Amid Mideast Conflict, a New Accusation From Lebanon

Nation says Israel's killing of Hamas leader near Beirut violates its sovereignty
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2024 10:05 AM CST
Lebanon Says Israel Is Violating Its Sovereignty
Investigators are seen Wednesday at a Lebanese apartment building where an apparent Israeli strike on Tuesday killed top Hamas political leader Saleh Arouri, in a southern suburb of Beirut that's a Hezbollah stronghold.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Israel hasn't confirmed it's responsible for a Tuesday drone strike in Lebanon that took out Saleh al-Arouri, the highest-ranking Hamas figure killed since war erupted in October. But Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has condemned the killing of the 57-year-old founding member of Hamas' military wing and six other alleged Hamas members in the Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh as a "new Israeli crime" and violation of Lebanese sovereignty, per CNN and EFE. According to a statement from the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Mikati also ordered his government to file an "urgent" complaint with the United Nations Security Council, accusing Israel of trying to drag Lebanon into a regional war.

The strike, which has fueled concerns of a wider conflict in the region, was "the first attack on the Lebanese capital area since the 2006 war between the Jewish state and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah," Lebanon's largest political and military force, per EFE. Arouri was "in Lebanon acting as a connection between his group and Hezbollah," a Hamas ally that has been fighting Israeli forces near the Israel-Lebanon border, reports the BBC. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously said he instructed the country's Mossad spy agency to strike "the heads of Hamas wherever they are," presumably including the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh, per CNN.

Without confirming or denying that the country was responsible, Israeli government adviser Mark Regev claimed the act was not an attack on Lebanon or Hezbollah, but rather a "surgical strike against the Hamas leadership," per the BBC. Hamas said it was a "terrorist act," while Hezbollah said it was "a serious assault" on Lebanese sovereignty and would "never pass without response and punishment." Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib says his government urged Hezbollah to "not respond themselves." He added neither Lebanon nor Hezbollah "want to be dragged into a regional war" and called on the West to pressure Israel to end its violence, "not only on Lebanon, not only on Beirut, but also in Gaza." (More Lebanon stories.)

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