Al-Jazeera correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh mourns one of his children, killed along with his wife and daughter in an Israeli strike in the Nuseirat camp, at Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah on the southern Gaza Strip, Oct. 25, 2023. (Credit: Majdi Fathi / AFP)


Israel is preparing a ground invasion of Gaza, warns Netanyahu; Macron says a 'massive' operation would be 'a mistake: Hamas-Israel war, day 19

What you need to know

An Israeli ground incursion into Gaza would complicate the release of hostages, Qatar warns.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has met with leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

More than 40 Hezbollah fighters have been killed since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

The Gaza Health Ministry says there have been 6,546 deaths in the Hamas-run enclave since the start of the war.

Macron: France will send a navy ship to 'support hospitals in Gaza,' Egypt to send key supplies by plane.

The Wall Street Journal reports Israel has agreed to postpone its ground incursion into Gaza to give Washington time to prepare its regional air defenses.

21:55 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE blog on day 19 of the Hamas-Israel war. We will be back tomorrow with more updates.

21:45 Beirut Time

Iran accused Israel Wednesday of committing a “genocide” against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

"The attacks by the Zionist regime have reached such intensity that it appears the goal is the massacre of the Palestinian people in Gaza," said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a letter addressed to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk. “The statements of the Israeli regime authorities and the widespread and systematic attacks by Zionist forces in the Gaza Strip demonstrate that this is a campaign of genocide against the Palestinian people.” – AFP

21:40 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden spoke about the Israel-Gaza war Wednesday evening during a press conference alongside Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Here are some key points:

Biden stated that Israel not only has the right but "the responsibility" to defend itself after Hamas' deadly attack, but that it must do "everything in its power to spare civilians."

He indicated that he had not asked Netanyahu to delay a ground offensive in Gaza.

He called for an end to the attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

21:06 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu conceded that he would have to "account" for the security "failures" that enabled the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October.

"We will examine what happened in detail until the end, the failures will be examined and everyone will be held to account, including me," declared Mr Netanyahu in his speech. "But all this will take place before the war."

21:02 Beirut Time

Israel is currently striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, according to Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari.

Citing local residents, our correspondent in the South reported that Israeli warplanes raided areas near Kfar Kila and Yaroun in Southern Lebanon.

Meanwhile, state-run National News Agency NNA reported that Israel raided twice the outskirts of the town of Yaroun, Deir Mimas and Kfarkila.

Pro-Iran television al-Mayadeen, meanwhile, reported that Hezbollah's attack earlier today on the Hanita position had claimed two Israeli soldiers, and injured more. No mention of casualties were reported in Israeli media so far.

20:54 Beirut Time

Barbara Leaf, a senior US diplomat focusing on the Middle East, is heading to the region as part of US efforts to keep the Israel-Gaza war from spreading.

Leaf will begin her visit in the United Arab Emirates, before continuing to Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Additional stops may be added.

"She will discuss humanitarian solutions to protect civilians while reiterating US support for a region that advances the aspirations of all its people," the State Department said of her mission.

20:46 Beirut Time

The Israeli army said it is currently striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, adding that it struck five terrorist cells in the border area Wednesday, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

It included one that fired an anti-tank missile at soldiers in the Avivim area and one that tried to fire anti-tank missiles into the area of the northern Dovev moshav.

20:43 Beirut Time

Al-Jazeera has announced that the family members of its Gaza correspondent Wael al-Dahdouh — his wife, daughter and son — were killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza Wednesday night. The Israeli army had no immediate comment on the incident. – Reuters

20:29 Beirut Time

"We must prevent division," said Lebanese presidential candidate Sleiman Frangieh Wednesday. "What is happening in Palestine and Gaza is a crime against humanity."

The Marada leader made the remarks after a meeting with the president of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Gebran Bassil. Their meeting also focused on the presidential election, which has been stalled for over a year.

20:26 Beirut Time

"We are preparing for a ground invasion," said the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adding, "I won't give details."

The Prime Minister has also emphasized his government's commitment to ensuring the safe return of hostages and encouraged Israeli citizens to carry firearms. - Reuters

20:19 Beirut Time

A journalist and a photographer survived an artillery barrage in south Lebanon that reportedly saw a shell land 20 meters from them, according to a statement issued on Hezbollah’s Al Manar’s X (formerly Twitter) feed. Samer al-Haj Ali and photographer Ali Dawoud al-Zein were carrying out live coverage “of security operations at the southern border,” Al-Manar added.

