Senior Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has decried Saleh Al Arouri’s death as “Israeli terrorism, and a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty”.
Senior Hamas political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has confirmed the death of Saleh al-Arouri following a targeted Israeli drone strike on Tuesday.
According to Al Jazeera, Saleh al-Arouri was the deputy chief of Hamas’s politburo and a founder of the group’s armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades.
Israel’s fatal aerial attack targeted Hamas’ office in southern Beirut and killed at least seven people.
Haniyeh identified those killed by Israel as Samir Findi and Azzam Al Aqraa, who were commanders in the Qassam Brigades. He also said Hamas members Mahmoud Zaki Shahin, Mohammad Bashasha, Mohammad Al Rayes and Mohammad Hamoud died in the blast.
During his televised speech on Tuesday, Haniyeh said the targeted Beirut blast serves as a reminder of the continuous brutality “ that is carried out by the occupation against our people”.
Haniyeh also added that Israel will be responsible for any armed retaliation as a result of what he referred to as a “complete act of terrorism and a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty”.
The targeting of Hamas’ Beirut bureau follows comments in December from the leader of Israel’s domestic security agency, Shin Bet, Ronen Bar, vowing to “eliminate” Hamas figures, wherever they may be.
“The cabinet has set us a goal, in street talk, to eliminate Hamas. This is our Munich. We will do this everywhere, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Turkey, in Qatar. It will take a few years but we will be there to do it,” Bar said.
Who was Saleh al-Arouri?
Haniyeh described al-Arouri as having “worked in all arenas and fields for the sake of Palestine”.
According to Al Arabiya News, his involvement with Hamas began in 1987 when he became a member of the resistance. He was also a key founding figure in the establishment of Al Qassam.
After joining Hamas, he was repeatedly imprisoned by Israeli forces between 1992 and 2007, leading to his eventual deportation to Syria by the occupying force. From Syria, he moved to Turkey and later settled in Lebanon.
In 2015, America’s Treasury Department placed him on their terror watch list, according to Anadolu Agency.
He later rose in the ranks and became deputy chairman of Hamas’ politburo in 2017.
Speaking to Al Jazeera in the wake of Israel’s renewed onslaught of the besieged Gaza Strip on October 7, al-Arouri said his resistance was fighting a battle for freedom.
“We have one prime target, our freedom and the freedom of our holy sites,” he told Al Jazeera.
Netanyahu demands media embargo on al-Arouri’s assassination
Reports have emerged from Anadolu that a media embargo has been ordered by Israel’s Prime Ministerial office, demanding that ministers not issue statements to the media about Tuesday’s drone attack in Lebanon.
This follows The Intercept blowing the whistle in December on Israel’s ‘Operation Swords of Iron’ — the censorship initiative by Israel’s army to block media coverage of the war crimes committed by the occupational force.
The censorship order, which was signed off by Israel’s General Chief of Censor, Kobi Mandelblit, identified eight areas of public interest necessitating review, and potentially outright censorship, by Israeli forces before broadcasting.
The taboo topics identified by Mandelblit included reporting captives, Israeli operational details, their intelligence and weapon system, rocket and cyber attacks, senior officials and the security cabinet.