UN experts condemn killing of Hamas figure al-Arouri in Lebanon

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UN experts in international law on Tuesday condemned the killing of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri and other fighters in drone strikes on Lebanon, saying this amounted to the crimes of extrajudicial killings and murder.

Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it assassinated Arouri but his demise came a month after Israel’s domestic security agency Shin Bet vowed to hunt down Hamas in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar even if took years, following Hamas’s cross-border rampage from Gaza into Israel on Oct. 7.

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“Killings in foreign territory are arbitrary when they are not authorized under international law,” the two UN Special Rapporteurs, Ben Saul and Morris Tidball-Binz, said in a statement issued in Geneva.

“Israel was not exercising self-defense because it presented no evidence that the victims were committing an armed attack on Israel from Lebanese territory.”

Arouri was killed last week by a drone in Beirut’s southern suburbs, the stronghold of Hamas’ Iranian-backed Lebanese ally Hezbollah, in an attack widely attributed to Israel.

The UN Special Rapporteurs also said there was “no legal basis for geographically unlimited attacks against members of an armed group wherever they are.”

Hezbollah has been firing guided rockets and other weapons across Lebanon’s southern border at Israeli positions since Israel went to war with Hamas in Gaza three months ago, and Israel has launched air and artillery strikes in Lebanon.

Israeli forces also killed Wissam Tawil, a top Hezbollah commander, in a strike in south Lebanon on Monday, sources familiar with the heavily armed Shia militant group’s operations said.

Hezbollah retaliated on Tuesday, hitting Israeli army headquarters in Safed, northern Israel, with drones.

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