Lebanese and Iranian officials warn of escalating tensions following targeted killing of Hamas heavyweight as Israeli police prepares for missile fire and terrorist infiltrations

Tensions simmered in Israel Tuesday following the assassination of Hamas politburo deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut. Although Israel has not taken responsibility for the deadly strike, reactions to the incident in Lebanon have cautioned that this act could lead to a spillover of hostilities in Gaza to additional fronts.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the strike in Beirut, labeling the attack an “Israeli crime.” According to him, the operation’s purpose is “to drag Lebanon into a new stage of conflicts, following the daily attacks in southern Lebanon.” Mikati added, “We warn against Israel exporting its failures in Gaza to Lebanon and igniting new rules of engagement altogether.”

Hassan Nasrallah and Saleh al-Arouri

Iran, which patrons Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, also commented on al-Arouri’s killing, noting that his elimination will “push the resistance to start a war against Israel without a doubt,” according to Iranian media.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also commented, saying that “the assassination took place due to Israel’s great failure in its fight against the resistance in Gaza. We condemn this incident, which Israel is guilty of.”

Saleh al-Arouri and Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
(Photo: Reuters)

Following the announcement of al-Arouri’s death, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza announced a general strike on Wednesday as dozens of them gathered near al-Arouri’s home in the West Bank close to Ramallah.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also condemned the al-Arouri’s assassination, calling the incident a “crime,” while warning of the potential “dangers and consequences.”

Mohammad Shtayyeh
(Photo: REUTERS/James Oatway)

Saudi news outlet Al Arabiya reported that following al-Arouri’s elimination in Beirut, Hamas announced a “freeze in negotiations” on a new hostage release deal with Israel, after initial talks between Israel and Hamas officials took place via Qatari and Egyptian mediation.

A U.S. official who spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity said that Israel was behind the strike in Lebanon, though Israel declined its involvement in the attack.

Saleh al-Arouri

Israeli government spokesperson to foreign media Mark Regev told MSNBC in an interview that Israel had no connection to the strike in Beirut in which al-Arouri was killed. “Whoever did it, it must be clear: That this was not an attack on the Lebanese state,” he said. “Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership.”

Meanwhile, Israel Police instructed all of its officers to be prepared for retaliatory rocket fire and terrorist infiltration attempts in response to al-Arouri’s death.

As reported by Ynetnews