Senior Hamas Leader Killed in Beirut Strike

Saleh al-Arouri died in suspected Israeli strike
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2024 2:03 PM CST
Hamas Deputy Leader Killed in Beirut Strike
Civil defense workers search for survivors inside a destroyed apartment following a massive explosion in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Hamas says one of its top officials, deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in a strike in Beirut Tuesday. Lebanese officials say the suspected Israeli drone strike in the country's capital killed Arouri and at least five others, Reuters reports. Israel hasn't officially claimed responsibility for the strike, but government spokesman Mark Regev told MSNBC that "this was not an attack on the Lebanese state" and "whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership." Arouri, one of the most high-profile Hamas leaders was one of the founders of the group's military wing and was in charge of operations in the West Bank, reports the AP.

Arouri , 57, was also close to Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon, reports the BBC. Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters have been exchanging fire on an almost daily basis since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel but Paul Salem, president of the Middle East Institute think tank, tells the Wall Street Journal that he doesn't think the strike will significantly expand the conflict because Arouri was a member of Hamas, not Hezbollah. "While it certainly ratchets up risk and tension a few notches, I still think it is not something that will push Hezbollah into full-scale or major escalation," Salem says. Najib Mikati, Lebanon's prime minister, called the strike a "crime" that threatens to "drag Lebanon into a new phase of confrontation with Israel." (More Hamas stories.)

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