violence against Israel.

Israeli journalist Yehudi Yaari noted that Netanyahu was careful not to publically thank Abbas so as not to frame him as a collaborator in Palestinian public opinion. Yaari also pointed out that Israel is quite aware of the important role that Abbas plays and as such, they are not willing to reference him in Israeli media.

Yesterday evening, Israel Ten TV noted that Abbas now finds himself in a dangerous position among his people, many of whom view him as an "agent collaborating with Israel".


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