Introduction Just ten years ago the United States publically condemned Israel’s use of targeted killings against Palestinian terrorists. Martin S. Indyk, the former American ambassador to Israel, said in a statement on 5 July 2001, ''‘The United States government is very clearly on the record as against targeted assassinations…they are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.’'' However, after September 11th, the US makes frequent use of the controversial tactic in the global war on terrorism. In addition to the numerous moral and legal ambiguities, there are significant doubts that targeted killings are effective in deterring and defeating terrorism. In Israel, targeted killings have often resulted in increased animosity,
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However, both American and Israeli citizens have made it clear they are willing to make concessions on democratic principles for a perceived sense of safety. Unfortunately targeted killings, whether targeting U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, are only a short term victory and may actually hurt a country’s anti-terror campaign in the long run.
Problems with Targeted Killings Israel’s targeted killings of Palestinian terrorist leaders often result in increased animosity from sympathetic Palestinian citizens. Commonly used methods of targeted killing involve dropping bombs from fighter aircraft, setting explosives, and shooting Hellfire missiles. Although these methods are effective and reduce the potential for friendly casualties, they are also very indiscriminate and often result in innocent civilian casualties. When Israel targeted Hamas leader Salah Shahada in 2002 with a 2,200 lb bomb, fifteen other people, “including innocent women and children” were killed along with him. Undoubtedly the members of Hamas were upset upon losing one of their leaders, but the deaths of innocents outraged the Palestinian community at large. This event undoubtedly led to increased recruiting and improved community support for Hamas. The U.S. is