Argument: Targeted assassinations can damage the intelligence gathering of a state

Issue Report: Assassination of a Dictator


Steven R. David. “Fatal Choices: Israel’s Policy of Targeted Killing”. John Hopkins University. September 2002. – “The policy of targeted killing also hurts Israel’s security by damaging the effectiveness of its intelligence organizations. By diverting scarce resources away from the collection and analysis of intelligence on the threat posed by adversarial states, Israel runs the risk of paying less attention to existential threats in order to combat critical but less than vital challenges to its security. Following the Munich Olympics massacre, Israel focused much of the attention of its intelligence services on tracking down and killing the perpetrators. This effort may have led, in part, to diverting Israel’s attention away from the growing threat posed by Egypt and Syria, which led to Israel being caught by surprise at the outbreak of the October 1973 War.25 Even where the effect is not so dramatic, targeted killing can hurt Israel’s ability to gather critical intelligence. Locating and killing key Palestinian terrorists requires timely intelligence, much of which can only be supplied by informers. Given that a limited number of people will know the whereabouts of the targets, it will not be difficult to isolate those who have collaborated with Israel. Increasing reports of informers being killed during the second intifada, with their bodies publicly displayed, may partly be a result of their identities becoming known as a result of the targeted killing policy.”