Officials said the Defense Ministry has overseen a tougher policy against Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies in the Gaza Strip. They said the policy renewed the assassination of key insurgents, particularly those responsible for the daily missile and rocket strikes on Israel.

“We will not hesitate to hurt those who threaten our security, and we will do this with all means and tools at our disposal,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said.

Officials said Ya’alon has ordered the military to target Palestinian rocket commanders in the Gaza Strip. They said the Israel Air Force and Israel Security Agency were directed to prepare assassinations regardless of whether the rocket strikes on the Jewish state resulted in casualties.

“Israel informed Hamas that if there is to be an escalation in the south, the rules will be determined in Jerusalem, not Gaza,” Israeli defense analyst Yoav Limor, regarded as close to the military, said.

Officials said the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which for the last year restricted retaliation to air strikes on fixed targets, was warned by military and intelligence community that the daily rocket attacks on Israel could lead to another all-out war with the Gaza Strip. They said the elimination of suspected Palestinian rocket commanders would eventually generate deterrence and press Hamas to control the militias.

So far, Hamas has not cracked down on militia rocket squads. Officials said Hamas has deployed troops along the border with Israel but did little against the Al Qaida and other militias that have taken responsibility for the strikes against the Jewish state.

“The solution is targeted assassinations, which contains several advantages,” Ron Ben-Yishai, another leading defense analyst, said. “They strike the involved people directly — if not the launching cells themselves, then those involved in tying the ends which eventually make a launch possible. Secondly, they have international legitimacy; the Americans use the same method against Al Qaida.”

Officials said Netanyahu has approved every target killing operation. They said the prime minister insisted that any Israeli attack eliminate a major insurgent and avoid collateral damage.

On Jan. 22, the Israel Air Force killed a Palestinian identified as a rocket commander in the Gaza Strip. Ahmed Zaanin, who worked for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was said to have directed the rocket attacks on Israel during the Jan. 13 funeral of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon near the Gaza Strip. Zaanin was said to have established cells and participated in a series of rocket strikes.

“Ahmed Za’anin belonged to the PFLP terrorist organization, and in the past, was a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization,” the Israeli military said. “He carried out many destructive acts against Israeli civilians and the IDF, with an emphasis on rocket fire.”

Officials said the Hamas regime has responded to the new Israeli policy. They said Hamas, also under pressure by neighboring Egypt, took steps to stop the Palestinian rocket launches.

“We see Hamas responsible for firing at Israel, and we will continue to fight back at Hamas and those engaged in terror,” Ya’alon said.

Hamas Finances Jerusalem Unrest

Israel has determined that the Hamas regime was financing unrest in the Jewish state.

Officials said the Israeli intelligence community has tracked Hamas funding to Arab and Islamist groups throughout Israel. They said the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip was targeting the Islamist movement as well as Palestinians based around Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

“This is the first time that we have seen Hamas-Gaza directly involved in financing the Islamist movement in Israel,” an official said.

On Jan. 28, the Israel Security Agency disclosed a Hamas-affiliated network in Jerusalem. ISA said 16 members of the network were arrested on charges of funding anti-Jewish projects in Israel’s capital, particularly around the Temple Mount.

“They were prominent operatives with Hamas in East Jerusalem and members of its operations branch and among the leaders of its activities on the Temple Mount,” ISA said.

Officials said the Hamas regime relayed an unspecified amount of money to the Islamic movement in Israel. They said the Hamas support was meant to spark violence around Jerusalem and prevent Jews from visiting the Temple Mount.

A key Hamas detainee was identified as Ibrahim Barakeh, deemed a senior operative of the Islamist insurgency movement. ISA said the financier of the Hamas effort was Hamed Juaba, a resident of Jerusalem.

“He was transferring money from the Gaza Strip to Hamas operatives in Jerusalem,” the official said.

The Hamas support was also said to have targeted Islamist training on the Temple Mount to attack Israeli police and Jews. The training program was said to have been endorsed by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

The latest arrests were said to have marked a sustained Hamas campaign to dominate Jerusalem. In November 2013, Israel closed two offices affiliated with the Islamic movement and accused of being directed by Hamas.

“This was another effort by Hamas to expand its influence among the Palestinian population in Jerusalem and the West Bank, during which the organization uses Jerusalem and the Temple Mount and the coopeation of other Islamic movements,” ISA said.