Hamas has elected senior group member Saleh al-Arouri, a man best known for orchestrating a lethal triple kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, as deputy chief of its influential Political Bureau, The Jerusalem Post reported Friday.
Al-Arouri is the mastermind behind a long list of terrorist attacks in the West Bank. In June 2014, a Hamas cell in the West Bank kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel and Israeli authorities suspected al-Arouri of coordinating the abductions. Al-Arouri later took credit for the kidnapping and killing in the name of Hamas.
The Palestinian Information Center, a Hamas news site, confirmed that al-Arouri had been elected deputy to Haniyeh and is now ”the Hamas movement’s number two man.” The statement further noted that “Twenty three years of detention and expulsion have not weakened the resolve of the leader Saleh al-Arouri.”
Al-Arouri’s promotion is seen as toughening the Islamist movement’s posture in advance of reconciliation talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas rejected this week the PA’s demand for disarmament and has vowed to hold onto its weapons to fight Israel.
Hamas and Fatah negotiators are set to meet under Egyptian leadership in Cairo next week in an effort to end the political division between the West Bank and Gaza, which erupted after Hamas took over control and began to govern Gaza in June 2007.
Al-Arouri also plays a major part in Hamas’ attempt to establish a foothold in Lebanon with the support of the Iranian regime in a bid to intensify strategic ties with the Tehran-led Shiite axis.
Al-Arouri moved with other senior Hamas members from Qatar to Lebanon, where Iran’s Shiite proxy Hezbollah is in complete political and military control. The terrorist organization, on orders from Iran, allowed Al-Arouri to establish a foothold in the country and, about two months ago, he visited Tehran with a high-profile Hamas delegation to attend President Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration and cement the relationship.
[Photo: Wochit News / YouTube]