“I’m residing on borrowed time,” Saleh al Arouri mentioned in August. “I’m ready for martyrdom and suppose that I lived too lengthy.”
Six months later, the senior Hamas official is dead in an apparent assassination in Beirut, an occasion that threatens to additional escalate infected regional tensions.
So who was the person who as soon as had a $5m (£3.9m) bounty on his head, and what impact will his demise have on the Israel-Hamas war?
He grew to grow to be a key participant within the group, masterminding its operations within the West Financial institution from exile in Syria, Turkey, Qatar and at last Lebanon after lengthy stints in Israeli prisons.
Inside Hamas, he was thought to be a number one advocate of reconciliation between rival Palestinian factions, together with Fatah, the occasion of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which holds sway within the West Financial institution.
Arouri mentioned there was “no different choice” however to interact in what he known as complete resistance within the face of increasing Jewish settlements and Palestinian statehood showing ever extra distant.
He helped create Hamas’s army wing, the al Qassam Brigades.
Israel has accused him of orchestrating lethal assaults, together with the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youngsters within the West Financial institution in 2014, an act that triggered a seven-week Israeli assault on Gaza that killed 2,100 Palestinians.
He was additionally one of many senior Hamas officers behind the group’s enlargement into the West Financial institution, the place its gunmen have carried out a string of assaults on Israeli settlers over the previous 18 months.
Dwelling in Lebanon, Arouri helped pull Hamas nearer to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant group that holds huge sway within the nation.
In early September, Arouri held a gathering with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah that was attended by Ziad Nakhaleh, the chief of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, throughout which they mentioned the scenario within the Palestinian territories.
For the reason that outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict following the 7 October assaults, Arouri stored a low public profile, however the militant group mentioned he was “on the coronary heart of negotiations” over Gaza and the discharge of hostages.
An influential Hamas commander in life, now his demise in a blast in Beirut’s southern suburb of Dahiyeh threatens to inflame the battle even additional.
Kareem Chehayeb, a journalist for the Related Press who covers Lebanon, known as the killing of Arouri a “main escalation” that follows months of “very restricted and contained” assaults between Hezbollah and Israeli forces.
“There at the moment are fears that this might result in a wider escalation, although every little thing is up within the air,” he advised Sky Information.
Alistair Bunkall, Sky Information’ Center East correspondent, mentioned Hezbollah could also be unable to show a blind eye to the assault, probably resulting in a major escalation.