IDF demolishes West Bank home of exiled senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri

Deputy chief of terror group’s political bureau also leads its military wing in the West Bank; IDF banner left on rubble of destroyed building declares ‘Hamas=Islamic State’

A building belonging to Hamas deputy political bureau leader Saleh al-Arouri in the West Bank town of ‘Arura seen after it was demolished by the IDF, October 31, 2023. Banner shows combined flags of Hamas and Islamic State with slogan, in Arabic 'Hamas=IS."
A building belonging to Hamas deputy political bureau leader Saleh al-Arouri in the West Bank town of ‘Arura seen after it was demolished by the IDF, October 31, 2023. Banner shows combined flags of Hamas and Islamic State with slogan, in Arabic 'Hamas=IS."

The Israel Defense Forces demolished overnight Monday a home owned by senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, in the West Bank town of ‘Arura, near Ramallah.

Footage posted to social media shows the controlled blast carried out by the IDF.

On October 27, IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox signed the demolition order. It was not clear if there was anyone living in the premises.

Based in Lebanon, al-Arouri is deputy head of the terror group’s political bureau and considered the de facto leader of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank.

After the building was destroyed, a banner hung by the IDF was found displayed on the rubble depicting a combination of the Hamas and Islamic State terror group flags along with the slogan, in Arabic, “Hamas=IS.”

Israel has been pressing the message that Hamas is the same as the Islamic State terror group after war erupted when Hamas carried out a devastating attack on October 7. Some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing over 1,400 people and seizing some 230 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

Al-Arouri, 57, has been vocal since the war started, making statements and giving media interviews in which, among other things, he denied Hamas had targeted civilians, despite incontrovertible proof that its terrorists systematically targeted, abused and massacred noncombatants, including children and the elderly.

Israeli security forces took over al-Arouri’s house a week and a half ago, with Palestinian sources saying it then became a “military installation.”

A banner had been hung on the building depicting al-Arouri with the Israeli flag in the background. A slogan in Arabic declared, “This was the home of Saleh al-Arouri, now the headquarters of Abu-Nimer, the Israeli Shin Bet.”

Israeli intelligence officials believe that al-Arouri also helped plan the June 2014 kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens — Gil-ad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel — as well as numerous other attacks. He had served several terms in Israeli jails, and was released in March 2010 as part of efforts to reach a larger prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, an IDF corporal kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. Arouri went on to be involved in sewing up the deal that provided for the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the freeing of Shalit in 2011.

He relocated to Istanbul but was forced to move when Israel patched up ties with Turkey that had ruptured over an IDF raid on a solidarity flotilla heading to Gaza in which nine Turkish nationals were killed during a violent melees on a ferry boat.

Hamas commander Saleh al-Arouri (YouTube screenshot)

After spending time in Syria, al-Arouri eventually moved to Beirut. From there he manages Hamas military operations in the West Bank, pushing terror activities and arranging the transfer of funds to pay for terror attacks.

He is also one of the Hamas officials most closely connected to Iran and the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

There, al-Arouri has established a local Hamas force from activists in Lebanese refugee camps. The group has military training and a rocket arsenal, though not on the same scale as Hezbollah’s.

A number of attacks along the border with Lebanon as well as rocket fire at northern Israel since October 7 have been claimed by Palestinian terror groups, including Hamas.

Last week al-Arouri met with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad al-Nakhaleh. The three discussed the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip and agreed to coordinate their efforts.

Ismail Haniyeh, right, the head of the Hamas political bureau, shakes hands with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri, upon his arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, in Gaza City, August 2, 2018. (Mohammad Austaz/Hamas Media Office via AP)

In 2018 al-Arouri visited the Gaza Strip to participate in reconciliation efforts with the rival Ramallah-based Fatah movement. Hamas seized control of Gaza from the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in 2007 in a bloody coup.

Later in 2018, the US offered a bounty of $5 million for information on al-Arouri’s whereabouts, saying he is responsible for terror attacks. One of the kidnapped teens was dual US-Israeli citizen Naftali Fraenkel.

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