Israeli soldiers take part in an operation in a location given as the Port of Gaza, in this handout image released on Nov. 16, 2023. (Credit: IDF Handout/Reuters)


Gaza faces 'widespread hunger' and a communication blackout; more phosphorous falls on southern Lebanon: Day 41 of the Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

France calls settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank a "policy of terror." Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre also said it's not up to Israel who governs Gaza after the war, pushing back at Israel's earlier comments about a prolonged presence there. 

Hezbollah and Israel trade fire along the Lebanese-Israeli border in the latest of their daily clashes with Hezbollah taking credit for multiple attacks. White phosphorous bombs fall on southern Lebanon.

Israeli troops remain deployed at al-Shifa Hospital after claiming to have found proof that Hamas had been using al-Shifa Hospital for military purposes, a claim Hamas strenuously denies.

The United Nations Security Council called for "urgent and extended" humanitarian pauses, in first successful resolution agreement. 

21:16 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage of Day 41 of the Hamas-Israel war. 

You can read a summary of today's events here.

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

21:03 Beirut Time

Ismaïl Haniyeh, head of the Hamas political bureau, denounces "war crimes and ethnic cleansing" perpetrated by Israel in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, in an address broadcast on the Islamist party's Telegram channel.

He calls for "forcing [Israel] to cease hostilities, open crossings, quickly deliver aid to Gaza, put a definitive end to the blockade, and grant the Palestinian people the right to build an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital."

Haniyeh also denounces the "war against hospitals in Gaza [which] runs counter to all human values." According to him, the Hebrew state is undertaking "a savage attack on al-Shifa hospital, based on lies that it seeks to promote."

He calls for the implementation of the decisions taken at the Riyadh summit last Saturday, notably with regard to "the cessation of hostilities and the end of the siege of Gaza." He denounces Israel's "refusal" to implement Wednesday's UN Security Council resolution.

The Security Council voted 12  (out of 15) in favor of a resolution that "calls for urgent and comprehensive humanitarian pauses and corridors for a sufficient number of days," with a view to bringing humanitarian aid to civilians trapped in the besieged enclave.

20:58 Beirut Time

Israel's use of white phosphorus in its attacks on southern Lebanon has caused the incineration of 460 hectares of forests and orchards, says Lebanon's caretaker Minister of the Environment Nasser Yassin.  The total hectares burned since the beginning of the summer is 1,234. The damage from Israeli white phosphorous strikes "constitutes 37% of the areas affected by fires in 2023," the minister said.

Read the full article here.

20:37 Beirut Time

The Israeli army says it retrieved the body of Yehudit Weiss, a 65-year-old woman who was taken hostage during the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, from "a structure adjacent to the Shifa Hospital," in a statement on its official Telegram account. The army claims they also found Kalashnikov rifles and RPG's in "the structure in which Yehudit was located."

The statement concludes with: "The national task before our eyes is to locate the missing and return the abducted persons home ... We will not cease from the mission until it will be completed."

20:13 Beirut Time

At 4:50 p.m. this afternoon, The Palestine Red Crescent Society announced Israeli tanks were laying siege to Gaza's Anglican al-Ahli Arab Hospital in a "violent attack." The statement was released on their official X account. This comes amid the Israeli army's ongoing siege of Gaza's largest hospital, al-Shifa. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of using health facilities as military operation bases.

In al-Ahli hospital, which was the site of a catastrophic strike on Oct. 17, "teams are unable to move and reach those who are injured," the PRCS said.

Surgeon Ghassan Abu Sitta also stated on X that the hospital is now unable to perform surgical operations and has become a basic first aid post. "Hundreds of injured are now in the hospital without being able to undergo surgery. They will die from their injuries."

Of the 24 hospitals in northern Gaza, al-Ahli is currently the only one operational and admitting patients, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).  

19:57 Beirut Time

Jordan will not sign the energy and water exchange deal with Israel which it had planned to sign last month, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told AL Jazeera TV on Thursday.

"We had a regional dialogue about regional projects. I think that all of this ... the war proved will not proceed," he added.

19:53 Beirut Time

The chief of the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza tells Al Jazeera that the hospital is now completely out of service, Reuters reports. The hospital is located in Bait Lahia, North Gaza.

