Hamas deputy leader killed in Israeli drone attack in southern Beirut

Hamas’s deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri was killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh on Tuesday.

An explosion hit southern Beirut on Tuesday night, destroying several cars and killing several people, including al-Arouri.

The Palestinian Hamas Resistance movement has officially confirmed the death of al-Arouri.

Hamas media also released the names of two leaders of the group’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, killed along with al-Arouri in the Israeli raid.

Samir Findi Abu Amer and Azzam Al-Aqraa Abu Ammar were killed alongside the senior Hamas official in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh, according to Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV channel.

Dahiyeh, where the blast took place, is a residential area but also home to many members of the Lebanese armed movement Hezbollah, which is an ally of Hamas.

Al-Arouri was a founding member of the armed wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, which led the attacks on southern Israel on 7 October, killing at least 1,200 Israelis.

He had long been living in exile in Lebanon after spending 15 years in Israeli prison. He was born in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank in 1966. In recent weeks, the deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau acted as a spokesperson for Hamas and its strategy in the war in Gaza.

The Israeli Army demolished al-Arouri’s house in the occupied West Bank town of Aroura in October.

Israel has previously vowed to assassinate Hamas leaders outside of the occupied Palestinian territories, including in Lebanon, Qatar and Turkey.

The US government designated him as a “global terrorist” in 2015 and put out a $5m reward for information on him.

Al-Arouri’s assassination on Tuesday is a serious escalation by Israel, both against Hamas’s leadership abroad and Hezbollah.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari has said that the military is at a “very high level of readiness – in all arenas, in defense and offense”, as Israel braces for retaliation by Hezbollah.

“We are in a high state of readiness for any scenario,” Hagari stressed, without acknowledging the strike.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has condemned the “new Israeli crime”, stressing that it was aimed at bringing Beirut into a new phase of confrontation.

“It has become clear to everyone near and far that the decision to go to war is in the hands of Israel and what is needed is to deter this and stop [Israel’s] aggression,” he wrote on X.

The Lebanese government announced that it will submit a complaint to the United Nations Security Council over what it called a “blatant” Israeli strike in the capital city of Beirut.

The Palestinian Authority has also condemned an Israeli strike in Beirut that killed senior Hamas official al-Arouri.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Tuesday said the assassination of the Hamas deputy leader was a  “crime perpetrated by known criminals” and warned about the “risks and consequences that could follow”, according to a statement issued by his office.

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