Operation Harpoon was carried out by the Mossad, Shin Bet and other operatives to destroy terrorists’ money networks. According to the Jerusalem Post, Meir Dagan initiated the operation and “dealt Hezbollah, Hamas, Fatah’s Yasser Arafat and other terrorist groups major blows.” Details of the operation have been revealed in the book, Harpoon: Inside the Covert War Against Terrorism’s Money Masters by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Samuel Katz.
Darshan-Leinter is president of Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center based in Tel Aviv that has represented hundreds of terror victims in lawsuits around the world. She was approached by the Mossad to aid their operation and given assistance in filing terrorism finance lawsuits.
According to the book’s authors, Dagan believed that stopping the flow of money to terrorists from Iran, the Gulf states and charitable foundations, would make it more difficult for Hamas, the PLO, Hezbollah and the other terror organizations to pay people to engage in violence against Israel. Sources told the Post that “the CIA and FBI were quickly onboard with ‘following the money’ of a particular terrorist cell to seize it. However, only the Treasury and Justice departments understood Dagan’s strategic concept of taking out terrorists’ ability to bank and of driving up their cost of moving money globally.”
Another element of the strategy was to literally target the money. During the war with Lebanon in 2006, Dagan recommended that Israel bomb the Beirut banks holding Hezbollah’s cash. “Once the banks were obliterated,” Darshan-Leinter says, “Hezbollah ran short on money and agreed to a ceasefire.”
According to the book, a decisive blow in Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was the incineration of the cash the Hamas finance minister was using to pay suicide bombers. Israel learned that Hamas fighters were upset about not being paid and the organization’s leaders needed an emergency infusion of cash to mollify them. On August 23, 2014, Israeli intelligence learned a man was carrying $13 million in cash to Gaza. The money was given to Mohammed el-Ghoul, Hamas’s head of payroll, who put the money in his car. Moments later, the car was blown up by an Israeli missile fried from an attack helicopter. Lacking funds, Hamas subsequently asked for a cease-fire, according to the book. The Gaza war ended 48 hours later.
Darshan-Leinter also says the operation was directed at Hezbollah’s drug smuggling in South America and Lebanon. “Harpoon joined forces with American law enforcement to cripple and undermine the drug narcoterrorist operation in the Middle East. Dagan’s spies and commandos saw to it that the shipments of drugs and cash never reached Hezbollah’s fortified bunkers.”
The bottom line was that “Harpoon’s operations made it prohibitively expensive and dangerous for the terrorists to move money around. Once the terror chiefs couldn’t pay salaries or buy the materials needed to blow up buses, the suicide bombings ended.”
Sources: Yonah Jeremy Bob,“Op. Harpoon: How the Mossad and an Israeli NGO destroyed terrorist money networks,” Jerusalem Post, (November 7, 2017);
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, “The Soldier Spy,” PJMedia, (November 7, 2017).