Dangerous escalation of tensions on the border between Lebanon and Israel: Day 9 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel are increasing. Israel has claimed one civilian death.

The Israeli army announced that the area 4 km from the border with Lebanon was closed to public access.

The United States will send a second aircraft carrier to the Eastern Mediterranean "to deter hostile actions against Israel or any efforts to expand this war following the Hamas attack."

The Israeli army said it used tanks and artillery fire to prevent an infiltration from Lebanon around the same time as Issam Abdallah, a Reuters video journalist, was killed Friday evening in south Lebanon.

Latest reports: more than 1,400 deaths on the Israeli side, 2,670 deaths on the Palestinian side.

20:58 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE Blog on day 9 of the Israel-Hamas war. L'Orient Today will be back with more updates tomorrow morning.

20:52 Beirut Time

Israel says Hamas holds 155 hostages. – AFP

20:48 Beirut Time

IDF Spokesperson Daniel Hagari has stated that "Hezbollah is working to escalate the situation along the northern border to challenge Israel, with Iranian guidance and support," Haaretz reports

20:34 Beirut Time

France's Macron warned Iran's Raisi by phone against any escalation or extension of conflict, Macron’s office said, especially to include Lebanon. - Reuters

20:28 Beirut Time

More than 1,000 people are missing under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza, the Palestinian civil defense team said Sunday.

In a statement, the team said many others were pulled alive out of the rubble, 24 hours after buildings were struck. - Reuters

20:21 Beirut Time

A young resident of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip carries belongings salvaged from the rubble of a building hit in an Israeli strike, Oct. 15, 2023. (Credit: Mohammed Abed / AFP)

19:46 Beirut Time

Gaza Health Ministry: 2,670 Palestinians killed, 9,600 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since Oct 7. - Reuters

19:17 Beirut Time

Blinken says Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza will be reopened. – Reuters

19:13 Beirut Time

Smoke billows from the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 15, 2023, after Israeli bombardment, as seen from the Israeli side of the border. In the eight days since Hamas gunmen killed more than 1,300 Israelis, Israel has responded with a bombing campaign that has claimed over 2,300 lives in Gaza.

(Image: Jack Guez / AFP)

19:01 Beirut Time

Testimonial from Gaza: "The bombardments continue. Thousands of people are fleeing to the south. We have no electricity, water or internet. We charge all our cell phones from a store that uses solar energy," says Saïd, in his thirties, from Deir al-Balah refugee camp — the smallest in the enclave — south of Gaza City.

(Image: Mobile phones being recharged in Deir al-Balah camp.)

18:55 Beirut Time

In a phone call Sunday, Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi urged France to help "prevent oppression" of Palestinians, adding that the situation would become more complicated if Israel does not stop "its crimes," state media said.

"Palestinian resistance groups make their own determinations and decision," Raisi told French President Emmanuel Macron. - Reuters

18:39 Beirut Time

Israel's planned ground invasion of Gaza "could lead to a genocide of unprecedented proportions," the heads of the Arab League and African Union said Sunday in a joint statement.

Both organizations called on "the United Nations and the international community to stop a catastrophe unfolding in front of us, before it is too late," as Israel readies for a ground invasion following Hamas' surprise attack last week.

18:09 Beirut Time

Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip have killed at least 2,450 people since Hamas' bloody attack on southern Israel last week, the Gaza health ministry said Sunday.

Another 9,200 people have been injured as Israel continued its blistering air campaign on targets in the Palestinian coastal enclave, the Hamas-administered ministry added.

17:57 Beirut Time

More than 1,400 people were killed in the attack by Palestinian Hamas commandos on Israeli territory on October 7, according to a new toll provided by the Prime Minister’s office Sunday, AFP reported.

“More than 1,400 people were killed, and more than 120 Israelis were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists,” said Netanyahu spokesman Tal Heinrich at a press briefing. The previous death toll was over 1,300 in the unprecedented attack that sparked off a war between Israel and Hamas.

17:37 Beirut Time

Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told L'Orient-Le Jour that "the force's headquarters in Naqoura (southern Lebanon) was targeted by a rocket about an hour ago."

"We are investigating the incident, which caused no injuries or casualties," he added, without specifying the source of the attack.

In a statement, outgoing Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he had contacted the Commander-in-Chief of UNIFIL, General Aroldo Lazaro, to inquire about the circumstances of the incident. He also expressed "solidarity" with UNIFIL.

17:26 Beirut Time

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Sunday that Israel claimed it had turned on southern Gaza's water supply.

"I have been in touch with my Israeli counterparts just within the last hour who reported to me that they have, in fact, turned the water pipe back on in southern Gaza," Sullivan told CNN.

Israel had halted the flow of water as part of its siege of the Hamas-ruled territory since the war broke out last weekend. - AFP

17:22 Beirut Time

Hamas armed wing has announced that it has fired 20 rockets into two Israeli settlements south of Lebanon, Reuters reported.

17:09 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced in a statement that it attacked an Israeli position with “guided missiles,” hitting two Merkava tanks and an armored personnel carrier, and claimed there had been “human casualties” among the Israeli troops. The attack, the fifth of the day according to the party, was in response to the killing of Khiam-born Reuters photo-journalist Issam Abdallah in the village of Alma al-Shaab and the civilians in the village of Shebaa.

16:40 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister said Sunday that Israel has no interest in waging war on its northern front, Reuters reported, and that if Lebanon's Hezbollah restrains itself, Israel would respect the current situation along the border.

16:34 Beirut Time

A memorial service has been held for Issam Abdallah, in Beirut’s Hamra district. The Reuters photo-journalist was killed in southern Lebanon Friday when missiles fired from Israel hit him and injured six other journalists. He was buried yesterday in his home village of Khiam. L’Orient Le Jour’s Olivia Le Poidevin reports from the service in Beirut.

The room in Shihab Garden is full. Friends and family members, dressed in black, sit, their heads lowered. Streams of people come and go to pay their respects. The sounds of family members weeping inconsolably can be heard from the back of the room, as prayers are said. A large photo, accompanied with a wreath of flowers, shows Abdallah smiling. Before the start of the memorial service Issam’s brother, Ali Bassam Abdallah, recalled for L’Orient Le Jour how Issam’s life was marked by his dedication to his job.

His career as a Reuters photo-journalist grew out of a chance encounter at a bar where he'd worked mixing drinks. A former Reuters bureau chief saw him and his camera. From that moment their collaboration began.

“He was dedicated to his job and meticulous,” said Ali Bassam Abdallah. “He knew everyone, and always helped … He is a martyr.”

16:28 Beirut Time

IDF spokesperson in an interview with ABC: Would highly recommend Hezbollah closely watch what is happening to Hamas, should be cautious of "crossing the threshold."

16:08 Beirut Time

Israel-Hamas: the White House fears "escalation" and the possible "involvement of Iran," according to an adviser, quoted by AFP.

16:07 Beirut Time

Testimonial from Gaza: "We're at home, still alive for the moment. We haven't gone anywhere because no place is safe," Haneen, a young woman living in Gaza City, tells our reporter Noura Doukhi.

"My father is disabled and uses a wheelchair, and my mother is elderly. My husband, my aunt, my cousins and my grandmother are also with us. We have no choice but to stay. The UNWRA school that serves as our shelter is home to around 35,000 people and we can't take disabled and elderly people to a place like this. On top of that, there's shelling everywhere," she continues.

"We sit, we eat, we sleep in the same room, which is near the door. Our bags are ready, next to the entrance. The house hasn't been hit by bombs yet, but no place is safe. We just pray, it's our only refuge....," she explains.

"Without electricity, we open the generator for an hour a day to recharge our cell phones. We communicate with our 3G, which is not accessible to most people. Not everyone in the family has 3G . Those who do send a message to our loved ones to stay connected."

15:38 Beirut Time

The Israeli army said it was awaiting a "political decision" before carrying out a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, which it has been pounding relentlessly in retaliation for the bloody Hamas attack of October 7, AFP reported.

Israel has urged the inhabitants of the besieged north of the Palestinian territory — some 1.1 million people of a total population of 2.4 million — to flee southwards, claiming that it is targeting Gaza City (north) to destroy the center of operations of the ruling Islamist movement.

Tens of thousands of Gazans have already headed south, according to the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), while Israel has massed tens of thousands of troops around the Gaza Strip.

In two separate press briefings, Israeli army spokesmen Richard Hecht and Daniel Hagari said a "political decision" must precede any invasion.

"We will have discussions with the political echelon," said Hecht.

15:16 Beirut Time

Nabil Kaouk, a member of Hezbollah's Central Council, said on Sunday that "the Israeli invasion of Gaza is a threat to national security in Lebanon."

"The aims and consequences of this invasion go beyond Gaza to reach Lebanon, Syria and the whole region," he added at a ceremony in South Lebanon. Finally, Kaouk warned that "any Israeli aggression against Lebanon, in any place or at any time, will be met with a severe and immediate response."

