Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas’ political leader in the West Bank and a founder of its military wing, was killed in an explosion outside Beirut in Lebanon Tuesday alongside two senior commanders, an assassination reportedly carried out by Israel. The attack marks the first such killing of a Hamas leader outside the Palestinian territories since the start of the war.
The attack comes as Israel has begun reducing troop levels in the Gaza Strip, where it has battled Hamas’ military wing—aligned with, but distinct from, its Qatar-based political counterpart (see explainer)—since the militant group launched a surprise attack in southern Israel Oct. 7. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently indicated Israel would target Hamas leaders located around the region.
Israel Defense Forces also claimed to have captured Hamas’ headquarters in Gaza City yesterday. An estimated 80% of the northern city’s structures have been damaged since the start of the war, while over 22,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry. See war updates here (w/maps).