גורם ביטחוני ישראלי: משת”פים של ישראל בעזה הם שהתנקשו בבכיר הזרוע הצבאית של חמאס
Today, Israel assassinated a former Palestinian prisoner freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange. He was Mazen Fuqaha, and described as a senior Hamas militant in Gaza. The Islamist group denounced the murder and attributed it to “Israel and its collaborators.” This indicates that the killing, carried out near the victim’s house by men using silencers, employed Palestinians rather than Israelis as the killer. An Israeli security source has confirmed this to me.
When the source first told me about this killing, I was quite skeptical and remain so, though less than I was originally. Very, very few Israeli assassinations have been done via collaborators. Some Palestinians believe, though it’s never been proven, that Yasser Arafat’s food was poisoned by a collaborator within his inner circle recruited by Israel.
How does Shabak recruit a Palestinian to do such a thing? How do they train them? How do they trust them? Then after the act, how do they hide them or facilitate their escape from Gaza?
Second, why kill in this way? Why not use a drone, which is a much more common way of assassinating Palestinian militants? This method is cleaner and easier (from the Israeli point of view). That’s why Obama chose it over having boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda.
If not by drone, then why not an Israeli killer? After all, you know and trust someone you trained yourself to do the job. You can plan the operation in detail and then execute it. Of course, it’s more difficult to insert and extract an Israeli agent from Gaza in such circumstances and there is a danger the killer could be apprehended.
The only reason I can think of to take on these risks is to instill fear and mistrust within the ranks of Hamas’ leadership. If a Palestinian can murder one of his own, then who is safe? If Israel can do this, then what can’t it do? This is a form of psychological warfare. Tear down the enemy, make him mistrust everyone he once trusted with his life.
My problem with this is it never works. It’s playing a game with the enemy. Treating it like moving pieces on a chessboard, rather than like flesh and blood human beings. Israel has always been guilty of treating its enemies like this. As if they could be manipulated. As if a killing or even a war could destroy their will to fight. When nothing can–except justice.
When I receive information from a source, I subject it to intense scrutiny. I understand a source has an interest just as I do. I don’t wish to advance my source’s interest at the expense of my own. That is why I sometimes will express skepticism about information offered to me. I may know the facts I’ve been given are accurate, but the interpretation that accompanies them will sometimes diverge from mine.
As I understand it, Israel targeted Fuqaha because after he was released he returned to militancy and planning acts of terror in the West Bank. There are others among the 1,100 released who’ve done the same. The message is that any of them who have returned to the path of violence are targets.
But knowing that the West Bank has been extremely quiet, I wondered what specific acts of terror had Fuqaha planned or executed. All the source would say is that while the victim may not have successfully executed such acts, operatives he recruited were captured and interrogated and testified they transferred funds from Gaza at his direction to the West Bank to finance terror operations.
If that’s all the Shabak had on him, then I suspect both their motives and judgment. To me, it appears they’re settling scores that involve the acts of terror he committed (a suicide blast killing nine Israelis) before he was imprisoned. Or they’re targeting those released under the Shalit deal saying: we will kill you when and where we want just because…because you got away, because we exact revenge on our enemies. It doesn’t seem a strategy, but rather a Mafia code of vengeance.
Why do you do it? Not because it will bring about any real change. But because you’ve got to face the prime minister, the security cabinet and the Israeli people and tell them you’re doing something to keep them safe. Notching another Indian scalp on your gun barrel worked in the Wild West. Why not in Israel?
In 2014, Shabak told Israel Hayom about these former prisoners who’d become Hamas commanders after release and were planning new kidnappings of Israelis or acts of terror. It mentioned then that Fuqaha was at the top of its list (though at the time it didn’t mention it would seek to liquidate him). The article also mentions two others Hamas militants, Salah Aruri and Abed al-Rahman. One suspects they’ve been on the same wanted list Shabak devised which used to include Fuqaha.