Israel Palestine Conflict

Who was Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas official assassinated in Beirut?

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An explosion in Beirut on Tuesday killed Saleh al-Arouri, a top official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and three others, officials with Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah said.

Al-Arouri was killed in an Israeli drone strike on Beirut’s southern suburbs of Dahiyeh on Tuesday evening.

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Israel has not officially commented on the incident, but an Israeli lawmaker and former ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, congratulated the Israeli military and security agencies for “killing senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut.”

“Anyone who was involved in the [October 7] massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them,” he wrote in a post in Hebrew on the social media platform X.

Who was al-Arouri?

Al-Arouri served as a senior official in Hamas’ politburo and played a key role in the group’s military activities. A founding member of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, al-Arouri was born in 1966 in the West Bank town of Aroura.

He became a member of Hamas’ politburo in 2010 and assumed the position of deputy chairman in October 2017. Despite being based in Lebanon, al-Arouri was considered Hamas’ leader in the West Bank.

In this photo released by the Hamas Media Office, Ismail Haniyeh, right, the head of the Hamas political bureau, shakes hands with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri upon his arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, in Gaza City, August 2, 2018. (AP)
In this photo released by the Hamas Media Office, Ismail Haniyeh, right, the head of the Hamas political bureau, shakes hands with his deputy Saleh al-Arouri upon his arrival in Gaza from Cairo, Egypt, in Gaza City, August 2, 2018. (AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to kill al-Arouri even before the Israel-Hamas war began on October 7. The US had a $5 million bounty on al-Arouri and designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2015.

Al-Arouri led Hamas’ delegation during reconciliation talks with the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He also facilitated the negotiations for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, securing the freedom of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, including Hamas’ Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar.

In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, right, meets with the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, center, and his deputy Saleh al-Arouri in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2023. (AP)
In this photo released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, right, meets with the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, center, and his deputy Saleh al-Arouri in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2023. (AP)

In 2017, al-Arouri headed a Hamas delegation to Iran, meeting with Ali Shamkhani, Iran’s top security official at the time. The same year, al-Arouri publicly met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, marking the restoration of relations between the Palestinian group and Iran and Hezbollah, following disagreements over the Syrian civil war.

Having been a member of Hamas since 1987, al-Arouri led the Islamic student movement and played a key role in establishing Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank. He faced repeated detentions by Israel, including extended periods between 1985-1992 and 1992-2007.

In 2010, Israel deported him to Syria, where he resided for three years before moving to Turkey. From there, he eventually relocated to Lebanon.

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