Hamas vows 'will never be defeated' after Israel assassinates three Palestinian leaders in Beirut - as it happened

Ahram Online , Tuesday 2 Jan 2024

Israel - building on a rich track record - assassinated three Palestinian leaders in Lebanon as the army continued a vicious war against Gaza.

From Left to Right: Al-Aruri, Abu Amer and Abu Amar



22:00 Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday said his Palestinian militant group "will never be defeated" after the killing of deputy leader Saleh Al-Aruri in Lebanon in a strike blamed on Israel

"A movement whose leaders and founders fall as martyrs for the dignity of our people and our nation will never be defeated," Haniyeh said in a televised address.

21:00 Fattah issued a statement decrying the assassination of Saleh Al-Aruri saying: "It reflects the criminal mindset of the occupation toward the Palestinian people and their leaders."

The Iranian foreign ministry also issued a statement saying: "We strongly condemn the assassination of Al-Aruri. The Zionist entity is held responsible for the repercussions of its new misadventure."

An adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "We have not claimed responsibility for the attack in Beirut but the attack did not target Lebanon or Hezbollah."

In a statement, Islamic Jihad said the assassination of Al-Aruri "is an attempt by the enemy to broaden the scope of confrontations to drag the region into war as a way of escaping from the fact of its failure in Gaza.

FILE - This photo released by the Hamas Media Office shows Deputy Saleh Aruri upon his arrival in Gaza City from Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2018. 

20:00 "Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut that killed and injured many," his office said in a statement.

The attack "aims to draw Lebanon into a new phase of confrontations" with Israel, added the statement.

It comes at a time when Hamas ally Hezbollah has been exchanging daily cross-border fire with Israeli forces in southern Lebanon.

19:00 Hamas television on Tuesday announced the assassination by Israel of the group's deputy head in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Saleh al-Aruri was killed in a "treacherous Zionist strike", Hamas said on its official channel.

A high-level security official in Beirut told AFP that Aruri was killed in the Israeli strike along with his bodyguards in the Lebanese capital's southern suburbs, which is a stronghold of Hamas ally Hezbollah.

18:00 Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday he is open to a single Palestinian administration to govern Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

"We have received numerous initiatives concerning the internal (Palestinian) situation and we are open to the idea of a national government for the West Bank and Gaza," Haniyeh said in a televised address.

Rafah on 2 January 2024. AFP

16:00 In a video posted on من_غزة (from_Gaza), displaced Palestinians revealed their hopes for an end to the Israeli aggression on Gaza in answering a question about what they wish for in 2024.

 Children said they wanted to retrieve their cherished belongings and costumes in their homes.

 Women prayed for an end to the war and to ensure safety for the next generations.


15:00 Israeli official says Israel will defend itself against genocide accusations filed by South Africa with the World Court.

South Africa launched the case Friday at the UN’s top court, charging Israel of openly committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and asking the court to order Israel to halt its attacks.

Eylon Levy, an official in the Israeli prime minister’s office, accused South Africa of “giving political and legal cover” to Hamas's surprise offensive in early October.

“The state of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice at the Hague to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel,” Levy said.

14:00 Multiple Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children, were killed and dozens more injured in relentless Israeli bombardment as it pressed its ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

In the north, northern and eastern Gaza City were subjected to sustained artillery shelling amid clashes between Israeli tanks and Hamas fighters.

In central Gaza, artillery bombardment and airstrikes hit the Al-Maghazi refugee camp and the entrance of the Al-Bureij refugee camp, while naval forces heavily targeted other areas across the centre of the strip.

In the south, Israeli airstrikes targeted central and eastern Khan Younis, while artillery shelling hit the northern neighbourhoods of the city, killing several civilians, including women and children.

Israeli bombardment has destroyed large swathes of the densely populated territory and sparked a humanitarian crisis in the Israeli-besieged strip, with 80 percent of the population internally displaced and 40 percent at risk of famine.

13:30 The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has condemned "field executions against Palestinian civilians", saying they are "acts of gangs, not a state claiming democracy." 

"Israel must immediately disclose secret concentration camps and provide names and conditions of those detained from the Gaza Strip," the ministry said.



