By D. Bender
Israel’s intelligence services are going after Hamas and Islamic Jihad (IJ) rocket experts the same way they were rumored to have gone after Iran’s nuclear scientists in recent years, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported Tuesday, quoting foreign sources.
According to the reports, the Shin Bet and IDF Military Intelligence are working to hit a small group of several dozen development engineers in the fields of rocket propellants, explosives, and aeronautics who learned and trained abroad, mainly in Iran and Syria.
The select group are behind Hamas’ and IJ’s expanding rocket arsenal.
Past Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, reportedly masterminded the series of covert operations to target the brains behind Iran’s nuclear industry, in order to slow, if not halt, its march towards nuclear weapons and capabilities, and to sow panic among potential scientists and experts leery of coming into Israel’s crosshairs.
“Hit the operation of a centrifuge, and they’ll soon find other centrifuges,” Dagan was once quoted as having said. But target “a nuclear expert – and you’ve destroyed vast knowledge acquired through hard work, time and money, that will take a long time to rebuild.”
Foreign analysts believe that Israel was responsible for the assassination of at least five of Teheran’s nuclear scientists and ballistic missile experts in recent years, Channel 2 said.
Thus were eliminated in recent weeks Amar Erhim, IJ’s deputy division commander and a key figure in building rockets and launching pits. He was killed in an air strike on a building in the Shati refugee camp, along with other senior officials. Then Ahmed Mabhouh, a Hamas engineering officer in the Jabalya camp was hit. He was killed hiding in a building, and is also considered an expert on the hidden rocket launching pits.
He was a nephew of Mahmoud Mabhouh, who was assassinated – foreign sources say – by the Mossad in Dubai.
In one case, the IDF failed while trying to eliminate Hamas’ most senior rocket engineer. An air-to-ground missile blasted into a car in which Heyman Siam, head of Hamas’ rocket program in Gaza, was mistakenly believed to be traveling.
Shortly thereafter, three IJ operatives, Mahmoud Walud, Hazem Bau’lusha and Alaa Abdel al-Nabi were hit. The latter headed rocket fire at Israel from the northern Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge.
This is only a partial list; most of the names have not been made public and Hamas hides their identity.