Saleh Arouri, the leader of Hamas in Judea and Samaria, is maneuvering to become the Arab terror group’s supreme leader.
Arab sources have told the Tazpit Press Service that following Israeli threats to eliminate him, Arouri is strengthening his position in Hamas based on his expansion of terror activities in Judea and Samaria. Arouri’s associates believe he will run for leadership of Hamas in the organization’s internal elections in 2025.
The sources said Arouri will present a “job card” full of terror operations in the leadership contest.
TPS has learned that there is considerable tension between Arouri and Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s Gaza strongman. Their relationship was strained over Sinwar’s refusal to allow terror groups in Gaza — primarily Palestinian Islamic Jihad — to launch rockets — during a four-day war between Israel and Islamic Jihad. Hamas received considerable criticism for sitting out the war.
Another source of division is that Arouri has been working to bring Hamas closer into Iran’s orbit while Sinwar prefers to keep Tehran at arm’s length. Iran considers Arouri, who is based in Lebanon, to be a valuable asset.
As TPS reported on Sunday, sources within the Gaza Strip said that Arouri “is currently considered an extremely important asset for the Iranians and therefore it should be estimated that his elimination abroad will lead to the ignition of an all-out campaign, certainly on the northern front.”
Israel’s Security Cabinet on Tuesday authorized the Israeli Defense Forces to take more proactive measures against Palestinian terror groups amid mounting attacks. PA Arab terrorists have killed 34 people (33 Israelis and an Italian tourist) in Israel and committed almost 200 shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria in 2023.
A well-informed PA source told TPS that Arouri is very friendly with Khaled Mashaal, who represents Hamas abroad, though Mashaal is viewed as the leader of the organization’s “Qatari camp.”
“This is because the two, residents of the West Bank, do not accept the fact that the leadership of Hamas and its center of gravity have moved to the Strip since the Shalit deal,” the source told TPS. He was referring to the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange of 2011 which saw Israel release 1,027 security prisoners in exchange for the kidnapped soldier.
The source added, “Mostly, Arouri sees Mashaal as his man to lead the Palestinian Authority” after Mahmoud Abbas.