The sun sets across from Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on Nov. 15, 2023, as battles continue between Hamas and Israel in the besieged Strip. (Credit: Said Khatib/AFP)


Israeli army still active in al-Shifa, claims to have 'proof' of Hamas military operations there: Day 40 of the Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Israeli forces entered al-Shifa Hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning in search of evidence that Hamas uses the hospital and alleged tunnels under it as a command center.

Israel has called on residents of northern Gaza to flee south as the military continues to push deeper into the area.

Qatar has been trying to negotiate a three-day cease-fire in Gaza in exchange for the release of 50 hostages.

22:24 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage of Day 40 of the Hamas-Israel war.

You can read our summary of today's events at al-Shifa Hospital here.

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

21:23 Beirut Time

The Israeli army's military discoveries at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza are an "imaginary accomplishment," the Hamas representative in Lebanon Ahmad Abdel Hadi told al-Mayadeen channel.

"The enemy has found nothing at al-Shifa hospital, and it's clear that this is an imaginary feat," said the Hamas representative. "The enemy will fail on the ground and under humanitarian pressure," he added, accusing the United States of having given Israel its "green light" to attack the hospitals.

According to him, "the resistance is doing well, and its command and control system is still at an excellent level." He also asserts that Israel is "unable to assess the situation properly and will eventually accept a certain truce ... The truce would have taken place if the United States had wanted it," he adds.

20:46 Beirut Time

Qatar's foreign ministry demanded an international investigation into Israel's targeting of hospitals in Gaza in an official statement.

Doha considers Israel's storming of the al-Shifa medical complex in Gaza "a war crime and a blatant violation of international laws and agreements, especially the forth Geneva convention."

The statement continues with: "The ministry of foreign affairs calls for an urgent international investigation, including sending independent UN investigators to inquire into the facts regarding the targeting of hospitals by the Israeli occupation army."

Qatar also called on the international community to "take urgent action to hold Israel accountable [and] deter it from committing more crimes against civilians."

20:45 Beirut Time

The Israeli military reports that its soldiers discovered an operational command center and technological assets belonging to Hamas in al-Shifa Hospital, according to Reuters. They also confirm that its forces are still active in the hospital compound.

On its official X account, the Israeli army spokesperson released a video and pictures showcasing guns, ammunition, grenades, and flak jackets that were allegedly found at al-Shifa Hospital. This reporting is ongoing. 

20:15 Beirut Time

Iran told Hamas in early November that it received no warning regarding the Oct. 7 attack and that Tehran will not enter the war on the behalf of Hamas, three senior officials told Reuters.

This happened during a meeting between Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the head of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh in Tehran.

Khamenei told Haniyeh that Iran — a longtime backer of Hamas — would continue to lend the group its political and moral support, but wouldn't intervene directly, said the Iranian and Hamas officials with knowledge of the discussions. They asked to remain anonymous, so as to speak freely, according to Reuters.

The officials said the supreme leader also pressed Haniyeh to silence those voices in the Palestinian group publicly calling for Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah to join the battle against Israel in full force.

Moreover, three sources close to Hezbollah said that the group was also taken by surprise by Hamas' unprecedented and violent attack last month. Hezbollah's fighters were not even on alert in villages near the border and had to be rapidly called up.

A source also told Reuters that Hamas wanted Hezbollah to strike deeper into Israel with its massive arsenal of rockets but that Hezbollah believed this would lead Israel to lay waste to Lebanon without halting its attack on Gaza.

20:08 Beirut Time

The United Nation Security Council will soon be voting on new a text, prepared by Malta, calling for "humanitarian pauses and corridors" in the Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

Diplomats say the resolution has every chance of being adopted this time. The meeting is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. (midnight Beirut time) as the 15 members of the Council waited until they were certain not to face a new rejection before scheduling a new vote, according to diplomatic sources.

