Israel killed Deputy Hamas chief Saleh al-Arouri in the suburbs of Beirut in a drone attack on Tuesday evening, according to media reports that were not confirmed by the Israeli government.
Arouri was deputy head of Hamas’s politburo and a founder of its military wing, the Qassam Brigades, which carried out a deadly assault in Israeli territory on Oct. 7.
He had spent time recently in both Lebanon and Qatar, which has mediated talks between Hamas and Israel including on hostages Hamas took in its Oct. 7 assault. The U.S., which brands Hamas a terrorist group, had last year offered $5 million for information on Arouri.
Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa radio confirmed Arouri’s killing. Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Sharq called it a “cowardly assassination.”
There were other casualties, apparently, but they were not identified. The drone may have targeted a meeting of terrorist officials.
Iran condemned the attack, as did the Lebanese government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Palestinians in the West Bank apparently also protested.
Israeli officials have said repeatedly in recent weeks that every single Hamas leader, and every member of the organization involved in the October 7 terror attack against Israel, was marked for death.
The only exception, reportedly, are those Hamas officials currently in Doha, the capital of Qatar, which is currently trying to mediate talks between Hamas and Israel on further trades of Israeli hostages for Palestinian terror convicts.
The Wall Street Journal reported in October that Beirut was a key site for meetings between Iranian officials and Hamas officials, including meetings on the October 7 terror attack, though it has not been confirmed that Iran approved that attack.