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Israeli drone kills Hamas deputy chief al-Arouri in Beirut

The explosion rocked the Dahiyeh suburb, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Then-Hamas deputy political chief Salah al-Arouri presents an image of Jerusalem to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, July 22, 2019. Source: Screenshot.
Then-Hamas deputy political chief Salah al-Arouri presents an image of Jerusalem to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, July 22, 2019. Source: Screenshot.

An Israeli drone strike on a Hamas office in Beirut eliminated top terror chief Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday night, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa Radio announced.

The explosion rocked the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold. In addition to al-Arouri, at least three other Hamas operatives were also killed in the blast, Reuters reported.

The additional casualties were named by Reuters as Samir Findi Abu Amer and Azzam Al-Aqraa Abu Ammar, commanders of Hamas’s “military” wing in Lebanon.

Al-Arouri, the commander of Hamas operations in Judea and Samaria, as well as the deputy politburo chief under Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh, had been based in Lebanon in recent years.

He was one of the top Hamas leaders on Israel’s target list following the terrorist group’s mass murders on Oct. 7 of at least 1,200 people in the northwestern Negev, when they also kidnapped some 250 others and brought them back to the Gaza Strip. An estimated half that number are still being held captive there.

In a statement cited by Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya channel on Tuesday, Hamas described al-Arouri as the “architect” of the massacre.

Al-Arouri was informed of the impending invasion half an hour beforehand so he could alert Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, French outlet Le Figaro reported last week.

Local media said Nasrallah canceled a speech scheduled for Wednesday following the reports of al-Arouri’s death.

Hezbollah called the strike on the Hamas office a “serious assault on Lebanon, its people, its security, sovereignty and resistance,” warning in a statement the killing would “not pass without a response and punishment.”

Haniyeh said, “The assassination of the leader al-Arouri and his brothers by the occupation is a fully-fledged terrorist act, a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, and an expansion of its aggression.”

Israel is anticipating a response to the alleged assassination, according to Hebrew-language media, including possible long-range rocket fire.

“We remain focused on fighting Hamas, we are highly prepared for any scenario,” IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Tuesday night. He called on the public to “continue to obey all instructions.”

Al-Arouri is credited with orchestrating the relationship between Hamas and Iran. He further played a key role in re-establishing the Palestinian terrorist group’s ties with Damascus, which were severed in 2012 during the Syrian civil war.

He was recruited into Hamas in 1985 while studying Sharia law at Hebron University and had served 18 years in Israeli prisons. He was deported to Syria in 2010.

‘Ignite another surge of resistance’

Over the summer, Al-Arouri threatened a “regional war” should Israel resume targeted killings in the wake of a series of deadly terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria.

“If we reach the point of an all-out confrontation, Israel will face an unprecedented defeat in its history, and we are confident of that,” he told Al Mayadeen, a pro-Hezbollah Lebanese paper.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had heard al-Arouri’s “arrogant words” spoken “from his hiding place in Lebanon.

“He knows very well why he and his friends are in hiding places,” the premier added.

On Tuesday, Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev told MSNBC that “whoever did this, it’s not an attack on the Lebanese state. It’s not an attack on the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

“Whoever did this, it’s an attack on Hamas, that’s very clear,” Regev stated.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Tuesday condemned Israel over the “despicable” killing of al-Arouri.

“The martyr’s blood will undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and motivate the fight against the Zionist occupiers, not only in Palestine but also in the region and among all freedom-seekers worldwide,” Kanaani said.

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