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Israel plans to hunt down Hamas leaders after war in Munich-style plot

The assassination campaign would follow decades of clandestine operations by Israel that have become the focus of Hollywood movies.

Published: December 3, 2023 12:52pm

Israel plans to hunt down the Hamas leaders around the world responsible for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack when the war in the Gaza Strip winds down in a campaign echoing the one executed following the deadly attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics, Israeli officials say. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israeli's top intelligence agencies to hunt down Hamas leaders living in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar, the latter of which has allowed the internationally-designated terrorist group to run a political office in Doha for the past decade.

The campaign, confirmed Friday by The Wall Street Journal, would target leaders who planned the Oct. 7 terrorist operation that saw the brutal murder of approximately 1,200 people and the kidnappings of about 240 others. 

The assassination campaign would follow decades of clandestine operations by Israel that have become the focus of Hollywood movies, such as Steven Spielberg's 2005 film Munich, which follows some of the 20-year-long Mossad operation to track down members of the Black September Organization who were involved in the Olympic massacre that resulted in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches as well as a German police officer.  

Operation Wrath of God, the Mossad campaign after the Munich massacre, saw Ehud Barak, before he became prime minister, dressing as a woman and sneaking into Beirut in 1973 to kill three Palestinian militants linked to the attack. 

Israel has reportedly carried out more than 2,700 covert assassination operations since World War II, Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman wrote in his book, "Rise and Kill First."

The new operation may be Netanyahu's second chance to kill Hamas founder Khaled Meshaal. During his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu ordered a botched poisoning attempt of Meshaal in Jordan in 1997.

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