19:03 Beirut Time

Hezbollah says it targeted the Jal al-Deir Israeli site with "appropriate weapons" this evening and caused "direct hits."

19:03 Beirut Time

The United States did not give Israel any kind of green light for its raid on Gaza's main hospital, the White House says, adding that such decisions were for the Israeli military alone.

"We did not give an OK to their military operations around the hospital," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby tells reporters after Hamas said President Joe Biden was "wholly responsible" for the raid, according to an AFP report.

Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday but Kirby declined to say whether the US president was given forewarning of the offensive.

The United States had "certainly talked to them about concerns over civilians," Kirby claims.

18:51 Beirut Time

An American navy warship shot down a drone of Yemeni origin earlier today in the Red Sea, two US officials tell Reuters.

17:55 Beirut Time

The town of Tayr Harfa has been subjected to Israeli artillery shelling since this afternoon, the mokhtar of the town, Hasan Haydar, tells our correspondent in the South.

Haydar adds that shells fell inside the town as well as on its outskirts and that two houses were damaged as a result.

This raises the number of homes damaged by Israeli bombing in the town to five since yesterday.

17:40 Beirut Time

The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote today regarding a draft resolution calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout Gaza in order to facilitate aid access, Reuters reports, citing diplomats. This will be the Security Council's fifth attempt to pass a resolution regarding the war since it first convened on the matter Oct. 16.

17:31 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claims responsibility for attacking the site of Hadab Yaroun at 03:25 p.m. today and for targeting an Israeli vehicle at al-Tayhat 10 minutes later with "guided missiles" and causing "direct hits" in both attacks.

17:29 Beirut Time

Prior to Oct. 7, there were approximately 3,500 hospital beds in Gaza, but today only an estimated 1,400 remain, says the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a Reuters report.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Ghebreyesus also stated that severed communication with hospitals in the strip is making it increasingly difficult to assess the level at which the health care system is currently able to function. Earlier today he said WHO lost touch with health personnel at al-Shifa Hospital on Saturday and therefor had no reports of exact number of casualties since then. He says, however, that a WHO staff member in the hospital had described the situation as: "No water, no electricity, only bombing, bombing, bombing."

He adds that today's incursion into al-Shifa hospital by the Israeli military is "totally unacceptable ... Hospitals are not battlegrounds."

According to the WHO representative in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Peeperkorn, "a number of partners including the World Health Organization are urgently exploring the possibility for evacuating patients and medical staff in al-Shifa Hospital."

17:08 Beirut Time

Violent shelling resumes on the outskirts of Yarine, residents tell our correspondent in the South.

The outskirts of Marwahine, the outskirts of Boustan, and the outskirts of Tayr Harfa are also being targeted, according to residents.

Meanwhile, the Israeli army says that several launches were detected coming into Israeli territory from Lebanon, landing without causing casualties, and that the army is attacking launch sites with artillery, in a post published on X. The Israeli army adds that its tanks targeted a Hezbollah observation post.

Haaretz reported more details saying that a rocket from Lebanon fell in an open area in the northern Israeli town Shlomi, without any alarms sounding to alert the residents of the area.

16:46 Beirut Time

France expresses "its deep concern of the Israeli military operations at the al-Shifa hospital" in Gaza, arguing that the Palestinian population "should not have to pay for the crimes of Hamas," reports AFP.

A statement from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Paris reiterates "the absolute necessity for Israel to comply with international humanitarian law, which provides in particular for the protection of hospital infrastructures and imposes at all times and in all places clear principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, and precaution."

16:39 Beirut Time

"There is no place in Gaza" that Israel "will not reach, no hiding place, no refuge," warns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as the Israeli army occupies Gaza's largest hospital, in remarks reported by AFP.

"We will reach and eliminate Hamas and bring back the hostages," two "sacred missions," declares Netanyahu during a visit to a military base in Israel.

16:29 Beirut Time

More than 30 shells have fallen since 2:15 p.m. on the outskirts of the towns of Odaisseh, Hula, Rab al-Thalathine, Borj  al-Mlouk, Tell en Nhas, Khiam, Markaba (Marjeyoun district) and the heights of Kfarshouba (Hasbaya district), a security source tells our correspondent in the south.

There is also violent artillery shelling on the outskirts of the towns of Aita al-Shaab and Yaroun (Bint Jbeil district), according to residents. Yaroun is where a group of journalists was targeted by two Israeli missiles on Monday, with minor injuries.

15:26 Beirut Time

The UN's humanitarian chief called for the “carnage in Gaza” to stop.

“As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to be shocked as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die and an entire population is deprived of life support. essential means of subsistence. This cannot continue,” Martin Griffiths said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, Griffiths said on X (formerly Twitter) that he was "horrified by reports of military raids on al-Shifa hospital in Gaza."

15:24 Beirut Time

Hamas's al-Qassam Brigades claim to have bombed the town of Ashkelon in the northern Gaza Strip, the Islamist movement's press office announced on Telegram. 

15:21 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced in a statement that, in support of the Palestinian people, they targeted "with rockets" at 2 p.m. an Israeli position facing the Lebanese village of Houla (Marjayoun district) and that they directly hit the target

14:50 Beirut Time

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez demanded an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza and called on Israel to put an end to the "indiscriminate killing of Palestinians" during his inauguration speech to the Chamber of Deputies.

14:41 Beirut Time

Qatari mediators were on Wednesday seeking to negotiate a deal between Hamas and Israel that includes the release of around 50 civilian hostages from Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire, an official briefed on the negotiations told Reuters.

The deal, which has been coordinated with the U.S., would also see Israel release some Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails and increase the humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza, the official said.

It would mark the biggest release in hostages held by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group burst over the Gaza border, attacked parts of Israel and took hostages into the enclave.

Hamas has agreed to the general outlines of this deal, but Israel has not and it is still negotiating the details, the official said.

It is not known how many Palestinian women and children Israel would release from its jails as part of the agreement.

14:28 Beirut Time

Israeli bombings were heard around the villages of Markaba and Houla in the Marjayoun district, residents of the area told L'Orient Today.

Other bombings were heard around Naqoura, a UNIFIL spokesperson who is based in Naqoura told L'Orient Today.

14:14 Beirut Time

Two explosions of unknown nature were heard minutes ago around the southern Lebanese border village of Khiam in the Marjayoun district, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

14:09 Beirut Time

Islamic Jihad, a militant group allied with Hamas, said that its armed wing, al-Quds Brigades, shot down an Israeli drone over Gaza, AFP reported.

"We shot down a Zionist (Israeli) Skylark drone and took control of it," they said in a statement.

Israel has yet to acknowledge if any of its drones were shot down over Gaza.

13:57 Beirut Time

Telecom firm Paltel said that its services across Gaza are expected to stop within hours after its generators ran out of fuel, AFP reported.

"All generators operating in the main exchanges in the Gaza Strip have stopped due to the exhaustion of fuel... which will lead to the suspension of all telecommunications services within the next few hours," the company said in a statement.

13:48 Beirut Time

An armed Palestinian police officer stands in front of a mural depicting the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the Dome of the Rock at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Islam’s third holiest site, outside the main police station, on the occasion of Palestine Independence Day, in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron on Nov. 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: Hazem Bader/AFP)

13:43 Beirut Time

The outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) was bombed around 1 p.m., residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

13:42 Beirut Time

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Israel would reach Hamas leaders "in Gaza and around the world."

There will be “no towns or houses (to serve as) sanctuaries,” he said, quoted by Haaretz.

Gantz added that Israel would hunt down Hamas leaders in the same way it reached their facilities in Gaza: "What we are doing in the south is effective, it can also work in the north [border with Lebanon], if necessary".

