Hamas to Israel: ‘You may kill us… but we’re going to kill your claimed legitimacy.’

Hamas to Israel: ‘You may kill us… but we’re going to kill your claimed legitimacy.’

The murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh, a leading member of Hamas’ military wing, the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades, in Dubai ten days ago, is widely assumed to have been carried out by Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency.

Speaking in Damascus, Hamas’ political leader, Khalid Meshaal said: “You may kill us, you may hurt us, but we’re going to kill your claimed legitimacy and we will tear the false image you’ve painted in recent decades.”

In 1997, Meshaal was himself the target of an Israeli assassination attempt in Jordan which had been personally ordered by then-as-now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.*

At this moment, when one might expect Hamas to be promising revenge (which it has), it is significant that it also makes a powerful political statement which thrusts right at the heart of the issue: Israel can kill individuals such as al Mabhouh, but it can’t kill the Palestinian cause. And while Israel might consistently overstate the military threats it faces, the threat that will not yield to sheer might — a threat that is indeed magnified by Israel’s bellicose posture — is the threat to its own legitimacy.

As The National reported:

Israel has killed dozens of Hamas leaders and military figures, including its leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in a helicopter gunship attack in Gaza in 2004.

In the wake of the 1989 murder of the two Israeli soldiers, Avi Sasportas and Ilan Sadon, the Israeli army arrested al Mabhouh’s family members and demolished his home, the family said.

“They tried to kill him six times,” said al Mabhouh’s mother, Fatima. “They tried to kidnap and poison him in Lebanon and in Syria. As soon as I heard the news of his death, I knew it was the Israelis.”

“They even arrested us,” she said, “but we couldn’t tell them anything about where he was or what he was doing.”

The family said they attempted to travel to Syria for al Mabhouh’s funeral, held yesterday in Damascus, but were turned back at Gaza’s Rafah border with Egypt by Egyptian officials.

“We paid the Egyptian border guards money, and they even took our passports,” Abdel Raouf said. “And then when they saw our names, they said: ‘Are you the family of Mahmoud al Mabhouh?’ and we said: ‘Yes, is it a crime? He is a hero for our country.’”

The family also said they hoped Hamas would carry out a “strong retaliation” for al Mabhouh’s death.

Ynet said:

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said he believes assassins of senior organization member Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai arrived in the region as part of Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau’s entourage.

Landau recently took part in an environmental convention in Abu-Dhabi. In an interview with Al-Jazeera al-Zahar said it was possible the assassins had come with him and entered Dubai under assumed identities, using false passports.

“A week before the assassination Uzi Landau visited the emirates and he may have had people traveling with him under false names and additional citizenships,” he said.

Izzat Rashaq, a top member of Hamas exiled leadership in Damascus, was asked why his organization had waited nine days to issue a formal announcement of al-Mabhouh’s death. He told the Associated Press that Hamas delayed the announcement because it was trying to “reach the Israeli agents who implemented this operation.”

Clayton Swisher at Al Jazeera commented:

… there is little doubt that Netanyahu would be brazen enough to order the al-Mabhouh hit. It would mean little to him that the Emirates recently hosted on its soil an Israeli Minister, Uzi Landau, even in spite of his hard line stance toward Palestinians (Landau famously likened the PLO to Al Qaeda!).

As Netanyahu demonstrated in 1997, he is not afraid to send intelligence operatives into a friendly Arab guests home, break some china, and have them peace out as if nothing ever happened.

Only in this case, the Dubai police do not have the benefit of a captured operative. They’ll have to rely on whatever witness and forensic evidence they can collect. As a law enforcement agency the Dubai Police are known for mercurial investigative standards.

But given the embarrassment al-Mabhouh’s murder is causing, and the fact that other hits have taken place in the Emirates, they’ll likely up their game in this case to try and salvage some prestige.