In yesterday's report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), 25 out of 35 hospitals in Gaza are no longer able to function.

18:54 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces the killing of two of its fighters: Mahdi Ali Nasr al-Dine from Hermel in the Bekaa and Haidar Ali Noun, from the village of al-Ram in Baalbeck. As usual, Hezbollah did not specify the date and place of death. This raises the death of Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon since October up to 76, according to our count.

18:51 Beirut Time

Osama Hamdan, Hamas' representative in Lebanon, denies reports that were made by Reuters on Wednesday regarding a recent meeting in Tehran between Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the head of Hamas' political wing, Ismail Haniyeh.

The reports, citing three anonymous sources, claimed that Khamenei told Haniyeh Iran would not enter the war and requested he silence calls among Palestinians for Iran to do so.

Hamdan refuted these reports, saying they are "nothing but lies and slander. The agency has given no information whatsoever and has merely spread a cheap lie," Hamdan said.

Read the full report here.

18:33 Beirut Time

The World Food Programme (WFP) warns that the Gaza Strip faces "widespread hunger," with nearly the entire population in desperate need of food assistance.

"Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders," WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain says in a statement.

"With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation."

18:31 Beirut Time

Haartez is reporting that one of the Israeli soldiers wounded in a checkpoint shooting earlier today succumbed to their wounds. In a statement late this afternoon, Hamas's military wing al-Qassam Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack, according to a Reuters report.

18:03 Beirut Time

The United States is confident in its intelligence assessment that Hamas used Gaza's Al Shifa hospital as a command center and possibly as a shortage facility, White House spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. 

17:41 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces in a statement that it targeted the Israeli position of Jabal al-Alam with "guided missiles" at 4:05 p.m. and says it caused "direct casualties."

17:40 Beirut Time

The chief of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) confirms the communications blackout that hit the Gaza Strip earlier this afternoon, AFP reports.

"Gaza is again in a total communication blackout, and ... it is because there is no fuel," Philippe Lazzarini tells a press conference in Geneva.

17:27 Beirut Time

Air strikes were carried out around 5 p.m. by the Israeli army over the locality of Mjaydiyeh (Hasbaya district), residents of the area tell L'Orient Today's correspondent, Muntasser Abdallah.

An area around Naqoura was also bombarded by the Israeli army according to residents of the area. A security source also tells L'Orient Today that an area around the south Lebanon border village of Aita al-Shaab experienced an air strike earlier.

17:16 Beirut Time

"Several of our schools [in Gaza] are being used for military purposes, with Israeli tanks present in UN schools," says the Head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini, Reuters reports.

Speaking during a press conference in Geneva, he says it's "outrageous" to force humanitarian aid to beg for fuel.  "I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyze the operation."

17:02 Beirut Time

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis (C) listens to his Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki (R) during a visit in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov. 16, 2023. (Credit: Zain Jaafar/AFP)

16:51 Beirut Time

All telecom services in the Gaza Strip have gone down as all energy sources sustaining the network were depleted, says Gaza's main telecommunications companies Paltel and Jawwal, according to Reuters. 

Human Rights Watch warned of the dangers of such blackouts in a report published last night, quoting their senior technology researcher as saying: "Prolonged and complete communications blackouts, like those experienced in Gaza, can provide cover for atrocities and breed impunity while further undermining humanitarian efforts and putting lives at risk.”

16:42 Beirut Time

Human Rights Watch says Israel has failed to show any evidence so far that would justify al-Shifa Hospital losing its protected status, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile, an Israeli army official says there is footage relating to hostages seized in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on the computers found during the raid of Gaza's largest hospital, AFP reports. According to the statement, the images were found on equipment which the army alleges "belong to Hamas."

16:22 Beirut Time

A number of rockets that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory were detected and fell into an open area, Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said on X around 3:50.

"In addition, terrorists launched an anti-tank missile at an IDF post in the Dobb area. There are no casualties," Hagari said, adding that the army is currently attacking Lebanon with artillery fire.

