Hamas 'more powerful and determined' after top official killed in Beirut blast

Palestinians have called for a day of rage across the occupied West Bank, after the assassination of Saleh Arouri. ITV News Correspondent John Ray reports

A top Hamas official has been killed in a blast in Beirut, Hamas and Hezbollah officials have said.

Saleh Arouri was a founder of Hamas' military wing and had headed up the group's presence in the West Bank.

Hamas’ leader, Haniyeh Ismail, said the movement was “more powerful and determined” following the attack. “They left behind them strong men who will carry the banner after them,” he said of those killed.

Hezbollah called the strike “a serious attack on Lebanon, its people, its security, sovereignty and resistance.”

“We affirm that this crime will never pass without response and punishment,” it said.

The blast was carried out by an apparent Israeli drone on Tuesday evening and hit an apartment in a building in a Shiite district of Beirut that is a Hezbollah stronghold. It killed four people in total.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threated to kill him even before the Hamas-Israel conflict broke out on October 7, but Israeli officials have declined to comment on the news.

If Israel is confirmed as having been behind the attack, it could cause further escalation of the tensions in the Middle East.

Saleh Arouri, left, pictured with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, and the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, centre. Credit: AP

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said there would be retaliation against any Israeli targeting Palestinian officials in Lebanon.

Hamas official Bassem Naim confirmed to The Associated Press that Arouri was killed in the blast. A Hezbollah official speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations also said Arouri was killed.

The explosion could be felt across Musharafieh, one of the Lebanese capital's southern suburbs, which are a stronghold of the militant Hezbollah group. Hezbollah is an ally of Hamas.

The announcement comes as the Israel-Hamas conflict is about to enter its fourth month, with heavy combat having killed more than 21,000 people.

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