Hamas’s deputy leader abroad Saleh al-Arouri was killed in an Israeli strike in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold, the Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadeen reports.
Israel has not yet commented on the alleged strike.
At a press conference in November, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had “instructed the Mossad to act against the heads of Hamas wherever they are” in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 assault on southern Israel. At the same press conference, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said all Hamas leaders “are living on borrowed time… The struggle is worldwide.”
Based in Lebanon, al-Arouri, 57, was deputy head of the terror group’s political bureau and considered the de facto leader of Hamas’s military wing in the West Bank.
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.
After spending time in Syria, al-Arouri eventually moved to Beirut. From there he managed Hamas military operations in the West Bank, pushing terror activities and arranging the transfer of funds to pay for terror attacks.
He was 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.
Hebrew media reports say he was set to meet with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah tomorrow.