The Idolatry of Force: How Israel Embraced Targeted Killing

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VOL. 46


No. 4
P. 75
Special Report
The Idolatry of Force: How Israel Embraced Targeted Killing

Not until the Second Intifada did assassination emerge as an explicit, legally codified, and publicly announced doctrine of so-called targeted killing in Israel. This study, the first of a two-part series, explores the doctrine’s historical roots and ideological lineage and tracks its rise under the premiership of Ariel Sharon. Targeted killing became institutionalized not just to reduce direct and imminent threats against Israelis but also to mobilize electoral support, field-test weapons and tactics, and eliminate key figures in order to sow chaos and stunt the development of an effective Palestinian national movement. The study frames the analysis within a wider meditation on Israel’s idolatry of force. As much symbolic performance as military technique, targeted killing reenacts and ritualizes Palestinian humiliation and helplessness in the face of the Zionist state’s irresistible power, making this dynamic appear a fact of life, ordained and immutable.