Hamas deputy head Saleh al-Arouri killed in alleged Israeli drone strike in Beirut – report

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People gather near a damaged site following an explosion at the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon January 2, 2024. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

Source: The Jerusalem Post, By Tzvi Joffre, January 2, 2024

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy leader of the Hamas terrorist movement, was killed along with at least five other people in an alleged drone strike in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold for Hezbollah, Hamas confirmed on Tuesday evening.

According to the reports, the strike targeted an office belonging to Hamas in Mushrifiyah in the southern suburbs of Lebanon’s capital.

Both an apartment and a vehicle were reportedly targeted in the area. The strike was carried out by two drones, according to Lebanese media. After the strike, Israeli fighter jets were spotted over Beirut and Khalde, along with other areas throughout Lebanon.

Arouri has been an Israeli target

Arouri has been noted as a central target for Israel in the past year due to his role in organizing terrorism in the West Bank.

 People stand at a damaged building following an explosion at the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon January 2, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)
People stand at a damaged building following an explosion at the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon January 2, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement told Lebanese media after the incident that the secretary general of the movement, Ziyad al-Nakhala, was not harmed in the strike.

Hezbollah MP Hussein Jishi warned after the strike that “Hezbollah will respond to the assassination, and this is settled, and matters remain to be determined,” in comments to Al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Even before the war, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah warned that any Israeli assassination in Lebanese territory would “lead to a strong reaction,” during an interview in August.

“It cannot be tolerated, and we will not allow Lebanon to open the arena for assassinations. We will not accept changing the rules of engagement that have existed since 2006, and the Israelis must understand this matter well,” said Nasrallah at the time.

Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, stated after the strike on Tuesday that “the cowardly assassinations carried out by the Zionist occupation against the leaders and symbols of our Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine will not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people, or undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance, and they prove once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip.”

Lebanese interim prime minister Mikati expressed outrage at the strike, stating “The explosion is an Israeli crime that definitely aims to bring Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations after the ongoing daily attacks in the south.”

The strike comes just hours before the fourth anniversary of the US assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, in Baghdad in January 2020.