Israeli security chief in recording vows to hunt down Hamas abroad.


Smoke rises from an explosion following an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

Dec 3 (Reuters) – Israel will hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar even if it takes years, the head of Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet said in a recording aired by Israel’s public broadcaster Kan on Sunday.

It was unclear when Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar made the remarks or to whom.

The agency itself declined to comment on the report.

“The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar. It will take a few years but we will be there to do it.”

By Munich, Bar was referring to Israel’s response to the 1972 killing of 11 Israeli Olympic team members when gunmen from the Palestinian Black September group launched an attack on the Munich games.

Israel responded by carrying out a targeted assassination campaign against Black September operatives and organizers over several years and in several countries.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas after its gunmen on Oct. 7 burst through the border with Gaza, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostage.

More than 15,500 people have been killed so far during Israel’s offensive in Gaza since, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Other than in Gaza, Hamas leaders reside in or frequently visit Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar. Qatar helped to mediate a week-long truce that broke down on Friday.

Over the years, various countries have offered some protection for Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Israel, Japan and the United States.

In 1997, Israeli Mossad agents botched the poisoning of then-Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan. Israel had to give Jordan an antidote to save Meshaal’s life. Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister at the time.