20:16 Beirut Time

Eye witnesses have reported that four shells targeted the outskirts of Tayr Harfa this evening. One is believed to have fallen on a furniture shop in the town. An eyewitness told L’Orient Today’s Correspondent Muntasser Abdallah that the shelling seems to have come from the direction of Hanita in northern Israel — which Hezbollah say it attacked at 3.25pm, as well as al-Bahri.

Local newspaper, Al Jadeed, and the state-run National News Agency (NNA) have both reported Israeli artillery shelling in the village of Tayr Harfa and the municipality of Jibbain, located in the district of Sour.

L'Orient Today contacted UNIFIL but they were not able to confirm the reports or add any details.

Earlier UNIFIL's spokesman Andrea Tenenti told L'Orient Today that shelling occurred at the town of Yaroun in district of Bint Jbeil. In addition, residents of the town of Houra in the area of Marjayoun told L’Orient Today’s correspondent that the town was targeted by artillery fire. Residents also claimed that the bombardment targeted al-Azziyah Hill in Kfar Kila, and al-Khila, near Deir Mimas. Houra is located between the towns of Deir Mimas and Kfar Kila.

An Israeli army spokesperson announced that four rockets were launched from Lebanon toward the Kiryat Shimona region earlier today, all of which fell on unpopulated ground, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

20:05 Beirut Time

The Tonnerre, the hospital ship the French have dispatched to Gaza, was in Lebanon after the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion. With significant material and human resources aboard, it had been sent to help with clean-up operations following the Beirut port explosion that killed at least 235 people, injured 6,500 others and devastated swaths of Beirut.

20:01 Beirut Time

Middle East Airlines has modified and cancelled some flights for next Monday and Tuesday. Details here.

20:00 Beirut Time

Queen Rania of Jordan denounces "the silence in the world" on the situation in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, saying she was "shocked" by the "reaction" of Western countries, in an exclusive interview with CNN broadcast on Wednesday and quoted by AFP.

"The peoples of the Middle East ... are shocked and disappointed by the world's reaction to the catastrophe that is unfolding," she said. "Over the past two weeks, we have seen a double standard."

19:54 Beirut Time

URGENT: Israel has agreed to postpone the invasion of Gaza to allow the US to accelerate the deployment of missile defenses in the region, reports the Wall Street Journal, citing US and Israeli officials.

19:21 Beirut Time

The French hospital ship Tonnerre has set sail for Gaza, a source close to the matter told AFP.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans to dispatch a military ship to 'support' Gaza hospitals during a Wednesday press conference with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo.

19:01 Beirut Time

Our teams, both in the field and in our newsroom, are ready to cover the situation in real time. You can follow us here or join the L'Orient Today WhatsApp group to stay fully up-to-date. Sign up here.

18:58 Beirut Time

An UNRWA school in Rafah, sheltering 4,600 people, sustained severe collateral damage from a close proximity strike, wrote UNRWA on X.

18:20 Beirut Time

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron are calling on Israel to avoid a 'ground invasion of Gaza,' as this would cause 'a large number of civilian casualties.'

17:39 Beirut Time

URGENT: At a joint news conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that humanitarian aid must enter into Gaza without obstacles.

Macron said that it was essential to get fuel supplies to hospitals, adding that a French navy ship would arrive soon to help bring support to Gaza hospitals and a plane will arrive in Egypt with key supplies. - Reuters

17:11 Beirut Time

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Wednesday rejected accusations that he had justified Hamas attacks on Israel in his statement to the Security Council on Tuesday.

"I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statement ... as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite," he told reporters. "I believe it's necessary to set the record straight — especially out of respect for the victims and their families." - Reuters

16:50 Beirut Time

One person was killed and another injured in southern Lebanon, a security source has confirmed to L'Orient Today.

After some hours of effort, the source said, about an hour ago a joint UNIFIL-Lebanese Army team successfully extracted the victim's remains and the wounded person from Kfar Shouba uplands. The two had been targeted by a missile fired from a drone this morning, the source added, without providing more details of the drone fire.

