Hamas has confirmed the death of its deputy commander, Saleh al Arouri, in an explosion in Beirut, blaming the “cowardly assassination” on Israel. Al Arouri was a founding member of Hamas’ military branch and the deputy chairman of the organization’s political department.
He was also in charge of Hamas’s presence in the West Bank.
According to the Associated Press, an Israeli drone carried out the blast in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh, killing four people.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah party, had previously pledged retaliation for any Israeli targeting of Palestinian authorities in the nation.
Hamas political bureau member Izzat al Rishq claimed the blast that killed al Arouri was a severe assault on Palestine and Gaza.
While Israel has not issued an official statement regarding the murder of the Hamas official, Mark Regev, a Netanyahu adviser, told the US news site MSNBC that Israel does not accept responsibility for the attack. However, he said, “Whoever did it, it must be clear: this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.”
“Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” that’s what he claimed.
Danny Danon, a former Israeli representative to the United Nations, applauded the strike and praised the Israeli army, Shin Bet, the security service, and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, on the assassination of al-Arouri.
“Anyone who was involved in the 7/10 massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them,” he said in Hebrew on X, referring to the Hamas onslaught on southern Israel on October 7 that killed almost 1,200 people.
According to Israeli media, following Danon’s tweet, the government has ordered cabinet ministers not to do any interviews about al-Arouri’s killing.
Saleh al Arouri was a major figure in Hamas who worked to strengthen connections between the organization and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon.
The 57-year-old was a founding member of Hamas’ military arm, the al Qassam Brigades, and has been the group’s deputy political bureau leader since 2017.
Al Arouri also oversaw Hamas activities in the West Bank, where he helped Hamas increase its military capacity by smuggling weapons in and organizing sleeper cells.
In 1992, he was caught by the Israeli army and sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in the formation of the al Qassam brigades.
After being released in 2007, he was imprisoned three months later and jailed for three years before being released and exiled to Syria in 2010.
Al Arouri was chosen as a member of Hamas’ political bureau and spent several years in Syria before wandering throughout the world, including Turkey and Qatar, until arriving in Beirut, Lebanon, where he was assassinated.
In 2015, the US designated him a terrorist, and Washington offered a $5 million (£4 million) reward for information leading to his location.
Even before the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7, 2023, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to murder al Arouri.