Last Tuesday, May 2nd, the Islamic Jihad fired 104 rockets toward southern Israel in response to the death of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan after an 87-day hunger strike. During the unfolding of events, a security meeting was held at an IDF base, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar, and members of the IDF General Staff.
That evening, the IDF attacked Jihad infrastructure targets in the Gaza Strip, which sparked criticism of the military response being too weak. At the meeting, Gallant suggested that the IDF and Shin Bet expand their targets from stationary assets to include targeted assassinations.
Behind the scenes, an operation was beginning to unfold with the goal of taking down three senior commanders of the Islamic Jihad at one time. These PIJ chiefs were Khalil Bahtini, the Jihad commander for the northern Gaza Strip who was responsible for firing the rockets; Tareq Izzeldeen, who was responsible for the Jihad's terror in the West Bank; and Jehad Ghanam, a veteran activist in the organization.
Since the three were most certainly in hiding, the assassination could not take place on that same day, so intelligence officials spent the days that followed, tracking them down and waiting for the opportunity to strike. The assumption that guided the security system was that splitting up the assassinations would be ineffective because a single strike against one of them would immediately lead to a loss of the other two targets.
Later that week, on Friday, a meeting was held in the Shin Bet headquarters in which Operation Shield and Arrow, was approved by Netanyahu and Gallant, and since then, the Shin Bet and the IDF have been preparing for its execution.
The original date was set for Sunday, but at the last minute, there were concerns that it would not succeed in its accuracy, and a decision to postpone it until the conditions ripened overnight, was taken. An effort was made to minimize harm to any non-combatants, but it was clear that since they would be sleeping amongst a civilian population, it would not be possible to avoid it entirely.
Netanyahu did not raise the planned operation for cabinet approval because according to assessments, it would not lead to war. Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara approved this and claimed that "according to the law, there was no need for a cabinet meeting, to take military action."
Since Tuesday's strike, the political system has been discussing Netanyahu's decision not to bring ministers into the picture. Some claim that he was concerned about leaks, while others believe that the goal was to prevent National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir from taking credit for the operation. He has been pushing for targeted assassinations for some time and could claim that thanks to his decision to boycott cabinet meetings and votes in the Knesset Netanyahu took action.
Some officials who were exposed to inside information claim that Netanyahu informed Ben-Gvir of his intention to readopt targeted assassinations a month and a half ago. allied of the minister were convinced that his pressure prompted the strike and that an end to the political crisis between Ben-Gvir and the prime minister, was near.
Netanyahu's Likud Party said that there was no connection between the operation and Ben-Gvir.