Saleh al-Arouri (Picture: Al-Quds network)

The Israeli state’s assassination of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Lebanon on Tuesday could trigger a much wider war than the assault on Gaza. It also shows Zionist leaders’ frustration that they have not destroyed Palestinian resistance.

The terror state has not been able to crush Hamas, so it reached for the “success” of a targeted and bloody killing.

The head of the Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, in a major speech on Wednesday, said the Israelis were “trying to present an image of victory with the treacherous assassination of Sheikh Saleh. But in Gaza where is it?”

He added that Israel has completely fallen “humanely, morally, legally”, adding that across the world the country is being seen as one that kills and starves children and civilians.

He noted recent public opinion polls showing young people in the US as supportive of Palestinians.

“This will have a big effect on the conflict and the calculations in our region,” Nasrallah said.

The Hezbollah chief says that while “resistance groups” share a vision for the future of the region in opposition to the Israeli occupation, each group operates according to its own strategic vision and local agenda.

He stressed that the so-called “resistance axis” does not follow a centralised command.

Nasrallah says, for example, the Houthis are not carrying out the “Red Sea battle” in Yemen at Iran’s demands. “These resistance groups are not tools.”

Nasrallah is set to deliver another speech on Friday, where he said he will speak in depth about Hezbollah’s battles with Israel.

An Israeli drone strike murdered Arouri in the Hamas offices in the southern suburb of Beirut. 

In a statement, Hamas wrote that Israel’s assassination was “cowardly” and added that it would “not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people, or undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance. 

“It proves once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip.” 

Arouri was a deputy leader of Hamas’ political wing and one of the founding members of the Al‑Qassam Brigades. 

Recently he has been involved in bolstering resistance forces in the occupied West Bank. His reputation was such that the Ramallah branch of Fatah, the ruling party of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas which cooperates with Israel, called a general strike in mourning over the assassination of Arouri.

The Israeli drone attack also killed Hamas officials, Samir Fandi and Azzam Al-Aqra, and

Ahmad Hammoud, Mahmoud Shahin, Mohammed al-Rayyes, and Mohammed Bshasha, all part of the Palestinian resistance. 

In a recent news interview, Arouri said he was aware that the Israeli state might target him. 

 “Just as our people fight back and pay the price and die, we, too, can pay that price,” he said. “It does not impact me or shake my resolve.” 

Arouri was born in the West Bank and joined Hamas in 1987. 

He spent more than half of his life in Israeli jails, serving long stints in prison from 1985-1992 and from 1992-2007. 

In 2010, he helped negotiate the release by Israel of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for a single kidnapped Israeli soldier.

The United States had a $5 million bounty on Arouri’s head and marked him as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist” in 2015.

Only last year, the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu,  threatened to have him murdered. 

After the assassination, far right Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich tweeted in celebration, saying, “So let all thine enemies perish,” referencing the biblical Book of Judges.

In retaliation for the assassination, Hezbollah could escalate attacks against Israel and launch missiles on major cities such as Haifa and Tel Aviv. Such a response could lead to a much stronger reaction by Israel that could quickly deteriorate into a regional war.

The US and Britain may not want this now, but they won’t break from their Israeli ally.

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