BEIRUT: Senior Hamas official Saleh Al-Arouri was among at least six people killed on Tuesday night in a suspected Israeli drone strike in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh.

Arouri, 57, was a member of the militant group’s politburo and one of the founders of its military wing, the Qassam Brigades. Last year the US offered a $5 million reward for information about him.
A Lebanese security source told Arab News the drone strike had targeted a three-storey building in the Haret Hreik neighborhood that had Hamas offices on the second and third floors. “There is no building built above it, so it was easy to target from the air,” the source said.

Leaders of Hamas’ armed wing Al-Qassam Brigades, Samir Findi Abu Amer and Azzam Al-Aqraa Abu Ammar, were also killed in the Israeli strike, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV channel said on Telegram.

Saleh Al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader, was killed after an Israeli drone struck a Hamas office in Beirut’s southern suburbs. (AFP)

A security cordon was set up around the scene of the attack, while ambulances rushed to transport the injured to hospital.

After the blast firefighters and paramedics gathered around the building, which had a gaping hole in the third floor. Limbs and other pieces of flesh were visible on the roadside.

After the attack, Israel’s army said its forces were “in a high state of readiness for any scenario.”

“The IDF is at a very high level of readiness, in all arenas, in defense and offense. We are in a high state of readiness for any scenario,” Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a press conference.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that we are focused and remain focused on fighting Hamas,” Hagari said.

A US defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations, said the Israel Defense Forces was responsible for the strike targeting Al-Arouri and that an assessment of whether he had been killed was ongoing, the Washington Post reported.

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack as a “new Israeli crime” and said it was an attempt to pull Lebanon into the Gaza war.
The Israeli military refused to comment, but Mark Regev, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “Whoever did it, it must be clear: this was not an attack on the Lebanese state. Whoever did this carried out a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership.” 1704211341205
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Dahiyeh, where the attack took place, is a Hezbollah stronghold. Palestinian political analyst Hisham Debsi said Arouri had been “living in Lebanon for some time under the protection of Hezbollah, and launched joint operations against Israel from Beirut.”

His death was “a challenge to Hezbollah and puts the party in a dilemma,” Debsi said. “The party’s security has been violated, despite all the measures taken, it is no longer an impregnable fortress and Israel can attack whoever it wants.”