Israel has blown up the West Bank house of a senior Hamas official as it aggressively targets the Palestinian group’s leadership amid the war in Gaza.
Footage posted on social media on Tuesday appeared to show Saleh al-Arouri’s house completely demolished in the city of Arura, near Ramallah.
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Al-Arouri, who is believed to live in exile in Lebanon, is the deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau. Neither he nor his family were in the house when it was struck.
Israeli forces took over al-Arouri’s home 10 days ago and claimed they had begun using it as an intelligence centre.
“It was more of a symbolic move to blow up this house,” said Al Jazeera correspondent Bernard Smith, from Ramallah. “Of course, they really want al-Arouri himself … he is considered to be one of the real masterminds behind the October 7 attack that Hamas launched into Israeli territory.”
Israel has also announced it has killed another member of Hamas implicated in organising the October 7 attacks that killed 1,400 Israelis.
An Israeli army update on social media platform X said air attacks killed Nasim Abu Ajina, commander of the Beit Lahia battalion in the northern division of Hamas.
The post said Ajina had played a role in developing Hamas’s “drone and paraglider capabilities”.
In a joint statement, Israel’s army and the Israeli Security Agency (ISA) said “(Ajina’s) elimination significantly harms the efforts of the Hamas terrorist organization to disrupt the IDF’s ground activities.”
Israel’s targeting of the Hamas leaders comes after its ground forces drove into Gaza for the fourth straight night on Monday, marking the most serious escalation of its three-week war.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israeli forces had killed Hamas fighters and “directed air forces to real-time strikes on targets” during the incursion. Israel’s military also reported several engagements in which its forces came under antitank missile and machine gun fire. Hamas claimed to have destroyed an Israeli armoured vehicle east of the Erez crossing in Gaza.
Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected calls for a ceasefire after three weeks of relentless strikes on Gaza that have killed more than 8,000 people, including at least 3,000 children.
“This will not happen,” Netanyahu told foreign media.
“Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas.”