Smoke rises from Dhayra village after Israeli shelling as pictured from the Lebanese town of Marwahin, near the border with Israel, southern Lebanon, October 11, 2023. (Credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)


Hezbollah fighter killed in Israeli bombing of South Lebanon; Israel completes 'encirclement of Gaza City': Day 27 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Lebanon “does not need a war” with Israel, said the French Minister of the Armed Forces.

UN Security Council to meet on Nov. 22 about the situation in Lebanon.

More than 9,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to Hamas.

Successive Israeli strikes on Jabaliya, the largest refugee camp in Gaza, left at least 195 dead, according to Hamas.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated Wednesday evening that the bombings could constitute “war crimes.”

21:36 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage of Day 27 of the Hamas vs Israel conflict.

We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis, right here at L'Orient Today.

21:36 Beirut Time

Israel's army said Thursday its forces have encircled the Hamas stronghold of Gaza City following days of expanding ground operations in the besieged Palestinian territory.

"Israeli soldiers have completed the encirclement of the city of Gaza, the centre of the Hamas terror organisation," military spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists.

Israeli forces have engaged in fierce ground battles inside the Palestinian territory since Friday evening even as calls grow for Israel to stop its blistering air and ground assault.

"The concept of a ceasefire is not currently on the table at all," Hagari said.

21:12 Beirut Time

John Kirby, the spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House, stated that they are "waiting to see" what Hassan Nasrallah will say on Friday.

"We have not yet seen any indication that Hezbollah is ready to go in full force. So, we will wait to see what he says," Kirby declared. "Our message to him and anybody else if they are thinking of widening and escalating ... don't do it."

21:00 Beirut Time

The White House is concerned about attacks on Israeli forces by Hezbollah, as they exchange fire and violence spikes at the Lebanese border, but there is no indication the Iran-backed group is ready "to go in full force," national security spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday.

"We're concerned about continued attacks on Israeli forces there in the north, as are the Israelis, but I don't believe we've seen any indication yet specifically that Hezbollah is ready to go in full force," he told reporters at a briefing.

20:53 Beirut Time

"Be prepared to see your soldiers return in black body bags," Abu Obeida, Al Qassam Brigades spokesperson told Israel in a televised speech, broadcasted on Al Jazeera.

"We take pride when the enemy's forces boast about penetrating Gaza's frontlines as if they were breaching the lines of a great nation," Abu Obeida said. "Our pain and the loss of thousands of our people will only fuel our determination and steadfastness to make the enemy pay a steep price." 

20:52 Beirut Time

A Hezbollah militant, Hachem Ismail, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his home in Maiss al-Jabal, the party announced in a communique.

Initially, the president of the village's municipal council told our correspondent that the victim was a civilian.

Ismail's father was also injured in the attack. The municipal council president further reported that several shells landed in the locality of Maiss al-Jabal.

20:37 Beirut Time

Hamas military wing says Gaza will be 'a curse' for Israel, reports AFP.

20:00 Beirut Time

Hezbollah published a short video on its Telegram channel allegedly showing Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gathering paperwork while party members in military uniform make phone calls.

The 41-second video ends with a hand ready to press a button that reads "launch." This is the latest footage released by Hezbollah in a series of similar videos published ahead of a long-awaited speech from Nasrallah, tomorrow at 3 p.m.

19:18 Beirut Time

Israeli flares were dropped over Jabal Kehail, Bint Jbeil, between Maroun al-Ras and Aitaroun, reports L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Furthermore, a security source informed L'Orient Today of machine gun fire directed at Israeli drones flying over Dhaira.

19:16 Beirut Time

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said he would discuss concrete steps to minimize harm to men, women and children in Gaza during his trip to Israel and the Middle East, as he said in recent days they have seen Palestinian civilians continuing to bear the brunt of the conflict.

Speaking to reporters before departing Washington, Blinken said the United States is determined to prevent escalation on all fronts, including southern Lebanon, the West Bank, or elsewhere in the region.

19:13 Beirut Time

Biden announces 74 Americans evacuated from Gaza, reports AFP. 

19:09 Beirut Time

Hezbollah issued a statement claiming nearly 20 attacks against Israel.

"The fighters of the Islamic Resistance launched attacks on 19 Zionist military sites and positions at 3:30 p.m. using guided missiles, rockets, and direct weapons," read the statement Hezbollah. "Direct losses were inflicted on the Israeli side." 

18:23 Beirut Time

An uninhabited house caught fire after being hit by an Israeli strike in Khiam, reports L'Orient Today's correspondent in South Lebanon. One person was lightly injured, according to local residents.

18:16 Beirut Time

A barrage of rockets wounded two people in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona near the Lebanese border Thursday, Israel's Magen David Adom emergency medical service said.

One of the wounded was "a 25-year-old man in moderate condition who was injured by shrapnel," the medical service said. Israeli police said officers and firefighters were at the scene.

18:15 Beirut Time

The French Minister of the Armed Forces stated Thursday during a visit to southern Lebanon that the country "does not need a war" with its Israeli neighbor. He also warned of the risk of escalation in the region, AFP reported.

"Lebanon does not need a war, to say the least," said Sébastien Lecornu during a visit to the French contingent of UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL.

"Not to mention that this war could have significant escalatory effects on the entire region," he added, as reported by AFP.

18:01 Beirut Time

A group of UN human rights experts, including the special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, said Thursday that "time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza."

"We remain convinced that the Palestinian people are at grave risk of genocide," the experts said in a joint statement. "The time for action is now. Israel's allies also bear responsibility and must act now to prevent its disastrous course of action."

18:01 Beirut Time

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Thursday at least 27 people were killed in an Israeli strike near a UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp.

"The bodies of 27 martyrs were recovered and a large number of wounded," said ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra in a toll AFP was unable to independently verify. 

"Children under 10 were simply buying from the canteen and were cut into pieces," cried a woman in the schoolyard.

There was no immediate comment from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which runs the school.

17:53 Beirut Time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday that Israeli forces had pushed further in than the outskirts of Gaza City in their assault on the northern half of the Gaza Strip.

"We're at the height of the battle. We've had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. It gave no further details.

17:48 Beirut Time

Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, claimed to have fired 12 rockets from Lebanon at the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona and its surroundings in northern Israel "in response to the [Israeli] occupation's atrocities against our people in Gaza," the group said in a statement.

17:35 Beirut Time

Israel has bombed Jabal Kehail in Bint Jbeil, Labbouneh, and near Chihine, according to a security source. Local residents said the explosions were so powerful they shook the houses.

Israel conducted four other raids in the following areas: the Hassan Valley between Chihine and Jebbain, the area between Naqoura and Tayr Harfa, the greater Labbouneh area, and the area between Btaichiye and Ain el-Zarka.

Residents of Halta said Israel bombed the area at around 5 p.m.

Residents of Kfarchouba and Chebaa reported intense helicopter activity over the Israeli sites facing them.

17:32 Beirut Time

 According to Reuters, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that Israeli forces pushed further into Gaza City in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

"We're at the height of the battle. We've had impressive successes and have passed the outskirts of Gaza City. We are advancing," Netanyahu stated. The Israeli government's statement gave no further details.

17:19 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has expanded its attack zone in Lebanon to include Yahmor and Tal el-Nahas, a security source told our correspondent in southern Lebanon. Israeli warplanes are intensively flying over the region.

Israeli warplanes also attacked Jabal Kehail in Bint Jbeil, according to eye-witness accounts. Many locals reported seeing columns of smoke rising from the area.

17:08 Beirut Time

Israeli artillery is shelling a pine forest located at Tallet al-Hamames on the outskirts of Khiam, the outskirts of Houla, as well as Mazraat Halta and the hills of Kfarchouba, a security source told L'Orient Today.

17:03 Beirut Time

Hezbollah said it had used two drones packed with explosives to attack an Israeli army command position in the disputed Shebaa Farms area at the Lebanese-Israeli border on Thursday.

It is the first time Hezbollah has declared attacking Israeli forces using such drones, and comes a few days after the Iran-backed group said for the first time it had used a surface-to-air missile against an Israeli drone.

In a statement, Hezbollah said the drones filled with "a large quantity of explosives" had attacked the headquarters of the Israeli battalion in the Shebaa Farms area, and they had hit their targets.

Israel has held the Shebaa Farms, a 15-square-mile (39-square-km) area of land, since the 1967 Middle East war. Both Syria and Lebanon claim the Shebaa Farms are Lebanese.

16:53 Beirut Time

Germany will ban the activities of Hamas, already designated as a terrorist organization in the country, as well as the pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, the interior minister announced Thursday.

A representative for the Hamas group in Lebanon said Germany's ban reveals that the country was in partnership with Israel in its crimes against the Palestinian people.

"This prompts us to question whether the German political mentality is a Holocaust mentality that affects all peoples and is not limited to one party or another," said Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, in a news conference on Thursday.

16:46 Beirut Time

24 hours before a highly-anticipated speech by Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, tension escalated on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

A security source told L'Orient Today that the Israeli army attacked positions in Dhaira and al-Aas using shells. Israeli artillery also shelled the vicinity of Maiss al-Jabal, hitting an uninhabited house.

So far, 40 Israeli shells have fallen on the outskirts of Maroun al-Ras, Aitaroun, and Jabal Kahil, according to the security source.

Contacted by L'Orient Today, the president of the Municipal Council of Maiss al-Jabal, Abdelmenehem Choucair, confirmed that Israeli artillery bombed an uninhabited house in the Ras al-Dahr neighborhood. He mentioned that this house has now been bombed five times and is almost destroyed. He also reported that shells were falling around the village, targeting olive fields while the region's residents continued their olive harvest.

The villages of Houla and Blida are also subject to bombardments.

16:31 Beirut Time

Hezbollah just announced that it attacked an Israeli position in the disputed area of Shebaa Farms using two drones "filled with a big amount of explosions" and said they "hit the target very accurately."

This is the first time Hezbollah has used a drone attack against Israel since the start of the conflict.

16:21 Beirut Time

Gaza's health ministry said that 27 people were killed in an Israeli airstrike near a UN school in the Jabalia refugee camp.

15:19 Beirut Time

The Gaza civil emergency services have reported that 15 people were killed in an Israeli air strike on the Bureij refugee camp, according to Reuters.

15:15 Beirut Time

Three Palestinians were killed in the West Bank by Israeli fire as tensions rise in the occupied territory with Israel's continued bombardment and ground incursion into Gaza.

Ayham al-Shafei, 14, and Yazan Shiha, 24, were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers who raided the village of el-Bireh near Ramallah. Two others were wounded in the raid.

Qusai Quran, 19, was also killed in an Israeli raid on his village of Qalqilya in the north of the West Bank. Two others were also wounded during the raid.

An Israeli was also killed after being shot at near the settlement of Einav. In response, the Israeli military set up checkpoints and roadblocks to search for the shooter near the Palestinian town of Tulkarm. Israeli settlers also stormed Dayr Sharaf, a Palestinian village located around seven kilometers from the Einav settlement.

Palestinian businesses and fields were set ablaze and empty cars smashed by the settlers.

14:56 Beirut Time

The head of the municipality of the southern Lebanon village of Aita al-Shaab, Mohamad Srour, told L'Orient Today that four houses in the village were bombed today and that one of the houses is owned by a person who lives in Kuwait.

Srour said it is unlikely there were people inside the houses as residents have fled the village due to the recurring Israeli strikes.

14:38 Beirut Time

Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee claimed that an Iranian militia had arrived in southern Lebanon to help Hezbollah against the Israeli army and said it was involved in the skirmishes happening between the two sides in the past weeks. Adraee also said that the arrival of the militia, which he claimed was founded to assist the “Iranian axes” in Syria in the past years, comes after “the series of failures from Hezbollah to achieve any victory against the Israeli army in the past weeks.”

"The IDF is well prepared to powerfully respond to those who try to mess with the sovereignty of the country (of Israel) in the north,” Adraee added.

Contacted by L’Orient Today, a spokesperson for Hezbollah denied the claim. “This is ridiculous. Lies that have no basis. Doesn’t deserve a response,” the spokesperson said.

13:41 Beirut Time

People unpack boxes of humanitarian aid from a truck that entered the southern Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on Nov. 2, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue. (Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)

13:35 Beirut Time

Lebanese caretaker Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib urged "Western countries and friends of Israel to put pressure on it to stop its verbal threats to destroy Lebanon and its military attacks on southern Lebanon."

Bou Habib also expressed his regret over the "division in Europe and the world" for voting against the UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for aid to be allowed into Gaza as well as those who "distanced themselves" by abstaining from the vote.

13:24 Beirut Time

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), said that it would treat 1,000 Palestinian children from Gaza but did not specify how they would get the children out of the Israeli-besieged enclave to travel to the Gulf state.

According to the state-run media agency WAM, President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan directed Emirati hospitals to treat 1,000 Palestinian children "accompanied by their families" from Gaza. It was not clear if these children and their families would be able to leave Gaza as part of the Qatar-brokered agreement that has seen foreign passport holders cross into Egypt along with a small number of injured Palestinians.

The Palestinian children would return home following the completion of their medical treatment.

13:16 Beirut Time

The Israeli military spokesperson unit confirmed Thursday that Lieutenant Colonel Salman Habaka, the commander of the 53rd battalion of the Armored Corps., was killed in battle in the northern Gaza Strip, Haaretz reported.

12:57 Beirut Time

There have been shelling close to Ramieh, Naqoura and in the vicinity of Alma, the spokesperson for UNIFIL Andrea Tenenti told L'Orient Today.

12:47 Beirut Time

The death toll in Gaza since the start of the war on Oct. 7 has risen to 9,061, including 3,760 children, according to the Gazan health ministry.

12:37 Beirut Time

Saudi Arabia announced Thursday the launch of a fundraising campaign for Palestinians in Gaza, on the 27th day of the war between Israel and Hamas, AFP reported. King Salman donated 30 million riyals (about $8 million) while the country's crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, donated 20 million riyals (about $5.3 million), according to public broadcaster Al-Ekhbariya.

The campaign "is part of the kingdom's historic role standing alongside the Palestinian people in the various crises and trials they have gone through," said Abdallah al-Rabeeah, head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

12:28 Beirut Time

The United Nations Security Council will convene on Nov. 22 in New York to address the situation in Lebanon, with a particular focus on the implementation of Resolution 1701 on Lebanese territory. This announcement was made by the UN's Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Joanna Wronecka, following a meeting with the caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, as reported by the official National News Agency (NNA).

Resolution 1701 brought an end to the July 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel and includes provisions for a significant deployment of the Lebanese army in the area controlled by UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah maintains a strong influence.

The UN's Special Coordinator for Lebanon also stated that "the issue of increasing humanitarian aid" will be discussed during this meeting.

Ms. Wronecka expressed her gratitude to the Lebanese government for its commitment to upholding international resolutions, particularly Resolution 1701, and for its calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. She also congratulated the Lebanese government on its emergency plan.

12:11 Beirut Time

The Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade, Amin Salam, indicated that one of the parts of the government's emergency plan adopted on Oct. 19 over the possibility that the conflict between Hamas and Israel could spread to Lebanon, consisted of speeding up the process of control and customs clearance of imported goods. The objective being to ensure that they are not stored for too long in buildings considered to be in risk areas.

The minister was speaking during a tour of the port of Beirut in the presence of the president of the food importers' union, Hani Bohsali.

The minister also warned against people storing large quantities of food in fear that the situation will deteriorate. “ He who buys 50 boxes deprives someone who can only buy two. And there is no need to store food for months,” he said. 

11:43 Beirut Time

The Israeli army continues to target military targets of Hezbollah along the northern border of Israel, as reported by the Arabic-speaking spokesperson of the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee on X (formerly Twitter).

"In the northern region of Israel, we continue to target military targets of Hezbollah along the border and eliminate hostile cells that plan to fire anti-tank missiles, artillery shells and mortar fire into Israeli territory. Our forces are targeting positions from which shells are being fired towards the region of Mount Hermon (Jabal el-Sheikh, in the far east of Lebanon) and Mount Ross (facing the Shebaa Farms). We have also targeted a cell that fired an air-defense missile toward one of our drones," Avichay Adraee stated on X.

The spokesperson of the Israeli army did not specify whether this was the same drone targeted by Hezbollah earlier.