In a separate incident, state-run National News Agency reported that Israel bombed a Lebanese-owned house in the town of Maroun al-Ras. NNA did not specify if the house owner was injured in the bombardment.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that sirens sounded in the towns of Kiryat Shmona and Kfar Giladi, near the Lebanon border.

16:02 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced it has lost another fighters, Mahmoud Ahmad Darwish, from Beirut.

The total number of casualties among Hezbollah fighters since Oct. 7 now stands at 44, according to L'Orient Today's count.

15:06 Beirut Time

Jordan's King Abdullah has told French President Emmanuel Macron that ending the Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza is an urgent necessity and warned there could otherwise be an "explosion" in the wider Middle East. Click here to read more. 

Image: Jordan's King Abdullah meets with France's President Emmanuel Macron, at Al Husseiniya Palace in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 25, 2023. (Credit: Alaa Al Sukhni/Reuters)

14:58 Beirut Time

"We are not seeking war. We do not want war," reiterated Gebran Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, as he continues his tour of various Lebanese political forces against the backdrop of the war between Hamas and Israel. "We can, to some extent, prevent that [war], but we cannot prevent other things," Bassil added, during a press conference at the home of Sunni MP Faisal Karameh, who is close to Hezbollah.

"What Israel does depends on Israel. If they attack us, we will defend ourselves. But as for Lebanon, we can prevent certain things and protect the Lebanese without fearing a war if it is imposed on us," the FPM leader explained.

14:44 Beirut Time

Hamas said it launched a rocket today toward the southern Israeli resort city of Eilat, some 220 km (136 miles) from the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli military said there had been an impact in an outlying area, Reuters reports.

There was no immediate word of any casualties in what appeared to be the longest-range Palestinian attack of the Gaza war raging since Oct. 7

14:26 Beirut Time

Lebanon's caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim affirmed to UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Joanna Wronecka that Lebanon is "committed to the security of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the continuation of its mission." According to a statement from the minister's press office, Slim also expressed Lebanon's commitment to abiding by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which established a cease-fire between Lebanon and Israel in 2006. The Lebanese official also emphasized "stability in the south."

Meanwhile, Wronecka said that the UN is "making intensive efforts to spare Lebanon the consequences of the ongoing conflict" between Israel and Hamas.

Image: (Courtesy of Mountasser Abdallah)

14:12 Beirut Time

UPDATED DEATH TOLL: Gaza Health Ministry says 6,546 killed in Gaza during war.

14:04 Beirut Time

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority, accused the United States of "somehow directing" Israel's operations against Hamas in Gaza.

“The United States is the undeniable accomplice of the crimes” perpetrated in Gaza, the supreme leader said in a speech delivered in Tehran. They have "on their hands ... the blood of the oppressed, of children, of patients, of women and others," he added.

14:03 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that "terrorists" had fired an anti-tank missile from Lebanese territory at an Israeli tank in the Moshav Avivim region, without causing any casualties, Haaretz reports.

Israeli army tanks and artillery responded to the fire, according to the Israeli daily.

Earlier, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon and the Lebanese Amy told our publication that the Israeli army was shelling four villages in southern Lebanon.

13:58 Beirut Time

Israel strikes Syria's Aleppo airport for fourth time in two weeks, a monitor says, according to AFP. 

13:35 Beirut Time

Ogero has announced measures for the continuity of its services "in the event of war against Lebanon." Click here to read more.

13:25 Beirut Time

Ongoing shelling in south Lebanon: The villages of al-Kawzah and al-Ramieh in south Lebanon are being bombarded by the Israeli army, a senior source at the Lebanese Army told L'Orient Today. Aytaroun and Yaroun are also being bombarded, a spokesperson for UNIFIL told L'Orient Today.

13:12 Beirut Time

Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesperson has said that "an Israeli ground incursion into the Gaza Strip will complicate efforts to bring the hostages home," insisting that his country's "main priority" is "to bring the hostages back safely” home without them being “injured in exchanges of fire.”

In comments reported by Reuters, the spokesperson said the emirate was "focusing its mediation efforts on the release of the hostages, which is separate from broader discussions on de-escalation."

