Follow us on social

Israel kills Hamas leader in Beirut, fueling escalation fears

Israel kills Hamas leader in Beirut, fueling escalation fears

The attack increases the risk that the Gaza war could expand, possibly drawing in the US

QiOSK

An Israeli drone strike killed a top Hamas politburo member in a major suburb south of Beirut on Tuesday, according to reports from Reuters and Lebanese media at the scene, where a fire continued to burn in the hours after the attack.

Israeli officials did not confirm responsibility for the attack, but one top adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Reuters that “whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” not against Lebanon itself. (By contrast, prominent Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon congratulated the Israel Defense Forces for the strike and encouraged future strikes outside of Gaza.)

The adviser’s comment likely aims to limit the chance that Hezbollah, which is a strong supporter of Hamas, will feel obligated to respond to the attack. Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver a speech Wednesday, which observers will watch closely for any indications that the militant group intends to expand attacks on Israel.

Hezbollah will “definitely” respond to the strike as an escalation but will likely try to avoid sparking a full-scale war with Israel, argued Trita Parsi of the Quincy Institute, which publishes RS.

“Instead, Hezbollah will likely strike deeper into Israel but without revealing its new capabilities,” Parsi wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. However, such a move “may very well spark a full war, particularly if very successful,” he added.

Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas leader who was killed, helped found the Qassam Brigades, the movement’s militant arm. He was serving as the deputy chairman of Hamas’ politburo and the leader of the group’s military operations in the West Bank at the time of his assassination. Israel destroyed Arouri’s house in the West Bank in October, but he is believed to have lived in Lebanon since 2018.

Five others died in Monday’s attack. Their identities remain unknown, though some local media have reported that two additional members of Hamas died in the strike.

The drone attack is a rare example of Israel striking Beirut directly. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati described the move as “a new Israeli crime aimed at dragging Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations after the continuous daily attacks in the south.”

Hamas, for its part, said the move would not affect operations against Israel and argued that it represented “evidence of the enemy's failure to achieve its objectives in Gaza.”

The attack is the latest escalation in a months-long shadow war between the U.S. and Israel on one side and Iran and its regional allies on the other.

In Syria and Iraq, American forces have been attacked by militias sympathetic to Iran over 100 times since October, leading to some injuries but no deaths. The U.S. has responded with a handful of strikes. An Israeli airstrike killed more than 20 people, including several Hezbollah members, in eastern Syria over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Houthis in Yemen have dramatically cut back Red Sea shipping — and thus transits of the Suez Canal — by attacking merchant ships that they claim are tied to Israel. The U.S. has formed an international task force to stop the attacks and sank at least three Houthi boats on Saturday as they attempted to board a cargo ship.

The latest strike is a reminder that “as time has passed and Biden has refused to push for a ceasefire, we are getting closer and closer to a full war in the region,” argued Parsi.

“The most effective way of de-escalating is by securing a ceasefire in Gaza,” he continued, noting that an end to hostilities there would likely stop Houthi attacks as well as strikes on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria. “Biden is not only facilitating the slaughter and ethnic cleansing in Gaza, but he is increasingly also failing to keep Americans safe and America out of war.”

Tomas Ragina/ Shutterstock

QiOSK
What South Africa's new unity gov't means for US relations

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa and deputy president Paul Mashatile attend a special African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Cape Town, South Africa June 13, 2024. REUTERS/Nic Bothma

What South Africa's new unity gov't means for US relations

Africa

On May 29, South Africans went to the polls in one of this year’s most anticipated elections. In an outcome that shook the country’s political system, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has governed South Africa since Nelson Mandela became the country’s president following the fall of apartheid, lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since taking power in 1994.

As a result, the ANC has been forced to form a coalition with rival parties. It has forged a political alliance with the center-right, pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) party, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the right-wing Patriotic Alliance (PA), and a small party called GOOD, which holds a single seat in parliament. Collectively, this coalition, which could still grow as the ANC continues to negotiate with other parties to expand its unity government, accounts for 68% of the seats in the country’s national parliament, which convenes in Cape Town. Leaning on its newly formed coalition, the ANC successfully reelected Cyril Ramaphosa as the country’s president on June 14.

keep readingShow less
Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-NY) speaks during a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hosts a roundtable with families of Americans held hostage by Hamas since October 7, 2023. (Photo by Allison Bailey/NurPhoto)NO USE FRANCE

Top Dems sign off on biggest weapons sale to Israel to date

QiOSK

The Washington Post this morning has reported that the top Democrats on the Armed Services Committees — Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), and Senator Ben Cardin (Md.) — have finally given their nod on the biggest arms sale to Israel since Oct. 7.

In fact, after holding it up for months they gave their approval "weeks ago." Now Congress will be formally notified.

keep readingShow less
Why these countries turned their backs on Ukraine 'peace' doc

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (C) attends a joint press conference during the Peace Summit in Bürgenstock, Switzerland on June 16, 2024.( The Yomiuri Shimbun via REUTERS )

Why these countries turned their backs on Ukraine 'peace' doc

QiOSK

Key Global South middle powers India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates declined to sign the joint communique at a summit in Switzerland on resolving the Ukraine war. (Another key middle power Brazil had decided to attend only as an observer.)

These Global South middle powers did not endorse the communique despite the text’s recitation of the importance of “sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity” and food security, both of which are key points of concern and consensus across developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest