Israeli investigative journalist Ronen Bergman’s Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations is a remarkable work of nonfiction. Written like a fast-paced thriller, it provides a detailed history and analysis of almost all of Israel’s major (successful and unsuccessful) attempts to assassinate its presumed enemies. These include the killing of Abu Jihad, the PLO’s de facto military chief; the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Hamas’s chief ideologue and spiritual mentor; the murder of Imad Mughnieh, the brain behind Hezbollah’s attacks on Israeli targets; and many other lesser-known figures.
It also includes accounts of the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists, which Israeli intelligence agencies undertook in order to derail Iran’s nuclear-weapons program. Bergman even hints at Israel’s complicity in Yasser Arafat’s death, although he refuses to endorse or refute this conclusion. The only major adversary that Israel has not been able to kill despite its best efforts is Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah.