Senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri has reportedly been killed in an Israeli drone strike in southern Beirut, Lebanon, according to Hamas. Israel has not officially claimed responsibility. Hezbollah has stated that the attack in Lebanon’s capital, which resulted in the death of at least six people, “will not pass without punishment.”
The assassination of Al-Arouri is complicating US efforts to contain the conflict in the region. Since the early stages of the Gaza war, the Biden administration has prioritized preventing an escalation of the conflict as a key foreign policy objective. However, the killing of Al-Arouri in Beirut adds complexity to these efforts, according to Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. Slim suggests that the US is attempting to distance itself from the Israeli action, as it recognizes the potential complications this assassination could introduce to its mediation endeavors between Israel and Lebanon.
The killing in Beirut’s Dahiyeh is a source of concern for Hezbollah, according to Randa Slim, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute. While Israel’s assassination campaign against Hamas leaders is not unexpected, the location of the killing, in an area traditionally considered part of Hezbollah’s security perimeter, raises particular worries for the Lebanese group. Slim suggests that Hezbollah views this assassination as a qualitatively different form of escalation by Tel Aviv, prompting them to consider a response that avoids being drawn into a prolonged regional conflict at Israel’s discretion.
A recap of the latest developments
It’s just after 2am (00:00 GMT) on Wednesday, January 3, in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.
Here’s a recap of recent developments:
- Israel is yet to officially claim responsibility for a drone attack that killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri and five others in Beirut, Lebanon.
- “We need to avoid conflict between Israel and Lebanon,” Nicolas de Riviere, the French UN envoy and current president of the UN Security Council, has told Al Jazeera.
- “Today’s bombings are unconscionable,” says WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreyesus after an Israeli attack on the Red Crescent-run al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, which killed at least five people.
- Israel is not “another star on the American flag”, said Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir after the US State Department issued a statement rejecting his calls for resettling Palestinians outside Gaza.