Israel’s Use of Trageted Killings

Israel’s Use of Targeted Killings: A Weapon of Necessity

Alex Grobman, PhD

The Israelis prefer “extrajudicial punishment,” “selective targeting,” or “long-range hot pursuit”—to describe their counterterrorism policy. 1 Whatever term used to describe this “counter-offensive” in which Israel employs fighter jets, helicopter gunships, tanks, car bombs, booby traps or snipers to eliminate terrorists who are proven to be in the process of planning new terrorist acts, and not crimes previously perpetrated, the practice has generated intense controversy. 2 

In July 2001, Martin S. Indyk, the American ambassador to Israel, condemned Israel’s policy on Israeli television. ”The U.S. government,” he said, “is very clearly on the record as against targeted assassinations. They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.” 3 In 2004, when Israel killed Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin, then U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the act.  So did the European Commission, the British and French governments and many others. 4 In 2011, however, when the U.S. targeted Osama bin Laden, U. N.  Secretary General Ban Ki Moon lauded the Americans. 5

Israeli Targeted Killing Gained Notoriety in 2000

“Targeted killing” gained notoriety after Israel began targeting terrorists in 2000.  Critics disparaged this “counterproductive” tactic for alledgedly triggering more attacks.  The murder of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi on October 17, 2001 is cited as an example. Ze’evi was on a list of 20 prominent Israeli leaders marked for death to avenge the killing of Hamas Chief Sheikh Salah Shehada, a founder of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas. The threat prompted the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to provide bodyguards for Israeli generals. 6

Shehada had orchestrated 52 actions killing 220 Israeli civilians and 16 soldiers. Before deciding to kill Shehada, Israeli officials repeatedly demanded the PA arrest him. After the PA refused, the Israelis decided to capture him, but realized that seizing him in his home in the middle of Gaza City would cause a riot. Eight attempts to kill Shehada were aborted because his daughter accompanied him.

Only after the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, concluded that he would be in an apartment building with no civilians in the immediate vicinity, did they sanction the kill order. The information proved erroneous. On July 22, 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a 2,000-pound bomb on his building killing at least 14 civilians, including his daughter and eight other children. 7

Before ordering the strike, Lt. General Moshe Ya’alon, then Chief of Staff of the IDF, and his chief of operations, agonized over the decision throughout the day. The Shehada deaths, Yaalon said, felt “like something heavy fell on my head.” It also shaped his views about targeted killing. But his mother’s experience during the Holocaust, especially as the only member of her family to survive, played a more significant role. 8

“I learned, ‘Remember and don’t forget.’ I drank it like mother’s milk. It meant that Jews shouldn’t be killed, but it also means that we don’t kill others. You need strength to defend Israel, and on the other hand, to be a human,” Ya’alon said. “This is the tension, the heaviness of the decision.” 9

Israel “considers the morality of counterterrorist measures within the framework of three tests,” Ya’alon stated: “the ‘mirror’ test, in which the counterterrorist executor asks whether the policy meets his own ethical standards; the ‘our own society’ test, in which a policymaker must consider whether the policy meets the moral standards of his broader society; and the ‘international’ test, which considers whether the policy satisfies internationally recognized moral standards, as well as what would be the response of the international community.” 10

Facing a Tragic Dilemma: How Does One Respond?

 “We face a tragic dilemma,” declared Major Gen. Amos Yadlin, former chief of military intelligence. “A terrorist is going to enter a restaurant and blow up 20 people. But if we blow up his car, three innocent people in the car will die. How do we explain it to ourselves?”  11

Almost nine years after the bombing, a government investigation found that although the process was flawed, the results “did not stem from disregard or indifference to human lives.” According to “Israeli rules of engagement and international law” Israelis directing the operation did not commit a criminal violation. 12

In the fall of 2000, when violence erupted, Ya’alon suggested to Prime Minister Ehud Barak that instead of placing restrictions on all Palestinian Arabs, Israel should initiate “surgical operations” against terrorists under a joint command of Shin Bet and the military.  13