13:00 Thousands of Israeli soldiers are being moved out of the Gaza Strip, the military has said, marking the first significant drawdown of troops since the war began, Sky News reported.

Israel also pulled tanks out of some Gaza City districts, residents said, in what the US said was a shift to different military tactics in northern Gaza.

The US, Israel's chief ally, has pressured the country in recent weeks to switch to lower-intensity fighting.

Five brigades, totalling several thousand troops, will be taken out of the enclave in the coming weeks for training and rest, Sky News quoted the IDF as saying.

Fierce fighting continued in other areas of Gaza, especially the southern city of Khan Younis and central areas of the territory.

Israeli army Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari did not say whether the decision means Israel is launching a new phase of the war.

"The objectives of the war require prolonged fighting, and we are preparing accordingly," he said.

Mark Regev, an adviser to Netanyahu, described the war against Hamas as a "marathon" and spoke of the need to take troops out to rest them.

He told Sky News that "we have to be able to rotate our troops in and out as is needed."



12:45 Turkey announced the detention of 33 people suspected of planning abductions and spying on behalf of Israel's Mossad intelligence service.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said the suspects were rounded up in raids across eight provinces in and around Istanbul.

It was not immediately clear if they were Israeli nationals or locals allegedly working with Mossad.

"We will never allow espionage activities to be conducted against the national unity and solidarity of our country," Yerlikaya said on social media.

Yerlikaya's office released video footage showing armed security service agents breaking down doors and handcuffing suspects in their homes.

The Istanbul public prosecutor's office said 13 additional suspects remained at large.

12:30 The Palestinian health ministry said Tuesday at least 22,185 people have been killed in Gaza as Israel's brutal war nears on the territory nears three months.

A ministry statement said Israeli forces had "committed 15 massacres against families in the Gaza Strip" over the past 24 hours, killing 207 people and wounding 338 others.

The Israeli army says 173 of its soldiers have been killed since the ground invasion of Gaza began.

11:00 An explosive drone targeting the US-led coalition in Iraq was shot down at Erbil airport, authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan said.

The attack was claimed by the Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a loose alliance of Iran-linked armed groups that oppose US support for Israel's war on the Gaza Strip.

Since the start of Israel's air and ground invasion of Gaza on October 7, there has been a surge in attacks on US forces and their allies in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Authorities in the autonomous region of northern Iraq said the drone was launched by an "outlawed group" and was shot down.

Washington has counted 115 attacks launched against US targets in Syria and Iraq since mid-October, according to a military official speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US military has responded by launching air strikes targeting sites used by Iran and its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria.

The United States has around 2,500 troops in Iraq and 900 in Syria as part of a multinational coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

10:30 The Israeli military said that it struck Syrian military infrastructure overnight in response to rocket fire towards Israeli territory.

"In response to yesterday's launches toward Israeli territory, the IDF struck military infrastructure belonging to the Syrian Army," the army said in a statement.

10:00 Israeli troops killed four Palestinians during confrontations in the occupied West Bank town of Azzun following a raid by the Israeli army, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Their bodies were seized by the army, WAFA added. 

"Israeli occupation soldiers fired live ammunition, stun grenades, and tear gas at residents during the raid," the report said, adding that they searched homes and businesses, and took surveillance footage from several shops.

In a separate incident, the Israeli army said it "neutralized" a Palestinian militant who fired at them in the town of Qalqilya, without elaborating.

Israeli forces made seven arrests in the West Bank overnight, the army said, adding that more than 2,550 people have been arrested in the territory since Israel's war on Gaza began in early October.

The West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since the Six-Day War of 1967 and tensions have escalated since the outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Since 7 October, at least 321 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank by Israeli troops or settlers, according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 520 Palestinians were killed in the territory in 2023.



9:00 Eyewitnesses reported missiles fired towards the city of Rafah in the south and shelling around the Jabalia refugee camp in the north on Monday night into Tuesday morning.

Fighting was also reported around the central areas of Maghazi and Bureij, as well as the main southern city of Khan Younis.

"It's the worst year of our lives," Gaza resident Sami Hamouda, 64, told AFP of 2023.

"Every new day is like the previous one: bombings, death and mass killings.

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