Published By: Sheen Kachroo
Last Updated: October 21, 2023, 22:56 IST
Israeli troops on Saturday raided the West Bank home of a senior Hamas leader and detained members of his family, witnesses said.
Saleh al-Aruri is the deputy to Hamas’ overall leader Ismail Haniyeh and one of the founders of the Islamist group’s military wing.
Based in Lebanon, he is a key target for Israel following the October 7 attacks when Hamas militants from Gaza stormed into southern Israel and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seized more than 200 hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Since then, more than 4,300 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed in relentless Israeli bombardments, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.
Troops entered Aruri’s home in Arura village, some 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of Ramallah, at dawn on Saturday, arresting more than 20 people, including one of his brothers and nine of his nephews, mayor Ali al-Khasib and witnesses told AFP.
Dozens more were pulled in for questioning.
Outside the house, troops put up a banner of the Hamas deputy against the background of an Israeli flag that read: “This was the house of Saleh Aruri and has become the headquarters of Abu al-Nimer — Israeli intelligence”, witnesses said, with images of it widely shared online.
Village residents said Abu al-Nimer was an alias for the Israeli intelligence officer responsible for the area.
In a statement, the army said the raid was jointly staged with the Shin Beth internal security service and resulted in the arrests of “dozens of Hamas members” among them relatives of Aruri. It confirmed using the house “for the detention and questioning of activists”.
Israel has accused Aruri, who was named Haniyeh’s deputy in 2017, of organising several attacks.
He spent almost 20 years in Israeli prisons and was freed in 2010 on condition that he go into exile.
Since the Gaza conflict erupted, dozens of people have been killed in incidents with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)