Eliminating terrorists hosted in Arab countries who were in a state of war with Israel and would not be extradited, also had to be addressed. The only option was to pursue them and their leaders wherever they were hiding. 14 Some operations were commanded by soldiers who became senior leaders in the Israeli government, including Israeli defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.15

In Beirut in 1973, wearing high heels and a woman’s wig, Barak participated in killing three of the terrorists who murdered 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics.  In the early 1990s, Barak formed undercover units called “Cherry” and “Samson,” in which soldiers dressed like Arabs killed Palestinian Arabs suspected of violence. 16

Failure of the International Legal System and the UN to Thwart Mass Terror

“The failure of the international legal system and the U.N. to provide a remedy to mass terror” is another reason Israel is forced deal with terrorism alone and with force, asserts Gerald Steinberg. Bringing lawsuits against terrorists, financed by Iran, would never be pursued by the International Criminal Court, or brought to the U.N. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council— controlled by Libya, Algeria, and Iran— ignore Israeli grievances. 17

After resurrecting targeted killings, Barak secretly enlisted Daniel Reisner, a former Head of the International Law Branch of the IDF Legal Division, who served as a senior member of Israel’s peace delegations with Jordan and the Palestinian Arabs between 1994 and 2000, to determine if they were legal. For six week Reisner struggled with the question. “It was a feeling of — what on Earth has happened? Instead of two states living amicably side by side, I have to write opinions on how and when we kill each other.”  18

Reisner concluded they were legal, with six provisions: arrest is impossible; targets are combatants; senior cabinet members authorize each operation; civilian casualties are minimized; operations are restricted to areas not under Israeli control; and targets are recognized as a future threat.  Targeted killing cannot be used as retribution for past actions. A military panel established in 2002 took six months and 20 meetings to decide that targeting can only be used for deterrence, not for revenge. 19

Criticism of Targeted Killings Is Unfounded

Critics claimed the killings violated the sovereignty of foreign nations and provided Israeli security services with a license to kill without due process. Others wanted proof that killings disrupted terrorist organizations and decreased their motivation. 20 Still others, argued they provoked international censure, affected diplomatic relations and fostered Arab antagonism. 21 Killings inspire many young men and women to join their idealized peers, after attending well publicized lavish terrorist funerals, where the terrorist pictures are prominently displayed.22

This criticism is unfounded according to Gal Luft, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). Though targeted killings do not prevent terror, terrorist operations are disrupted, 23  due to the significantly limited number of skilled operatives who can manufacture bombs, train terrorists, forge documents, recruit others and serve as leaders. When terrorists are arrested or killed, new recruits initially do not have the same expertise and do not present an immediate existential threat. 24

Leaders must spend much of their time evading detection from Israeli security forces and Arab informers, 25 requiring them to vary their locations and maintain a low profile. This restricts the flow of information making communication perilous. 26 Untold numbers of civilians are saved from being killed or maimed as a result.27

In the early 1990s, Yehiya Ayash, “The Engineer,” an engineering student, was considered the father of homicide terrorism, for his role in assembling explosives, teaching Arab youth to manufacture explosive belts, and enlisting them as Hamas homicide bombers. Most of the attacks following the signing of the Oslo Accords are ascribed to him with at least 39 killed. On January 5, 1996, an Israeli drone hovering over Ayash’s hideout sent a signal to the cell phone given to him by his friend blowing a hole in his skull. 28

Another example of lives saved occurred on August 21, 2014, when Hamas leader Raed Attar, the commander of the Rafah cell of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, was killed, preventing a Gaza-area Paraglider attack. “Attar’s assassination has disrupted everything,” an Israeli official said of [Attar], who established a 15-member paragliding squadron four years ago.