13:39 Beirut Time

The UN said that the fuel received today in Gaza is "not at all sufficient," according to AFP.

13:38 Beirut Time

US support for Israel's war in Gaza has dropped while support for. cease-fire has risen, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.

The poll saw a majority of people across the political spectrum believe that a ceasefire should be called as the humanitarian situation in Gaza counties spiraling downward.

Read the full story below:

US public support for Israel drops; majority backs a ceasefire - Reuters/Ipsos

US public support for Israel drops, majority backs a ceasefire

13:11 Beirut Time

The Ministry of Public Health announced that it continued its training to its hospitals across Lebanon to allow them to be ready to "deal with the developments of the Israeli aggression in the South" and to "upgrade the readiness of the health sector in general."

The ministry said these trainings come in collaboration with the International Health Organization and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

12:56 Beirut Time

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the war in Gaza a "war against the existence of the Palestinians" during a speech in Ramallah marking the 35th anniversary since Palestine declared independence, AFP reported.

"It is a war against the existence of the Palestinians, against the Palestinian national identity, the identity of the land and the identity of its inhabitants," the president stated.

12:49 Beirut Time

Israel's Central Bank has ruled that budget amendments proposed by Benjamin Netanyahu's government to finance the war against Hamas were insufficient and is calling on it to make more cuts in public spending, according to Reuters.  

12:48 Beirut Time

American forces were bombed on the Ain al-Assad base in the Anbar region of western Iraq, pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen television reported.

Voice of Lebanon also reported on the attacks, saying that they were “violent bombings.”

For its part, the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for these strikes on X (formerly Twitter) and has launched multiple attacks since the start of the war between Hamas and Israel.

“The base of the American occupier Ain al-Assad, in western Iraq, was bombarded by precision missiles,” the group said in its press release.

12:42 Beirut Time

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused the Israeli army of having "flagrantly violated" international law by launching a military operation in the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and called for an "international intervention to protect the civilians,” according to AFP.

12:40 Beirut Time

Commenting on the Israeli raid on al-Shifa hospital, Jordan said that the UN Security Council “authorizes barbarity” through its “silence.”

This is the second time today that Jordan has publicly denounced Israeli operations launched within this hospital.

12:40 Beirut Time

Israel is a terrorist state,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, according to Reuters.

“If it continues its massacres, it will be denounced as a terrorist state throughout the world,” he continued.

The Turkish president also estimated that “a genocide is underway in Gaza,” affirming that his country “will take measures on the international stage to stop” this massacre.

12:29 Beirut Time

A Palestinian boy stands near a body ready for burial in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 15, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP)

11:53 Beirut Time

The Israeli army earlier shelled areas around the southern Lebanon border villages of Bostan (Sour district), the head of the municipality told L'Orient Today. A spokesperson for UNIFIL also confirmed that Israeli shelling could be heard from their base in Naqoura but believed that the explosions were happening close to the village of Shamaa (Sour district).

11:40 Beirut Time

Hamas denounced in a statement published on Telegram “the arrest of dozens of students from Hebron University in the West Bank, as part of the campaign which has affected thousands of people since the start of the battle...of the Flood of Al-Aqsa.”

11:31 Beirut Time

The Red Cross said it was "extremely concerned" after the raid by Israeli soldiers on al-Shifa Hospital, according to AFP.

Furthermore, the head of the UN agency responsible for child protection, Catherine Russell, appealed to all parties to "end the horror" in the Gaza Strip, during a rare visit this Wednesday since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

11:29 Beirut Time

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on Israel to “exercise maximum restraint” in Gaza in its war with Hamas, saying the killing of “babies” must stop, according to AFP.

“The price of justice cannot be continued suffering for all Palestinian civilians. Even wars have rules,” said Mr. Trudeau, who was speaking before the operation launched by the Israeli army inside the al-Shifa Hospital.

