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Israeli Embassies And Diplomatic Missions Abroad Go On Alert After Targeted Killing Of Top Hamas Terrorist In Damascus

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister: ‘Syria Cannot Participate In the Spilling Of Israeli Blood And Remain Immune’

Syria: ‘Israel Responsible For Act Of State Terrorism’

Does Mossad Succeed Where CIA Fails?

Mossad Emblem

Israeli officials refuse to confirm, but neither do they deny, that Mossad agents carried out the targeted killing of a top Hamas terrorist, Iz a Din al Sheikh Khalil in Damascus yesterday. David Essing has an update on the situation. In addition, a former senior Mossad official, Dr. Mishka Ben-David, takes the wraps off some of the intelligence organization’s operations.

After the two bus bombings in Be’er-Sheva which murdered fifteen Israelis, Israeli leaders pointed the finger at Syria warning those responsible,’ should not sleep well’ at night. Those warnings have apparently been translated into action.

:: IsraCast Audio ::
Dep. Min. Boim

Israel has adopted a new ‘get tougher’ policy to Syria’s support of Palestinian terrorism. Damascus is no longer a safe haven for Hamas and the other twelve or so terror headquarters which direct attacks like the recent Be’er-Sheva atrocity. Deputy Defense Minister Ze’ev Boim says, ‘The Syrians can no longer expect to participate in the spilling of Israeli blood and remain immune!’

If Mossad agents did kill the Hamas kingpin in the Syrian capital, Israel has obviously upped the ante. Until now, Israel has more or less steered clear of an escalation with Syria. Last September, Israeli aircraft raided a terror-training base near Damascus after a crowded Haifa restaurant was blown to smithereens by a suicide bomber.

Damascus Funeral

Experts say after Israel took out Hamas Leaders Sheik Yassin and Rantizi, the organizations headquarters in Damascus is playing a greater role in running terror operations. Moreover, the relentless counter-terror campaign in the territories keeps local terror leaders on the run and makes it tougher for them to mount suicide bombings.


Interviewed on Israel Radio, Dr. Mishka Ben-David, a former senior Mossad official took the wraps off some of the Intelligence Organization’s operations. He was asked if Israel might have jeopardized a key human or technological asset in Syria in taking out the terrorist. Ben-David made clear he had no idea if the Mossad did carry out the targeted killing. He did say that when the Mossad considers foreign operations it takes into account the cost-benefit and whether the operation is worth it. He knew of cases in the past when Mossad operations were canceled because it was not worth the risk or endangered a more important strategic asset. A targeted killing in a foreign country did not necessarily require the use of such a strategic asset already in place. He did not know if this were true in Damascus; he tended to think it wasn’t. Ben-David recalled a book he has written entitled ‘Duet in Beirut’ - it’s about how Mossad agents go to the Lebanese capital to kill a Hizballah terrorist leader. They arrive to identify the target, the site, and decide on the modus operandi, how and when to plant the explosives in the terrorist’s car, and then get way without being seen or felt. In such an operation Ben-David did not think a strategic asset in place would be required.

Question - Why does a super-power such as the U.S. with all its huge CIA resources fail in taking out Bin Laden whereas the Mossad succeeds?

Ben-David: When you say the CIA has not succeeded in this case, you are talking about an organization with tens of thousands of personnel whereas the Mossad has less than ten per cent of that number. But the success of an intelligence organization is not judged by the number of targeted killings it can carry out. In fact, targeted killings are not the top priority of either the CIA or the Mossad. Their main goal is to gather intelligence. The Mossad is judged by Israel’s political leaders by the information it supples - although the media think differently.Ninety-nine per cent of Mossad operations deal with intelligence gathering vital to Israel in all spheres.

The Mossad can supply fantastic intelligence and fulfill ninety-nine per cent of its mission and the public will never know. However, every few years the public judges the Mossad when it has to assassinate someone: if it succeeds, everyone cheers but if it fails, it is condemned for years to come. The Mossad should not be judged on this basis.

A former Israel Police senior officer Alik Ron participated in the interview. Ron was not certain the Mossad was more successful than the CIA. He noted that in the Middle East, the Mossad was operating on its ‘home court’ whereas the Americans were not and this was a big difference. But this was not the whole story - the Mossad was not always successful. Ron noted the terrible failure both by Israel and the U.S. over Iraq. He said that Israel had invested huge sums of money, energy and effort but at the end of the day, it had no idea whether the Iraqis had non-conventional weapons and what they were planning.

Ben-David: ‘I would not call Iraq a colossal intelligence failure. One must look at the big picture and Israel’s order of priorities. If you look at our arena, there were two maybe three enemies of Israel and the West - Iraq, Iran and maybe Libya until recently. Clearly, Israel should not have prioritized Iraq, Iran and Libya - one, two, three when they were already in this order of priority for the U.S., the British and others. It was more logical to give top priority to enemies, which threaten only us such as Syria, Hizballah and Hamas. Therefore, the fact that Israel did not know what the Iraqis had should not be called a colossal failure. Ron: :Not a colossal failure, but at least partial and I’m talking as someone who participated in preparations to cope with the Iraqi threat.’

Getting back to Hamas, it is only part of the story; the other could be Hizballah, armed to the teeth by both Syria and Iran and poised along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier. How will Syria, Hamas and Hizballah react now? The message is also that Syria will pay for Hamas and Hizballah attacks; it’s a new red line drawn by Prime Minister Sharon as he prepares to carry out the controversial withdrawal. IDF operations are being stepped up in the territories to check the terrorists’ attempts to show they are driving Israel out of Gaza. This, apparently now applies to Syria as well. The message seems to be that if anyone thinks that Sharon has gone soft, they had better think again.

David Essing

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