“Attar and Rafa Salamah (Attar’s aide) made sure to send us to Malaysia to practice paragliding. We went through tunnels from Sinai to Cairo and then took a flight to Malaysia,” cell leader Mohammad Kadara, admitted after his arrest. 29

Kadara explained that two attack tunnels were built under an olive grove that crossed the border into Israel.  “Our goal was to ambush the soldiers who would come to the scene, shoot them and detonate bombs. We planned to abduct soldiers and deliver them through the tunnels. We were two weeks in a tunnel with food: cartons of dates, bread and water. We were kept confidential, and were told not to reveal our activities to anyone,” he said. “An operative would update our families that we were all right” 30

The killing of the 49 year old dentist Thabit Thabit, a regional commander of Palestinian Arab forces in the Tulkarem area on December 31, 2000, triggered the debate in Israel about the morality, legitimacy, and value of assassinations. Though secretly involved in numerous terrorist actions, Thabit portrayed himself as a human rights activist while serving as director general of the Palestinian health ministry, and cultivating friends in Israel’s Peace Now movement. 31

When his wife petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to terminate the assassinations, the Israelis were forced to examine its legality under international law. Infringing on another state’s sovereignty, particularly by exacting extrajudicial retribution on their citizens, is a flagrant contravention of international rule. Yet the law also stipulates that countries should not provide terrorists with a base to “threaten the territorial integrity and security” of other states. Sovereign nations are charged with prosecuting them. 32

Israel’s Position Is More Complex

Israel’s position is more complex. The PA is not a state, and not legally obligated to adhere to the laws, regulations and treaties of a recognized country. Nevertheless, after having signed the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Cairo Agreements (1994), the Wye River Summit (1998) and Sharm el Sheikh Memorandum (1999) the PA is obligated to combat terrorism. In addition to failing to stop terrorism, the PA has freed jailed terrorists and provided them with weapons and financing. On numerous occasions, Israel supplied intelligence about future terrorist attacks, which the PA used to alert the perpetrators instead of incarcerating them. 33

In a legal opinion, former Israeli attorney general and now Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein wrote: “The laws of combat which are part of international law, permit injuring, during a period of warlike operations, someone who has been positively identified as a person who is working to carry out fatal attacks against Israeli targets, those people are enemies who are fighting against Israel, with all that implies, while committing fatal terror attacks and intending to commit additional attacks—all without any countermeasures by the PA.” 34

After a Palestinian Arab terrorist drove a bus into a crowd of people on February 14, 2001 killing nine Israelis, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said the Israeli government would “continue our policy of liquidating those who plan or carry out attacks, and no one can give us lessons in morality because we have unfortunately 100 years of fighting terrorism.” Several months later, Sneh, speaking as Minister of Transportation, explained to BBC News: “If anyone has committed or is planning to carry out terrorist attacks, he has to be hit. It is effective, precise, and just.” 35

International relations professor Steven R. David agreed that the legality is in accordance with Israeli law and with most interpretations of international law and Jewish law. Israel’s Basic Law (the nearest Israel has to a constitution) certifies that, “There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.” But the Basic Law permits these rights to be suspended, “by a law befitting the values of the State of Israel, enacted for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than is required, by a regulation enacted by virtue of express authorization in such law.” 36

According to international law, assassination violates international treaty and customary law. Targeted killing is not assassination as internal law expert John Norton Moore explains, “If one is lawfully engaged in armed hostility, it is not ‘assassination’ to target individuals who are combatants.” American military lawyer, Charles J. Duncan adds, “Contrary to popular belief, neither international law nor US domestic law prohibits the killing of those directing armed forces in war. Nations have the right under international law to use force against terrorists.”  37

Is Israel at War?

Whether Israel’s targeted killings are assassinations depends if she is at war. As the IDF’s legal division asserted, “International law actually only recognizes two situations: peace or war. But life isn’t as simple. Israel is not at war since war is between two armies or two states and the Palestinians have neither. But since Israel is in armed conflict with Palestinians, you are allowed to target combatants.”  If Israel is engaged in “armed conflict,” that is the same as war, and as Steven David opines “Israel has every right to target those combatants it believes are its enemy. Just as a soldier will feel no compunction about firing on an opposing army in wartime before they attack, so Israel is legally justified in pre-emptively killing terrorists regardless of whether they have attacked Israel. War—or armed conflict—is a legal license to kill opponents whether it is targeted killing or more traditional combat.” 38

