Liberman: Top Hamas operative is now in Lebanon, plotting attacks
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Liberman: Top Hamas operative is now in Lebanon, plotting attacks

Defense minister urges visiting American UN ambassador to pressure Beirut to expel dangerous terrorist Saleh al-Arouri

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley meets with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem on Friday, June 9, 2017 (Dana Shraga/Ministry of Defense)
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley meets with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Jerusalem on Friday, June 9, 2017 (Dana Shraga/Ministry of Defense)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Friday that a senior official in the Palestinian Hamas terror group, Saleh al-Arouri, recently expelled from Qatar, has resettled in Lebanon, where he has been planning, along with two other activists, terror attacks against Israel.

During a meeting with visiting American UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Liberman alleged that Arouri has also been attempting “to boost the relationship between Hamas and Hezbollah,” the Shiite Lebanese militia, “under an Iranian umbrella, and with the assistance of the Revolutionary Guards and [its leader] Qassem Soleimani,” according to a Hebrew-language statement from the Defense Ministry.

Arouri, he said, is a “dangerous terrorist” responsible for deadly terror attacks against Israel, and he cannot be allowed to continue with his activities. Lebanon is a “sovereign country” that maintains high-level bilateral ties with the United States, Liberman continued, urging Washington to pressure Lebanon into expelling the three Hamas activists.

Israeli intelligence officials believe Arouri was behind the abduction and killing of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank in the summer of 2014. That attack was among the main catalysts of the war in Gaza about a month later.

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (YouTube screenshot)
Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (YouTube screenshot)

Arouri served several stints in Israeli jails, and was released in March 2010, within the framework of talks to free Gilad Shalit, the IDF corporal kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.

During Friday’s meeting, the defense minister expressed appreciation for Haley’s insistence that the UN reform its approach to Israel, which has won her many fans in the Jewish state. He presented her with a pendant shaped like high-heeled shoe, an allusion to a speech she gave in March to the AIPAC Conference, in which she said she wore heels not as a “fashion statement” but “because if I see something wrong, we’re going to kick them every single time.”

Haley is capping off a three-day trip to the region after speaking in Geneva at the UN Human Rights Council, which she rebuked as a “forum for politics, hypocrisy and evasion” that allows rights abusers to whitewash their images and foes of Israel to criticize the Jewish state unfairly.

On Friday, she also visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem, where she participated in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, visited the Children’s Memorial and signed the guest book, Yad Vashem said in a press release.

Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, lays a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Friday, June 9, 2017 (Jorge Novominsky/Yad Vashem)
Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the UN, lays a memorial wreath at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Friday, June 9, 2017. (Jorge Novominsky/Yad Vashem)

“We must always honor and remember the lives lost during one of the most horrible times in history,” she wrote. “There is a lesson here. Leadership is not about power. Leadership is the acknowledgment and value of human dignity. We must always choose a side.”

A day earlier, she visited Israeli communities in areas surrounding the Gaza border region, meeting local residents and touring one of the crossings into the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave.

Haley also headed north later Thursday, visiting Kibbutz Misgav Am located on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and received briefings from IDF officers and UNIFIL forces.

During her tour of the south, Haley visited with residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, surveyed a Hamas-dug attack tunnel near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, and toured the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the main crossing through which goods are transferred from Israel to the Strip.

The visit to the Gaza border came a day after she met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah in Ramallah and discussed the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as well as the work of UNRWA, a UN agency that helps Palestinians, her office said in a statement.

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