Kidon (Hebrew: "bayonet") is the name of a department within Israel's Mossad that is responsible for assassination and kidnapping. Kidon is suspected of being behind a number of assassinations in the Operation Wrath of God campaign carried out by Israel after the 1972 Munich massacre. According to Israeli author Aaron Klein, Kidon was known as Caesarea until a reorganization in the mid-1970s.
The Kidon are comprised of three teams and come under the Combatants or Komemiute Division, the deep cover men, the hard squad. The assassinations which are conducted by the Mossad through their Kidon units fall into three categories. One is 'Operational requirement', an unforeseen emergency in which an operation involving friendly lives is put at risk and the person in the way has to be eased out of the way, fast and permanently. In these cases the supervising Katsa, or case officer, has the right to eliminate the opponent jeopardizing the entire mission and will get retroactive support from the head of the Mossad.
The other category is for those already on the execution list. This list exists in two places: the private safe of the Prime Minister and the safe of the head of the Mossad. Every incoming prime minister is required to see this list, which may contain between thirty to eighty names. He may either initial each name, giving the Mossad the "go-ahead" on an "if-and-when" basis, or insist on being consulted before each new mission. In either event, he must sign the execution order.
Broadly speaking, those on the execution list fall into three classes. The first are the few remaining top Nazis though this class has almost ceased to exist. Although Israel mounted a major operation to kidnap and try Adolf Eichmann on May 11, 1960 because it wanted to make an international example of him, other Nazis were simply liquidated quietly. Class two are almost all contemporary terrorists, mainly Arab militants or extremists like Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi, Yahya Ayyash, Ali Hassan Salameh as well as a few non Arabs who have already conducted, ordered or financed the acts of terrorism such as suicide bombings and murders of Israeli soldiers and civilians or those who are planning to. Class three include those who are working for Israel's enemies and whose work carries great danger for Israel and her citizens if it progresses any further. A prominent example is Dr.Yahya al-Mashad, the Egyptian nuclear physicist working in the first Iraqi nuclear reactor who was assassinated in his hotel room at the Meridian, Paris on 13 June, 1980. A year later, the whole French-supplied nuclear complex at Osirak one and two was destroyed by an Israeli air strike.
The common denominator is that those targeted must have killed either Israeli soldiers and civilians or Jews. They can also target those who are planning to conduct or finance these acts, either in fact or in prospect.
If an assassination is requested, the prime minister will pass the matter to a judicial investigator. The identity of this individual is secret; few Israeli jurists and no Israeli citizens have ever heard of him. The investigator holds court: the charge read out, a prosecutor and a defender. If Mossad's request is confirmed, the matter goes back to the prime minister for his signature. Then the order is given to a Kidon unit to eliminate the target.