According to experts, Iran, which has supplied and funded Hamas, and other Hamas leaders will take note of the death of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in a purported drone strike in Beirut.
Al-Arouri was a crucial player who had assisted in mending Hamas’ ties with Iran and was targeted by Israel even before the current conflict started. He was the commander of Hamas’ military branch in the West Bank and the deputy head of the organization’s political council. He and six other members of the group perished on Tuesday as a result of a drone strike that struck his residence in a southern Beirut suburb.
Levitt served as the State Department’s counterterrorism adviser in addition to serving as the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis from 2005 to 2007.
The militant group Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon, Hamas, and Lebanese officials all claimed responsibility for the attack on Israel. Officials from Israel declined to comment. Israel has a track record of tracking down its adversaries, including the leaders of Hamas. Along with other Hamas leaders, Netanyahu had hinted in August that al-Arouri was a possible target, claiming that the leader “knows very well why he and his friends are in hiding.”
In an interview with a Lebanese media outlet the day before, al-Arouri had issued a warning that the actions of the Israeli government will result in a “multifront” confrontation.
“Those who want to carry out targeted killings are aware that a multifront conflict is imminent. Israel would suffer a great defeat when we get there, Al-Arouri stated to the Lebanese news outlet Al Mayadeen.
Al-Arouri was identified by the Justice Department in a 2003 federal racketeering case as a top Hamas figure with access to tens of thousands of cash for terrorist activities, although he was not charged as a co-conspirator.
Israeli officials held him multiple times, most notably in 2007. However, in 2011, he was let free together with over a thousand Palestinian captives in return for an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Hamas in 2006.
Through its Rewards for Justice program, the State Department offered a $5 million bounty in 2018 for information pertaining to al-Arouri. The Quds Force chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani, was allegedly his collaborator, according to the State Department at the time. In January 2020, Soleimani lost his life in an American drone attack in Iraq.
According to the State Department, Al-Arouri also declared in 2014 that Hamas had taken credit for an operation that resulted in the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens, among them Naftali Fraenkel, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel.