World, Middle East

PROFILE - Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas deputy leader assassinated by Israel in Lebanon

Senior Hamas official was one of founders of Hamas' armed wing, had storied history of involvement with Hamas, enduring imprisonment and exile

Awad Al Rajoub  | 02.01.2024 - Update : 05.01.2024
PROFILE - Saleh al-Arouri, Hamas deputy leader assassinated by Israel in Lebanon

RAMALLAH, Palestine

Palestinian group Hamas said on Tuesday that its deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri was assassinated in an Israeli attack in Lebanon's capital Beirut.

Born in in the town of Arura near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank in 1966, Salah Mohammed Suleiman Arouri attended local schools for his primary education and graduated from high school in 1984.

In 1992, he enrolled at Hebron University in the southern West Bank and graduated with bachelor's degree in Islamic Sharia.

He joined the Muslim Brotherhood at an early age and led the Islamic Student Action at Hebron University in 1985.

After the Hamas movement was established at the end of 1987 by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, Arouri joined its ranks.

The Israeli army jailed Arouri in administrative detention without trial for limited periods between 1990 and 1992 due to his involvement with the Hamas.

Arouri is considered one of the founders of the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. Between 1991 and 1992, he established the cells of the movement's military apparatus in the West Bank.

In 1992, the Israeli army re-arrested him and sentenced him to 15 years in prison for forming the initial cells of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank.

Throughout his detentions, he played a prominent role in leading Hamas and in struggled against prison administrations.

Arouri was released in 2007, but Israel re-arrested him three months later for three years until 2010. The Israeli Supreme Court decided then to release him and exile him from Palestine.

He was later deported to Syria, where he resided for three years before leaving, living as a nomad between several countries. He later moved to Lebanon until his assassination on Jan. 2.

Following his release in 2010, Arouri was selected as a member of the political bureau of Hamas.

Arouri was one of Hamas' negotiators to complete the prisoner exchange deal in 2011 with Israel through Egyptian mediation. As part of the agreement, Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas, was released in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian detainees from Israeli prisons.

On July 31, 2021, Arouri re-elected as the deputy chief of Hamas' political bureau for the second time. In addition to this position, he assumed the role of the movement's leader in the West Bank.

On Oct. 9, 2017, he was elected again as the deputy chief of the political bureau. Furthermore, Arouri was elected as Hamas' chief of the West Bank region on July 4, 2021.

In November 2018, the US Department of State allocated a reward of $5 million for information leading to Arouri, along with leaders of the Lebanese Hezbollah group.

The US Department of the Treasury had designated him on its terrorism list in 2015.

Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Oct. 25 that six Hamas leaders were "in the crosshairs of Israeli fire," including Arouri.

The Israeli army stormed Arouri's house on Oct. 31 in the town of Arura near Ramallah in the West Bank.

The raid followed days of extensive operations against Hamas activists in the town, making his house into an investigative center.

*Writing by Mohmmad Sio

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