Israel kills Hamas number 2, the ‘mastermind’ of the October 7 attack

A raid on Beirut results in the death of al-Arouri. He is the highest-ranking Hamas leader targeted by Israel since the start of the military operation in the Gaza Strip. The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on him

Israel kills Saleh al-Arouri, one of the Hamas big names believed to be the creator of the attack launched on 7 October. Number two in the political office of Hamas since 2017, among the founders of the Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades – the armed wing of Hamas – and member of the politburo of the Palestinian organization since 2010, Saleh al-Arouri was considered the ‘mastermind’ of the massacre carried out by terrorists.

Born in Aroura, in the West Bank, in 1966, he is the highest-ranking Hamas leader targeted by the Jewish State since the start of the military operation in the Gaza Strip. His face appeared next to that of leader Ismail Haniyeh in the video in which the leadership of the Palestinian movement celebrated the news of the attack in Israel in front of the TV.

As confirmed by Hamas, al-Arouri was killed along with at least two other commanders of the al-Qassam Brigades in the explosion that occurred in the southern outskirts of Beirut and attributed by local media to an Israeli drone. The United States had placed a reward of five million dollars on the head of the man, who was also considered the link between Hamas and Iran and Hezbollah.

Who was al-Arouri

Al-Arouri was one of the top leaders of the Islamist group in which he had been active since 1987, when he was then a student of Islamic law at the University of Hebron and led the student movement of the Palestinian formation. He was arrested several times by Israel, also for long periods, in particular from 1985 to 1992 and then from 1992 to 2007. In the following years he moved to Damascus, where he joined the political office of Hamas led by Khaled Meshaal. When the latter left the Syrian capital at the start of the civil war, al-Arouri moved to Istanbul, Turkey, where he remained until the end of 2015. From there he headed to Lebanon.

According to Ynet, al-Arouri’s departure from Turkey was due to the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel following the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ crisis. It is believed that al-Arouri directed Hamas activities in the West Bank from Lebanon.

Ismail Haniyeh’s deputy led the Hamas delegation in reconciliation talks with Fatah and helped negotiate the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011 in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons (including Yahya Sinwar and Rawhi Mushtaha). According to Jewish State intelligence, in addition to having played a role in numerous attacks, it was his plan to kidnap and kill the three Israeli teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Fraenkel in June 2014.

In October 2017, al-Arouri headed the Hamas delegation that met Ali Shamkhani, then secretary of the National Security Council of the Islamic Republic, in Iran. Two months later, in November, he had a conversation with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Both meetings marked the resumption of Hamas relations with Iran and Hezbollah, following the involvement of the latter two actors in the Syrian war in support of the Assad regime.

On the morning of October 31st, Israeli security forces demolished his home north of Ramallah, even though the Palestinian leader had not lived there for 15 years. A few days earlier, in the Lebanese capital he had met Nasrallah and the leader of Islamic Jihad, Ziyad al-Nakhalah.

Since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, al-Arouri had continued to be interviewed by the media, particularly by Hezbollah’s broadcaster, Al-Manar, and Al-Jazeera. On several occasions he highlighted Hamas’ determination to wage a protracted war against Israel, highlighting the continued coordination between Hamas, Hezbollah and other “resistance” organizations.