Another issue is whether “treacherous” methods are used. As former American Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger notes, “it is considered lawful… for a…soldier … to steal into the enemy’s camp and enter the general’s tent and kill him.  But it would be a forbidden assassination if someone disguised as the general’s doctor was admitted to his tent, and then killed him.” 39

“Treacherous” killing is not a matter of semantics. The U.S. justified its attempts to eliminate Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 1986 and Osama bin Laden in 1998 using bombs and cruise missiles. As military operations conducted without any deceptions, the injunction against assassination did not apply. 40   Using helicopter gunships or F-16s fits much more the conventional modes of warfare than it does the shadowy world of assassinations. International lawyers may disapprove of the Israeli actions, but few would argue that it violates the ban on assassination. 41

David point out that in Jewish law, the ruling of Rodef (pursuer) in Exodus 22:1 applies. If someone plans to murder you, you are commanded to kill them first. This is for one’s own protection, and for the security of the community. Therefore, killing a terrorist before he can act is not only permitted by Jewish law, it is obligatory. 42

The U. S. adopted targeted killing to eliminate the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001. Targeted killings are also used by the American military in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Philippines and in counterterrorism actions in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, particularly through drone strikes.  43

America’s Approach under Obama

Since assuming office in 2009, President Barack Obama has increased targeted killings, principally through drone strikes on al-Qaeda, ISIS and the Taliban, but also by expanding U.S. “special operations kill/capture missions.” 44 The total of targeted killings is six times the number of attacks approved by President George W. Bush during his two terms in office.45 The killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. Navy SEAL raid in May 2011 and the September 2011 drone strike on Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni cleric and al-Qaeda propagandist in the Arabian Peninsula, are prime illustrations of this escaladed campaign. 46 At the time that Bin Laden was killed, the CIA Director observed that the American military “conduct these kinds of operations two and three times a night in Afghanistan.” 47

As of January 22, 2013 the U.S. conducted approximately 425 targeted killings in at least three countries, killing more than 3,000 people according to Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Eighty-five percent of all the targeted killings conducted in non-battlefield settings since 9/11 took place in Pakistan. 48 Senator Lindsey Graham, contends the number is 4,700. 49   “A vast majority,” of these drone strikes, Zenko said, “were not an effort to eliminate senior al Qaeda members who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland — which was the very reason armed drones were sent there in the first place.”50  In October 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, the American army had 54 drones. As of February 2013, it had more than 4,000. 51

In a speech on May 23, 2013 President Obama outlined his administration’s rationale for targeted action. “In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, we found that he wrote, “We could lose the reserves to the enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.” Other communications from al Qaeda operatives confirm this as well. Dozens of highly skilled al Qaeda commanders, trainers, bomb makers, and operatives have been taken off the battlefield. Plots have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan….”

Much of the criticism against American use of targeted killings focuses on of civilian casualties. “There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars.  “Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes.” 52

“Very frankly, it’s the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership,” former CIA Director Leon Panetta declared. With regard to determining the number of civilian casualties from drone attacks, The Wall Street Journal found that they are difficult to prove, since neutral observers are often blocked from gaining access to the bombing sites and estimates differ significantly. Pakistani government and nonpartisan studies have exposed the Taliban accusations to be outrageous exaggerations. The civilian toll is comparatively low, particularly if contrasted with previous conflicts.

The Journal further noted, “Never before in the history of air warfare have we been able to distinguish as well between combatants and civilians as we can with drones. Even if al Qaeda doesn’t issue uniforms, the remote pilots can carefully identify targets, and then use Hellfire missiles that cause far less damage than older bombs or missiles. Smarter weapons like the Predator make for a more moral campaign.”  53

Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of National Intelligence, advised thinking of drones “as long-range snipers in the military sense.” For years, the U.S. and other countries have dispatched small teams of snipers behind enemy lines under the guidance of military commanders, who decide whom to kill and when.” Drones, he suggested, “can and should be used, like many military weapons, under the normal procedures for law of war, not simply for killing identified terrorist leaders and who are and have been conspiring against the U.S.”  54

