The devastating explosions in Iran and the killing of a leader of the Islamist Hamas in Lebanon have further increased dangerous tensions in the Middle East. Iran’s leadership spoke of a terrorist attack after the attack on the anniversary of General Ghassem Soleimani’s death.

At first no one claimed responsibility for the crime. There is no reason to believe that Israel is involved, said US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. The USA also had nothing to do with it. The attack, which killed 84 people, came as Iran’s arch-enemy Israel is waging war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip and facing Iranian-backed militias such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Hezbollah chief warns Israel

After the killing of the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, Saleh al-Aruri, in an explosion in the Lebanese capital Beirut, the head of Hezbollah warned Israel against an escalation of the conflict with Lebanon. “The assassination of Al-Arouri is a dangerous crime that will not go without response and punishment,” Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech on Wednesday. “If the enemy starts a war against Lebanon, we will no longer follow any rules,” said Nasrallah. However, he did not make a direct threat against Israel or even a declaration of war.

Nasrallah simply said in his speech: “We are not afraid of war and we do not hesitate.” Israel had not claimed responsibility for the killing of Al-Aruri. However, the Hamas leader had been on Israel’s “hit list” for a long time. Israel believes he was involved in planning the devastating terrorist attack on October 7 in the Israeli border area, which sparked the Gaza war. Al-Arouri had also established closer Hamas ties with Hezbollah and Iran.

Hezbollah’s new fighting with Israel

Hezbollah fired again at Israel on Thursday ahead of Al-Aruri’s funeral in Lebanon. The Shiite militia said it had, among other things, fired on Israeli units near the village of Shtula and scored “direct hits.” However, Israel did not provide any information about possible victims.

The Israeli military said it returned fire from Lebanon. A fighter plane shelled a Hezbollah observation post near the city of Marun al-Ras. In addition, a Hezbollah unit equipped with anti-tank weapons came under fire.

Lebanon: Don’t want to be drawn into a war

The killing of Al-Aruri has now brought the Gaza war to Beirut. The government there is trying not to let the conflict escalate: “We are very worried, the Lebanese do not want to be drawn into it, even Hezbollah does not want to be drawn into a regional war,” said Minister Bou Habib. He called on Western states to “put pressure on Israel to stop all its violence and all its actions, not only in Lebanon, not only in Beirut, but also in Gaza.”

The Foreign Office calls on people to leave Lebanon quickly

Because of the tense situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border, the Foreign Office called on German nationals to leave Lebanon as quickly as possible. Germans who are still in the country should register on the Elefand crisis preparedness list and leave “as quickly as possible,” the Foreign Office wrote on the X platform, formerly Twitter. Around 1,000 German citizens have already done this. “An escalation on the border between Israel and Lebanon cannot be ruled out,” it said after a meeting of the crisis team.

Thousands attend funeral of Hamas leader in Beirut

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Hamas leader Saleh al-Aruri, who was allegedly killed by Israel, in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Under tight security, the coffin of the Islamist organization’s second-highest leader abroad was taken to a cemetery in the Palestinian camp of Shatila in the south of the city. Participants chanted “Freedom for Palestine” and “Death to America and Israel.” They marched together to the cemetery. They held aloft the Palestinian flag and flags of Hezbollah and Hamas.

According to Hezbollah militia circles, Hamas leader Saleh al-Aruri was killed in Lebanon in an apartment that Hamas has long used as an office. Lebanese security sources said that the premises had been used less for a while, but had recently been used more frequently again.

Al-Aruri, the deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, was killed on Tuesday evening in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut. Israeli surveillance drones were said to have been spotted in the area of ​​the office that morning.

Hamas and Hezbollah blame Israel for Al-Arouri’s killing. Israel’s military has so far declined to comment on reports of a targeted killing. In total, seven members of Hamas and allies were killed in the attack.

Expert: Iran has no interest in confrontation

“It is now very important that Hezbollah restores its deterrence capacity, taking into account local realities: the Lebanese do not want to be drawn into a war,” Anthony Samrani, editor-in-chief of the Lebanese newspaper L’Orient-Le Jour, told the Foreign television from the French broadcaster France 24. The Shiite Hezbollah does not have the means for a comprehensive conflict with Israel, “especially in view of the strong US presence in the region.”

