Hamas deputy killed in Beirut blast
A drone strike in the Lebanese capital of Beirut has killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri. The Palestinian militants and local security sources blamed the attack on Israel, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has previously vowed to retaliate against such strikes.
Al-Arouri was among seven people killed in a blast in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh on Tuesday, local media reported. Lebanese security officials told Reuters and other news outlets that an Israeli drone was responsible.
Al-Arouri was a founding commander of Hamas’ military wing, and at the time of his death was the deputy chairman of the group’s political bureau.
In keeping with their policy of silence on extraterritorial assassinations, Israeli military officials refused to comment on the attack, which marked the first time that the Jewish state struck Beirut since the 2006 war with Lebanon.
Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, described al-Arouri’s killing as a “cowardly assassination” by Israel, which “proves once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip.”
While Israel has been waging war against Hamas for almost three months, it has refrained from any large-scale attacks on Lebanon, instead engaging in tit-for-tat clashes with Hezbollah militants along the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah, a Shi’ite paramilitary and political group based in Israel, has described itself as “at war” with Israel, although Nasrallah has stated that the group aims to wage a limited campaign aimed at tying up Israeli forces near the border, thereby preventing their deployment to Gaza.
However, Nasrallah pledged in August that “any assassination on Lebanese soil against a Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, or Palestinian will be met with a decisive response” from his fighters. Nasrallah was scheduled to make a televised address on Wednesday, but the address has now been postponed, according to multiple media reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in November that he had instructed Israeli intelligence agents to “act against the heads of Hamas wherever they are.” In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Netanyahu had green-lit a plot to target Hamas officials in Lebanon, Türkiye, and Qatar.