Meanwhile, The National reported:

As a senior member of Hamas’ military faction, the Ezzedine al Qassam Brigades, al Mabhouh would typically be accompanied by security guards, Mr Nasser said, but had failed to do so on this occasion because no reservations had been made for them with the airline. “Everywhere he goes he takes bodyguards but there was no booking for them on this flight, so he travelled alone,” Mr Nasser explained. “The guards were due to follow him on the next available flight the following day.”

Al Mabhouh, who lived with his family in Damascus, flew to Dubai on January 19. He was murdered in the Al Bustan Rotana on January 20.

According to Hamas, citing information it said it received from Dubai authorities, he was electrocuted while walking in the hotel corridor, dragged into his room, and then strangled.

“We are now very carefully studying our security plans for all senior figures, we are reviewing all our measures to make sure that we are as well protected as possible,” Mr Nasser said.

“We do not have all of the details yet but maybe he [al Mabhouh] made a telephone call about his plans from a mobile that was intercepted.”

Mr Nasser added: “It is also standard for airlines to fax advance notice of their passengers, so that may have given the assassins a chance.”

Dubai’s police chief, Lt Gen Dahu Khalfan Tamim, confirmed that al Mabhouh had entered the country on a passport bearing his real name.

While involvement of Mossad, Israel’s overseas security agency, had not been ruled out as part of the ongoing investigation, Lt Gen Tamim said his officers were “pursuing individual suspects, not an organisation”.

“We know everything about the suspects’ identity due to the strong evidence they left behind, and we will contact several countries which are connected to the suspects to provide us with all the necessary information,” he said.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Dubai authorities said the suspects were mostly European passport holders and members of an “experienced criminal gang” who had been monitoring al Mabhouh’s movements.

* Consider how much the world has changed in the last decade. In 1997, Netanyahu was widely criticized for sending assassins into a neighboring friendly state. Canada recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest at the use of Canadian passports by Mossad operatives. President Clinton was quoted as saying of Netanyahu: “I cannot deal with this man. He is impossible.”

This time around, if it is proved that Israeli assassins are on the loose, will there be even a murmur from the State Department? Will a president who prefers the much blunter tool of a Hellfire missile when ordering an assassination have anything to say about how Israeli hit men conduct their operations?

No, because we now live in an age where politically-sanctioned murder has been legitimized by a press corp that kowtows to political norms however questionable might be their legality or moral legitimacy.

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  1. Why condemn the good guy – heroic Israel who’s so restraint in facing Arab Muslims heinous criminals (crimes against humanity, war crimes… by Hezbollah or by (the children of Arab immigrants into Jews’ historic homeland) who are called today:) “Palestinians” that use their women & children in order to make sure they die?

  2. La vérité says

    My president always keeps saying, when Americans do something, of course always good ( e.g. alleged ‘relief’ operation in Haiti ), that is because “WHO WE ARE”. I have never heard him say, “We send drones to kill civilians, specially women and children because who we are

  3. DE Teodoru says

    Israel is making it clear that it does not want any peace with HAMAS, choosing to kill them any way it can. Like the Bolsheviks before them, the Israel view no law or sovereignty as obstacle to its assassins. For its part HAMAS takes its lumps and accepts every loss as the Will of Allah. But Israel seek to milk the world claiming that it is owed the lavishness showered upon it and protection on grounds that it is victim of the Holocaust. Some day the Arabs will get their act together and overwhelm the Israelis. What then? Will the murderers except us to save them from the other murderers?

  4. Strelnikov says

    DE Teodoru, what will happen if the Arabs beat the Israelis would be that the US, the EU, and maybe the Russian Federation would pick up the survivors and make them citizens of whichever countries they wind up in. The US did the same thing (badly) for the South Vietnamese and Hmong who fought in the Vietnam War so I would see no change from the American government. However, I don’t think the Israeli government would collapse as cleanly as the SV government; there are claims that the IDF would be willing to use tactical nuclear weapons within the state of Israel if it were invaded (aka “the Sampson option”) along with all the whiz-bang weapons the US has sold the IDF. If they are willing to drop white phosphorus on Gazans, who knows what they would drop on their own towns if just to hold the line for a day or two.