The assassination of senior Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip is still an option for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), Quds Net News has reported. Mohammed Deif, the commander of the movement's armed wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, and its leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, are the obvious targets, said the IDF on Tuesday.
The IDF made the comment during a press conference after a comprehensive evaluation of the military manoeuvres which started yesterday and are due to last for a month. Although assassination is still an option, the army said, it knows that such a measure would provoke a response.
According to Quds Net News, the Israeli army believes that Hamas is afraid of a possible Israeli offensive in Gaza so is maintaining calm in the coastal enclave, but "inciting chaos" in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Moreover, the IDF does not believe that the Palestinian fighters who killed three Israelis in Elad last month knew Sinwar or even listened to his speeches. This counters the Israeli political narrative pushing for assassination on the grounds that the Hamas official has been inciting Palestinians to kill Israelis.
Hamas and its senior leader, Ismail Haniyeh, warned Israel about returning to its assassination policy. They stressed that this would trigger a wave of responses against the Israeli occupation.
Israel is guilty of assassinating several Palestinian leaders, mainly Hamas members. Those killed include Hamas founder and quadriplegic Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, and former Al-Qassam Brigades commander Salah Shehadeh.