“Any escalation of the conflict will make it more difficult to bring the hostages home safely,” he warned.

“There is progress and progress in the negotiations on the hostages,” said the prime minister of Qatar, as quoted by Reuters.

13:08 Beirut Time

BREAKING: The Israeli military has sounded sirens in the northern Carmel region, warning of possible incoming rockets, Reuters reports.

13:06 Beirut Time

Erdogan also today urged an immediate cease-fire between Israeli and Palestinian forces and said Muslim countries must act together for lasting peace, calling on world powers to pressure Israel to halt attacks.

He added that the Rafah border gate must be kept open for humanitarian aid and that prisoner exchanges should be concluded urgently. 

12:51 Beirut Time

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan says that Hamas is not a terrorist organization but a liberation group waging a battle to protect its land, Reuters reports.

In a speech to his party's lawmakers in parliament, Erdogan said Israel had taken advantage of Turkey's good intentions and that he will not go to Israel as previously planned.

12:20 Beirut Time

Nearly 600,000 internally displaced people in Gaza are sheltering in 150 facilities of the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) in Gaza, while at least 40 UNRWA installations have been impacted, the UN agency posted on Wednesday on the social media platform X.

"Our shelters are four times over their capacities — many people are sleeping in the streets as current facilities are overwhelmed," the agency added.

Image: A child sits next to another playing a game on a cell phone in the playground of a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that has been converted into a shelter for displaced Palestinians in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Oct. 25, 2023. (Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP)

12:14 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces another death among its fighters: Jaafar Hachem, from the village of Khreibeh in the Bekaa region. The party had already this morning announced the deaths of three of its militants, all from the Bekaa region. The total number of casualties among Hezbollah fighters since Oct. 7 now stands at 43, according to our count.

12:10 Beirut Time

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi has described diplomatic intervention by Qatar in humanitarian aspects of the war with Hamas in Gaza as "crucial at this time."

"I’m pleased to say that Qatar is becoming an essential party and stakeholder in the facilitation of humanitarian solutions," Hanegbi said in an English-language post on the social-media platform X.

11:52 Beirut Time

Another Hezbollah fighter has been killed, the party announces, naming the deceased as Haidar Jawad al-Tarshishi from the village of al-Nasriya in the Bekaa. The party earlier announced the killing of two of its members, both from the Bekaa as well. The total number of deaths among Hezbollah fighters since the Hamas-led operation in Gaza on Oct. 7 now stands at 42 according to our count.

11:50 Beirut Time

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said while inspecting military units in Suez today that Cairo is playing a very positive role in de-escalating Gaza crisis, Reuters reports.

Sissi also said that in light of current events it is important to "use capabilities wisely," adding that the army's role is to secure Egyptian borders.

He added that it is very important to rely on a diplomatic solution for the Palestinian cause.

11:45 Beirut Time

More than 100 Palestinians have been killed across the occupied West Bank since war erupted between Israel and Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas on Oct. 7, the Health Ministry says. Click here to read more.

Image: Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Ahmad Mutair, killed amid clashes with Israeli troops, from hospital to a cemetery in the occupied West Bank during his funeral procession at the Qalandia refugee camp on Oct. 25, 2023. (Credit: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

11:29 Beirut Time

Pope Francis has renewed his calls for the release of hostages held by Palestinian militants and for humanitarian aid to be allowed into the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

"I am always thinking about the grave situation in Palestine and Israel. I encourage the release of hostages and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza," the pontiff said during his weekly audience.

Francis recalled that he will lead special prayers for peace in St. Peter's Basilica on Friday, in what he said last week would be a "a day of fasting, prayers, penance."

11:27 Beirut Time

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet today with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Cairo, Macron's office told pool reporters, according to Reuters.

11:15 Beirut Time

Lebanon has asserted before the United Nations Security Council in New York that it never "wanted or sought war." Click here to read more. 

10:55 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has this morning announced the deaths of two more of its fighters, Ismail Hassan Maoula, from the village of Hrabta, and Adel Mahmoud Zeaiter, from the village of Kasser, both located in the Bekaa. They were killed "while carrying out their jihadist duty," the party said, without giving further details.

In total, Hezbollah has announced the deaths of 41 of its militants since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7, according to our count.

