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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of the Israel-Hamas war here.
US Envoy to the Middle East Amos Hochstein arrived in Israel yesterday in an attempt to restore calm to the Lebanese-Israeli border over which Hezbollah and Israel continued to clash yesterday. A US official told Reuters Hochstein will relay to Israeli officials that quelling the border conflict is of the “utmost importance to the United States.”
Cross-border strikes continued yesterday hitting Amal Movement MP Kabalan Kabalan’s Mays al-Jabal home, causing only material damage, the parliamentarian told L’Orient Today. Israeli artillery also hit the Church of Saint George in the town of Yaroun, Bint Jbeil, causing major damage, according to state-run National News Agency and local media outlets.
Hezbollah continued announcing cross-border strikes which it claims inflicted casualties on the Israeli army. Israeli shelling hit the southern Lebanese areas surrounding Aita Shaab, Dhaira, Marjayoun, Markaba, Mays al-Jabal, Houla, Khiam, Tayr Herfa and Yarine.
Israeli bombardment started 351 fires in 53 villages between Oct. 7 and Nov. 16, Caretaker Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan said yesterday. Hajj Hassan tallied the environmental damage from the strikes as burning 47,000 olive, pine, and oak trees, damaging 60 greenhouses and 250 beehives and killing 200 chickens and 700 cattle. Reuters last week reported that shepherds in southern Lebanon face a steep cost since the shelling prevents them from accessing their usual grazing areas. Lebanon filed a complaint to the UN over Israel’s use of incendiary weapons, which according to caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin were responsible for 37 percent of the areas affected by fires in 2023.
Nearly three tons of medical donations from France to the Lebanese Army were scheduled to arrive yesterday evening, AFP reported citing a source in the office of French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu. The source said the donation was a “first package.” Lecornu told L’Orient Today after a visit to Lebanon earlier this month that he considered it vital to empower the Lebanese Army to improve its abilities to coordinate with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Dozens of armored vehicles intended for Lebanese troops were pledged by France earlier this month. The Lebanese army, crucial for maintaining the country's stability, struggles to meet the basic needs of its 80,000 personnel due to Lebanon's severe economic downturn. In the past, it received sporadic aid from Qatar, the United States and other countries.
Depositors who switched banks after Oct. 31, 2019 are now allowed to make limited foreign currency withdrawals from informally frozen commercial bank accounts under Banque du Liban Circular No. 158. In addition to this, funds transferred from joint accounts to individual accounts, or vice versa, after the same date, are also now accessible using the same mechanism. Banque du Liban issued the modification to its circular last Friday. A banking source told L’Orient Today that many account holders attempted to avoid taking rumored haircuts on their funds by distributing them across several banks. BDL circulars have mediated foreign currency withdrawals from informally frozen accounts since the onset of restrictions in Oct. 2019. A lack of formal capital controls and measures to compensate depositors has spurred anger and a wave of hold-ups by account holders attempting to forcibly retrieve their own funds.
Lebanese-Colombian pop star Shakira settled a tax-evasion trial in Barcelona, accepting the charges and incurring a €7.7 million fine. The prosecutor's office was seeking a prison term of up to eight years and to reclaim the €14.5 million in taxes it says she owes. As part of the deal, she accepted the charges, a fine of 50 percent of the amount owed, more than €7.3 million, and a €438,000 fine to avoid a three-year prison sentence.
The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 12 people died in Israel’s attack on the Indonesian Hospital. Thirty-one prematurely born babies were evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital to the Emirati Hospital after Israeli forces raided the medical facility. Later in the day, 28 of the 31 were taken to Egypt along with their families.
Over 100 people were expected to arrive in Turkey yesterday after being evacuated from Gaza. Nearly two-thirds of the enclave’s hospitals have ceased operating amid Israeli shelling, raids and a blockade preventing their access to vital equipment and resources. At least 70 people have died at the Nasser Medical Complex in the southern Gaza Strip following a nearby Israeli airstrike, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said. A Jordanian field hospital, the first of its kind, reached Gaza yesterday accompanied by 170 personnel and 40 trucks.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “BDL relaxes eligibility conditions for Circular 158 on cash withdrawals”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz