‘Ready for any scenario’: Israel dares detractors after scalping Hamas dy chief Saleh al-Aruri even as Lebanon fumes

Saleh al-Aruri was believed to have played a major role in the 7 October attacks; shortly before the attacks, he had met with Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, to discuss strategies

FP Staff January 03, 2024 14:00:06 IST
‘Ready for any scenario’: Israel dares detractors after scalping Hamas dy chief Saleh al-Aruri even as Lebanon fumes

Saleh al-Aruri. Source: Anadolu

Having stopped just short of confirming that it took out Hamas’ second-in-command and the right hand man of Ismail Haniyeh, Saleh al-Aruri, in a “surgical strike” in Beirut along with his bodyguards, the Israel Defense Forces Wednesday said it was “highly prepared for any scenario”.

IDF Spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari posted on X: “The IDF is in a very high state of readiness in all arenas, in defense and offense. We are highly prepared for any scenario. The most important thing to say tonight is that we are focused and remain focused on fighting Hamas.”

In the aftermath of the attack, it has widely been assumed that the Hamas-Israel conflict could spin into a larger confrontation since the high-profile assassination has shocked Lebanon. Beirut has strongly condemned the attack even as the Israeli side has maintained the airstrike was not an attack on Lebanon nor on Hezbollah.

Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati said Israel “aims to draw Lebanon” further into the war.

“Whoever did this has a gripe with Hamas” is what the IDF has maintained so far.

Aruri was killed Tuesday in the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs of Beirut.

The strike targeted an apartment in a building in a Shia district of Beirut that is a Hezbollah stronghold, killing Aruri and six others. Hamas confirmed the death of al-Arouri, with Hamas media outlet Al Aqsa TV reporting that al-Arouri was “martyred in a treacherous Zionist airstrike in Beirut.”

The Palestinian militant group also called the incident a “cowardly assassination” by Israel, adding that attacks on Palestinians “inside and outside Palestine will not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people, or undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance”.

al-Aruri’s rapsheet

He joined Hamas soon after its foundation in the immediate aftermath of the first intifada and helped create Hamas’ military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassem brigades.

In 1992, he was jailed by Israel and spent almost 18 years behind bars.

In 2014, al-Arouri was accused by Israel of planning the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. At the time, al-Arouri had called the act “a heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades”. In the same year, Israel also accused the 57-year-old Hamas leader of planning to overthrow Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

In 2015, the US designated him as a global terrorist, offering up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.

He’s also been believed to have played a major role in the 7 October attacks; shortly before the attacks, he had met with Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, to discuss strategies.

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