New Delhi, Jan. 2: The targeted assassination of Saleh al Arouri, senior Hamas official and deputy chairman of the political bureau marks one of the major high-profile assassinations in years in the conflict, since the assassination of its founder Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al Rantisi in 2004.
Al Arouri was one of the founder members of the Al Qassam Brigades. The assassination took place in one of the Hezbollah heartland neighborhoods, along with other Hamas commanders whose names are not yet confirmed. Al Arouri has spent time in Türkiye before being in Lebanon. Israel has repeatedly threatened to target and assassinate high-profile Hamas leaders and has done so in the past.
Concerns have begun to arise whether this killing will change the face of the conflict along with its borders with Lebanon, with Sayyid Nasrallah having clearly warned about any direct targeting within Lebanon’s borders. Domestically, this comes a day after major setback for Netanyahu as the Israeli Supreme Court struck down his judicial law. By a decision of eight votes to seven, the court decided that the government’s modification to the so-called reasonableness law should be rejected. The bill was the first significant component of an effort to undermine the Israeli judiciary, was approved by the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, last year.
While Hezbollah has shown tendencies towards protracted de-escalation in the current onslaught, the assassination of a Hamas leader on Lebanese soil is a direct provocation that could protract the violence or lead to an all-out regional war. The Lebanese prime minister has also condemned the attack as a new Israel crime. Hamas also confirmed the killing via the affiliated Al-Aqsa radio as per Reuters. Hamas politburo member Izzat al-Sharq said it was a “cowardly assassination.”