11:28 Beirut Time

The first truck of fuel from Egypt has entered Gaza since Oct. 7, AFP reported citing Egyptian media.

According to Reuters, Israel has authorized, at the request of the United States, the delivery of 24,000 liters of fuel which will only be intended for UN trucks.

10:45 Beirut Time

Israeli army spokesperson in Arabic Avichay Adraee asked residents of a number of neighborhoods in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes “immediately for their own safety” and go to southern Gaza.

Adraee also said on X (formerly Twitter) that his army will “suspend its military operations in the neighborhoods of Salam and al-Nour in Jabalia district of northern Gaza from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. “for humanitarian purposes,” and asked the residents of these neighborhoods to “seize the opportunity” and go to the south.

10:23 Beirut Time

Jordan condemned Israel's storming of al-Shifa Hospital in a statement posted by its foreign ministry on X (formerly Twitter).

In the statement, the foreign ministry called the military operation a "violation of international humanitarian law" and that they will hold Israel responsible for the "safety of civilians and medical staff."

10:10 Beirut Time

Israel is issuing around 1,700 weapons permits per day, according to Israel's national security ministry.

Since Hamas's Oct. 7 attack, the ministry says that it has received upwards of 236,000 requests for permits with around 18,000 Israeli civilians successfully receiving a permit and buying a gun since the start of the war.

Israel's far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben Gavir, has urged those who have not already submitted a request "to do so today."

Israeli National Security Ministry: Some 1,700 weapons licenses issued on average each day

Israeli National Security Ministry: Some 1,700 weapons licenses issued on average each day

09:35 Beirut Time

According to a Reuters report published overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday and citing a "humanitarian source," Israel authorized the distribution of 24,000 liters of diesel intended for UN trucks for their operations in the Gaza Strip.

This would be the first time that the Jewish state has allowed fuel to be delivered to the enclave, on which it has imposed a total blockade since the start of the war against Hamas. The fuel would be intended exclusively for UN trucks and not for hospitals. No official statement has yet corroborated this information.

The American news site Axios, citing Israeli and American sources, stated that Israel plans to authorize trucks from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA) to refuel at the Rafah border crossing, which connects southern Gaza to Egypt.

09:29 Beirut Time

Malaysian Defense Minister Hajji Mohamad bin Haji Hasan called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, Reuters reports.

He also said Malaysia condemns terrorism in all its forms, including taking people hostage and bombing civilian homes.

09:28 Beirut Time

Update on the situation in southern Lebanon:

Israeli bombings targeted, during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the outskirts of the villages of Alma al-Shaab, Dhaira, Jebbine, Naqoura and Tayr Harfa (Sour district), according to L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon and the state-run National News Agency.

An Israeli airstrike also targeted an area located between Markaba and Rab al-Talatine (Marjayoun idstrict) on Tuesday, around 11 p.m., according to residents of the region cited by our correspondent.

This morning, Israel bombed the outskirts of Jebbine, Tayr Harfa and Yarine (Sour). At least three rockets also fell near Khiam (Marjayoun), our correspondent reported.

09:25 Beirut Time

Since the storming of Al-Shifa Hospital, Israeli forces have been questioning patients and doctors at the facility, a journalist working with AFP reported.

During the military operation, Israel, according to Reuters, has also been bringing incubators and baby food into the hospital.

09:20 Beirut Time

Israeli forces stormed al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, AFP reported.

Israel, and its biggest backer the United States, have claimed that Hamas has tunnels underneath the hospital and uses it as a command center although no substantial proof has been offered. Hamas and medical personnel, past and current, have repeatedly denied these claims.

Al-Shifa Hospital has been cut off from power since Nov. 11, putting its patients in critical care and premature babies at risk with over 30 having died already.

Read the full report in the link below:

Israeli troops enter Gaza hospital

Israeli troops enter Gaza hospital

08:59 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us once again for out daily coverage of the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. Today marks day 40 since the war began on Oct. 7.