Hamas Appoints Ex-prisoner Who Orchestrated West Bank Attacks to Top Political Role

Saleh Arouri was imprisoned in Israel for 16 years and then deported to Turkey

Saleh al-Arouri in Ramallah on March 11, 2007.
AFP

Saleh al-Arouri, a senior member of Hamas' military wing responsible for the organization's militant activities in the West Bank, was appointed deputy head of the organization's political bureau on Thursday, replacing Musa Abu Marzook.

Arouri was imprisoned in Israel for 16 years until his release in 2007. He was then deported to Turkey, where he stayed for several years and sent instructions to Hamas' military wing to carry out attacks. As part of the reconciliation agreement between Israel and Turkey, Arouri was expelled from there and moved to Doha, the capital of Qatar. A few months ago, he was expelled yet again, and he relocated to Lebanon and is involved, inter alia, in promoting relations between Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.

In September, Israel strongly protested to Russia for having hosted Arouri as part of a Hamas delegation to Moscow. A few months ago, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in a meeting with US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that Arouri was trying to orchestrate attacks against Israel from Lebanon, adding that he expected the United States to work with the government in Beirut to expel Arouri and two other Hamas militants who were working with him.

In contrast to previous years, when Hamas' influence was divided between Gaza and Doha, now the organization's political and military leadership is concentrated in the Gaza Strip. Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar are in Gaza, as are the head of the military wing, Muhammad Def, and his deputy Marwan Issa. Arouri is expected not to exert influence on the organization's internal decisions and will focus mainly on its foreign relations, including its connections with Hezbollah and Iran.