Hamas leader killed in Lebanon

Henry

The Israeli army says it is “highly prepared for any possible situation” that may arise after Hamas’s deputy chief executive, Saleh al-Aruri, was killed in an airstrike in Lebanon.

This raises fears that the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will spread to other regions.

The conflict in the area has raged since October 7 after Hamas fighters attacked Israel, killing around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, and taking hundreds hostage. More than 21,000 people have died since then, while nearly 1.9 million Gazans have had to flee their homes.

A high-ranking security official in Lebanon confirmed that Al-Aruri was killed along with his bodyguards when Israel carried out an airstrike. Although the Israeli army did not comment directly on Al-Aruri’s death, Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the army, did say that the army was “on high alert at all levels”.

Although other Hamas high-ups have also been killed in the war, Al-Aruri is the leader with the highest profile to have been killed so far.

Hamas said that Al-Aruri’s death would do little to undermine this group, while its ally in Lebanon, Hezbollah, promised that Al-Aruri’s death would not “go unpunished”. Hezbollah further said that the Hamas leader’s death was considered a “serious attack on Lebanon” and labeled it a “dangerous turn”.

Lebanon’s prime minister, Najib Mikati, condemned the incident, saying it was aimed at drawing Lebanon further into the war.

Israel accused Al-Aruri, who lived in exile, of planning several attacks.

Earlier, Israel also warned that the war would last for several more months as the army intensified attacks in the Gaza Strip.

Concerns about a worsening humanitarian crisis in the besieged area have strengthened calls for an end to the hostilities. Most of Gaza’s nearly 2.4 million inhabitants have been reeling under shortages of water, food, medicine and fuel since the siege.