A suspected financier for Hamas has been found dead at his villa in Lebanon amid growing tensions between Israel and Iran’s proxies.

A body identified as Mohammad Sarur, who had been accused of funnelling tens of millions of dollars from Iranian authorities to the terrorist group, was found at his home in the mountain town of Beit Meri outside Beirut after being shot at least five times on Tuesday. His money remained at the scene and was not taken by the gunman.

Sarur was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department for acting as a “middleman” between Iran’s Quds Force and Hamas as he was reportedly in charge of “all money transfers” between them.

The death of a 57-year-old man with the same initials was originally reported by Lebanon’s National News agency on Tuesday night.

Sanctions against Sarur date back to 2019 when US authorities suspected him of acting as an intermediary between Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas, claiming the money he helped to funnel could be used to carry out terrorist attacks on Israel from Gaza.

The US sanctions designation said Sarur was identified as early as 2014 to be working with Hezbollah operatives and being in charge of “all money transfers” between the Quds Force and Hamas’s armed wing the Qassam Brigades.

Security officials in Lebanon did not immediately name any suspects in the killing. Sarur would have been a prime target for an Israeli assassination but it would have been an unusual operation for Israel to carry out.

Israel in recent weeks has ramped up its attacks on Iran proxies across the Middle East, assassinating high-profile individuals in Lebanon and Syria. But all of them were killed in high-precision drone or missile strikes.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Ali Khamenei Iran’s supreme leader, in his sermon marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, reiterated Iran’s pledge to retaliate against Israel for killing its top general in a rare air strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus last week.

In response, Israel’s foreign minister threatened to respond in kind if Iran launched a direct attack on Israeli soil, adding to the increasingly belligerent rhetoric between the two countries.

Israel and Iran’s proxy Hezbollah have been exchanging fire along the Israeli-Syrian border since the start of the war in Gaza last year.

In Beirut, the head of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon said on Wednesday that he was worried that hostilities that have been fairly contained so far could spiral out of control.

“The danger of an escalation is real,” Aroldo Lazaro said in a comment issued by the UNIFIL peacekeeper force.

“There is no military solution to the current confrontation and violence; a political and diplomatic solution is the only way forward.”