Hamas Deputy Leader Saleh Al-Arouri has been killed in a drone strike that hit the group’s office in Southern Beirut, according to reports.
Israel has continued its attack on Gaza since 7 October 2023 when Hamas militants attacked Israel, causing about 1,200 deaths. Over 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the Israeli invasion.
According to Lebanon’s state media on Tuesday, January 2, the Hamas office was the target of the drone attack in southern Beirut.
Mr Al-Arouri and at least three others were killed in the attack.
The 57-year-old leader had served several terms in Israeli jails and was released in March 2010 as part of efforts to reach a larger prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit, an Israel Defense Force (IDF) corporal kidnapped by Hamas in 2006.
Al-Arouri was later involved in negotiating the deal that led to the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in return for the freeing of Shalit in 2011.
He later relocated to Istanbul but was forced to move when Israel patched up ties with Turkey.
Before he was killed, Arouri was also one of the Hamas officials most closely connected to Iran and the Hezbollah group in Lebanon.
In recent weeks, he acted as a spokesperson for Hamas and its strategy in the war in Gaza.
He told Al Jazeera in December that Hamas would not discuss a prisoner exchange deal with Israel unless Israel ended the attack on Gaza.
”The resistance is ready for all the military scenarios,” he told Al Jazeera. “There is no fear or worry for the resistance. It will win.”
The US government designated him as a “global terrorist” in 2015 and put out a five million dollar reward for information on him.
Israel’s former envoy to the UN, Danny Danon, in an X post celebrating the death of the Hamas deputy leader said;
“I congratulate the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Mossad and the security forces for killing senior Hamas official Salah al-Aaruri in Beirut. Anyone who was involved in the 7/10 massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them.”