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Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri killed in Beirut blast

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A drone strike in Beirut’s southern suburbs of Dahiyeh, a Hezbollah stronghold, killed senior Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri on Tuesday.

The drone hit a Hamas office, leaving six people dead, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.

Hamas confirmed the death of al-Arouri and called it a “cowardly assassination” by Israel, adding that attacks on Palestinians “inside and outside Palestine will not succeed in breaking the will and steadfastness of our people, or undermining the continuation of their valiant resistance”.

“It proves once again the abject failure of this enemy to achieve any of its aggressive goals in the Gaza Strip,” the group said.

Following the news of the death of al-Arouri, mosques in Arura, the occupied West Bank town of north Ramallah, are mourning his death and a general strike has been called in Ramallah for Wednesday.

Here is what to know about the Hamas official killed in Lebanon.

Who was Saleh al-Arouri?

Al-Arouri, 57, was the deputy chief of Hamas’s political bureau and one of the founders of the group’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades.

He had been living in exile in Lebanon after spending 15 years in an Israeli jail. Before the war began on October 7, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had threatened to kill him.

In recent weeks, al-Arouri took on the role of spokesperson for the group and told Al Jazeera last month that Hamas would not discuss an exchange deal for the captives the group is holding before the war ends in Gaza.

The United States labelled al-Arouri as a “global terrorist” in 2015 and issued a $5m reward for any information on him.

What has Israel said about al-Arouri’s death?

While there has been no official response from Israel about the death of the Hamas official, Mark Regev, an adviser to Netanyahu, told the US outlet MSNBC that Israel does not take responsibility for this attack. But, added, “Whoever did it, it must be clear: this was not an attack on the Lebanese state.”

“Whoever did this did a surgical strike against the Hamas leadership,” he said.

However, Danny Danon, a former Israeli envoy to the United Nations, hailed the attack and congratulated the Israeli army, Shin Bet, the security service and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, for killing al-Arouri.

“Anyone who was involved in the 7/10 massacre should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them,” he said on X in Hebrew, referring to the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel that killed nearly 1,200 people.

Israel’s relentless bombing and artillery shelling of Gaza since then has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, including more than 8,000 children.

According to Israeli media, the government has ordered cabinet ministers not to give any interviews about al-Arouri’s death after Danon’s tweet.

What has been the response from Lebanon?

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack on the Beruit suburb and said it was a “new Israeli crime” as well as an attempt to pull Lebanon into the war.

Mikati also warned against the “Israeli political upper echelon resorting to exporting its failures in Gaza to the southern border to impose new facts on the ground and change the rules of engagement”.

Hezbollah said that the attack on Lebanon’s capital “will not pass without punishment”.

(Al Jazeera)

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School outdoor activities suspended over soaring temperatures

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The Education Ministry has instructed all respective school authorities to refrain from making students participate in strenuous outdoor activities until Friday (March 01) at schools as temperatures are expected to rise further.

Accordingly, Sports Day events, sports practices or any other scheduled outdoor activities are urged to be suspended for the time being.

Provincial and zonal authorities of education have been instructed to brief school principals about the matter, the ministry said in a press release.

In addition, school administrations are required to comply with the health guidelines issued by the Health Ministry and the Education Ministry.

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Court suspends divestiture process of SLT & Lanka Hospitals

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The Court of Appeal yesterday (27) issued an interim order preventing authorities from proceeding with the divestiture process of Sri Lanka Telecom and Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC, until March 12.

Three Petitions were filed for Sri Lanka Telecom PLC including by Lyca Mobiles, and S.M.R. M company, while two petitions were filed for Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC including by Lyca Leasing Holdings.

Upon the oral submissions made by President’s Counsel Kuvera De Zoysa, Court of Appeal Justice D.N. Samarakoon issued notices on respondents, returnable for March 12.

The petitioners named Minister of Finance Ranil Wickremesinghe, State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, the members of the special Cabinet-appointed negotiating committee for the purpose of selecting pre-qualified bidders for the strategic divestiture pertaining to 51.34% shares of Lanka Hospitals PLC and several others as respondents.

Kuvera De Zoysa, PC with Raslka Dissanayake, Sajana de Zoysa, Dinusha Pathirana and Shablr Huzalr instructed by Sanath Wijewardane appeared for the petitioners.

The petitioners had informed the court that they had submitted bids per the required criteria for the divestiture of the Sri Lankan Government’s shares of 50.23% in Sri Lanka Telecom PLC and 51.34% in Lanka Hospitals Corporation PLC.

The petitioners alleged that, however, the Cabinet of Ministers had rejected the bids without providing any clear explanations, adding that the decision was against the law.

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Lankan convict in Gandhi assassination case passes away

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Santhan alias T Suthendiraraja, a Sri Lankan national who was one of the six convicts released in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, died on Wednesday morning at the Rajiv Gandhi Government Hospital (RGGH) in Chennai.

Santhan, who was released by the Indian Supreme Court in November 2022, was kept at the special camp near the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison.

Last week, the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in Chennai issued an order to deport Santhan to Sri Lanka, however, he was admitted to the RGGH for treatment for a kidney-related ailment.

Addressing the reports, E Thenirajan, Dean, RGGH, said that based on the directions of the Tiruchirapalli district collector, Santhan was admitted to the hospital on January 27.

Thenirajan said a team of doctors were treating him at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and constantly monitoring him. He said Santhan was diagnosed with cryptogenic cirrhosis or a liver disease.

“He suffered a setback to his health yesterday (Tuesday) night. He had lost consciousness and we were providing treatment. Around 4.30 am today (Wednesday), he suffered a cardiac arrest. He was revived following a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) procedure and was on ventilator support. However, he failed to respond to further treatment and passed away at 7.50 am,” he said.

Thenirajan said they would carry out the post-mortem procedures now and take further measures to send his body to Sri Lanka.

According to court documents, Santhan is believed to have fled then strife-torn Sri Lanka in 1991 and reached India by boat, along with Sivarasan, who led the assassination team and was never caught alive, and a few others. According to the Supreme Court order, Santhan’s role in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi was direct and active.

Santhan was initially sentenced to death for his involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, however, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He was released in November 2022, along with five other convicts, after spending over three decades in prison.

(The Indian Express)

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