The third-most senior Hamas figure, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed on January 2 in a Beirut blast that Lebanese authorities blamed on Israel. Arouri was among at least four people who died in an Israeli drone strike on a Hamas media office in the southern Dahiyeh suburb of the Lebanese capital, a Hezbollah stronghold, authorities said. Israeli officials had no immediate comment.
After Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, Arouri was the top-ranked Hamas official. He pursued an especially aggressive Palestinian terrorism strategy, with a focus on the West Bank, where he ordered the 2014 abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, sparking a Gaza war. After a period of being headquartered in Turkey, Arouri relocated to Lebanon, where he spearheaded Hamas coordination with Hezbollah and their shared Iranian patron.
“Israel has openly vowed to take the Gaza war to all leaders of Hamas, no matter where they are. That Arouri apparently thought he might be immune in the Hezbollah heartland suggests a major miscalculation on the part of Hamas. The question now is how Hezbollah will calculate the risks of stepping up its own attacks on Israel in retaliation.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO
“Israel sent a message to all terror allies of Iran that no matter where they hide, they will never be secure. Whether Hamas leaders reside in Qatar, Turkey, Lebanon, or another country, they should assume their days are numbered. Hezbollah’s leadership must also factor this escalation into the group’s next move.” — Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor
“The elimination of Saleh al-Arouri stands as a significant blow to Hamas and a considerable victory for Israel in its current war against Palestinian terrorist groups. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that this accomplishment is merely one of many goals Israel must achieve in order to dismantle Hamas and its partners.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal