Israel killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri in a drone strike in Lebanon's capital Beirut on Tuesday, Lebanese and Palestinian security sources said, raising the potential risk of the war in the Gaza Strip spreading well beyond the Palestinian enclave.

Arouri, 57, is the first senior Hamas political leader to be assassinated since Israel launched a shattering air and ground offensive against Gaza's rulers after the group's shock rampage into Israeli towns in early October.

Lebanon's heavily armed Hezbollah group, a Hamas ally, has been exchanging near-daily fire with Israel across Lebanon's southern border since the war in Gaza began in October.