Saleh al-Arouri, killed in Beirut

Saleh Al-Arouri. Wikipedia, (Sayyed Mahmoud Hosseini)

Saleh al-Arouri, an arch-terorist and deputy of Ismail Haniya, Ramallah-born who had moved to Lebanon and was responsible for Hamas activity in YOSH, was killed this evening at his office, in the heart of Beirut. The details of the assassination have not yet been fully clarified, and it appears that it was carried out by a remote-controlled drone, shooting device or suicide device; it is also unclear who was behind the operation, although it is quite certain that it is, indeed, Israel (although Al-Arouri was wanted for tens of millions of dollars in US listings as well).

Al-Arouri has been clear Israeli target for elimination for a while, when only last August there was an exchange of media threats between him and the prime minister: “He and his friends know very well why they are always in hiding,” Netanyahu said. Al-Arouri was responsible for the planning of dozens of terror attacks and death of many Israelis, from the three kidnapped boys in 2014 to the serious attacks carried out by Hamas throughout YOSH during the past year.

This elimination is undoubtedly the most important and significant of Israel since the beginning of the war, and may have been carried out in order to remove Hamas from its staunch stands in relation to the release of Hostages (Al-Arouri was one of the most aggressive opponents). It is impossible to assume that Hamas forces in the Gaza Strip have a way of responding to the assassination (beyond their current actions), but the IDF is preparing for tension and attempts to attack in YOSH. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, has already announced a major strike that will take place tomorrow (when strikes in the PA tend to develop into street fights, at least).

But the most significant consequence could be a stronger escalation in the north. Hezbollah has always threatened Israel not to carry out operations on Lebanese soil, and a month ago, Nasrallah explicitly threatened that the assassination of Al-Arouri in Lebanon would result in a harsh response. Now, it is difficult to see Hezbollah not keeping its word, and we can only expect more significant activity in the north, or elsewhere in the country. Again, this increases the chances of a Hezbollah miscalculation, which may lead to an all-out war in the north. But that is a problem for another day; today, we say ‘good riddance’.

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