Hamas has vowed to retaliate after Israel killed a senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon.
Al-Arouri and four other members of the Palestinian group were killed on Tuesday after Israel attacked Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. Al-Arouri was known to be deeply involved in the military affairs of Hamas and had previously headed the group’s presence in the occupied West Bank.
Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Sharq called it a “cowardly assassination”. Lebanon’s National News Agency said the blast killed at least six people and that it was carried out by an Israeli drone. There was no immediate comment from Israel.
Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian group’s top leader, condemned the attack as a “terrorist act”, a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, and an expansion of Israel’s hostility against Palestinians. Haniyeh claimed in televised remarks that Hamas “will never be defeated” as the group continues to battle Israel’s ground forces in Gaza.
Hamas is not discouraged by the killing of al-Arouri and said it would not “undermine the continued brave resistance” in Gaza, where over 22,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces.
While Israel has not taken responsibility for the attack in Lebanon, Mark Regev, an adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said it was 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 an interview with MSNBC.
Netanyahu had previously threatened to kill al-Arouri, long before Israel’s latest assault on the Gaza Strip. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the killing and said in an official statement that the attack “aims to draw Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations” at a time when Hamas ally Hezbollah has been exchanging daily cross-border fire with Israeli forces.
Iran, which supports both Hamas and Hezbollah, said the attack would create more resistance against Israel. Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Nasser Kanaani condemned the violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“The martyr’s blood will undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and the motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers not only in Palestine but also in the region and among all freedom seekers worldwide,” Kanaani said.
Many agree the killing was an elusive, much needed win for Netanyahu. It has been viewed as an achievement for the Israeli army and politicians.
Meanwhile Palestinians gathered to mourn al-Arouri’s death in his hometown in the West Bank. Protests and gatherings also took place in Ramallah and other nearby towns.
Edited By: Josh Reidelbach
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