15:12 Beirut Time

The Israeli army is striking the outskirts of the Ramyah village in south Lebanon right now, a UNIFIL spokesperson told L'Orient Today.

Earlier Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack on an Israeli hill near the area being hit.

15:06 Beirut Time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened Israel's expanded emergency cabinet for the first time on Sunday, saying the national unity on display sent a message at home and abroad as the country gears up to "demolish Hamas" in Gaza.

The meeting, held in military headquarters in Tel Aviv, began with ministers standing for a moment's silence in memory of some 1,300 Israelis killed in Hamas' shock Oct. 7 offensive. (Reuters)

15:05 Beirut Time

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to Israel again on Monday after visiting the country five days ago, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Sunday, for further consultations with Israeli leaders as Israel prepares for a ground offensive in Gaza.

The top American diplomat has embarked on his most extensive trip to date to the Middle East, working with Arab allies to prevent the war from spiraling into a wider conflict. He has just landed in Egypt, his seventh stop since kicking off the regional tour on Thursday. (Reuters)

15:01 Beirut Time

Momin Faiz a photojournalist in Gaza who was injured in the 2008 Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territoriy and lost the lower half of his body but still works as a photojournalist there, told our journalist Ghadir Hamadi on Sunday that "masses of people are leaving to the south of Gaza because they believe that it is safer than the north, but that's not true". "Southern Gaza is also being heavily bombarded, and many citizens in the south have been bombed and lost their lives."

He continued by noting that the "schools and hospitals have reached their maximum capacity as citizens continue to seek refuge in them. However, hospitals are not really safe zones as several hospitals across the strip have been repeatedly attacked by the occupation."

"Hospitals no longer have equipment to treat people, and UNRWA schools don't have food, water or electricity."

With regard to the Israel ground invasion Faiz concluded that "it will all be clear in the next few hours."

14:54 Beirut Time

A Hezbollah spokesperson confirmed to L'Orient Today that the party launched a third attack today, with a "guided rocket" fired from the Lebanese village of Marwahin towards a hill in Israeli territory, without specifying whether the attack resulted in casualties.

14:46 Beirut Time

The Israeli military said Sunday it had confirmed 126 people held as hostages by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group staged their deadly attack eight days earlier.

Authorities had initially estimated about 150 Israeli and foreign captives after Hamas launched its October 7 attack that killed at least 1,300 in Israel.

Military spokesman Richard Hecht also said that 286 Israeli soldiers had now been killed in military operations launched in response to the unprecedented Hamas attacks.

Hamas has claimed that 22 hostages were killed in Israeli strikes. It has warned it will kill hostages in response to unannounced Israeli strikes on civilian targets.

14:40 Beirut Time

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Habdollahian warned in Doha on Sunday that "no one" could "guarantee control of the situation" if Israel launched a ground offensive from Gaza, according to the ministry.

"If the Zionist regime's attacks on the defenseless population of Gaza continue, no one can guarantee control of the situation and the prospect of a widening conflict," the minister said in remarks reported in a Foreign Ministry statement.

14:39 Beirut Time

Egypt is intensifying efforts with its international and regional partners to deliver aid to Gaza, according to a statement released by the Egyptian presidency on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Egypt said its national security was a red line and that it rejects any plan to displace Palestinians. Egypt is proposing hosting a summit that would cover recent developments involving the crisis in Gaza and the future of the Palestinian issue, the statement added.

14:38 Beirut Time

Tribute : Brother of Issam Abdallah, Ali Bassam Abdallah

“Loving, courageous, neat and efficient.”

The words of the brother of Issam Abdallah, Ali Bassam Abdallah, to L’Orient-Le Jour’s Olivia Le Poidevin.

Wearing black, Ali recounts the sentiment of both pain and pride towards his brother.

“His camera is his weapon. And Israel tried to silence him.”

“We condemn the targeting of journalists on duty, we as family of the martyred Issam. We believe he was targeted by a high-tech missile from the Israeli side. The Lebanese army said it was a green zone,” he said.

“Issam was there helping me in my self-improvement, in my bad times. But he has given the gift today to his family of being a martyr. He was killed by the Israeli occupation, the enemies.”

"Here today today see the love from everyone. Everyone knew him."

"So many people came up to me and said 'he was one of my dear friends.'  I see a little bit of Issam in each journalist ."

13:57 Beirut Time

Israel's order for residents to evacuate the north of the Gaza Strip has led to a "massive displacement" of people towards the south of the Palestinian enclave, the UN said on Sunday.

“The massive displacement from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip has continued” since Friday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement. “Humanitarian partner organizations report that the number of internally displaced people [from the Gaza Strip] has increased significantly over the past 24 hours. However, their exact number is unknown,” OCHA said.

As of 11:00 p.m. local time (02:00 GMT) on Thursday, there were more than 423,000 displaced people inside the Gaza Strip. Around 64 percent of them were hosted by UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for supporting Palestinian refugees, in 102 locations designated as emergency shelters. More than 33,000 “have taken refuge in 36 public schools,” read the press release.

“It is estimated that more than 150,000 displaced people, whose homes were damaged or destroyed or who fled in fear, have found shelter with relatives or neighbors, as well as in other public facilities,” it added.

Israel is preparing for a ground offensive in the north of the Gaza Strip to destroy the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, responsible for the deadliest-ever attack on its soil on Oct. 7.

13:46 Beirut Time

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called for pressure on Hamas during a meeting Sunday with the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, which had been in talks with Israel but has now put diplomatic normalization on hold, AFP reports.

The top U.S. diplomat met for nearly an hour in the early morning with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the royal's farm residence in the Riyadh area, a U.S. official said.

"Very productive," Blinken said when asked about the meeting after returning to his hotel.

Blinken "highlighted the United States' unwavering focus on halting terrorist attacks by Hamas, securing the release of all hostages and preventing the conflict from spreading," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

"The two affirmed their shared commitment to protecting civilians and to advancing stability across the Middle East and beyond," Miller said.

Bin Salman highlighted Riyadh's diplomatic outreach "to calm the situation," the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported, efforts that have involved calls to regional leaders including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

He also reiterated the Gulf kingdom's condemnation of attacks on civilians and "vital interests that affect their daily lives," while stressing the need for Palestinians to "obtain their legitimate rights and achieve just and lasting peace," the SPA said.

13:36 Beirut Time

Pope Francis on Sunday called for humanitarian corridors to help those under siege in Gaza and renewed his appeal for the release of hostages held by Hamas, reports Reuters.

"I strongly ask that the children, the sick, the elderly, women and all civilians do not become victims of the conflict," the Pope said during his weekly address to the crowds in St. Peter's Square.

"Humanitarian right must be respected, above all in Gaza."

13:34 Beirut Time

Britain remains supportive of Israel's right to defend itself but has urged it to show restraint in any military action against Palestinian militant group Hamas in order to minimize harm to civilians, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly said.

Speaking to the media on Sunday, Cleverly said he had raised the need to minimize civilian casualties in conversations with the Israeli government.

"Restraint, discipline — these are the hallmarks of the Israeli defense force that I want to see," Cleverly told Sky News.

"Of course, we respect Israel's right to self-defense... We've said do everything you can to minimise civilian casualties. Do everything you can to prevent Hamas getting what they want, which is this: To escalate into a wider regional conflict."

13:09 Beirut Time

Six Palestinians were killed and several others wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Jabalia in Northern Gaza reports Reuters, quoting Hamas media.

13:06 Beirut Time

Around 100 people held a sit-in in downtown Beirut on Sunday to protest the death of Lebanese Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah who was killed on Friday evening at the age of 37 in a bombing raid in South Lebanon attributed to Israel by Lebanese authorities, reports our journalist on the ground Olivia Le Poidevin. Six other journalists working with AFP, Reuters and Al Jazeera were injured in that bombing, some seriously.

This protest follows a call by several Lebanese press unions for an international investigation into Abdallah's death.

"Silence is complicity"; "Targeting journalists is a war crime"; and "Israel murdered Issam Abdallah" could be read on placards held up by journalists outside the headquarters of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia).

"I really believe [the journalists] were targeted. This was no accident. It was a crime. They literally killed Issam," Florient Zwein, a freelance photographer and close friend of wounded AFP photojournalist Christina Assi, told our reporter. "I don't believe there will be any justice. Look at what happened to Shireen Abu Akleh," he continued.

12:12 Beirut Time

The Israeli military says it is bombarding southern Lebanon after a missile attack on the border villages of Shtula that caused at least four casualties, reports Reuters. 

Hezbollah, on its al-Manar channel, announced that it targeted the village of Shtula with "a guided missile" and "inflicted certain casualties in the ranks of the enemy military."

According to a statement from Hezbollah, the attacks came "in response to the killing of journalist Issam Abdallah and the killing of two residents in Chebaa."

Shtula faces the Lebanese border town of Ayta al-Shaab.

