Lebanese Man Accused of Funneling Funds to Hamas Found Dead, Source Says

Palestinian scouts carry the Palestinian flag during a march in Beirut, Lebanon, in support of Palestinians in Gaza and to mark Palestinian Martyrs' Day, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, on January 7, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinian scouts carry the Palestinian flag during a march in Beirut, Lebanon, in support of Palestinians in Gaza and to mark Palestinian Martyrs' Day, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, on January 7, 2024. (Reuters)
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Lebanese Man Accused of Funneling Funds to Hamas Found Dead, Source Says

Palestinian scouts carry the Palestinian flag during a march in Beirut, Lebanon, in support of Palestinians in Gaza and to mark Palestinian Martyrs' Day, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, on January 7, 2024. (Reuters)
Palestinian scouts carry the Palestinian flag during a march in Beirut, Lebanon, in support of Palestinians in Gaza and to mark Palestinian Martyrs' Day, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, on January 7, 2024. (Reuters)

A Lebanese man sanctioned for allegedly funneling millions of dollars to Palestinian armed group Hamas was found dead in a mountain town outside Beirut, a security source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The security source identified the victim as Mohammad Surur and said he hailed from a northeastern town near the Syrian border and worked in currency exchanges and money transfers, including between Iran-backed groups opposed to Israel.

He was found dead in a house in the town of Beit Meri on Tuesday, with several gunshot wounds to his legs, the Lebanese security source said.

That, along with a large of sum money found on the body, led Lebanon's security forces to conclude that Surur had been subject to a violent interrogation, not attempted theft, the source added.

Surur was sanctioned in 2019 by the US Treasury, which said he had transferred "tens of millions of dollars per year" between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' external branch, the Quds Force, and Hamas's armed wing the Qassam Brigades.

He would have been 57 at the time of his death, according to biographical details published by the Treasury.

Hamas launched a cross-border attack into Israeli territory on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 Israelis dead according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military responded with a devastating land, sea and air campaign on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, authorities in the territory say.

The Treasury said in 2019 that Surur was also linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. Surur has been seen at public events hosted by Hezbollah in Lebanon but did not appear to have a formal or senior role directly within the armed group, a source familiar with Hezbollah's operations told Reuters.

Hezbollah has been exchanging fire across Lebanon's southern border with Israel in parallel with the Gaza war.

In a press conference, Surur's family pressed for a full investigation into the circumstances around his death but did not accuse any particular individual, group or government.

His death comes just days after the killing of a local official in an anti-Hezbollah faction, which has stoked fears of an outbreak of political and sectarian violence.

Lebanon is already suffering a nearly five-year-old financial collapse that has turned much of the economy into a cash-based one, worrying observers who say money laundering could grow.

In March, a top US Treasury representative visited Lebanon to press officials to halt financial transfers to Hamas. A source at Lebanon's central bank told Reuters that Lebanon had denied such transfers were taking place.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.