11:40 Beirut Time

"As the Resistance, we must continue to lead the battle against the Israeli enemy in order to exhaust it, weaken it and defeat it,” Sheikh Nabil Kaouk, a member of Hezbollah’s Central Council, said during a ceremony honoring a recently deceased Hezbollah "martyr" in Shaqra, South Lebanon. “The destiny of Lebanon and the region depends on the results of the war in Gaza,” he later warned.

Sheikh Kaouk also promised that "Resistance operations will continue in the South and intensify."

11:35 Beirut Time

In photos: Palestinians use donkey-drawn carts for transportation amid fuel shortage due to the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 2, 2023. (Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP)

11:15 Beirut Time

The Israeli military, according to Reuters, said that the number of people confirmed being held hostage in Gaza is 242.

10:51 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of one of its members, Ali Hamza, from the locality of Jmaijmeh in Bint Jbeil.

As is typical, the party did not specify where or when the fighter died. 

10:30 Beirut Time

The Hamas-led government in Gaza said Thursday that 195 people had been killed this week in Israeli strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp, the largest camp in the narrow Palestinian territory.

"The victims of the first and second massacres in Jabalia exceed 1,000" including "martyrs and wounded," said the Hamas government press office in a statement referring to the strikes on Tuesday and Wednesday. "We have recorded 195 martyrs, 120 missing under the rubble, and 777 wounded."

10:23 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claims to have destroyed an Israeli drone during the night, something the Israeli army denies.

In a statement released Thursday, Hezbollah claims to have shot down "an Israeli army drone with a surface-to-air missile" while it was "flying over the border area" between Lebanon and Israel, more precisely the area between the localities Israelis from “Malkia and Hunin”, not far from Blida in the Marjayoun area on the Lebanese side of the border. The event took place during the night from Wednesday to Thursday.

The drone was “directly hit” and “crashed,” the Shiite party said.

According to Reuters, the Israeli army said that an attempt to shoot down the drone took place but assured that it was not destroyed. Quoted by the BBC, the spokesperson for the Israeli army added that the drone “suffered no damage.”

According to L'Orient Today's correspondent in South Lebanon, speaking with security sources, said that the drone had flown over the regions of Bint Jbeil and Marjayoun around 2 a.m.

These same sources added that the Israeli army carried out two air raids during the night in areas near the localities of Qouzah and Beit Lif in the Bint Jbeil district, causing a forest fire in the area and that artillery could be heard around 4 a.m. near Rmaish and Yaroun, also in the Bint Jbeil) district.

10:06 Beirut Time

A residential area in the southern border village of Aita al-Shaab is currently being shelled by the Israeli army, the head of the municipality and the mayor (mokhtar) of the village told L'Orient Today, adding that a number of houses from the village were targetted during the shelling.

10:00 Beirut Time

A quick reminder:

The successive Israeli strikes, Tuesday and Wednesday, on Jabalia, Gaza's largest refugee camp, left dozens dead, according to Hamas. AFP journalists were able to see significant destruction at the scene, where survivors were moving through the rubble in search of those buried.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "appalled" by the strikes on this camp where 116,000 refugees live in the north of the Gaza Strip. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights estimated Wednesday evening that these bombings could constitute "war crimes," "given the high number of civilian victims and the scale of the destruction."

The Israeli army claims to have eliminated the head of Hamas's anti-tank unit, Muhammad Atzar, in its strikes on the camp.

09:40 Beirut Time

Egypt will help evacuate "about 7,000" foreigners and dual nationals from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, according to a statement from the foreign ministry, reports AFP.

In a meeting with foreign diplomats, assistant Foreign Minister Ismail Khairat said Egypt was preparing to "facilitate the reception and evacuation of foreign citizens from Gaza through the Rafah crossing," adding they "number at about 7,000" representing "more than 60" nationalities.

09:31 Beirut Time

Residents of the southern Lebanese town of Wazzani found the bodies of two shepherds, aged 20 and 22, on Thursday morning after they had been missing since yesterday evening, the president of the municipality of Wazzani, Ahmad el-Mohammad, told L'Orient Today.

He added that bullet holes were "clearly visible" on the two bodies, claiming that they had been killed by "Israeli machine-gun fire."

08:39 Beirut Time

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

08:39 Beirut Time

Good morning, 

We're back with our live coverage of the Hamas-Israel war, on its 27th day.