Israel has killed Hamas’ security chief, Jamal Abu Samhadana. Abu Sanhadana, who headed the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, was responsible for several terrorist attacks–especially Qassam missile attacks on southern Israeli cities. But he was also director-general of the Hamas government’s interior ministry: PA President Abu Mazen vehemently objected to his appointment (as did Israel, who had Abu Sanhadana on its most wanted list), and his governmental authority was unclear for that reason.
I have no moral objection to Israel’s targeted killings: it is simply unproblematic morally to fire at the leadership and soldiers of someone who says that they are at war with you. Moreover, I think that the targeted killings have often been effective in driving Hamas and Islamic Jihad underground and disrupting their command network. They were at partially instrumental in Hamas’ reduction in terrorist attack against Israeli civilians
But I wonder whether this particular move was politically wise. Hamas was politically in a box: ineffective and increasingly unpopular in government, unable to get out, and finding it very difficult to deliver on its promises. This might unravel the political dynamic. It won’t necessarily do so: the Palestinian public has not shown itself to be enamored of figures like Abu Samhadana, whose actions invite Israeli retaliations in Gaza. That’s especially true after the Israeli pullout: “we finally got rid of them, and now you are practically inviting them back?” Perhaps getting Abu Samhadana was operationally so important that it didn’t matter. But this could really roil things.