Hezbollah vows retaliation over Israel’s assassination of senior Hamas leader in Lebanese soil

The Lebanese Hezbollah movement has vowed to respond to Israel's killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone raid in Beirut. Hezbollah has described the Israel raid a “dangerous aggression against Lebanon and its people, security, sovereignty and resistance.”

“We affirm that this crime will never pass without response and punishment,” the Lebanese armed group said in a statement on Tuesday evening, local time.

“We consider the crime of killing Saleh al-Arouri and his companions in the heart of Beirut’s Dahiyeh a dangerous aggression against Lebanon and its people, security, sovereignty and resistance.”

Hezbollah added that the killing of Arouri, which happened with a drone strike that also killed two commanders of the al-Qassam Brigades, was a “serious assault on Lebanon” and that it has “its finger on the trigger”.

“The criminal enemy – which after ninety days of crime, killing and destruction was unable to subjugate Gaza – is resorting to a policy of assassination,” Hezbollah stressed.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari 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 added, without acknowledging the strike.

Axios reported that Israel is preparing for the firing of long-range ballistic missiles by Hezbollah in response to the assassination.

Tel Aviv has not publicly taken credit for the killing of Arouri. However, two US officials told Axios that Israel was behind the strike.

The officials stressed that Israel did not notify the Joe Biden administration in advance of the attack.

And a senior Israeli official told the news site that it did not give Washington advanced notice of the attack, which comes after the US announced it would be pulling one of its carrier strike groups from the region.

The assassination of Arouri is the latest sign of a wider escalation of the conflict in Gaza extending outside its borders.

On Sunday, the US military killed 10 Houthi fighters, in an incident condemned by the Yemeni group.

Meanwhile, Arouri’s killing could lead to a larger retaliation by Hezbollah against Israel, a move that the Lebanese group has so far avoided as it engages in cross-border attacks.

Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, previously warned that “any assassination on Lebanese soil against a Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian or Palestinian will be met with a decisive response”.

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