10:47 Beirut Time

In case you missed it: Washington publicly expresses its unwavering and unequivocal support for Israel. Behind the scenes, this support is not entirely unconditional, our journalist Laure-Maïssa Farjallah finds. Click here to read her article. 

Image: American President Joe Biden welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv amid the war on Gaza, on Oct. 18, 2023. (Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

10:32 Beirut Time

The Israeli military has accused Iran of having ordered recent attacks by Tehran-backed militias in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, and said Israel was jointly monitoring the region with its US ally, Reuters reports.

In a televised briefing, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Iran is currently providing Hamas in Gaza with intelligence and is also helping stoke anti-Israel sentiment globally with an online messaging campaign.

10:16 Beirut Time

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich says the 2023-24 national budget is "no longer relevant" given the Gaza war and will be amended, Reuters reports, adding that he sounded unfazed by S&P Global's downgrade of Israel's outlook to "negative" from "stable."

While putting the direct cost of the war at around 1 billion shekels ($246 million) a day to Israel, Smotrich said in an Army Radio broadcast that he did not yet have an assessment of the indirect costs on an economy partly paralyzed by the mass mobilization of military reservists and extensive Palestinian rocket salvoes.

Smotrich described the S&P downward revision from "stable" published on Tuesday as "alarmist" and said he did not anticipate major Israeli deficits despite the crisis.

He praised Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron, who was due to have stepped down but extended his tenure due to the crisis, for "functioning above and beyond." But Smotrich would not be drawn on whether Yaron should be formally kept in office.

"We don't have time to breathe, so we're not dealing with this [question] now," he said. 

10:13 Beirut Time

The war raging between Israel and Hamas is already affecting the economies of neighboring countries, the head of the International Monetary Fund tells an investors forum in Riyadh.

“Look at the neighboring countries: Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, where the impacts are already visible,” said Kristalina Georgieva.

09:33 Beirut Time

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah met the head of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine Ziad Nakhala and the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Saleh al-Arouri" on an undisclosed date and at an undisclosed location, Hezbollah's media office announced on Wednesday morning.

According to the party's media office, the three men "discussed the latest developments since the al-Aqsa Flood operation and its repercussions, including the skirmishes in the south of Lebanon." They also "evaluated the international and regional stances and what the axis of resistance should do in this sensitive stage in order to achieve a true victory for the resistance in Gaza and Palestine to stop the Israeli malicious and brutal aggression."

This is the first announced meeting between Nasrallah, Nakhala and Arouri since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 attack against Israel.

Nasrallah last met Nakhala and Arouri on Sept. 2.

Image: Hassan Nasrallah meets the head of the Islamic Jihad in Palestine Ziad Nakhala and the deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Saleh al-Arouri. (Credit: Hezbollah's media office)

09:05 Beirut Time

Gaza's government has announced that Israeli airstrikes during the night killed at least 80 people, AFP reports.

A statement from the government's media office said "more than 80 people were martyred and hundreds wounded in massacres committed by the occupation [Israel] raids" overnight. 

09:01 Beirut Time

In case you missed it: Lebanese psychologists Nayla Karame-Majdalani and Albert Moukheiber offer tips for coping in the face of growing uncertainty with the prospect of a war looming. Click here to read what they suggest.

Image: (Credit: João Sousa/L'Orient-Le Jour)

08:53 Beirut Time

Palestinian officials say three people were killed overnight in the occupied West Bank. According to the Israeli military, Israeli forces on an overnight raid in the occupied West Bank came under fire by a group of Palestinians, whom the military then hit with a drone. Click here for more. 

08:48 Beirut Time

Syrian state media reports that eight military personnel have been killed in an Israeli airstrike on military positions in Deraa, according to Reuters.

Israel's military said early this morning that its fighter jets struck Syrian army infrastructure and mortar launches in response to firing from Syria toward Israel the previous day.

08:39 Beirut Time

To catch up on what happened yesterday, click here to read our Morning Brief.

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Image: Palestinians walk through a ravaged street following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, on Oct. 10, 2023. (Credit: AFP)

08:35 Beirut Time

Good morning,

Thank you for joining us as we resume our live coverage on day 19 of the war between Israel and Hamas.