In other assassination news….

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.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

2 thoughts on “In other assassination news….”

  1. According to what I read, the Israeli's claim the target was someone or something else. So who knows.
    I do notice that the Israeli's seem to be having a lot of success killing Hamas and Islamic Jihad leadership recently. I've wondered whether Fatah isn't tipping them off as to where these guys are…

  2. That's an excellent point; it hadn't occurred to me, but it's plausible, and it would certainly explain things.

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