16:15 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces that at 2:25 p.m. and 2:50p.m., it targeted two brigades of Israeli soldiers in the Israeli village of Shtula and an Israeli position facing the Lebanese southern border village of Yaroun respectively, and say they "directly hit the target." Hezbollah also says that at 2:25pm they attacked the Israeli position of Hermon and that they also "directly hit the target."

16:02 Beirut Time

The Israeli air force dropped leaflets overnight in eastern areas of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip telling people to evacuate to shelters for their own safety — suggesting imminent military operations in the area, Reuters reports.

Similar leaflets had already been dropped about two weeks earlier but this time they were followed by heavy Israeli tank shelling on eastern neighborhoods.

Tens of thousands of people displaced from the north have already sought refuge in this area following notices from the Israeli army telling residents to evacuate south. The implication was that southern Gaza was safer, although bombardments occurred there also.

15:56 Beirut Time

A spokesperson for France's foreign ministry said that it was not up to Israel who would govern Gaza following the end of the war, Reuters reported.

The comments by Anne-Claire Legendre pushed back against some of the statements coming out of Israel that have expressed the possibility of a prolonged Israeli presence in the embattled enclave.

Legendre also criticized the uptick in violence being perpetrated by Israeli settlers in the West Bank, calling it a "policy of terror" that seeks to displace Palestinians and that Israeli authorities need to protect the Palestinians from the violence.

15:08 Beirut Time

Five artillery shells fell on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district), a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

The same source added that the bombing that targeted the outskirts of Kfarshouba (Hasbaya district) earlier today was carried out with phosphorous bombs. Three phosphorous shells were recorded.

The phosphorus bombs were also seen exploding in the air by residents in the areas of Halta and al-Wazzani.

For more on Israel's use of white phosphorous in Lebanon and the effects that it has, take a look at the story below:

‘Weaponizing the environment’: Israeli strikes burn south Lebanon’s farms, forests

‘Weaponizing the environment’: Israeli strikes burn South Lebanon’s farms, forests

14:40 Beirut Time

The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell urged Israel on Thursday "not to let itself be consumed by rage" in the war waged since Oct. 7 against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“I understand your fears and your pain. I understand your rage. But let me ask you not to let yourself be consumed by rage,” the diplomat said during a visit to a kibbutz in ravaged southern Israel by the attacks of Oct. 7. He also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of those taken hostage that day.

14:24 Beirut Time

The western outskirts of Kfarshouba (Hasbaya district) were bombed, residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

14:22 Beirut Time

Israel has dismissed a request by the UN's rights chief to visit the country amid rising concerns over the worsening violence taking place in Gaza, AFP reported.

"Israel is not aware of any added benefit of the high commissioner's visit at this time," the country's mission to the UN in Geneva stated when asked about Volker Turk's request to visit.

13:56 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack carried out at noon today on the Misgav Am kibbutz in northern Israel. In a statement, the party claimed to have hit the area "with appropriate weapons" and to have caused "direct hits."

The Israeli army had stated earlier that anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon towards Misgav Am.

Soon after the first statement was released, Hezbollah put out a second, taking responsibility for targeting the site of Bayad Blida at 12:15 p.m. with "appropriate weapons" and causing "direct hits."

Hezbollah, in yet another statement, announced that it attacked the Yiftah Barracks at 12:15 p.m. with "appropriate weapons and caused direct hits" as well as at 1:15 p.m. when the party targeted the Israeli site of Metula with "appropriate weapons and caused direct hits."

13:54 Beirut Time

Three Israeli shells fell in the vicinity of the town of Taybeh (Marjayoun district) near houses, residents of the town told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Moreover, residents told L'Orient Today that the outskirts of Khiam, Kfar Kila and Odaisseh were bombarded. Shells also fell near the Khiam detention center.

Residents also said that they saw two interceptor missiles exploding over the skies of the Khiam and Wazzani plains.

The residents added that they saw a missile explode in a transmission tower in the Metula Israeli town.

13:34 Beirut Time

Two large banners of the military spokesman for the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza, Abu Obaida, were placed in Saida yesterday night, according to L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon. They were raised at the intersection of Elia Square.

The banners read: "Gaza is a cemetery of invaders" (in Arabic and Hebrew) and "God forbid."

