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Critics say the killings invite retaliation by militants and encourage them to try to assassinate Israeli leaders. They complain that the strikes amount to extrajudicial killings.
During a wave of suicide bombings against Israel a decade ago, the country employed the tactic to eliminate the upper echelon of Hamas leadership.
During that period, Israeli aircraft assassinated the previous commander of Hamas’ military wing, Salah Shehadeh, the movement’s founder and spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, and dozens of other Hamas military commanders.
The practice set off a wave of criticism from rights groups and foreign governments, particularly the strike that killed Shehadeh — a one-ton bomb that killed 14 other people, most of them children.
Pro-Palestinian groups have attempted, unsuccessfully, to arrest Israeli officials involved in the Shehadeh killing on war crimes charges. While charges have never been filed, fears of arrest have forced a number of Israeli officials to cancel travel to Europe over the years.
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