The goal of any top secret assassination is to kill your target and get back to base without losing your team members or leaving evidence behind. In the era of ubiquitous security cameras and rigorous background checks, of course, that’s almost impossible. But a group widely suspected to be the Mossad took that risk in January, when they assassinated a senior Palestinian Hamas man in Dubai.
Assassinations are nothing new for the Jewish state. Imagine you’re an Israeli leader aware of constant threats from terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. If you try to play by polite rules and rarely resort to violence, you’ll be perceived as weak, and Israel’s deterrent ability will deteriorate. If you launch a military campaign, as Israel did in Gaza just over a year ago, you’ll likely end up killing innocents and be accused of war crimes. And if you go the American route, pursuing targets only using drone aircraft, there’s still a risk of collateral damage to civilians. So Israel chose to resort to the tried and true—its longstanding and mostly successful tactic of close-up, pinpoint, surgical assassination.
In the Dubai episode, operatives had to cross borders without revealing their names or nationality, which meant stealing or borrowing the identities of real Israelis who were entitled to passports from their families’ original home countries. They also had to deal with the problem of closed-circuit video cameras, for which the standard solution is disguise: toupees, false mustaches, and eyeglasses. (You can’t shoot out a camera’s lens, like in a TV show, without raising an alarm. Moreover, only 24’s Jack Bauer could somehow find a few spare minutes to burst into the security office and erase the tapes or steal the CCTV’s hard drive memory). So the hit team can be assumed to have been wearing disguises every moment they were caught on camera. Antonio Mendez, former chief of disguises at the CIA, revealed years ago that ultralight latex-type masks that fit completely over the face, making you look like a completely different person, are real and not figments of the Mission: Impossible screenwriters' imaginations.