At 6:00 PM, in Maawad Commercial Market, on the road leading to Hadi Nasrallah’s highway, and on the second day of the new year, Israel targeted and assassinated the deputy leader of Hamas and the movement’s commander in the West Bank, Saleh Mohammed Suleiman al-Arouri, through a drone, according to information circulating until now. This incident occurred in the southern suburb of Beirut, resulting in his death and the deaths of two other leaders, Samir Fendi Abu Amer and Azam al-Aqra Abu Ammar.
So, who is Saleh al-Arouri, the number two wanted figure after Yahya Sinwar?
He is the second-in-command in Hamas and the architect of the Aqsa Typhoon operation that took place on October 7, 2023.
Al-Arouri was born in the town of ‘Arura’ near Ramallah in the West Bank in 1966.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Islamic Law from the University of Hebron in the West Bank.
Al-Arouri joined the Muslim Brotherhood at an early age and led the Islamic Student Movement at the University of Hebron in 1985.
After the establishment of Hamas at the end of 1987 by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Arouri joined the movement.
During the period between 1990 and 1992, the Israeli army detained al-Arouri administratively (without trial) for limited periods due to his activities with Hamas.
Al-Arouri is considered one of the founders of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas. He began establishing the initial nucleus of the movement’s military apparatus in the West Bank between 1991 and 1992.
In 1992, the Israeli army re-arrested al-Arouri and sentenced him to 15 years in prison on charges of forming the first cells of the Qassam Brigades in the West Bank.
He was released in 2007, but Israel re-arrested him three months later for three years (until 2010). The Israeli Supreme Court decided to release and deport him from Palestine.
At that time, he was deported to Syria and stayed there for three years before leaving to settle in Turkey and then Malaysia, and later in Lebanon.
After his release in 2010, al-Arouri was selected as a member of the political bureau of the movement.
Al-Arouri was part of the negotiating team from Hamas to conclude the prisoner exchange deal in 2011 with Israel, mediated by Egypt, which his movement named “Wa’ad al-Ahrar.” The deal led to the release of Gilad Shalit (an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas) in exchange for the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.
In October 2017, Hamas announced the election of al-Arouri as the deputy head of the movement’s political bureau.
On June 20, 2014, Israeli forces demolished his house in the ‘Arura area northwest of Ramallah.
In October last year, after the attack led by Hamas resulting in the deaths of more than 1,200 people in Israel, al-Arouri appeared meeting with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement Ziyad al-Nakhale.
The three discussed the mechanisms for “achieving comprehensive victory and stopping the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank,” according to Al-Manar channel, affiliated with Hezbollah.
Al-Arouri has long been on Israel’s most wanted list, described as the “engineer” behind attacks in the occupied West Bank against Israeli soldiers and settlers, and launching rockets from Gaza and Lebanon. The Israeli media has portrayed him as Israel’s nightmare and the architect of relations with Iran and Hezbollah. He is listed on the U.S. international terrorist list, with a reward of five million dollars for information leading to his killing or capture.