Mossad Try To Kill Hamas Leader Fiasco
During his first term as Israel’s leader 15 years ago, Mr Netanyahu authorised a risky attempt to assassinate Mr Meshaal in the Jordanian capital, Amman. This decision amounted to a backhanded compliment of sorts: Mr Meshaal had only become the leader of Hamas’s “political bureau” a year earlier in 1996. The dispatch of anÂ IsraeliÂ hit squad so early in his leadership betrayed his rapid ascent into the ranks of people rated worthy of assassination.
To add to his standing, Mr Netanyahu thought that killing Mr Meshaal justified the risk of acting in Jordan, where Israel had a peace treaty and supposedly normal diplomatic relations.
Five agents of the Mossad, Israel’s external intelligence agency, were duly sent to Amman, posing as Canadian tourists. They ambushed Mr Meshaal on a street corner and sprayed poison into his left ear, inflicting instant paralysis and, so they hoped, death within 48 hours.
Only then did King Hussein release the five Israelis. Mr Netanyahu, trapped in a debacle of his own making, found himself supplying the means to save Mr Meshaal’s life and allowing Hamas’s old mentor to walk free.
After King Hussein died in 1999, Mr Meshaal was expelled from Jordan, moving first to Qatar and then Syria. He oversaw numerous suicide attacks during the Second Palestinian Intifada between 2000 and 2004. After 26 Israelis died in two particularly brutal bombings in December 2000, one of which targeted a busy shopping street in Jerusalem, Mr Meshaal boasted: “More than three quarters of Zionists killed have died by the hand of Hamas.”
This obdurate extremist was born in the West Bank village of Silwad in 1956 when it was under Jordanian rule. But he became a refugee at the age of 11 when Israeli forces captured his home area during the Six Day War.
Mr Meshaal grew up in Jordan and Kuwait, helping to found Hamas and then rising to the pinnacle of its leadership, becoming one of Israel’s most implacable enemies.