Beirut, Jan 2 (EFE).- A deputy leader of Hamas was killed in an explosion in Beirut on Tuesday, the Palestinian Islamist group said.
Lebanese state media NNA said Saleh al Arouri was among at least six people who were killed in the blast, which was caused by an Israeli drone strike targeting an office being used by Hamas on the outskirts of the Lebanese capital.
In a statement, Hamas blamed “the Zionist occupation,” referring to Israel, for “cowardly” assassinations of Palestinian leaders “inside and outside Palestine”.
“The hostile attack that targeted the Hamas office, where a meeting of Palestinian factions was being held, resulted in the death of senior Hamas official in the West Bank, Saleh al Arouri,” NNA reported, which also confirmed that several people were wounded.
Al Arouri, a member of Hamas’ political bureau and one of the founders of its armed wing, was one of the group’s most prominent leaders in exile.
It was not immediately clear who the other fatalities in the drone strike were.
At least two Israeli shells hit the office in the Msharafieh area in the southern suburbs of Beirut and vehicles parked in front of it this afternoon.
Hezbollah, which has close ties to Hamas, controls most of the neighborhoods south of the capital where the attack took place.
The area is one of the Lebanese Shiite group’s main strongholds in the country. It had not been attacked since the war against Israel in the summer of 2006.
Since Oct. 8, the day after the conflict began between Israel and Hamas, Hezbollah has also been engaged in intense crossfire with Israeli forces on its side of the border, although so far the violence has been limited to a radius of 50 kilometers from the dividing line.
The border flare-up, the worst in 17 years, has raised fears that Lebanon could turn into a second front in the Gaza conflict. EFE