Killing of Hamas deputy chief in Beirut raises danger of Gaza battle spreading By Reuters


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© Reuters. Water is sprayed on a broken constructing on the web site of an explosion, in what safety sources say is an Israeli drone strike, within the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon January 2, 2024. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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By Laila Bassam, Nidal al-Mughrabi and Arafat Barbakh

BEIRUT/CAIRO/GAZA (Reuters) -Israel killed Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday, Lebanese and Palestinian safety sources stated, elevating the potential danger of the battle in Gaza spreading effectively past the Palestinian enclave.

Arouri, 57, was the primary senior Hamas political chief to be assassinated since Israel launched a shattering air and floor offensive towards the group nearly three months in the past after its shock assault and rampage into Israeli cities.

Lebanon’s closely armed Hezbollah group, a Hamas ally, has been exchanging near-daily fireplace with Israel throughout Lebanon’s southern border for the reason that battle in Gaza started in October.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has warned Israel towards finishing up any assassinations on Lebanese soil, vowing a “extreme response.”

Hezbollah stated on Tuesday it had focused a gaggle of Israeli troopers within the neighborhood of Marj with missiles, following Arouri’s killing.

Israel has lengthy accused Arouri of deadly assaults on its residents, however a Hamas official stated he was additionally “on the coronary heart of negotiations” performed by Qatar and Egypt over the result of the Gaza battle and the discharge of Hamas-held Israeli hostages.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied finishing up the killing, however its navy spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stated Israeli forces had been in a excessive state of readiness and ready for any state of affairs.

“Crucial factor to say tonight is that we’re targeted and stay targeted on preventing Hamas,” he stated when requested by a reporter in regards to the studies of Arouri’s killing.

‘WAITING FOR MARTYRDOM’

Israel had accused Arouri, a co-founder of the Hamas’ navy wing, the Izz-el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, of ordering and supervising Hamas assaults within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution for years.

“I’m ready for martyrdom (dying) and I feel I’ve lived too lengthy,” Arouri stated in August 2023, alluding to Israeli threats to remove Hamas leaders whether or not in Gaza or overseas.

Nasser Kanaani, spokesperson for the international ministry of Iran, a significant supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, stated Arouri’s killing would “undoubtedly ignite one other surge within the veins of resistance and the motivation to struggle towards the Zionist occupiers, not solely in Palestine but in addition within the area and amongst all freedom-seekers worldwide.”

Tons of of Palestinians took to the streets of Ramallah and different cities within the West Financial institution to sentence Arouri’s killing, chanting, “Revenge, revenge, Qassam!”

Iranian-backed Houthis rebels in Yeman have vowed to proceed their assaults on transport within the Rea Sea till Israel halts the battle in Gaza, and warned that it could assault U.S. warships if the militia group itself was focused.

Houthi militants fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles into the southern Purple Sea, although no injury was reported, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) stated late on Tuesday.

Britain’s United Kingdom Maritime Commerce OperationsAuthority reported as much as three explosions close to a service provider vessel within the Bab al-Mandab Strait, east of Eritrea’s Assab, with noreports of harm.

The U.S. has introduced a world maritime activity drive to guard transport by way of the Purple Sea, which ends up in the Suez Canal, a transport route which carries roughly one third of world container cargo.

AL SHIFA HOSPITAL

The Gaza battle was triggered by a shock cross-border Hamas assault on Israeli cities on Oct. 7 during which Israel says 1,200 folks had been killed and a few 240 hostages spirited again to Gaza.

The Gaza well being ministry stated 207 folks had been killed up to now 24 hours, bringing the overall recorded Palestinian dying toll to 22,185 in practically three months of battle in Gaza.

Israel says it tries to keep away from hurt to civilians and blames Hamas for embedding fighters amongst them, an accusation Hamas denies.

The Israeli concentrating on of Gaza Metropolis’s Al Shifa hospital final November stoked international alarm over the destiny of civilians and sufferers who had been inside.

Israel stated Hamas used tunnels beneath the hospital as a headquarters and was utilizing its sufferers as shields.

A U.S. official stated on Tuesday, citing declassified U.S. intelligence, that U.S. spy businesses assessed that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had used Al Shifa to command forces and maintain some hostages however largely evacuated it earlier than Israeli troops entered.

Israeli bombardments have engulfed Gaza’s 2.3 million residents in a humanitarian catastrophe during which hundreds have been left destitute and threatened by famine as a result of a scarcity of meals provides.

HAMAS RESPONDS TO CEASEFIRE PROPOSAL

Shortly earlier than Arouri’s killing, Hamas’ paramount chief Ismail Haniyeh, who can be based mostly exterior Gaza, stated the motion had delivered its response to an Egyptian-Qatari ceasefire proposal.

He reiterated that Hamas’ circumstances entailed “an entire cessation” of Israel’s offensive in change for additional releases of hostages.

Israel believes 129 hostages stay in Gaza after some had been launched throughout a quick truce in late November and others had been killed throughout air strikes and rescue or escape makes an attempt.

Israel has vowed to maintain preventing till it has worn out Hamas however it’s unclear what it plans to do with the enclave ought to it succeed, and the place that leaves the prospect of an impartial Palestinian state.

In Washington, the State Division denounced as “inflammatory and irresponsible” statements by Israeli cupboard ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir advocating for the resettlement of Palestinians exterior of Gaza.

Such statements underscore fears amongst some within the Arab world that Israel needs to drive Palestinians out of land the place they envision a future state, repeating the mass dispossession of Palestinians when Israel was created in 1948.

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