Yusr, a woman who was eating a sandwich next to the banners, told L'Orient Today that she wished she could deliver the sandwich to a child in Gaza. She also signed the banners in the name of "Resistance Youth of Saida."

(Photo: Mountasser Abdallah)

12:59 Beirut Time

The three men who attacked a security checkpoint linking Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank on Thursday morning, leaving four people wounded, have been shot dead, the Israeli police said.

"The three assailants...are dead," said a police spokesman. The Israeli emergency services reported in a statement "four gunshot wounds, including a man of around 20 years old in a very serious condition." Two others sustained minor injuries. All the wounded were members of the security services.

12:53 Beirut Time

Thai politicians say they have received guarantees from Hamas that all Thai nationals being held hostage since the start of its war with Israel will be released if ongoing negotiations result in a truce, Reuters reported.

According to the country's ministry, 25 Thais are included in the total of 240 hostages that Hamas is holding in Gaza.

A Qatari negotiation for the release of 50 civilian hostages in Gaza in exchange for a three-day ceasefire was recently accepted by Hamas but not yet by Israel.

12:47 Beirut Time

Southern Lebanon updates during the past hour:

The outskirts of Odaisseh, Rab El Thalathine (Marjayoun district) and Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district) were bombarded, security sources told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Moreover, Israel combed these areas by using medium machine guns.

Security sources also told our correspondent that six shells fell on the outskirts of the town of Kfarkila (Marjayoun district), Ramieh and Beit Lif (Bint Jbeil district) and that three other shells targeted the outskirts of Blida (Marjayoun district).

Meanwhile, the Israeli site of al-Marj was attacked according to al-Manar's correspondent. The Israeli army also said that anti-tank missiles were fired from Lebanon towards the kibbutz Misgav Am in northern Israel, according to Haaretz.

Earlier, Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari posted on X (formerly Twitter) that Israeli airplanes completed an attack on Hezbollah targets in Lebanese territory, including several military positions operated by the party.

Hagari added that the Israeli army attacked "a terrorist who was operating in Lebanese territory."

12:23 Beirut Time

After meeting with the Qatari ambassador in Beirut, Lebanese caretaker foreign minister Abdallah Bou Habib said that the UN Security Council's call for a temporary humanitarian truce is a "necessary, but insufficient, step," according to L'Orient Today's correspondent at the Grand Serail.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution yesterday calling for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors in Gaza.

"The UN Security Council’s decision to establish a temporary humanitarian truce is a necessary, but insufficient, step on the...path to reaching a ceasefire and ending the aggression," said Bou Habib.

He added that "the world is called upon today to stop Israel's contempt for international humanitarian law by attacking hospitals in Gaza...medical teams, patients, newborns, and putting their lives at risk."

12:09 Beirut Time

BREAKING: The Israeli army says it has taken "operational control" of the port of Gaza, AFP reported.

"In the past few days, in a joint operation, soldiers...took operational control of the Gaza harbor, which was controlled by the Hamas terrorist organization," the Israeli army said in a statement. "All buildings in the harbor area were cleared."

12:04 Beirut Time

The Palestinian ambassador to the UN calls on countries to "wake up" to Israel's "genocide," reported AFP.

For his part, the Israeli ambassador to the UN asserted that international law is not "a suicide pact."

12:03 Beirut Time

“Fighters from the Al-Quds Brigades are still engaged in heavy fighting near the al-Shifa Hospital complex,” according to a statement from the Hamas military wing on Telegram. “Our fighters confirm having caused losses among the enemy forces,” the statement added.

11:58 Beirut Time

A Palestinian cancer patient, who had crossed from Gaza into Egypt, is carried on a stretcher after arriving at the Esenboga Airport in Ankara on Nov. 16, 2023.

11:55 Beirut Time

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "sounded the loudest possible alarm" Thursday on the "potentially explosive" situation in the occupied West Bank, reported AFP.

“I am deeply concerned about the intensification of violence and serious discrimination against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In my opinion, this creates a potentially explosive situation,” said Volker Turk, during a briefing to member countries on his recent trip to the Middle East.

