Israel 'tracked' slain Hamas leader al-Arouri before assassination, Hezbollah warned: report

Israel 'tracked' slain Hamas leader al-Arouri before assassination, Hezbollah warned: report
Saleh al-Arouri, the senior Hamas leader killed by Israel on Tuesday, had his every move 'followed', the Lebanese Hezbollah group said.
2 min read
04 January, 2024
The senior Hamas official was assassinated on Tuesday in Beirut's suburb of Dahieh by an Israeli air attack [Getty/file photo]

Hezbollah said it warned Hamas deputy Saleh al-Arouri that Israel was "closely tracking him" shortly before he was assassinated, according to a report on Thursday.

The Hassan Nasrallah-led Islamist group alerted al-Arouri that Israel was "following his every move" amid the outbreak of the war in Gaza, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.

Al-Arouri was killed on Tuesday after an Israeli drone strike targeted a Hamas office in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh. Many others were injured by the strike, though official figures are yet to be released.

The Hamas senior official, who spent 15 years in Israeli prison, was the deputy chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, and a founding member of its military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades.

Al-Arouri was targeted on his first day in the Hamas office since Israel began its military onslaught on October 7.

Lebanese authorities have not yet determined whether the assassination was carried out by a drone or a fighter jet, the report added.

Radars had "detected the presence of fighter jets and unmanned aerial vehicles over Beirut and the [Dahiyeh] suburb", with the attack managing to penetrate two floors before reaching the room where al-Arouri was killed, Al-Akhbar claimed.

The attack in Beirut was the first of its kind in the Lebanese capital since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

The two parties have engaged in a series of tit-for-tat attacks since 7 October, with most of the skirmishes limited to the Lebanon-Israel border regions and mostly within unofficial rules of engagement.

Israel has so far killed over 150 people on Lebanese soil, including civilians and journalists.

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Arouri’s assassination has triggered feelings of anxiety, anger and tension in the Palestinian territories, as well as a general strike called for by Fatah in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed on Wednesday that al-Arouri’s killing "will not go unpunished", and described the incident as a "major, dangerous crime about which we cannot be silent". He also warned Israel that war with Lebanon would "come at a very high cost".

Al-Arouri is just one of many Hamas leaders assassinated by Israel over the years, although the country rarely claims responsibility for the politically-motivated targeted killings.