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Israel-Hamas war
Opinion
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Selective assassination and regional escalation

Israel has eliminated several Hamas leaders in the past, but the Palestinian resistance uses its martyrs for internal cohesion

Beirut
Two men inspect the building hit by a drone strike in a southern Beirut suburb where Hamas number two Saleh al-Arouri was killed on Wednesday.STRINGER (EFE)
Luz Gómez

Israel has assassinated Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas military leader who was ranked number two in the organization, in an operation in Beirut. The procedure is not new.

Israel has a long history of targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders and, before that, of all sorts of Palestine Liberation Organization leaders, from members of the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to the social-democratic Fatah. The Palestinian resistance has never been weakened by this, on the contrary: the martyrs constitute an essential element for the internal cohesion of a society that disagrees with each other about almost everything, but that reveres its fallen indiscriminately.

Nor is the Israeli violation of the territory of another state anything new: Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, the United Kingdom, and more recently, Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Jordan have been the scene of “special operations” by Israeli security forces with various names: Mossad, Shin Bet, Shabak, Aman... Israel has made great use of the name game.

So what we will witness after the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri — along with two other Hamas military leaders — is a greater Hamasization of both Palestinian society and regional confrontation. Netanyahu knew it when he gave the order, nobody should fool themselves about it. The plan had been there for weeks, since the evacuation of the towns near the border with Lebanon began, involving some 60,000 people. And the recent withdrawal from Gaza of an elite brigade heralds preparations for an escalation with Hezbollah.

Al-Arouri’s head had a price on it for a long time: in 2018 the U.S. State Department announced a reward of $5 million to anyone who might offer clues leading to his location. But at the same time, al-Arouri has been a decisive mediator in secret talks, prisoner exchanges and building bridges to benefit the intersecting interests of Israel, the United States, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon. If just now the Israeli government has made the decision to eliminate him, it is undoubtedly due to Netanyahu’s needs.

The assassination of al-Arouri is, among other things, a provocation to Hezbollah that is unlikely to go unanswered. In these three months of destruction in Gaza, Hezbollah has practiced a containment policy that could almost be considered a policy of state, if such a thing existed in Lebanon. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has the last word. The massacre of around 100 people in Kerman, Iran, in a tribute to Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, killed in Baghdad in 2020 by U.S. drones, will also have an influence.

Netanyahu knows he has no future when the war ends and he is rushing headlong. Regarding the assassination of al-Arouri, the prime minister has imposed silence on his people, both civilians and the military. Not doing so would be to recognize an extrajudicial execution, prohibited by the First Geneva Convention. And it would expand on Israel’s international discredit, which is beginning to become alarming after the genocide charge that South Africa has brought before the International Court of Justice. It is something that is of concern in Israel, which has announced that it will defend itself, an unusual gesture in its dealings with international organizations.

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