Neither Hezbollah nor its biggest supporter, Iran, are prepared to take on major retaliatory measures, said political analyst Makram Rabah of the German Press Agency. “It has been clear since the beginning of the conflict that Iran has no interest in a full-scale confrontation,” he said. After the devastating explosions in Iran on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal newspaper pointed out that Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi announced a decisive response in a short statement on the X platform, but had not blamed anyone for the attack.

“With God’s permission, the hand of divine vengeance will appear at the right time and place,” Raisi wrote. The aim of the attack was apparently to further inflame tensions between Israel and Iran at a time of heightened sensitivity between both sides following the murder of Hamas leader Al-Aruri, the Wall Street Journal wrote, citing unnamed people , who are familiar with Israel’s actions.

Circles: US attack in Iraq – pro-Iranian militiamen killed

According to security sources, at least two members of a powerful pro-Iranian militia, including a commander, were killed in a suspected US airstrike in the Iraqi capital Baghdad. The German Press Agency learned from security circles that the US attack hit a facility belonging to the so-called Popular Mobilization Forces in the east of the city. Six other militia members were injured.

An Iraqi army spokesman confirmed the attack and blamed the US. The “unjustified” attack with a drone is no different from “terrorist acts”.

Pro-Iranian propaganda channels reported the killing of two high-ranking leaders. A TV station close to the militia reported an attack with three rockets. Images on social media showed the wreckage of a car that appeared to have been hit.

There was initially no claim to responsibility for the attack.

US Secretary of State Blinken is traveling through the Middle East again

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be traveling through the Middle East again in the coming days in view of the Gaza war. Ministry spokesman Matthew Miller said in Washington that a longer trip was planned with stops in Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the West Bank and Egypt. Blinken therefore wanted to leave today.

Miller said talks in the coming days would focus on efforts to bring more humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, free the remaining hostages from Hamas’s hands and improve protection for civilians in the conflict. Israel must also do more to reduce tensions in the West Bank.

It is also about preventing the conflict from spreading beyond the Gaza Strip, said Miller. During his stops, Blinken wanted to discuss concrete steps on how actors in the region could use their influence to avoid escalation. The conversations on the trip wouldn’t be easy. “There are obviously difficult problems in the region and difficult decisions that lie ahead,” he stressed. However, Blinken believes it is the United States’ job to lead diplomatic efforts to address the crisis.

Report: Israeli army kills Hamas terrorists in tunnels

The Israeli army says it killed many of its opponents in tunnels during fighting against the Islamist Hamas in the south of the Gaza Strip. This was also confirmed by Hamas terrorists who surrendered in the heavily contested city of Khan Yunis, the military said on Telegram. A tunnel system several hundred meters long was destroyed and Hamas’ fighting and leadership ability in the region was significantly reduced. The information could not initially be independently verified.

According to Colonel Micky Scharwit, 20 terrorists were killed in a tunnel in the south alone. There is practically no non-military infrastructure in the combat zone, the Jerusalem Post newspaper quoted him as saying. Hamas uses almost every residential building, hospital and almost every school for terror.

Hamas Authority: More than 22,400 dead in the Gaza Strip

The number of Palestinians killed in the Gaza war between the Islamist Hamas and the Israeli army has risen to 22,438, according to the Hamas-controlled health authority. That was 125 new deaths within 24 hours. A further 57,614 people have been injured by Israeli attacks since October 7th, the authority said. 70 percent of the victims are women, children and young people. The numbers cannot currently be independently verified, but are considered credible.

Terrorist militia IS calls for attacks against Jews and Christians

The terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) has called for global attacks against Jews and Christians. Europe and the USA were explicitly mentioned in the Islamists’ audio message, which was published via the usual propaganda channels. Jihadist spokesman Abu Hudhaifa al-Ansari also warned the Islamist Palestinian organization Hamas not to cooperate with Shiite groups. In the Gaza War, the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah is considered an ally of Hamas. ISIS views Shiite Muslims as apostates from Islam and despises them.