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Senior Hamas Leader Killed in Beirut Attack

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The assassination of a senior leader of the Hamas organization in Beirut has intensified concerns of escalating conflict in the region. Saleh Al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau and a founding member of its military wing, was reportedly killed in an airstrike in southern Beirut. The attack has raised fears of widening hostilities in the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Hamas Leader’s Assassination 

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Hamas’s media outlet, Al Aqsa TV, announced the death of Saleh Al-Arouri, who had a prominent role within the organization. The attack targeted an office belonging to Hamas in the Dahieh suburb of southern Beirut, resulting in at least four fatalities. 

Additional Hamas Leaders Killed 

Credit: Military parade of the Al-Qassam Brigades in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip. May 29, 2021 – Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories: Gunmen from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian movement Hamas — Photo by thenews2.com

Alongside Al-Arouri, two other leaders from Hamas’s military wing, Samir Findi Abu Amer and Azzam Al-Aqraa Abu Ammar, were also reportedly killed in the strike, according to Hamas officials. 

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Israel’s Response and Implications 

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The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) did not confirm responsibility for the attack, and Israel’s spokesperson Daniel Hagari refrained from commenting directly. However, Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich expressed strong sentiments, suggesting a connection between the attack and Israel’s stance on Hamas. 

Broader Conflict Concerns 

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The attack on Hamas’s leadership not only affects the organization but also raises the specter of broader conflict in the region. It could signify a significant escalation in the Israel-Hamas conflict and potentially impact neighboring countries. 

Lebanese Prime Minister’s Response 

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Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack, labeling it a “new Israeli crime” aimed at dragging Lebanon into further confrontation. He called for international pressure on Israel to halt such actions and warned against exporting conflicts from Gaza to the southern Lebanese border. 

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Israel’s Pledge to Counter Hamas 

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Israel’s commitment to dealing with Hamas militants was reiterated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had previously instructed the Mossad spy agency to take action against “the heads of Hamas wherever they are.” 

Israeli Government’s Stance 

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Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev clarified that Israel had not officially claimed responsibility for the Beirut attack. He emphasized that the Israeli state and armed forces have a policy of pursuing those who harm Israelis but refrained from explicitly linking the attack to the Lebanese state or Hezbollah. 

Reactions from Hamas and Allies 

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Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, described Al-Arouri’s killing as a “cowardly assassination” and laid blame on Israel. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen also condemned the attack, highlighting the interconnectedness of regional conflicts. 

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Escalation Concerns 

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The recent attack in Beirut threatens to escalate hostilities that have been ongoing between Israel’s military and Hezbollah for nearly three months. This prolonged conflict has raised concerns internationally about the potential for a full-scale war. 

Hezbollah’s Warning 

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Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah had previously warned against Israeli assassinations in Lebanon, vowing a strong response if such actions were taken. Nasrallah’s statements reflected concerns over Lebanon becoming a battleground for assassinations. 

Iran’s Condemnation 

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Iran, a supporter of Hezbollah, condemned Al-Arouri’s assassination and attributed responsibility to Israel, further complicating the regional dynamics. 

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Arouri’s Profile 

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Saleh Al-Arouri played a significant role in Hamas’s political and military leadership. Born in the West Bank, he was a key figure in the Al-Qassam Brigades, the group’s military wing. His death is seen as a significant blow to Hamas. 

International Designation as Terrorist 

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In 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Al-Arouri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist and offered a reward of up to $5 million for information on him. 

Family and Personal Background 

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Al-Arouri was married with two daughters and had been detained by Israel at various times in his life. He had lived in several countries, ultimately settling in Lebanon before his tragic death. 

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