Argument: Targeted assassinations disrupt and reduce terrorist attacks

Issue Report: Assassination of a Dictator


Steven R. David. “Fatal Choices: Israel’s Policy of Targeted Killing”. John Hopkins University. September 2002. – “II. HOW EFFECTIVE IS THE POLICY OF TARGETED KILLING? There is no question that Israel’s policy of targeted killing has hurt the capability of its Arab adversaries to prosecute attacks against Israel. Terrorism is essentially an offensive action, making counter-offensive actions such as targeted killing an especially effective response. It is exceedingly difficult for Israel to defend itself from terror attacks or to deter terror attacks by Palestinians. In terms of defense, there are literally tens of thousands of targets in Israel for Palestinian terrorists. Power stations, government bureaus, bus depots, airports, skyscrapers, open-air markets and sport stadiums—the list is endless. It is impossible to defend them all, especially against a determined adversary that can choose the time and place of attack. Although, as discussed below, some level of deterrence of terrorism is achievable, dissuading potential terrorists is not easy when they are eager to die for their cause. In such situations, the best response to terrorism is to go on a counter-offensive, that is, to eliminate the terrorist threat before it can be launched. One of the most successful means of eliminating terrorists before they can strike is the policy of targeted killing. As alluded to above, Israel has achieved some notable triumphs from its policy of targeted killing. In the 1950s, terrorist infiltration from Egypt lessened as a result of the killing of Egyptian intelligence officers in charge of the operation. In the 1960s, Nasser’s plan to build ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel collapsed when his German scientists fled in the wake of Israeli mail bomb attacks. Black September was all but destroyed as a functioning terrorist organization in the 1970s, following the Israeli campaign to avenge the Munich massacre. The 1995 Israeli assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Shikaki in Malta undermined the effectiveness of this group for several years, as successors struggled over policy and power”