11:44 Beirut Time

Hezbollah on Sunday claimed it carried out a second attack on an Israeli position, and said it comes in response to Israeli strikes "that went too far" on southern border areas. Earlier on Sunday, Hezbollah announced in a statement that it targeted the Israeli village of Shtula with "a guided missile" and "inflicted certain casualties in the ranks of the enemy military."

Shtula faces the Lebanese border town of Ayta al-Shaab.

11:22 Beirut Time

The Israeli military claimed on Sunday it would continue to allow Palestinian civilians fleeing bombing of the Gaza Strip to relocate southward within the territory, adding that hundreds of thousands had already heeded Israel's evacuation order.

This Israeli appeal to the Palestinian population was criticized by numerous international and humanitarian organizations.


11:20 Beirut Time

The German government on Sunday warned its citizens wishing to travel to Israel, the Palestinian territories or Lebanon of an "escalation of violence" in the region following Hamas attacks on Israel, AFP reports.

This is the highest level of warning issued by the government. In its statement, the Foreign Office also said it would do "everything possible" to help German citizens wishing to leave Israel or the Palestinian territories.

11:18 Beirut Time

The Israeli military declared a zone within 4 km (2 miles) of the Lebanese border off-limits to public access on Sunday and said it was deliberately disrupting GPS services there and on the southern front with Gaza as part of its operations, Reuters reported.

The GPS disruptions could affect the functions of apps, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on X, the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter.

10:42 Beirut Time

Humanitarian aid arriving from several nations piled up on Sunday in the Egypt's Sinai region, which borders the Gaza Strip, without reaching Palestinian territory, witnesses told AFP.

An American official told AFP that Egypt and Israel had agreed to let the Americans leave the Gaza Strip via Rafah. However, after three Israeli bombardments in less than 24 hours on Monday and Tuesday on the Palestinian side of the crossing, the border has been closed.

10:36 Beirut Time

Missiles fired from Lebanon have killed at least one and wounded three on the Israeli side, according to Israeli medical sources quoted by Reuters.

10:32 Beirut Time

Hezbollah's al-Manar channel reports that a dozen artillery shells were fired by Israel and hit the area around Ayta al-Shaab in southern Lebanon. This information was also reported by the NNA, Lebanon's official news agency.

Milad al-Alam, president of the municipality of Rmeich, located near Ayta al-Shaab, confirmed to L'Orient-Le Jour that shots were fired near his village without causing any injuries.

09:22 Beirut Time

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said on Sunday he was seeking a possible closure of Al Jazeera's local bureau, and accused the Qatari news station of pro-Hamas incitement and of exposing Israeli soldiers to potential attack from Gaza.

The proposal to shut down Al Jazeera has been vetted by Israeli security officials and was being vetted by legal experts, the minister said, adding that he would bring it to the cabinet later in the day.

Al Jazeera and the Qatari government in Doha had no immediate comment.

09:14 Beirut Time

On Saturday night, the armed wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Brigades, announced the death of three "martyrs" in southern Lebanon.

In a statement, the group explained that a group of its fighters "had succeeded in blowing up the border fence and reaching a military position within Palestine," to which Israel responded with air strikes that caused their deaths.

09:09 Beirut Time

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on a tour of the Middle East, met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman on Sunday. The crown prince has reportedly put normalization negotiations with Israel on hold, per AFP.

The U.S. secretary of state, who described his meeting with the crown prince as "very productive" according to Reuters, spoke with the Saudi head of state in Riyadh shortly after 7:30 a.m. local time (0430 GMT), according to a U.S. official.

08:56 Beirut Time

The Israeli military and Shin Bet announced the assassination of Bilal al-Kadra, the commander of Hamas's special forces for the Khan Younes battalion. According to the Israeli military, as reported by Haaretz, he was responsible for the attacks on the Nirim and Nir Oz kibbutzim on Saturday, Oct. 7.

The Israeli military and Shin Bet also announced the killing of other Hamas officials in Khan Younes, Zeitoun, and Jabaliya.

08:38 Beirut Time

The death toll in the Gaza Strip climbed to 2,329 Palestinians dead and 9,714 injured on Sunday morning, according to Gaza's health ministry.

In Israel, more than 1,300 people were killed since the start of the conflict. 

08:34 Beirut Time

The American defense secretary announced on Saturday that its navy is sending the USS Eisenhower carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean to join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group that arrived there earlier this week.

Senior U.S. officials have said that the presence of the two carriers was intended to show the U.S. commitment to Israel and to deter Iran and Hezbollah from getting involved in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

08:27 Beirut Time


We resume our live coverage this morning of the Hamas-Israel war.