- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2011

Israel’s security agencies are stepping up targeted attacks throughout the world on Hamas‘ leadership in what one Israeli official called “intelligence-based prevention.”

In the past two months, Israeli operatives have intercepted a German ship in international waters, fired a missile at a suspected Hamas leader in Sudan, and captured a Hamas engineer in the Ukraine, according to Israeli and Western officials and press reports from the region.

Israel defeated the wave of suicide bombing attacks against it in 2002 by identifying the leadership that was behind it and making it clear to them that they would pay a price,” said Dore Gold, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and specialist on international terrorism.

“Presently, the effort to cripple Hamas‘ military capabilities is no longer confined to the Gaza Strip alone, but to the entire Hamas global network and that of its allies.”

On Thursday, an anti-tank rocket hit an Israeli school bus near the Gaza border and wounded two people. Israeli planes and tanks fired at Hamas positions in Gaza on Thursday in retaliation.

After a day of Israeli attacks that reportedly killed five Palestinians, Hamas issued a statement offering a cease-fire. The Interior Ministry told reporters in Gaza that militant groups had agreed to stop firing rockets.

The Israeli military had no immediate public comment.

But the overt warfare might end there for now; still, the security services will keep up their secretive work.

“This is a policy of intelligence-based prevention, which has stepped up in recent months,” an Israeli national security official, who asked not to be named, told The Washington Times. “One part of the strategy is prevention.”

While Israelis have conducted intelligence operations throughout the world for years, these kinds of direct actions have become more central to Israel’s war policy against Hamas under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Our security requirements are fundamental … for the achievement of peace,” Mr. Netanyahu said after talks Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

“But they’re particularly important now in this uncertain period that we’re going through.”

The Arab world has been in turmoil since January, with the Libyan civil war the latest in the unrest that has Israel nervous.

“We can’t be sure … if this is [like] an 1989 change in Europe or the 1979 revolution in Iran,” Mr. Netanyahu said, referring to the fall of communism in Europe and the rise of the Islamic terrorism in Iran.

The renewed Israeli approach is in some ways a response to the international condemnation of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli air-and-ground offensive against Hamas positions in Gaza launched in December 2008.

Story Continues →