American Hypocrisy at Israel’s Expense

Despite American use of targeted killings, the U.S. hypocritically calls for moderation whenever Israel is forced to defend herself.  In Pillars of Defense, in November 2012, the Israelis fired more than 1,500 high powered missiles into the Gaza Strip, a densely populated area resulting in 161 deaths. Even Hamas acknowledged 90 were fighters.  In contrast, when Syria fired a single missile into a bakery near Hama, more than 60 civilians were killed. The media, NGOs and foreign governments have not acknowledged the extreme care Israel employs to avoid collateral damage. Moreover, most non-combatant deaths were caused by Hamas for using Palestinian Arab civilians as human shields.  55

Quite often civilian homes have ammunition, bombs and missiles stored in the basement. Either families freely cooperate with Hamas, or are forced to comply. “In cases where there are people inside a house or building,” the Israelis assert “we never strike the target without prior warning. We make phone calls, send leaflet flier warnings, or use a technique called ‘Knock On the Roof,’ where we fire very, very small, very precise tiny bombs onto the edge of the roof and then they (the family) know that the attack is about to begin and everybody can go outside.” 56

Before launching a strike, there is extensive surveillance by diverse “branches of the military and intelligence services for weeks, months, or even years.” Using drones allows them to determine if the area is free of innocent civilians, and only when they are sure, is the F16 or Apache helicopter ordered to attack.

The system is not foolproof. The case of the Dalou family in Gaza, in which nine members were killed by a single Israeli missile strike, is the exception, which explains the wide media attention the attack received.  57 The IDF responded that “All possible precautions were taken as the civilians in Gaza were not targets in this operation. The Dalou residence was known to the IDF intelligence as a hideout of a senior militant operative in Hamas’ rocket launching infrastructure. While the IDF regrets the loss of life on both sides, the responsibility ultimately lies with terror operatives who use the civil population as human shields when using civilian buildings as hideouts, or to store weaponry.”  58

Targeted killing enjoys public support in Israel due in part to the transparency of the process. Working with the Israeli media, the Shin Bet ensures the public is aware of what the attacks entail. A number of NGOs monitor them to contest the policy in the media and the courts.  Failed attempts have not altered this support. If anything, they have reinforced it — by stressing the policy’s risks, complexities and informing the public about the nature of the “practical and moral” compromises involved.  59 (Byman, op.cit).

As long as Israel’s enemies continue attacking her citizens, she will use whatever legal and moral means to protect them–even if that means targeted killings. “Far from being morally questionable,” concludes Steven David, “it would be difficult to come up with an approach in warfare that rests on stronger moral grounds.” 60.


1. Gal Luft, “The Logic of Israel’s Targeted Killing,” Middle East Quarterly (Winter 2003, 3.

2. Natan Sharansky, “Don’t set a double standard for Israel on norms of war,” The Washington Post (August 15, 2014); Steven R. David, “Fatal Choices: Israel’s Policy of Targeted Killing,” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Mideast Security and Policy Studies Number 51 (September 2002): 6, 16; Michael L. Gross, “Assassination and Targeted Killing: Law enforcement, Execution or Self-Defence?” Journal of Applied Philosophy Volume 23 Number 3.

3. Joel Greenberg, “Israel Affirms Policy of Assassinating Militants,” The New York Times (July 5, 2001).

4. Gerstenfeld, “The world blames Israel,” op.cit.

5. Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Bin Laden versus Yassin,” Ynet (March 5, 2011).

6. Luft, op.cit;  James Bennet, “Stalemate in Mideast After Deadly Bombing,” The New York Times (July 28, 2002); David, “Fatal Choices: Israel’s Policy of Targeted Killing,” The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies Mideast Security and Policy Studies, op.cit.4, 9; Asaf Zussman and Noam Zussman, “Targeted Killings: Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Counterterrorism Policy,” Discussion Paper Number 2005.02 Bank of Israel Research Department (October 2005): 2-3; for an explanation of the units of the  ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and the weapons used by each, please see “The ‘Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades’ Weapons And Units,” MEMRI Special Dispatch 5830 (September 2, 2014).

