Seven Hamas members were killed after an explosion in a suburb of Beirut on Tuesday, according to a Hamas official.
Among the dead is Saleh al-Arouri, who was the senior Hamas political leader as well as the head of Hamas in the West Bank. Others killed in the blast included two commanders of Hamas’ military wing, Samir Fendi and Azzam al-Aqra.
Lebanese and Iranian leaders, as well as Hamas, have accused Israel of carrying out the attack.
“We call on the concerned countries to put pressure on Israel to stop its targeting. We also warn against the Israeli political level resorting to exporting its failures in Gaza to the southern [Lebanese] border,” Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati wrote on X.
“It has become clear to everyone near and far that the decision to go to war is in the hands of Israel, and what is required is to deter it and stop its aggression,” he added.
IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari declined to answer if Israel was responsible for the attack when asked during a news conference Tuesday but added Israel “is on high alert and prepared for any scenario.”
“I want to be clear we are focused on the fight against Hamas,” he added.
Israeli spokesman Mark Regev added additional insight on the strike.
“Whoever did it, it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state,” he said. “It was not an attack even on Hezbollah, the terrorist organization.
Arouri, 57, is the most senior Hamas figure to be killed since the war began on October 7 following Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Over 22,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Hezbollah said in a statement that it considered Arouri’s death “to be a serious assault on Lebanon, its people, its security, sovereignty, and resistance, and the highly symbolic and significant political and security messages it contains”.