JERUSALEM, Israel – A drone strike Tuesday night in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh Arouri and five other people.
The Lebanese state-run National News Agency blamed the explosion on Israel. Israeli officials declined to comment on what was described in Israel’s media as the most dramatic assassination in years.
Arouri was one of the founders of the Hamas military wing, the Izzadin-al-Qassam Brigades and was a top official in the entire Hamas organization. He had been operating out of Lebanon as a guest of Hezbollah since the war in Gaza began.
His death came on day 88 of the Israel-Hamas war.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, the Israel Defense Forces chief spokesman, didn’t mention the assassination but made it clear Israel’s battle is against Hamas.
“The IDF is in a very high rate of readiness in all arenas, in defense and in offense,” Hagarii stated Tuesday. “We are highly prepared for any scenario. The most important thing to say tonight is that we are focused and remain focused on fighting Hamas.”
‘Potential Flashpoint’ in Israel’s War with Hamas
Palestinians took to the streets in the West Bank city of Ramallah, protesting Arouri’s death and calling on Hezbollah to take action.
In a statement, former Israeli intelligence officer and analyst Avi Melamed wrote, “the attack does present a moment of shame for Hezbollah and a potential flashpoint in the war between Israel and Hamas.”
Hezbollah is known to have a far more extensive tunnel network than Hamas and has more missiles that can hit all of Israel.
On a visit to troops in Gaza, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant indicated that without a clear victory, Israel will not be able to live in the Middle East.
“We must emerge victorious for two reasons: first in order to exact a price (from the terrorists), and to ensure that anyone living near the Gaza Strip may do so safely. In addition, a scenario in which 1,500 people are killed or taken hostage must end with clear-cut deterrence and victory, otherwise we cannot live in the Middle East. As such, we are determined to achieve our goals,” Gallant declared.
Meanwhile, another senior Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is praising South Africa for filing a complaint against Israel with the International Court of Justice.
“I applaud all the positions of support and especially here in the state of South Africa, which filed a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the occupying state for its crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, and genocide, and we appreciate the political and legal importance of this lawsuit,” Haniyeh said.
South Africa charged that Israel is violating the 1948 United Nations Convention against Genocide. Israel will contest the charges at a hearing scheduled for next week.
Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy responded, “While the Hamas rapist-regime does everything to maximize civilian casualties with its despicable human shield strategy, Israel is employing strategies unprecedented in the history of warfare to minimize civilian casualties.”
Levy insists South Africa is taking the wrong side by supporting the Nazi-like massacre carried out by Hamas.
“The State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice at the Hague to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel,” Levy said.
In an interview with CBN News, Iranian opposition activist Vahid Beheshti wondered what South Africa is using as a definition for genocide and what they would do if Hamas operatives were attacking them.
“I invite these governments and these groups to put their foot in the shoes of Israel,” he said. “What is going to be their reaction to this terrorist organization that is surrounding the country and they’re using children, women as a human shield? Their tunnels, their bases, their military bases are under kindergartens, under hospitals, under schools. How can you react to their terrorist activities?”
As the legal debate rages, Israel continues to fight in Gaza and along its northern border while pursuing all avenues to gain the return of its hostages.
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