The death of Hamas number two, Saleh al Aruri, in an attack on Tuesday in the Lebanese capital has increased tensions in the region and increased fears that the war between Israel and Gaza could extend beyond the Strip. Gaza. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it was behind the attack. Hamas warned that the bombings in Beirut would have consequences, and Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari assured that the forces were ready for any scenario. The leader of the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, issued a warning on Wednesday: “If the enemy plans to launch a war against Lebanon, we will fight without limits, without restrictions, without borders (…)”. A day after the biggest blow to Hamas since the start of the war in the Palestinian enclave, clashes between Israel and Hezbollah on the border continue, while messages continue to avoid an escalation of the conflict In the region.
This Wednesday, the West Bank woke up to shops, institutions and businesses closed and mobilizations took place in cities like Ramallah, the administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority. Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the ruling Fatah party, had called for a general strike to protest Al Aruri’s death. Hundreds of people demonstrated in Ramallah shouting “revenge”. The attack in which Al Aruri and five others, including two other Hamas military leaders, were killed, targeted the Palestinian group’s offices in Dahiye, a Beirut suburb controlled by Hezbollah, the militia that exchanges almost daily since the rocket was launched. aerial fire and artillery war with Israel in the north of the country. If Israeli responsibility for the Al Aruri attack is confirmed, it would be the first in Beirut since 2006.
This Wednesday, the Hezbollah leader expressed his condolences for the death of Al Aruri and called the attack a “blatant Israeli aggression.” In a speech he planned to give before Tuesday’s attack was announced, he said Hezbollah’s “swift” action on October 8, after the start of the war between Israel and Gaza, and the Exchange of artillery fire on the border has since prevented an Israeli bombing campaign in Lebanon. He also promised that there would be “no limits” and “no rules” for Iran-backed Shiite militias if Israel decided to launch a war against the country. “Anyone who thinks of a war against us, in a word, will regret it,” he said.
The Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdallah Bou Habib, had explained a few hours earlier that his government was talking with Hezbollah to convince the militia “that it should not respond” to the attack on Beirut on Tuesday afternoon. “We are not demanding them, we are dialoguing with them,” Bou Habib said in an interview with the BBC. In the next 24 hours, we will see “whether they respond or not,” added the minister. “We are very worried, the Lebanese do not want to be drawn into, and even Hezbollah does not want to be drawn into a regional war,” he added. Bou Habib called on the West to put pressure on Israel “to end all its violence” in Lebanon and Gaza.
The United States has acknowledged being very concerned about a possible escalation. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said he could not give an assessment of who was responsible for the attack, although he stressed that Al Aruri was “a brutal terrorist with civilian blood on the hands.” According to him, Washington was not informed in advance of the attack.
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Various voices have called for reducing tensions. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon warned that any escalation “could have devastating consequences for populations on both sides of the border.” “We continue to implore all parties to cease fire and all influential interlocutors to call for this restraint,” said spokesperson Kandice Ardiel. In Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told a delegation of US senators that the priority was to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and stressed the need to prevent the conflict from spreading into the region, according to a press release. “Al-Sisi stressed the importance of intensive and responsible work to avoid factors that widen the scope of the conflict in the region, due to its dangerous repercussions on regional and international peace and security,” detailed the statement. Egyptian presidency in a press release. Of the reunion.
For his part, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke this Tuesday with Benny Gantz, member of the Israeli emergency government, along the same lines. “The president stressed that it was essential to avoid any attitude of escalation, particularly in Lebanon, and that France would continue to transmit these messages to all actors directly or indirectly involved in the area,” noted the Elysée , according to BFM TV. Macron also expressed his “deep concern about the very high number of civilian deaths and the absolute humanitarian emergency situation in Gaza.”
At the same time, the extent of the change in Hamas’ position remains unclear. Husam Badran, a member of the exile militia’s politburo, reacted to Al Aruri’s death by warning the “criminal occupation”, referring to Israel, that “the battle” between them and Hamas “is on.” . But Sami Abu Zuhri, another senior member of the Palestinian Islamist group, said that while the death “will have its consequences,” the group’s position remains that as long as Israel stops its attacks completely, it is open to negotiations. on all other “subjects”. Hamas and other Islamist factions are still holding 129 hostages in Gaza since October 7 and talks have been held between the two sides for a possible ceasefire and exchange of hostages for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.
Iran, which had already warned on Tuesday that the death of Al Aruri “would trigger a new wave in the veins of resistance and motivation to fight against the Zionist occupiers”, in the words of the spokesperson for the Ministry of Affairs foreign countries, issued a warning this Wednesday. in the USA. Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned Washington to “prepare” for the consequences of the assassination of Hamas’ number two, according to Iranian media. Joe Biden’s administration, in his words, has “ventured” into the region and “altered its balance”, such that “the repercussions (of Aruri’s death) will have a negative effect and harm the Americans themselves.”
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