In a significant development, Israel has asserted that the assassination of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut was a strike directed towards the Hamas leadership and not an attack on Lebanon, as its adversaries warn of consequences. Hamas condemned the death, and Hezbollah, its ally, deemed it an assault on Lebanese sovereignty. Lebanon’s prime minister accused Israel of attempting to draw Lebanon into confrontation.
Israeli spokesman Mark Regev emphasized that whoever carried out the strike had a grievance with Hamas specifically and clarified that it was not an attack on the Lebanese state or Hezbollah. While not explicitly confirming Israel’s involvement, Regev labelled the strike as a “surgical” move against the Hamas leadership.
Saleh al-Arouri, a deputy political leader of Hamas, was reportedly killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut, along with six others. The incident has sparked tensions, with Lebanon’s prime minister accusing Israel of trying to instigate a confrontation.
The Lebanese state news agency reported that the Israeli drone attack targeted a Hamas office in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a stronghold of Hezbollah. The strike resulted in Arouri’s death and significant damage in the residential area.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh condemned the attack as a “cowardly terrorist act” and a violation of the sovereignty of Lebanon. Hezbollah, in a strong response, considered Arouri’s death a serious assault on Lebanon, pledging not to let the incident pass without a response and punishment.
Iran, a major supporter of both Hamas and Hezbollah, predicted that Arouri’s killing would ignite a surge in the resistance. Meanwhile, Israel cancelled a security cabinet meeting scheduled to discuss post-war plans for Gaza.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib expressed concern, urging the West to pressure Israel to stop its actions, not only in Lebanon but also in Gaza. He highlighted the ongoing dialogue with Hezbollah to prevent a direct response.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had previously vowed to eliminate Hamas leaders wherever they are. Arouri, a key figure in Hamas’s armed wing, was also associated with Iran and Hezbollah, according to reports.
The situation remains tense, with regional repercussions looming as the investigation unfolds.