An explosion in an apartment building in Beirut yesterday killed senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri, along with two leaders of Hamas’s elite Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and three others. One Israeli and two U.S. officials told Axios that Israel was behind the strike, suspected to have been a drone strike.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called the Jan. 2 attack a “blatant crime that demonstrates, once again, the brutality that is carried out by the occupation against our people.” “All these assassinations and attacks will make us stronger and more determined than ever. This is the history of the resistance and our movement. We always become stronger and more determined,” Haniyeh said in a televised address. He also said the attack was a “violation of Lebanese sovereignty.” The “occupation is responsible for any repercussions.”
The attack was also condemned in Lebanon. Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned that Israel is aiming to drag Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations. Hezbollah said in a statement that “This heinous crime will only strengthen the resolve of the resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iran, and Iraq, reinforcing their belief in their just cause and commitment to continue the path of resistance and jihad until victory and liberation.” An Aug. 28 video of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah also was released warning against any Israeli assassinations on Lebanese soil. “Any assassination on Lebanese soil against a Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian or Palestinian will be met with a decisive response,” he reportedly said. “We will not tolerate this, and we will not allow Lebanon to become a new killing field for Israel.”