Obama’s policy of targeted killing wins praise from Israelis

As Barack Obama continues his campaign of targeted killing — this time with a failed attempt to assassinate the American-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, in Yemen — many Israelis regard this as a vindication of their own approach to eliminating their enemies.

In Haaretz, Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel write:

As far as Jerusalem is concerned, President Barack Obama’s decision to assassinate Osama bin Laden constitutes a declared, if delayed, acknowledgment on the part of the Americans of the Israeli argument that targeted attacks on senior members of organizations are a necessary modus operandi in the struggle against terrorism. According to former director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. (res. ) Aharon Ze’evi-Farkash, bin Laden’s assassination reflects the administration’s understanding that it is impossible to separate the leader from the operational stratum below him.

The way the operation was carried out in Pakistan also carries significant implications for the objective of deterrence – not only in terms of the meticulous collection of intelligence and the impressive performance by the forces involved, but also with regard to the decision to dispatch a ground force and not carry out a remote-controlled aerial attack. The “close-up” assassination deprived the terrorist organizations, from Hamas to Al-Qaida, of the ability to claim that the West is cowardly and afraid to endanger its people in face-to-face combat. The methods used also helped avoid the killing of noncombatants and, of course, made it possible for the administration to ascertain that bin Laden had indeed been killed, though there will always be those who claim it was an American trick. The United States, for its part, is exempt from at least one Israeli concern: No one is about to send Obama and his officers to The Hague.

In the Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Katz writes:

Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, the former head of the IDF’s Southern Command, spoke this week – for the first time publicly since the government retracted its decision to appoint him chief of staff – about the significance of assassinations in reference to bin Laden’s killing.

“Those who say that these operations don’t have an impact are mistaken,” said Galant, who personally participated in such operations as a longtime navy commando and later as head of the Southern Command. “The liquidation of terror leaders prevents terror attacks and influences the organizations.”

There are two categories of targets killed this way. The first is field operatives, people like Hezbollah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh, reportedly killed by Israel in 2008 in Damascus, or Ali Mahmoud Mabhouh, the Hamas weapons smuggler reportedly killed by Israel in Dubai in 2010.

Their deaths are believed to have dealt critical blows to their respective organizations, to the point that over three years later, Israel still believes Hezbollah has yet to find an appropriate replacement for Mughniyeh.

Then there are symbolic figures whose assassination can have an effect on a terrorist group. This was the case in 2004 with the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the wheelchair-bound Hamas spiritual leader who was killed by an IAF missile as he left a mosque in the Gaza Strip.

Bin Laden’s death resembles Yassin’s in this respect, since while he was a leader at one point of a clear hierarchical organization, in the years since the 9/11 attacks, he has served more in the position of symbolic figurehead.

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6 thoughts on “Obama’s policy of targeted killing wins praise from Israelis

  1. Norman

    Only fools drink their own kool aid! Easy to sit and comment, but if what they say is true, then why haven’t the various organisms been dealt a fatal blow? Why do they still exist in the aftermath of assassination? As we have experienced in the past, kill one, there’s always another who takes his place. Killing the leader[s] of the opposition, only spawns others, more difficult to get too, more difficult to know. Eliminate the reason that created the opposition, is the only way to neutralize the total situation.

  2. Laurie K

    Noting the last sentece above written by Norman, I would emphasize that examining the true reasons has been almost non-existent. Imperialism in its various forms has been ignored and/or excused for centuries. People fight back by whatever means is available to them.

  3. Christopher Hoare

    Americans should be ashamed that the championship of extrajudicial state murder belongs to them and the Israelis. States that, as a matter of administration policy, customarily act outside international and universally recognized criminal laws are states without the rule of law.

    When you hear the epithet ‘terrorist’ hurled at someone, remember that this has long been ‘the world turned upside down’. The truth has become lies and lies have become the truth. Those who incessantly hurl the epithets are the real residents of the rogue states.

  4. Nemocity

    The company you keep is a reflection of who you are.
    Despite all the evidence of the slippery slope the US is on, there are those who continue to argue that she is a beacon onto the rest of the world, the guarantor of democracy and all things good. She now has quite a few things in common with some other odious regimes.

  5. DE Teodoru

    Since the old: don’t criticize us after what you did to the Indians to get their land, the Israelis have been trying to incriminate the Americans into mouth-shutting behavior so America could no longer moralize to Israel. Now they’re cheering, especially with the ever changing story attributed to the “fod of war.”

  6. JohnC

    I have no sympathy for Osama Bin Laden, and believe that Islam is inherently an evil doctrine, not a religion. However the assassination and torture of political opponents is never justifiable. It is absurd that America wages its self-declared “war on terror” by committing its own terrorist acts, and supporting terrorist regimes elsewhere. Talk about hypocracy! Hussein Obama’s “War on Terror” is in reality a war between American imperialism, and opponents of American and Jewish hegemonism. The West should keep out of it. If America and the Moslem world want to destroy each other, let them get on with it.

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