Israel seeking to assassinate Hamas figures globally after Gaza war
The plans, which would see the Israel conduct assassinations against Hamas' top leadership based in Turkey, Qatar, and Lebanon, are likely to be carried out following the completion of military operations in Gaza.
According to Israeli officials speaking to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) the campaign is expected to take years to complete, with preparations having begun following the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on 7 October.
One particular figure in Israel's sights is veteran Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, according to the officials. He had previously survived an assassination attempt ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997. The botched attempt, in which Meshaal was poisoned by Israeli agents in Jordan, saw Jordan's late King Hussein intervene to secure an antidote for the fentanyl derivative poison from Israel. Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin was also released by Israel as part of the negotiations.
Meshaal is currently in Qatar alongside Hamas Political chief Ismail Haniyeh, although the WSJ sources said Tel Aviv has = reservations about carrying out the campaign in Qatar, as the country is a key mediator for the release of the over 200 Israeli hostages held in Gaza.
Officials added that securing the release of the hostages was part of the reason why Israel has not launched its assassination campaign yet, particularly as said campaigns are diplomatically controversial.
Earlier in the war, Netanyahu announced that he had told Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence service, "to act against the heads of Hamas wherever they are".
The latest plans come as Israel continues its ground operation in Gaza, which seeks to kill major Hamas leaders in the Palestinian enclave, including Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif and Marwan Issa, amongst others.
Israel's operations have so far failed to kill Hamas top military brass, who Israel now claims are in southern Gaza. The Israeli army's assault and invasion of Gaza's largest medical complex - the al-Shifa hospital - also failed to deliver significant military gains for Israel, despite it claiming that the hospital was a key Hamas command centre.
According to Israeli officials speaking to the Financial Times, 50-mid level commanders have been killed since October 7.
The most senior member of Hamas who has been killed by Israel is Abu Anas al-Ghandour, who was commanding the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades fighting Israeli forces in northern Gaza.
Likewise, Ayman Nofal, who was a member of Hamas' General Military Council and the commander of the Qassam Brigades Central Brigade, has also been killed.
Both commanders deaths have been confirmed by Hamas, although many others claimed by Israel are currently unannounced.
The placement of Hamas' senior leadership in southern Gaza has prompted Israel to set its sights on southern Gaza, which currently holds over 2 million people after Israel's invasion of northern Gaza forced an exodus of over 1 million people into the area.