Israel Palestine Conflict

Israeli drone strike in Lebanon’s Beirut kills Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri

US officials say Israel did not inform them ahead of operation to take out Hamas official

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An Israeli drone strike killed Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy leader of the group’s political bureau, in the Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut’s southern suburbs on Tuesday night.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said an Israeli strike killed at least seven people and wounded 11 others in the strike against an office used by Hamas. The NNA said that three bomb-laden drones hit an apartment where Arouri was holding a meeting with other officials.

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No one has claimed responsibility for the explosion. But an Israeli lawmaker and its former ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, congratulated the Mossad, Shin Bet and Israeli army for the operation. “Anyone who was involved in the 7/10 massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them,” he said in a post in Hebrew on X.

Hamas later confirmed that two officials from al-Qassam Brigades who were with al-Arouri were also killed.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the “new Israeli crime” that he said aimed to bring Beirut into a new phase of confrontation. “It has become clear to everyone near and far that the decision to go to war is in the hands of Israel, and what is needed is to deter this and stop [Israel’s] aggression,” he said in a post on X.

Lebanon also said it would file a complaint over the attack to the United Nations.

Hezbollah and Israel have been engaged in cross-border exchanges since October. Tuesday’s strike was the deepest Israeli attack on Lebanese soil since the recent round of fighting erupted.

Al-Arouri met with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel to discuss the next steps Iran-backed militants should take at this “sensitive stage.”

Nasrallah was previously scheduled to speak on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the killing of the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces.

In a previous televised appearance, Nasrallah warned that the targeting of any Lebanese or foreigners inside Lebanon would draw a “strong reaction” and that it would not be tolerated.

The top US diplomat was due in Tel Aviv this week as part of a multi-nation tour across the Middle East. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s trip would be changed after the latest events. US officials said Israel did not inform the United States ahead of its operation to take out the Hamas official.

The US had a $5 million bounty on Saleh al-Arouri and designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2015.

Washington has been exerting significant diplomatic efforts to prevent the fighting in Gaza from spreading to the region, specifically into Lebanon.

Read more: Biden orders task force as US fears grow over potential Lebanon-Israel war

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