Israel has defended the targeted killing of Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut, emphasising that it was not an assault on Lebanon. While Israel confirmed the airstrike as a “surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” its adversaries, including Hezbollah, warned of repercussions for what they deemed an attack on Lebanese sovereignty.
The Lebanese Prime Minister, accusing Israel of attempting to provoke a confrontation, stated, “to drag Lebanon into confrontation.” According to Lebanese media reports, Arouri, along with six others, including two Hamas military commanders and four members, were killed in a drone strike in southern Beirut.
Mark Regev, an Israeli spokesman, refrained from directly confirming Israel’s involvement but asserted, “Whoever did it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state. It was not an attack even on Hezbollah.” He clarified that the strike specifically targeted the Hamas leadership, suggesting a motive against Hamas rather than Lebanon or Hezbollah.
Arouri, 57, held a prominent position within Hamas as a deputy political leader and was a crucial figure in the Qassam Brigades, the group’s armed wing. He was acting as a liaison between Hamas and Hezbollah during his stay in Lebanon.
This targeted killing follows a warning from the British Retail Consortium about potential disruptions in global trade due to attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea. The disruption, caused by Houthi group attacks, has led major shipping companies to divert vessels away from the Red Sea route.
Business owners, like Thomas O’Brien of Boxer Gifts, expressed concerns about increased shipping costs and potential delays due to these diversions. O’Brien reported a significant spike of 250% in shipping rates over the past two weeks, directly impacting the company’s costs.
In another sector, Rachael Waring, a furniture business owner, faced disruptions as her container, scheduled to pass through the Red Sea, was rerouted, tripling shipping costs. The knock-on effect includes delays in deliveries, affecting cash flow, and potentially contributing to inflation.
The assassination of Arouri has raised tensions in the region, prompting warnings of retaliation from Hezbollah and expressions of concern from Lebanon. The international community watches closely as the aftermath unfolds, impacting not only diplomatic relations but also trade and business operations in the affected regions.