The targeted assassination in Gaza Friday was meant to avert or at least disrupt a terror attack being prepared in the Sinai. Zuhir al-Qaisi
headed the political wing of the Popular Resistance Committees and personally planned a complex offensive meant to be carried out via Sinai. According to intelligence information, the terror offensive was to apparently include infiltration into Israel at several sites, the planting of explosive devices, and a possible abduction.
The Popular Resistance Committees, just like other Gaza groups - headed by Hamas
and Palestinian Islamic Jihad
- exploit the Egyptian chaos in Sinai and the willingness of the Bedouins to carry out attacks based on ideological and religious motives or for money. These terror groups are also trying to prevent a major IDF
response in Gaza similar to operation Cast Lead.
Terrorist organizations know that the IDF is preparing such operation and therefore prefer not to provoke Israel directly from the Strip.
Sinai-based attacks grant terror groups another advantage – they estimate that the IDF would not enter Egyptian territory in order to thwart such offensives.
Al-Qaisi was among the initiators of the latest attack. The decision to target him is part of the IDF's policy to hit the masterminds of attacks originating in the Sinai even when these terror leaders are in the Gaza Strip. This policy stems from the events that preceded the terror offensive in August 2011 that claimed the lives of eight Israelis in the south.
Back then, the Shin Bet had intelligence information regarding the plans of Popular Resistance Committees' leaders, yet officials decided not to target the group's leaders. In retrospect, it turned out to be a mistake. Such operation could have averted the murderous attack.
We should keep in mind that the Popular Resistance Committees possess long-range missiles that can reach the outskirts of central Israel.
However, we can assume that IDF officials took this into account when issuing the order to assassinate al-Qaisi.