Salah al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas, and one of the founders of its military wing, al-Qassam Brigades, has contracted COVID-19 according to a short statement published by the movement on Thursday.
“Today, Thursday, medical examination results revealed the deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas, Sheikh Saleh Al-Arouri, was infected with the Coronavirus. Sheikh al-Arouri has taken all the necessary health steps, and he shall remain isolated until his recovery, God willing,” Hamas stated.
Israeli and American authorities believe al-Arouri is behind multiple terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank. Most notably, he is accused of orchestrating the 2014 kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers by al-Qassam Brigades operatives in the settlement of Alon Shvut. The kidnapping is largely attributed to triggering the 50-day conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions a month later.
In Sept. 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated al-Arouri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. Additionally, three years later, the U.S. State Department issued a $5 million reward for information leading to the identification or location of the Hamas leader.
Several weeks ago, al-Arouri and a host of Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, met with multiple leaders of the Palestinian factions in Beirut including Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nakhala. Additionally, al-Arouri and Haniyeh met with Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah during the visit.
Officially, al-Arouri is the highest-ranking official in Hamas, or any of the Palestinian factions, to contract COVID-19. Although, he is not the only Hamas member to have contracted the virus. Over the last several months, Hamas has admitted to several infections among leaders abroad including the death of one of its al-Qassam Brigades fighters on Aug. 26.
Due to the lack of information from Hamas about al-Arouri’s COVID-19 diagnoses, it is difficult to determine status of his health. However, it is doubtful the group would release any information about the leader’s COVID-19 infection unless they were confident his prognosis was excellent.