An explosion in Beirut on Tuesday resulted in the death of Saleh Arouri, a senior member of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, along with three others, according to officials from Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Cause of the Blast
Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported that the explosion was caused by an Israeli drone, killing four people. However, Israeli officials have declined to comment on the incident.
If Israel is indeed responsible for the attack, it could potentially mark a significant escalation in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. In response to any Israeli targeting of Palestinian officials in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has vowed to retaliate.
Confirmation of Arouri’s Death
Hamas official Bassem Naim has confirmed Arouri’s death in the blast. A Hezbollah official, who spoke anonymously in accordance with regulations, also confirmed the death of Arouri.
Profile of Saleh Arouri
Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’s military wing, had been leading the group’s operations in the West Bank. Even before the Hamas-Israel war began on October 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had issued threats against him.
Impact of the Explosion
The blast shook Musharafieh, one of the strongholds of the militant Hezbollah group in southern suburbs of Beirut. It caused a fire in Hadi Nasrallah street to the south of the capital.
The explosion occurred amidst more than two months of intense exchanges of fire between Israeli troops and Hezbollah members along Lebanon’s southern border. While most of the fighting has taken place a few kilometers from the border, Israel’s air force has targeted Hezbollah installations deeper into Lebanon on multiple occasions.
Retaliatory Attacks by Hezbollah
Earlier on the same day as the explosion, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a series of attacks on Israeli military posts along the Lebanon-Israel border.