Chief of Israeli Mossad, Yossi Cohen, acknowledged on Thursday the assassination of Hamas leaders abroad, Mishpacha, an ultra-Orthodox Israeli newspaper reported.
In an interview with Mishpacha, reported by the Times of Israel, Cohen stated “there are more than a few assassinations, but the enemy [Hamas] has changed tactics,” noting that Hamas “is not quick to attribute assassination to us, for its own reasons.”
However, he added “if there is one target that we eliminate without hesitation, it is Hamas officials abroad, from local agents to those who manage acquisitions of weapons pointed towards Israel.”
The Israeli official claimed that assassinations in such cases are not vengeful acts, but simply the removal of threats.
When asked about Iranian military official Qasim Soleimani’s claim that Israel targeted him along with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut in 2006, Cohen confirmed “with all due respect to his bluster, he has not necessarily committed the mistake yet that would place him on the prestigious list of Mossad’s assassination targets.”
Cohen added “he [Soleimani] knows very well that his assassination is not impossible. His actions are identified and felt everywhere… there is no doubt the infrastructure he built presents a serious challenge for Israel.”
On Iran, he stated “Israel is not interested in conflict with Iran… Israel has but one interest: to prevent any option of Iran achieving military nuclear capability.”
“We don’t want the regime to collapse, we don’t want revenge against nuclear scientists or to bomb bases in Tehran. In the end, Israel wants to bring Iran to the table and then bring about a deal that locks away any option of military nuclear capability.”
He stressed that Iran is currently “absolutely not” an existential threat but “a security challenge,” but that this would change if it acquired nuclear weapons.