11:36 Beirut Time

Israeli bombing targeted the area of Ras al-Daher, west of Mays al-Jabal, and the outskirts of the town of Mahabib, with artillery shells, in the Marjayoun district residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Simultaneously, al-Manar's correspondent reported that the Israeli site of al-Assi was targeted.

11:00 Beirut Time

Israeli army Aravic-language spokesperson 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 in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

Adraee also said that his army would temporarily suspend its military operations in the neighborhoods of Shejaiya and Turkman in 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.

10:44 Beirut Time

On Thursday, the Israeli army announced the deaths of two new soldiers while fighting in the Gaza Strip, bringing to 50 the total number of its soldiers killed in the Palestinian territory since the start of the war with Hamas, according to AFP

10:15 Beirut Time

A short while ago, two shells fell on the outskirts of Khiam, residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South.

Labbouneh's forests (Sour district) were targeted by Israeli warplanes and artillery, a security source told our correspondent.

Residents also told L'Orient Today that an Israeli warplane struck the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district).

Meanwhile, Haaretz reported sirens sound in northern Israel in the town of Shtula in the Galilee.

09:56 Beirut Time

Israeli police announced that they had "neutralized" an assailant after a "shootout" near a security checkpoint linking Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank, with Israeli emergency services reporting "five wounded" including "one in critical condition," AFP reported.

An AFP journalist on the scene heard sustained bursts of automatic gunfire at the checkpoint.

09:40 Beirut Time

The Islamisches Zentrum Hamburg (Hamburg Islamic Center) is suspected by the German Interior Ministry of "acting against the constitutional order" and supporting Hezbollah, Reuters reported citing the ministry.

The center was founded in the 1950s by Iranian immigrants and houses one of the oldest mosques in Germany and Europe, the Blaue Moschee (or Blue Mosque).

According to the online media Zeitung Aussiedlerbote (ASB Zeitung), the center was one of a series of sites raided this morning as part of a large-scale operation launched by the German police.

09:24 Beirut Time

Southern Lebanon updates:

Yesterday night until midnight, relative calm prevailed in southern Lebanon.

However, at around midnight yesterday night, Israeli warplanes raided Labbouneh (Sour district), security sources told L'Orient Today's correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Moreover, an Israeli drone struck Wadi al-Bayad, which is located between Houla and Tallouseh (Marjayoun district), with two missiles.

At around 1 a.m., two airstrikes targeted the outskirts of Houla.

Between 1 and 2 a.m., six artillery shells fell in the al-Hamames area, which is located in the southern end of Khiam. Artillery shelling also targeted Jabal Blat and the outskirts of Ramiah (Bint Jbeil district).

Finally, at around 8 a.m., a few shells hit Aita al-Shaab, Ramieh and Beit Lif, residents told our correspondent in the South.

09:17 Beirut Time

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said Israel "cannot leave a vacuum" in Gaza and that the Jewish state should maintain a significant force there for the near future to prevent Hamas from re-emerging in the Palestinian enclave, The Financial Times reported Thursday as cited by Reuters.

"If we withdraw, who will take over? We cannot leave a vacuum. We have to think about what the mechanism will be; there are a lot of ideas being floated," Herzog said in an interview with the FT. "But no one will want to turn this place, Gaza, into a terrorist base again," he added.

09:16 Beirut Time

The Israeli army attacked, during the night from Wednesday to Thursday, the house of the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, in the al-Shati refugee camp, in northern Gaza, reported Haaretz.

According to the army statement, the house, which was uninhabited, served as a base and meeting place for senior Hamas officials.

Israeli forces operating in the refugee camp also located and destroyed a stockpile of weapons belonging to the "Hamas naval force." Forces also attacked Hamas personnel and found other weapons, including explosive belts and RPG-style grenades.

09:14 Beirut Time

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign "immediately" and not wait until the end of the war in Gaza, AFP reported.

Lapid's call for a vote of no-confidence stems from his belief that Netanyahu cannot be the one leading the country in its military campaign in Gaza when Netanyahu has "lost the people's trust."

"Netanyahu should leave immediately... We need change, Netanyahu cannot remain prime minister," Lapid stated.

09:02 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our coverage of day 41 of the war between Hamas and Israeli in Gaza.