A drone strike in the southern Beirut suburbs of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold, killed a senior Hamas official, Saleh al-Arouri, on Tuesday.
The drone hit a Hamas office, leaving six people dead, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.
Hamas confirmed al-Arouri’s death and called it a “cowardly murder” by Israel, adding that attacks against Palestinians “inside and outside Palestine will not break the will and steadfastness of our people, nor undermine the continued of his brave resistance.” ”.
“This demonstrates once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive objectives in the Gaza Strip,” the group said.
Following the news of al-Arouri’s death, mosques in Arura, the occupied West Bank city north of Ramallah, are mourning his death and a general strike has been called in Ramallah for Wednesday.
Here’s what you need to know about the Hamas official killed in Lebanon.
Who was Saleh al-Arouri?
Al-Arouri, 57, was the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau and one of the founders of the group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades.
He had been living in exile in Lebanon after spending 15 years in an Israeli prison. Before the war began on October 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to kill him.
In recent weeks, al-Arouri has taken on the role of spokesman for the group, telling Al Jazeera last month that Hamas would not discuss an exchange deal for captives the group is holding before the war in Gaza ends.
The United States labeled al-Arouri a “global terrorist” in 2015 and offered a $5 million reward for any information about him.
What has Israel said about al-Arouri’s death?
While there has been no official response from Israel regarding the death of the Hamas official, Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s advisor, told US media MSNBC that Israel takes no responsibility for this attack. But he added: “Whoever did it must be clear: this is not an attack on the Lebanese state.”
“Whoever did this has carried out a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” he said.
However, Danny Danon, former Israeli envoy to the United Nations, praised the attack and congratulated the Israeli military, the Shin Bet, the security service and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, for killing al-Arouri.
“Anyone who was involved in the July 10 massacre should know that we will contact them and close an account with them,” he said in X in Hebrew, referring to the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed to almost 1,200 people. .
Since then, Israel’s relentless shelling and artillery shelling of Gaza has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, including more than 8,000 children.
According to Israeli media, the government has ordered cabinet ministers not to give interviews about al-Arouri’s death following Danon’s tweet.
What has been Lebanon’s response?
Lebanon’s interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack on the Beruit suburb, saying it was a “new Israeli crime” as well as an attempt to drag Lebanon into war.
Mikati also warned against “the Israeli political establishment resorting to exporting its failures in Gaza to the southern border to impose new facts on the ground and change the rules of engagement.”
Hezbollah said the attack on Lebanon’s capital “will not go unpunished.”