Israel-Palestine conflict: Strike in Beirut kills Hamas deputy leader

Lebanese media has said Hamas official Saleh Arouri was among those killed when an Israeli drone hit a Hamas office in Beirut

Beirut blast allegedly targeted a Hamas office in the Lebanese capital (Representative image of a blast) (Photo: National herald archives)
Beirut blast allegedly targeted a Hamas office in the Lebanese capital (Representative image of a blast) (Photo: National herald archives)


Hamas official killed in Beirut strike

The explosion in the Lebanese capital, which state TV attributed to an Israeli drone, reportedly killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri. The reports were collaborated by a TV station belonging to Hezbollah.

Arouri was considered number two in the Hamas hierarchy and was one of the founders of the group's military wing. He had led their organisation in the West Bank.

Israel has not yet commented on the strike, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already threatened to kill him before the conflict broke out in Gaza.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran and are considered terror organisations by Israel, the US and Germany among others.

Counterterrorism expert: Arouri involved in Hamas 'from the beginning'

Hans-Jakob Schindler, senior director at the Counterterrorism Project NGO, spoke to DW about Saleh Arouri, a Hamas deputy leader who was killed in Lebanese capital Beirut.

Schindler said that Arouri was there "right from the beginning," having been radicalized in the 1980s, while studying in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank. He went on to co-found Hamas' military wing, the Qassam Brigades in 1988 and form a "personal relationship" with Yahya Sinwa, who leads Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Arouri was arrested by Israel multiple times and then released in 2010, then moved to Syria. After leaving Syria in 2012, he went to Turkey, then to Qatar in 2015, and then to Lebanon in 2017.

The Hamas official had served as the "quasi Hamas ambassador to Hezbollah and one of the key liaison individuals of Hamas to … Iran" while living in Lebanon, Schindler told DW.

Schindler said the Arouri's death weakens Hamas "to a certain extent," but does not "hamper the organization's ability to fight Israel [in Gaza]."

He said that Israel is the "most likely" actor to have killed Arouri, despite the fact that they did not claim responsibility for the attack. "As in the past… [Israel is] not going to admit to extrajudicial killings outside of the Palestinian territories.

Tedros: 5 reportedly killed in Khan Younis hospital strikes

The Al-Amal hospital in southern Gaza was hit by strikes on Tuesday, 2 January, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The hospital in Khan Younis is run by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS). Tedros said the "unconscionable" strikes killed five civilians and severely damaged a Red Crescent training center.

"The attacks, according to the PRCS, killed at least five civilians, including a 5-day old infant," Tedros said.

"14,000 people were sheltering at the hospital in the besieged southern Gaza city of Khan Younis. Many of them have now left, and those remaining are extremely fearful for their safety and planning to leave a place they had turned to for refuge and protection."

He added: "Hospitals, ambulances, health workers, and people seeking care must be protected, at all times, under international humanitarian law."

The WHO chief once again reiterated calls for an immediate cease-fire "including urgent action to ensure the accelerated and unimpeded flow of food, medical supplies, water and other essential items to millions of civilians forced to live in unspeakable conditions of hunger, disease spread, and lack of hygiene and sanitation."

Turkey detains over 30 people on suspicion of spying for Israel

Turkish authorities conducted raids in Istanbul and seven other provinces, arresting 33 people suspected of spying for Israel, Turkey's Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced.

Those arrested are accused of having had links with Israel's Mossad security service. They were recruited to spy on Palestinians residing in Turkey, as well as Israeli activists opposed to the Israeli government, Turkey's Anadolu News Agency reported. According to the report, the suspects were plotting activities that included "reconnaissance" as well as "pursuing, assaulting and kidnapping" foreigners living in Turkey.

Authorities were still searching for 13 other suspects. The Reuters news agency cited a senior Turkish official as saying the Israeli intelligence used job postings on social media to establish contact. He also said they used encrypted messaging platforms to communicate with their alleged agents.

It was not immediately clear if the suspects were Israeli nationals or Turkish citizens. 

The head of Israel's domestic security agency, Shin Bet, had earlier suggested the organization was prepared to destroy the militant, Islamist group Hamas "in every place," including in Lebanon, Turkey and Qatar. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been outspokenly critical of Israel's bombardment of Gaza, warned of "serious consequences" to such actions.

Hamas, the group behind the bloody October 7 attacks on Israel which killed nearly 1,200, is designated as a terrorist organization in the US, Israel, Germany and the European Union.

Turkey, however, does not consider the group a terrorist organization. Early on in the conflict, Erdogan described it as a "liberation group."

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Published: 03 Jan 2024, 8:56 AM