White House Says ‘Nobody Should Shed a Tear’ for Senior Hamas Official Killed by Israel in Beirut

The US is publicly claiming it doesn't know who killed Saleh al-Arouri

The White House on Wednesday gave tacit backing to the Israeli drone strike in Beirut that killed Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau, despite the risk of the action provoking a major war.

US and Israeli officials speaking anonymously to the media have confirmed that Israel was behind the strike but have not done so publicly.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed the US did not know if Israel was behind the strike but justified the bombing of the Lebanese capital.

“We’re not in a position to confirm the specific reports,” Kirby told reporters at a press briefing. “I would just tell you that al-Houri was a noted designated global terrorist and, if he is in fact dead, nobody should be shedding a tear over his loss.”

The State Department also appeared to express its support for the killing of al-Houri while claiming ignorance on who was responsible. State Department spokesman Matt Miller called al-Houri a “brutal terrorist centrally responsible for the attacks on October 7 and other attacks against innocent civilians going back well beforehand.”

Al-Houri was involved in the Qatari-mediated negotiations that led to the hostage deal that freed over 100 Israelis and over 200 Palestinians. Unconfirmed reports say Hamas has suspended recently resumed negotiations over the killing of al-Houri.

Hezbollah is warning that it will respond to the assassination, which marked the first Israeli attack on Beirut since the 2006 Lebanon war. Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire across the Lebanon-Israel border since October 7, and Axios reported in November that some White House officials were worried Israel was trying to provoke a wider war with Hezbollah that would draw in the US.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.