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Image from the aftermath of the explosion, today in Lebanon Alamy
Lebanon

Deputy head of Hamas killed in Israeli strike in Beirut

Al-Aruri was killed in a drone strike on a office, believed to be owned by Hamas, in Lebanon.

LAST UPDATE | 2 Jan

HAMAS’ TELEVISION STATION has reported that the deputy head of the militant group, Saleh al-Aruri, has been killed in a strike by Israel in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Al-Aruri was killed in a “treacherous Zionist strike”, Hamas said on its official channel. The station said the strike was a targeted assassination.

A high-level security official in Beirut told AFP that Al-Aruri was killed in the Israeli strike along with his bodyguards in the Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs, which is a stronghold of Hamas ally Hezbollah.

A second security official confirmed the information, adding two floors of the targeted building and one car were damaged.

Lebanese state media reported the strike hit a Hamas office in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.

Hamas TV also said Israel had killed al-Aruri in Beirut. And Lebanese media said a total of six people were killed in the strike.

Hamas has since vowed that the killing of the group’s deputy in Lebanon will not “undermine the continued brave resistance” in Gaza where the Palestinian militant group is battling Israeli forces.

“It proves once more the utter failure of the enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip,” senior Hamas official Izzat al-Rishq said in a statement.

Al-Aruri was one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing and had headed the group’s presence in the West Bank. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to kill him even before the Hamas-Israel war began on 7 October.

Israeli parliamentarian and former UN representative Danny Danon posted on X, formerly Twitter, congratulating the Israeli Defence Forces and other security and intelligence agencies “for killing senior Hamas official Saleh al-Aruri in Beirut”.

Posting in Hebrew, Dannon said that the country will continue to find those in Hamas behind the planning and execution of the 7 October attacks, which killed more than 1,200 Israeli citizens.

However, Lebanon’s prime minister has immediately condemned the killing of al-Aruri, saying the attack “aims to draw Lebanon” further into the Israel-Hamas war.

“Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut that killed and injured many,” his office said in a statement.

The attack “aims to draw Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations” with Israel, at a time when Hamas ally Hezbollah has been exchanging daily cross-border fire with Israeli forces in southern Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group warned that Israel’s killing Tuesday of the deputy Hamas leader in a Beirut suburb they control “will not go unanswered or unpunished”.

Hezbollah called it “a serious assault on Lebanon”.

“We, Hezbollah, affirm that this crime will not go unanswered or unpunished,” the movement said in a statement that called it “a serious assault on Lebanon… and a dangerous development in the course of the war,” the statement added.

Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari did not directly comment on Aruri’s killing but said the military is “highly prepared for any scenario” in its aftermath.

Earlier, Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA) reported that Israel had launched a drone strike which struck an office, believed to be owned by Hamas, in Beirut’s southern suburbs, killing four people.

The explosion shook Musharafieh, one of the Lebanese capital’s southern suburbs, which are a stronghold of the militant Hezbollah group, an ally of Hamas. It caused a fire in Hadi Nasrallah Street south of Beirut.

Videos circulating on social media showed serious damage and fire.

Earlier today, Hezbollah said its fighters carried out several attacks along the Lebanon-Israel border targeting Israeli military posts.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2024 and Press Association

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