Israel has insisted the assassination of a Hamas leader in Beirut was not an attack on Lebanon, as its enemies warned of “punishment” for his death.
Arouri, 57, is the most senior Hamas figure to be killed since Israel went to war with the group after its 7 October attack.
An Israeli spokesman said Saleh al-Arouri had died in a “surgical strike against the Hamas leadership”.
Hamas condemned the death, while its ally Hezbollah said it was an assault on Lebanese sovereignty.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister, meanwhile, accused Israel of trying “to drag Lebanon into… confrontation”.
Lebanese media report that Arouri, a deputy political leader of Hamas, was killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut along with six others – two Hamas military commanders and four other members.
He was a key figure in the Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s armed wing, and a close ally of Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader. He had been in Lebanon acting as a connection between his group and Hezbollah.
Israeli spokesman Mark Regev stopped short of confirming Israel had carried out the assassination, a standard position for Israeli officials, but he told MSNBC: “Whoever did it, it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.
“It was not an attack even on Hezbollah, the terrorist organisation.
“Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership. Whoever did this has a gripe with Hamas. That is very clear.”
Lebanese emergency responders gather at the site of a strike, reported by Lebanese media to be an Israeli strike targeting a Hamas office, in the southern suburb of Beirut on January 2, 2024.
On that day, waves of Hamas gunmen invaded Israel and attacked communities around the border, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 to Gaza as hostages.
Israel launched a military offensive in response, with the declared aim of destroying Hamas.
Since then, more than 22,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.