As anticipated, the Israeli government carried out the assassination of Saleh Al-Aarori, Hamas’ Second in Command and vice President of its political wing.
The operation was conducted by Israeli drones and the Hamas political office in southern suburb of Beirut. Al-Arouri served as the deputy of Hamas and was instrumental as one of the founders of the Qassam Brigades. Having served 18 years in Israeli Jails, he faced exile from Palestine upon his release.
Observers believe that this attack may mark a crucial turning point in the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the toll stands at over 23000 Palestinians, including children and women, who have lost their lives so far since October 7, 2023.
While Israel has not explicitly claimed responsibility for this attack, both the Prime Minister and Defense Minister have wowed to target and eliminate all Hamas leaders residing abroad. Hezbollah, in response to this attack has asserted that this crime will not go unanswered and unpunished.
Observers believe that with the assassination of Al-Arouri, the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel has taken a dangerous turn. The confrontation has escalated to a more perilous level: a development attributed to Israel’s crossing of redlines in its face off with Hezbollah. Hezbollah Chief Hasan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened that any assassination attempt on one of its leaders or Palestinian resistance leaders inside Lebanon would be met with severe retaliation deep within Israel. This situation is raising concerns about the full scale war between Hezbollah and Israel. But observers point out “that Lebanon’s deteriorating economic condition makes it ill-equipped to handle a full-scale war with Israel. Additionally they said that Iran is not inclined towards initiating a conflict, Israel on its part, is reluctant to open another front, especially given its engagement in Gaza “. The United States, virtual partner with Israel in war on Gaza, also is not in favor of the war extension.
The aftermath of this attack indicates two clear conclusions. First, faced with the failure to achieve its objectives in the Gaza war, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is likely to focus on convincing the Israeli people that he is the only capable leader to protect Israeli and eliminate Hamas. Second, Israel has demonstrated its capability to successfully carry out attacks deep into Lebanon, Syria and neighboring countries. This showcases Israel’s powerful air capabilities, leaving Hezbollah and Iran with no immediate counter to Israel’s strength in this regard.
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( Writer is a prominent Islamic scholar, he has PhD on Palestinian issues )