How Israel’s war with Hamas is spiralling across the Middle East: As terror group’s deputy leader is killed in Beirut drone strike and targets are hit in Syria, fears grow of much wider regional conflict

Published January 3, 2024

Israel‘s assassination of Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon’s capital Beirut on Tuesday has raised fears that the war in Gaza could spread beyond the Palestinian enclave and engulf the Middle East.

Arouri, 57, was the first senior Hamas political leader to be assassinated since Israel launched a brutal air and ground offensive against the group almost three months ago on the heels of the ruthless October 7 attacks on Israeli towns.

Lebanon’s heavily armed Hezbollah group, a powerful Hamas ally, previously vowed to strike back against any Israeli targeting of Palestinian officials in Lebanon, and said of the attack: ‘This crime will never pass without response and punishment.’

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati also condemned the killing, declaring Israel ‘aims to draw Lebanon’ further into the war.

Hezbollah and the Israeli military have been exchanging fire almost daily over the Israeli-Lebanese border since Israel’s military campaign in Gaza began, but so far the Lebanese group has appeared reluctant to dramatically escalate the fighting.

A significant response now could send the conflict spiralling into all-out war on Israel’s northern border.

Meanwhile, Nasser Kanaani, spokesperson for the foreign ministry of Iran – the chief backer of Hamas and Hezbollah – said Arouri’s killing would ‘undoubtedly ignite another surge in the veins of resistance and the motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers.

‘Not only in Palestine but also in the region and among all freedom-seekers worldwide.’



RELATED: Israel ready ‘for any scenario’ after strike kills Hamas deputy in Lebanon

Palestinian Hamas suporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah protested on Jan. 2, 2024, against the Israeli strike in Lebanon that killed Hamas’ deputy leader Saleh Al-Aruri earlier. (AFP)
Published January 3, 2024
  • Israel’s army say soldiers in Gaza killed ‘dozens of terrorists’ in fighting on Tuesday
  • Fears grow of war spreading after Lebanon attacks

Jerusalem: The Israeli army has said it is “prepared for any scenario” after a strike in Beirut that killed Hamas’s deputy chief, stoking fears the war in the Gaza Strip could boil over into wider regional conflict.

A high-level security official in Lebanon told AFP that Saleh Al-Aruri was killed along with his bodyguards in a strike by Israel, which has vowed to destroy Hamas after the movement’s shock October 7 attacks.

A second security official confirmed the information, while Hamas TV also reported Israel had killed Aruri in Lebanon.
Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari did not directly comment on the killing, but said afterwards that the military was in “very high state of readiness in all arenas, in defense and offense. We are highly prepared for any scenario.”

Israel has previously announced the deaths in Gaza of Hamas commanders and officials during the war, but Aruri is the most high-profile figure to be killed, and his death came in the first strike on the Lebanese capital since hostilities began.

The strike adds to widespread fears that the nearly three-month-old Israel-Hamas war could become a wider regional conflagration.
Hamas said Aruri’s death would not lead to its defeat, while its Lebanon-based ally Hezbollah vowed the killing would not go unpunished, calling it “a serious assault on Lebanon… and a dangerous development.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the killing and said it “aims to draw Lebanon” further into the war.



RELATED: Hezbollah vows revenge for a Hamas chief killed in Beirut; IDF ‘at very high readiness’

Haniyeh says Hamas ‘won’t be defeated’ after Saleh Arouri killed in precision strike blamed on Israel; Gaza-ruling terror group decries ‘cowardly assassination by the Zionist enemy’

Smoke rises from a destroyed apartment as civil defense workers search for survivors following a massive explosion in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, Lebanon, that killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Aruori, January 2, 2024. (Bilal Hussein/AP)
Published January 3, 2024

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared the Gaza-ruling terror group would not be deterred after his deputy Saleh al-Arouri was killed Tuesday in an alleged Israeli strike in Beirut, while Lebanon’s Hezbollah vowed the “crime” would not go unpunished and launched several cross-border attacks on northern Israel.

“A movement whose leaders and founders fall as martyrs for the dignity of our people and our nation will never be defeated,” Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in the Qatari capital of Doha, said in a televised address.

Haniyeh, who is considered a top target for Israel after the Hamas-led October 7 atrocities in southern Israel, vowed the targeted killing would increase Hamas’s “strength, toughness, and unyielding determination.”

Arouri, wanted for years by Israel and seen as the group’s prime orchestrator of West Bank terrorism, was killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh, officials with Hamas and the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah said.

Hamas, in a statement eulogizing Arouri and confirming the identities of five other members who were killed with him, called it a “cowardly assassination operation, carried out by the Zionist enemy, in a barbaric aggression and a heinous crime.”





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