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Israel’s Assassination of Hamas Leader Sparks Regional Tensions

January 3, 2024
Photo: Saleh al-Arouri in Cairo in 2017. Photo Source: NY Times

Israel’s recent assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, a prominent Hamas leader, in Beirut has led to escalating tensions in the region. The targeted killing has drawn strong reactions from Lebanon, Hamas, and its ally Hezbollah. 

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its involvement in the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri. However, Israeli officials have referred to it as a “surgical strike against the Hamas leadership.” 

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said “The IDF is in a very high state of readiness in all arenas, in defense and offense.” 

“The most important thing to say tonight is that we are focused and remain focused on fighting Hamas,” he added.

The operation has strained relations between Lebanon and Israel, with Lebanon’s Prime Minister accusing Israel of attempting to draw the country into a regional war.

Hamas condemned the assassination, labeling it a “terrorist act,” while Hezbollah characterized it as an assault on Lebanon’s sovereignty. 

Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, vowed that the crime would not go unanswered. The group’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned Israel of severe consequences for carrying out assassinations on Lebanese soil.

Saleh al-Arouri was a key figure within Hamas, serving as a deputy political leader and closely allied with Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas. He played a crucial role in connecting Hamas with Hezbollah while acting as a liaison between the two groups. 

As the war on Gaza continues, the conflict’s reach has extended into Lebanon, with potential repercussions for the wider region.

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