On Tuesday, the Israeli Defense Forces neutralized Hamas Deputy Leader Saleh al-Arouri in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, according to officials with Hamas and the Iranian-backed Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah.
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said the blast was carried out by an Israeli drone. The explosion shook Beirut’s southern suburbs, which are areas operated by Hezbollah and created a fire on Hadi Nasrallah Street in Southern Lebanon.
Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah promised to retaliate against any Israeli targeting of Hamas officials in Lebanon. Arouri was regarded as close to Nasrallah and was supposed to meet with the Hezbollah leader on Wednesday.
Arouri was one of the founders of the Sunni-Islamic terrorist group and deputy head of the terror group’s political bureau and considered the de-facto leader of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank. He was thought to be the most notorious Hamas figure in orchestrating West Bank terrorism against Israel.
Arouri served several terms in Israeli jails and was released in March 2010 following Israel’s prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. Arouri was part of the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the IDF soldier in 2011.
Several years later, Arouri moved from Syria and eventually to Beirut where he connected with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hezbollah, establishing links with various Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) leaders and establishing a local Hamas force from Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
“The cowardly assassinations carried out by the Zionist occupation against the leaders and symbols of our Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine will not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people or in undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance,” senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said in a public statement.
Al-Rishq claimed that the strike “proves once again the abject failure of the enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip.”
A day after the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas, Arouri told Al Jazeera that the attack was an “open battle” aimed at achieving the “liberation” of the Palestinian people and their holy places. The Hamas official said it was in reaction to the alleged “desecration” by Jewish worshipers of the Al-Aqsa compound on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount over the holiday of Sukkot and alleged that Israel planned to impose a “new reality” on the Temple Mount after the holiday.
On Twitter, Israeli MK Danny Danon congratulated the IDF, Shin Bet, and Israeli Mossad for the Hamas leader’s neutralization.
Following Hamas’s attack, the Israeli government vowed it would neutralize every single member of Hamas responsible for the brutal massacre.