Hamas West Bank Chief Saleh Arouri Killed in Beirut Blast

(BrightPress.org) – A major leader in Hamas was assassinated in Beirut on Tuesday, January 2nd when a drone fired into an apartment building. Saleh Arouri, 57, had been on Israeli hit lists for some time, even before the October 7th attacks, for masterminding attacks in the West Bank where he led the organization. He was a deputy leader of the group and founder of its militia.

Netanyahu had specifically threatened to kill him in years past. The U.S. Department of the Treasury listed him as a Specifically Designated Global Terrorist and offered $5 million for information about him or his whereabouts.

During a prior interview with the Beirut-based publication Al-Mayadeen from over the summer, Arouri said it was not uncommon for leaders like him “to be martyred.” He added that he never expected to reach his current age, and as such felt like he was “living on borrowed time.”

During that interview, he suggested Israel would suffer an unprecedented defeat should an all-out war break out.

Arouri was born in the West Bank and joined Hamas as a young man. He eventually fled as he became a more significant and accomplished leader in the movement. He first stayed in Damascus, when the Syrian government was friendly to Hamas. He left in 2011 when Hamas sided with ISIS during the Syrian Civil War.

He then went to Turkey until 2018 when Ankara and Israel improved their relationship, that was when he moved to Beirut. He was able to collaborate with Hezbollah while there and became a crucial figure in reforming the bonds of friendship between Hamas and Assad’s administration in Syria.

Arouri had kept a low profile in Beirut after the October 7th surprise attacks in southern Israel. The apartment building he was living in was occupied by Hezbollah and its allies, though there were plenty of civilians living nearby due to it being a dense urban neighborhood.

Hamas confirmed his death along with six additional members of the organization, including two commanders from its military wing. An anonymous Lebanese official unauthorized to speak with the media said that they suspected a drone attack that fired missiles into a single floor of the building. Lebanon’s state media blamed an Israeli drone for the strike. It would mark the first time since 2006 that Israel had launched an attack in Beirut. Hezbollah condemned the strike and promised a “response and punishment” in a statement.

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