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Senior Hamas Leader Killed In Beirut Blast, Raising Risks Of War Spreading

The media outlet for Hamas, Al Aqsa TV, has confirmed the assassination of the founding member of Al-Qassam Brigades, Saleh Al-Arouri, in Beirut on Tuesday. According to the media, the leader was ‘martyred in a Zionist airstrike. This killing has increased the chances of an escalation in the tussle between the Israeli military and Hamas in the region.

Arouri was present in Beirut and was one of the most prominent founders of Al-Qassam Brigades, which is a military wing of Hamas. Four people were killed in the attack on an office owned by Hamas official in Beirut. This area is also the main working place of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. There is no comment on the killing by the Israel Defence Force (IDF). However, Israel’s Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, took to his social media accounts and wished for all the enemies of Israel to ‘perish’. This message is considered to be in reference to the killing of Arouri.

Danny Danon, who was the former ambassador of Israel to the United Nations, in a post on X, appreciated the assassination of Arouri by the Israeli military, saying that all those who were involved in the attacks of 7 October must know that they would face the consequences. This attack on Beirut, Lebanon is considered to be the biggest attack after the war of 2006 between Israel and Lebanon.

Condemning the attack by Israel on X, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has also asked other countries to pressurize Israeli military and political institutions to stop this blood game in Lebanon after their shameful defeat in Gaza. He said that now it is Israel’s decision either to stop its months-long aggression and conflict with Hezbollah or to go in war and confront Lebanon.

Mark Regev, an advisor to Netanyahu, has told the media that Israel has not accepted the responsibility of the attack on Beirut yet. He stated that although Israel can reach anyone who is involved in killing Israelis, this attack was neither on the Lebanese state nor on Hezbollah.

Hamas’ leader, Ismail Haniyeh, has blamed Israel and condemned Arouri’s death, referring to it as a “cowardly assassination”.

The tussle between Israeli forces and Hezbollah has been going on for nearly three months. The fight is contained within a 4 km area around the border between Israel and Lebanon. This continuous fight between the most powerful paramilitaries of the Middle East and Israel is feared to take the shape of a full-scale war with the Western world. This fear would not have come closer to becoming true if Beirut had not been blasted on Tuesday.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah assured in August 2023 that they would not allow anyone to turn Lebanon into an ‘arena for assassinations’. He also warned Israel of a strong response if they tried to do any damage to Lebanon.

Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination of one of the chief founders of Al-Qassam Brigades, Saleh Al-Arouri. The news of his death could prove to be a factor in starting the war at a time when Israel was starting to cut down the number of her soldiers in Gaza.

Who was Saleh Al-Arouri?

Saleh Al-Arouri, born in Aroura village in the West Bank in 1966, is termed as the mastermind behind the training of the military wing of Hamas, better known as Al-Qassam Brigades. He was a political and military leader of Hamas in the West Bank since 1987 till his death as declared by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). He had two daughters and was currently living in Lebanon.

The Israeli army demolished his house on the basis of an accusation of his involvement in the kidnapping of three settlers in Hebron. From 1991 till 1992, he was busy arming a movement in the West Bank that led to the formation of Al-Qassam Brigades in 1992. He was a negotiator when Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for 1,027 prisoners from Palestine back in 2011. He faced detentions between 1985 and 2007 and was exiled to Syria. It was after moving from country to country that he settled in Lebanon. He was declared as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of the Treasury in 2015. There was a reward of $5 million for anyone who brings any information about him.

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