7. Luft, op.cit; Daniel Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?” Foreign Affairs (March/April 2006); Amos Yadlin, “Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs Volume 4, Number 8 (November 25, 2004).

8. Laura Blumenfeld, “In Israel, a Divisive Struggle Over Targeted Killing,” The Washington Post (August 27, 2006).

9. Ibid.

10. Moshe Yaalon, Avi Dichter and Dennis Ross, “Lessons from the Fight against Terrorism,” The Washington Institute Policywatch 533 (December 29, 2005); Moshe Yaalon, “Ethical Dilemmas in Counterterrorism,” Azure Number 30 (Autumn 2007).

11. Blumenfeld, op.cit.

12. Isabel Kershner,” Israeli Panel Finds No Crime in 2002 Assassination,” The New York Times (February 27, 2011);The three-member board, led by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice, determined the collateral damage was “disproportionate,” due to “incorrect assessments and mistaken judgment based on an intelligence failure in the collection and transfer of information.”

13. Blumenfeld, op.cit.

14. Luft. op.cit; Byman, op.cit; Pedahzur, op.cit. 40-46.

15. Byman, op.cit.

16. Blumenfeld, op.cit.

17. Gerald M. Steinberg, “Israel’s Right To Self-Defense,” The Wall Street Journal (February 23, 2010); see Alan Dershowitz, “If Israel Killed Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, Did it Have the Right To?” Huff Post World (February 18, 2010).

18. Blumenfeld, op.cit.

19. Ibid.

20. Luft, op.cit; David E. Sanger, “Bush Denounces Israeli Airstrike as ‘heavy Handed,’” The New York Times (July 24, 2002); Zussman and Zussman, op.cit.2-3; Isabel Kershner, “Israeli Panel Finds No Crime in 2002 Assassination,” The New York Times (February 27, 2011); Caleb Carr, “Costs of Targeting Civilians,” The New York Times (July 27, 2002) Ami Pedahzur, The Israeli Secret Services and the Struggle Against Terrorism (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2009), 80,110, 122.

21. Byman, op.cit.

22. David, op.cit. 11.

23. Luft, op.cit.

24. Byman, op.cit.

25. Luft, .op.cit.

26. Byman, op.cit; as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon explained, “The plan is to place the terrorists in varying situations every day and knock them off balance so that they will be busy protecting themselves.” Deborah Sontag, “Israelis, Suspecting Mortars, Raid Camp; 2 Arabs Die,” The New York Times (April 12, 2001); Luft, op.cit Pedahzur, op.cit. 103-110.

27. Luft, op.cit.

28. Pedahzur, op.cit.104-105; Mosab Hassan Yousef, op.cit.55; Byman, op.cit.

29. “Israeli Strike on Hamas Leader Raed Attar Foiled Gaza-Area Paraglider Attack — ‘Attar’s Assassination Has Disrupted Everything,’” Algemeiner (September 1, 2014).

30. Ibid.

31. Luft, op.cit.

32. Ibid; “The International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism,” U.N. General Assembly resolution 54/109, Dec. 9, 1999, at

33. Luft, op.cit; Palestinian song encourages more terror: “Run [them] over, destroy, annihilate, blow them up; “Don’t let the Zionist live long O Al-Aqsa, we’re your defenders O son of Jerusalem, cry ‘Allah is great’!” “Wait for them at the intersection Let the settler drown in red blood Terrorize them,” Palestinian Media Watch (November 10, 2014); “Following spate of vehicle terror attacks, IDF to deploy barricades across West Bank,” The Jerusalem Post (November 10, 2014); “Abbas’ advisor about terrorists who ran over and killed Israelis and shooter of Rabbi Glick: The heroes of Jerusalem… answered the call of the homeland, the call of Jerusalem, in response to the occupation’s actions, to its arrogance, and its defilement of the Al-Aqsa Mosque,’” Palestinian Media Watch (November 7, 2014), Khaled Abu Toameh, “Palestinians’ “Car Intifada” and Obama’s Peace Process,” Gatestone (November 7, 2014); “PA National Security Forces:  Israel is raping Al-Aqsa,” Palestinian Media Watch (November 5, 2014); Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (New York: Threshold Editions, 2011), 380.

