Israel has acted on its warnings to target the leaders of Hamas in foreign territories and appears to be targeting those of Hezbollah, too.
One such Hamas leader, Saleh Mohammed Suleiman Khaseeb (known as Al-Arouri after his birthplace of Aroura near Ramallah), was killed following an attack on a Hamas bureau in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
The strike was executed with guided missiles launched from a warplane, not a drone, as verified by a security source.
Al-Arouri was Hamas’s deputy chief, the founder of its military wing, and its leader in the West Bank, where the Al-Qassam Brigades are active.
After spending over a decade in Israeli prisons, he was expelled from Palestinian territories by Israel’s Supreme Court. He moved to Syria, then to Turkey and Qatar, before ultimately settling in the Lebanese capital.
In 2017, after being elected as the deputy leader of Hamas, Al-Arouri visited Tehran and met Hezbollah’s Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah. This meeting was seen as evidence of his strong connections with Iran.
Will Al-Arouri be answered?
Hours after his assassination last week, Nasrallah called it “a grave crime” that “will not go unanswered or unpunished”.
Simultaneously, he said: “Currently, our calculations are based on Lebanese interests.
However, should a war be waged on Lebanon, the imperatives of Lebanese national interests mandate us to pursue this war to its conclusion.”
This latter comment suggests that he did not see Al-Arouri’s death as a casus belli, or cause of war, despite the Israeli strike breaching rules of engagement in a Hezbollah stronghold.
More precisely, it was not a declaration of war on Lebanon.