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Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 26 of the Israel-Hamas war here.
An Israeli drone strike killed a 16-year-old while he was returning home on his motorcycle in southern Lebanon, Bint Jbeil residents told L’Orient Today’s correspondent. The teenager was a member of Hezbollah’s scouts, the party said in an obituary. On Thursday morning, Hezbollah claimed to have shot down a drone flying over southern Lebanon while Israel denied it. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, Daniel Hagari, said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that there was "no damage" to its remotely piloted aircraft. Hagari said Israeli forces attacked the squad that fired at their drone. This is the second time in one week that Hezbollah claimed an attack on a drone. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Army were searching for two missing shepherds who grazed their herds in areas hit by Israeli bombardment, the head of Wazzani’s municipal council told L’Orient Today. Darkness and the presence of landmines interrupted the search for the two individuals confirmed to have been injured yesterday, UNIFIL said in a statement, adding that the search will continue this morning. Israeli shelling hit the towns of Aitaroun, Aita al-Shaab, Blida and Ramaya. Several strikes from Lebanon towards Israel were also confirmed. Hezbollah claimed that since Oct. 7, its cross-border attacks have targeted 105 Israeli military sites, injured or killed 120 Israeli soldiers, destroyed 14 armored vehicles as well as dozens of surveillance and counter-surveillance systems and led to the evacuation of 28 settlements, displacing 65,000 settlers. The Israeli military’s announcements repeatedly claimed that strikes from Lebanon struck open areas.
After a cabinet meeting yesterday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged the international community to respond to “the Israeli offensive in southern Lebanon, the martyrs, victims, destroyed homes, crop fires and economic and financial damage.” Mikati reaffirmed that “the decision for war now rests in the hands of Israel,” while Lebanon “chooses peace.” A year since Lebanon entered its dual executive vacuum, Mikati called for the election of a successor to former President Michel Aoun and for all the caretaker cabinet ministers to participate in future meetings. Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) ministers have boycotted government meetings considering them unconstitutional amid the presidential vacuum. The Institute of International Finance yesterday said it expects the war on Gaza to lower Lebanon’s foreign currency reserves and cause its GDP to contract.
A Qatar-mediated deal allowed foreign nationals and some critically injured people to evacuate Gaza through the Rafah crossing, Reuters reported. An Egyptian security source told Reuters that up to 500 foreign passport holders were expected to pass through Rafah yesterday. Ambulances were sent for around 90 gravely injured Palestinians for treatment in Egyptian hospitals. Hamas said that seven of the hostages it abducted on Oct. 7 were killed by the Israeli strike on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp yesterday, which leveled 20 buildings and caused at least 50 deaths. Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh said the group’s hostages in Gaza are subject to the same "death and destruction" that Palestinians have faced, Reuters reported.
The Gaza Health Ministry said 8,805 Palestinians have been killed, including 3,648 children, in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct. 7. An Israeli commander told Israeli newspaper Haaretz that their forces were deep inside Gaza, at the gates of Gaza City, as their ground operation proceeded since Friday accompanied by intensified shelling of the enclave. Saudi Arabia, the EU and the UN’s Secretary-General echoed international condemnation of Israel’s strike on Jabalia. Meanwhile, fuel shortages shut down the only hospital offering cancer treatment in Gaza, where another 12 hospitals have been forced to close by bombardments as well as fuel and equipment deficits. “Hospitals in Gaza are operating in horrific circumstances,” the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Gaza: Israeli army bombs the Jabaliya refugee camp for the second time”.
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz