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Israeli shelling on homes in southern Lebanon killed three people Friday after the end of the truce in Gaza, which coincided with resumed cross-border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel. Hezbollah identified the man killed alongside his mother in Houla as one of its members. The party announced the death of three other members on Saturday. A separate strike on a house in Jibbayn killed one person and injured three others. Between Friday and Sunday, Hezbollah inflicted direct hits on the Israeli army. Israeli news source Haaretz said Israeli army personnel were wounded by anti-tank guided missiles in northern Israel on Sunday. The spokesperson for Israeli Ziv Hospital said 10 soldiers and one civilian were wounded in an anti-tank missile attack in northern Israel. Many displaced southern Lebanon residents returned to their homes during the brief pause in the Israel-Hamas war. The resumed fighting forced border village residents to decide whether to flee, which many of them said incurred steep costs. At the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called for aid for Lebanon in light of the environmental devastation caused by Israel’s use of white phosphorous near the border.
An agreement to employ military aviation personnel as air traffic control assistants at Beirut International Airport (BIA) is scheduled to be signed today, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported. The agreement signatories are caretaker Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh and Army Commander General Joseph Aoun, according to the NNA. A June report on BIA from aviation oversight bodies pointed to issues endangering passenger safety, including understaffing. Two months later, air traffic control staff announced a protest against the lack of personnel and the resulting excessive working hours required from them. The protest was canceled in light of BIA officials’ vow to appoint additional staff.
The Finance and Budget Parliamentary Committee is scheduled to resume its review of the 2024 draft budget today. Committee chief Ibrahim Kanaan told L’Orient Today they intend to finish their review of the budget within the constitutional deadlines, or by the end of January. Kanaan said the committee found that increasing the tax collection rate could lead to a balanced budget without the increased levies proposed by the government. Last Thursday, civil society groups criticized constitutional issues in the government’s treatment of the text and an absence of reforms in the 2024 budget — an issue raised by the committee during previous meetings. Today’s meeting will tackle the government’s proposal for “consumption fees” on certain products (including alcohol and tobacco). The Parliamentary Health Committee is also convening today to discuss law proposals regarding illegal profits in the medical sector, health equipment and medicine standards as well as the protection of minors from consuming alcohol and energy drinks.
A judicial source confirmed on Saturday that security threats led to the adjournment of a November hearing with suspects allegedly involved in the Islamic State jihadist group (ISIS)’s 2014 suicide bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs. The hearing scheduled for Nov. 24 was canceled hours before it was set to take place after the Higher Judicial Council was warned of a security threat by Army Intelligence, the source told L'Orient Today. The source added that a “terrorist group” planned an attack to liberate Naim Abbas, a Palestinian national accused of involvement in the bombings, either targeting the Beirut Justice Palace or the vehicle transporting him from the Roumieh penitentiary to it. In 2014 after the ISIS-claimed attack killed at least six people, Lebanese authorities detained Abbas and others for alleged involvement with Al-Nusra Front and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, affiliated with Al-Qaeda. In August, the alleged perpetrator of an ISIS-claimed bombing in Syria died by suicide after suspecting a raid by Hezbollah.
The Lebanese Navy rescued 110 would-be migrants on Friday stranded off the coast of Tripoli, after an issue with the fishing boat they allegedly planned to use to irregularly cross the Mediterranean to Cyprus. The Navy’s statement said they responded to a distress call from the malfunctioning boat. A day prior, Halba police arrested three people reportedly organizing informal sea crossings along with 40 people gathered inside the raided resistance. Despite the risk of death, being stranded at sea and arrest, clandestine migration attempts remain an issue along the Lebanese coast. The United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) recently reported that irregular migration attempts departing from Lebanon made up nearly half of the 378 deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route in 2022. Irregular departures from Lebanon’s shores more than doubled for a second year in 2022 amid increasingly dire living circumstances.
Truce discussions between Hamas and Israel stalled, White House spokesman John Kirby said yesterday, after renewed Israeli shelling on Gaza began Friday, breaking a prisoner-swap afforded seven-day respite. Israel pulled its negotiators out of Qatar, claiming Hamas reneged on its promise to release all women and children taken hostage on Oct. 7. Hamas said it would not release hostages “without a cease-fire and the release of Palestinian prisoners.” At least 178 people were killed in Gaza on Friday, the enclave’s health ministry said, while Israel on Saturday claimed that it had launched 400 attacks on Gaza since the truce collapsed. A Sunday death toll from the Palestinian health ministry estimated that at least 15,523 people, most of whom were women and children, had been killed since Oct. 7, and at least 41,316 others had been wounded. Israel, while intensifying shelling across the enclave, issued additional evacuation orders subdividing Gaza into so-called safe areas and locations where they would carry military operations. Hamas claimed several rocket barrages targeting Israeli cities and towns, including Tel Aviv, as well as attacks on Israeli military in Gaza. Israel is planning for a more than year-long military campaign against Hamas, the Financial Times reported on Friday citing sources familiar with the campaign preparation. Several international actors expressed their regret for the end of the truce and called for further negotiations, including Qatari Prime Minister who said the Gulf country would continue its mediation efforts towards a lasting ceasefire and “immediate, comprehensive and impartial international investigation” into Israeli crimes in Gaza.
In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “On hummus, war, and hummus wars”
Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz