Members of Hamas' armed wing in Gaza City, July 3, 2014.
Mohammed Salem / Courtesy Reuters

Soon after three Israel teenagers were kidnapped last month, Israeli officials leaked to the press the name of the Hamas operational commander who is believed to be behind a recent surge in kidnapping plots. It was a familiar one for those who follow Hamas closely: Salah al-Arouri, a longtime Hamas operative from the West Bank, who lives openly in Turkey. Now, with the boys’ bodies found and the funerals over, Israeli security forces continue to hunt down the two Hebron-based Hamas operatives believed to have actually carried out the plot. Yet observers and experts are sure to eventually circle back to Arouri, who has been a key figure behind Hamas’ efforts to rejuvenate the group’s terrorist networks in the West Bank.


In 2012, Amnesty International described Arouri as “widely held to be one of the founders of the armed wing of Hamas.” In court documents, the U.

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  • MATTHEW LEVITT is the Fromer-Wexler fellow and Director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the author of Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad and Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God.
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