Monday, May 21, 2007
Israel warns Hamas leaders
"Israel has said it will kill Khaled Meshaal, the exiled Hamas political leader "at the first opportunity".
The threat to kill Meshaal and other leaders of the Palestinian resistance group came as Israel stepped up air attacks in the Gaza Strip on Monday, killing at least five people.
Avi Dichter, the Israeli public security minister, told army radio on Monday: "He [Khaled Meshaal] is a more than legitimate target and I am convinced that at the first opportunity we will rid ourselves of him, despite the difficulty of the task".
Another Israeli minister said all Hamas leaders should be killed with a view to end cross-border rockets being fired into Israel.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the national infrastructure minister, said on Israel Radio on Monday: "I don't distinguish between those who carry out the [rocket] attacks and those who give the orders. I say we have to put them all in the crosshairs".
Asked if Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, could be a target, Dichter said: "If Haniya is part of those who give the orders to carry out attacks, that will make him a legitimate target."
Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, escaped a Mossad assassination attempt in Amman in 1997. Two Israel agents botched an attempt to poison him then .
"He is not safe anywhere, neither in Damascus or elsewhere," Dichter said. "And he knows this perfectly well."
Haniya also escaped an Israeli attack in Gaza in 2004 that killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement's wheelchair-bound founder and spiritual leader......"