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Netanyahu denies pledge that Israel will not target Hamas leaders in Qatar

Chairmain of Hamas' political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and Hamas chief in Gaza, Yehya Al-Sinwar, gesture to supporters during a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 14, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohammed Salem)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly reassured Qatar that the Jewish state would not assassinate Hamas leaders currently residing in the Arab Gulf state, according to journalist Georges Malbrunot from the French paper Le Figaro.

However, Netanyahu denies that such a pledge was made.

"Doha presented its precondition to Israel a few weeks ago, before assuming its role as a mediator in the abductee issue," the French media report claimed.

Qatar has close ties with the Hamas terrorist organization and has been a major financial backer of the Gaza-based Islamisist regime. In addition, several senior Hamas leaders live a life of luxury in Qatar, including Hamas’ top leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Israel is currently focusing on two main goals: Dismantling Hamas’ military and political power in the Gaza Strip and securing the release of all of the remaining hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

It is, therefore, unlikely that Israel, in the short term, would do anything to undermine the main objectives or to potentially jeopardize the lives of the hostages.

Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders have clearly stated Israel's longer-term intentions to eliminate the entire Hamas leadership, both inside and outside of the Gaza Strip.

The prime minister recently instructed Israel's Mossad intelligence agency to act against Hamas leaders. He denied there was any agreement to not take action against top leaders of the Hamas terror organization

“There is no commitment in the agreement not to act against the leaders of Hamas, whoever they are, during the ceasefire … such a clause does not exist,” Netanyahu stated.

“I instructed the Mossad to act against the Hamas leaders,” the Israeli premier emphasized.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a retired IDF general and former elite naval commando, stressed that Hamas leaders, specifically Haniyeh and his predecessor Khaled Mashal, are 'dead men walking.'

"They are living on borrowed time, all over the globe; they are all dead men," Gallant stated.

While Hamas’ military resources are concentrated inside the Gaza Strip, the terror group also has military assets in Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank, as well as in Lebanon.

In addition to Gaza and Qatar, some senior Hamas leaders also reside in Lebanon and Turkey where they enjoy protection from Hezbollah and the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, respectively.

Israel recently eliminated Hamas’ deputy military commander in Lebanon, Khalil Haraz, in an aerial strike close to the city of Tyre in southern Lebanon, according to the Kuwaiti paper Al-Jareeda.

Three additional Hamas terrorists were reportedly killed in the strike. While the majority of Hamas’ rockets fired against Israel have been launched from Gaza, the terror group has also fired some rockets from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel, alongside rocket fire from the more powerful Iranian-backed Shiite Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah.

Being under intense Israeli military pressure, Hamas leaders are aware that the Israeli hostages may be their last bargaining chip in their desperate effort to avoid being captured or killed by Israeli military forces.

It is, therefore, likely that Hamas leadership will seek to draw out the hostage crisis for as long as possible, hoping the international community will eventually pressure Israel to agree to a full ceasefire.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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