Israeli strike in Lebanon kills senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri: Security sources

BEIRUT: Deputy Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri was killed on Tuesday night (Jan 2) in an Israeli drone strike on Beirut’s southern suburbs of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of the allied Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, three security sources told Reuters.

In response to questions from Reuters, the Israeli military said it does not respond to reports in the foreign media.

Lebanon’s national news agency said six people were killed when the drone struck a Hamas office. Two security sources said the strike had targeted a meeting and that another Palestinian militant commander was among them, but there were no details on the additional four casualties.

Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told MSNBC that Israel had not taken responsibility for this attack, but “whoever did it, it must be clear: That this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.”

“Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” Regev said in the interview.

Arouri was deputy head of Hamas’s politburo and a founder of its military wing, the Qassam Brigades, which carried out a deadly assault in Israeli territory on Oct 7.

He had spent time recently in both Lebanon and Qatar, which has mediated talks between Hamas and Israel including on hostages Hamas took in its Oct 7 assault. The US, which brands Hamas a terrorist group, had last year offered US$5 million for information on Arouri.

Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa radio confirmed Arouri’s killing. Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Sharq called it a “cowardly assassination”.

Islamic Jihad vowed revenge in a statement, saying: “This crime will not go unpunished and the resistance will continue until the occupation is removed.”

Iran said the killing would further galvanize the fight against Israel, while Yemen’s Houthi movement expressed condolences.

In Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, hundreds took to the streets to urge retaliation, shouting “Revenge, revenge, Qassam.”

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