34. Luft, .op.cit; Military Advocate General, Brigadier-General Menachem Finkelstein, supported this policy when he said on January 9, 2001, “The IDF has the legal right to fight ‘hostile elements’ in the territories in exceptional and extraordinary cases, when the purpose is to save lives and in the absence of any other alternative.”

35. Avi Kober, “Targeted Killing during the Second Intifada: The Quest for Effectiveness,” Journal of Conflict Studies, Volume 27, Number 1 (Summer 2007): 78.

36. David, op.cit. 14.

37. Ibid. 15. Moore is director of the Center for National Security Law and the University of Virginia Law School.

38. Ibid.

39. Ibid. 15-16.

40. Ibid. 16.

41. Ibid.

42. Ibid. 14.

43. Jonathan Masters, “Targeted Killings” Council on Foreign Relations (May 23, 2013); Tara McKelvey, “Media Coverage of the Drone Program,” Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy Discussion Paper, Series #D-77 (February 2013); Tara McKelvey, “Inside the Killing Machine,” Newsweek (February 13, 2011); Justus Reid Weiner, J.D. “Targeted Killings and Double Standards,” Arutz 7 (August 6, 2012).

44. Master, op.cit.

45. Tara McKelvey, “Media Coverage of the Drone Program,” Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy Discussion Paper, Series #D-77 (February 2013):2. Masters, op.cit.

46. Masters, op.cit; Scott Shane and Thom Shanker, “Strike Reflects U.S. Shift to Drones in Terror Fight,” The New York Times (October 1, 2011).

47. Philip Alston, “The CIA and Targeted Killings Beyond Borders,” Harvard Law School National Security Journal Volume 2 (January 9, 2012): 286.

48. Jonathan Masters, “U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” Council on Foreign Relations (January 22, 2013).

49. Karen J. Greenberg, “Assessing U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” Council on Foreign Relations (March 1, 2013).

50. Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep,” Council on Foreign Relations (June 30, 2014).

51. Micah Zenko, “Obama’s Armed Drones in Iraq Reek of Mission Creep,” Council on Foreign Relations (June 30, 2014).

52. Barack Obama, “President Obama’s Speech at National Defense University: The Future of our Fight against Terrorism, May 2013,” Council on Foreign Relations (May 23, 2013); for an analysis of the views on the efficacy of targeted killings by the U.S., please see Patrick B. Johnston and Anoop K. Sarbahi, “The Impact of U.S. Drone Strikes on Terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Pdf (February 11, 2014); Daniel Byman, “Why Drones Work: The Case for Washington’s Weapon of Choice,” Foreign Affairs, (July/August 2013); Audrey Kurth Cronin, “Why Drones Fail: When Tactics Drive Strategy,” Foreign Affairs (July/August 2013); Audrey Kurth Cronin, How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of Terrorist Campaigns(Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011).

53. “The Drone Wars: Weapons like the Predator kill far fewer civilians,” The Wall Street Journal (January 9, 2010); Spencer Ackerman, “41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground,” The Guardian (November 24, 2014);  “US drone programme: ‘Strict, fair and accountable’ – Kerry, BBC (May 28 2013); “Remarks of John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, on Ensuring al-Qa’ida’s Demise — As Prepared for Delivery,” The White House Office of the Press Secretary (June 29, 2011).

54. Masters, “U.S. Drone Strike Policies,” op.cit.

55. Alster, op.cit.

56. Ibid.

57. Ibid.

58. Ibid.

59. Byman, op.cit.

60. David, op.cit. 17.

Alex Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, has written a number of books on Israel including: BDS: The Movement to Destroy Israel; Erosion: Undermining Israel through Lies and Deception; and Cultivating Canaan: Who Owns the Holy Land?  He is a consultant to the America-Israel Friendship League, a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME), and a member of the Advisory Board of The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). This chapter is from his book Erosion.

Share This Post