Who were the Hamas officials killed in Beirut?

Along with leader Saleh al-Arouri, other significant members of Hamas died in Tuesday’s blast.

Investigators at the building where an apparent Israeli strike on Tuesday killed top Hamas political leader Saleh Arouri and other members of the group in a southern suburb of Beirut [Hussein Malla/AP]

Other significant Hamas officials died in Tuesday’s drone strike that killed senior leader Saleh al-Arouri, harming the armed group’s military capabilities in Lebanon during Israel’s war on Gaza.

According to Lebanese state media, the strike on a Hamas office in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeb, a southern suburb of Beirut, killed seven people. Hamas described the killing of al-Arouri on its official TV channel as “a “cowardly assassination” by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s adviser Mark Regev told the United States-based TV news channel MSNBC that Israel had not taken responsibility for the attack and added: “Whoever did it, it must be clear that this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.”

Here is what we know about al-Arouri and the six other Hamas officials killed in the drone attack in the Lebanese capital:

Saleh al-Arouri

Al-Arouri, 57, was the deputy chief of the Hamas political bureau. He was also one of the founding members of Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades.

After spending 15 years in an Israeli prison, al-Arouri was released in 2007 and had been living in exile in Lebanon. He was a Hamas spokesperson and was one of the negotiators of a deal that saw 1,027 Palestinian and foreign prisoners exchanged for a single Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, in 2011.

At the start of December, al-Arouri was the Hamas official who told Al Jazeera that a prisoner exchange under which more captives would be released from Gaza would not take place without a ceasefire.

On October 31, Israeli forces destroyed al-Arouri’s house in Aroura near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. Israel blamed him for attacks on Israelis in the area. He had received multiple death threats from Israel before the war broke out on October 7.

The United States designated al-Arouri a “global terrorist” in 2015 and issued a $5m reward for information leading to his identification or location.

FILE - This photo released by the Hamas Media Office shows deputy Saleh Arouri upon his arrival in in Gaza City from Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. The TV station of Lebanon's Hezbollah group says top Hamas official Saleh Arouri was killed Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in an explosion in a southern Beirut suburb. (Mohammad Austaz/Hamas Media Office via AP, File)
Saleh al-Arouri on August 2, 2018 [File: Mohammad Austaz/Hamas Media Office/AP]

Azzam al-Aqra

Al-Aqra, 54, was a leading commander of the Qassam Brigades’ military operations outside Gaza. As a young man, he was arrested twice for short periods. In 1992, the year that al-Arouri was imprisoned in Israel, he was exiled to Marj al-Zuhur in Lebanon along with 415 other members of Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

In 2022, Israeli media alleged he had plotted to penetrate Israeli communications networks.

He settled in Lebanon, married there and was a key member of the group there. He was also known as Abu Abdullah.

Samir Fendi

Samir Fendi was a senior leader of the Qassam Brigades and its top commander in southern Lebanon. He was also known as Abu Amer.

In July, an Israeli television channel reported that Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, had included him and al-Arouri on a list of targets for assassination.

Also killed

The drone strike also killed four other Hamas members: Mahmoud Zaki Shaheen, Mohammed al-Rayes, Mohammed Bashasha and Ahmed Hamoud.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies