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Has Israel greenlighted the killing of senior Hamas leaders?

July 12, 2023 at 7:30 am

Palestinian Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh shakes hands with Hamas Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri, in Gaza City. [Hamas Chief Media Office/ApaImages]

Early this week, Israeli media reported that an anti-tank missile was launched from Lebanon at an Israeli military target. It also reported Israeli officials claiming that senior Hamas leader Saleh Al-Arouri had ordered the launch of the missile.

Israeli TV Channel 14 has recently reported security officials claiming that the barrage of rockets launched from Lebanon towards Israel during the Passover holiday was ordered by Al Arouri, who is likely hosted by Hezbollah. The security officials said, according to Channel 14, he deserved to be assassinated.

According to the same TV channel, senior Israeli security officials said that Al-Arouri and Samir Afandi, another senior Hamas official in Lebanon, “were sentenced to death but the time when they are being executed has yet to be confirmed.”

Do these remarks mean that Israel is planning to harm Al-Arouri? Yes! I believe that the Israeli security establishment along with the media machine have been pushing Al-Arouri’s name into the headlines and linking much of the alleged harm to Israel to him in order to turn him into a monster who must be eliminated. This plot paves the way for engaging the Israeli public to call for Al-Arouri to be targeted so the security forces can be crowned heroes when they accomplish the national mission.

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In laying blame at Al-Arouri, Israel is also sowing sedition between the Palestinian resistance faction Hamas on the one hand and Lebanon and Hezbollah on the other. It is saying that Al-Arouri is working without coordinating with the authorities in Lebanon.

The Beirut Observer reported early this week that the Lebanese government was concerned about the movement of some Hamas operatives in Lebanon without permission. The Lebanese newspaper reported a security source saying that the government sent names of Hamas operatives to Hezbollah in order to deal with the issue.

The newspaper reported the security source saying that Hamas members in Lebanon had formed a military cell aimed at launching attacks against Israel from Lebanon. This report forms part of the anti-Hamas propaganda that aims to mobilise anti-Hamas sentiment in the country.

Baruch Yedid, right-wing commentator on Israeli TV, said: “In Israel, they understand that Al Arouri is the most important factor in the establishment of Hamas in southern Lebanon.” He told me that there have been calls inside Israel to “harm” Al-Arouri for a long time.

He also claimed that “even in Lebanon, there is an understanding that he endangers the safety of the country.”

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Yedid said it was impossible that Israel had greenlighted his assassination, but said: “I do not rule out the possibility that he will be eliminated soon.”

Al Arouri spent a total of more than 17 years in Israeli jails, mostly under administrative detention – without charge or trial. He was deported by the Israeli occupation to Syria in 2010. Then, in 2012, he fled with the Hamas leadership to Qatar. He then moved to Turkiye and since 2015 he has been moving between Turkiye and Lebanon.

Israel has long accused him of fueling the Palestinian resistance against the occupation in the West Bank, and the ongoing escalation in attacks against the Israeli military and illegal settler targets across the occupied territories is only fueling their desire to silence him.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.