A Palestinian reacts at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Dec. 14, 2023. (Credit: Sami Abu Tabak/Reuters)


White House wants the war to end 'as soon as possible'; Hezbollah fighter killed in airstrike on south Lebanon village: Day 69 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

New Israeli bombings in southern Lebanon.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip.

“Any arrangement in Gaza or regarding the Palestinian cause without Hamas or the resistance movements is an illusion,” said Hamas leader in Qatar Ismaïl Haniyeh.

The Gaza Health Ministry says that the death toll is now 18,608.

23:23 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage from day 69 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.

21:46 Beirut Time

Around 9 p.m., the Israeli army announced that its fighter jets had attacked a Hezbollah "infrastructure and cell" in Lebanon, without giving further details, according to a report from Haaretz.

The Israeli news outlet also reported that sirens had sounded in northern Israel around the same time.

21:40 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces the death of one of its fighters, Mehdi Khalil Zaatar, from the village of Markaba, Nabatieh district, southern Lebanon. This brings the total number of Hezbollah fighters killed since the start of the war to 105, according to our count.

As usual, the party did not announce when or where its fighters were killed. However, earlier we reported that one person was killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a home in Markaba, after our correspondent in the south spoke to the town's mayor Hicham Zaraket. Another person was seriously injured and is in critical condition in hospital.

"The air strike was extremely intense, shaking the houses," said Mr. Zaraket. He added that the raid had caused significant damage to nearby houses and cars.

21:24 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden's national security adviser spoke with Israeli officials during a visit to the country today about possibly transitioning from high-intensity to "lower-intensity" military operations in Gaza, the White House says, according to a report from Reuters.

The adviser, Jake Sullivan, spoke about a possible transition "in the near future, but I don't want to put a time stamp on it," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at a regular press briefing.

Kirby did not elaborate on what low-intensity military operations would look like.

20:47 Beirut Time

The United States wants the Israel-Hamas war to end "as soon as possible," according to statement from the White House, AFP reports.

20:21 Beirut Time

🔴 BREAKING: One person was killed and a second critically injured in an Israeli airstrike that targeted their house in Markaba, Nabatieh district, southern Lebanon, says the town's mayor, Hisham Zaraqet, speaking with L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

"The airstrike was extremely intense, shaking the houses with its severity," Zaraqet said. He added that the raid caused significant damage to the surrounding houses, many cars were affected, and most of the glass in the town's central area had shattered due to the intensity of the strike.

According to the mayor, the injured is still undergoing treatment at the hospital and is in critical condition.

It is not known yet whether those targeted were fighters.

19:59 Beirut Time

Four Hamas members were detained on suspicion of planning attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe, German prosecutors said in a statement, according to reports from AFP and Reuters. Three of the suspects were detained in Berlin and another was detained in the Netherlands.

Dutch national Nazih R was arrested by police in Rotterdam, while Lebanon-born Abdelhamid al-A and Ibrahim el-R, as well as Egyptian national Mohamed B, were arrested in the German capital, prosecutors said, claiming that all four have been longstanding members of Hamas with close links to the leadership of the group's military branch.

Prosecutors claim Abdelhamid al-A was tasked by Hamas leaders in Lebanon to find a weapons depot in Europe and source weapons for stockpiling ahead of potential attacks.

Read more here.

19:54 Beirut Time

Israeli warplanes conducted an airstrike on the outskirts of Markaba (Nabatieh district), a security source tells our correspondent in southern Lebanon, Muntasser Abdallah.

According to residents, the town of Maroun al-Ras (Nabatieh district) was also subjected to artillery shelling.

19:52 Beirut Time

Israeli forces killed 11 people in a multi-day raid in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry says, according to an AFP report. The latest death was a 17-year-old boy who the ministry said was shot in the chest by the Israeli army in Jenin.

In addition to 11 killed by Israeli forces, health officials say a sick 13-year-old boy also died after Israeli forces prevented him from reaching hospital.

Israeli troops launched their incursion into the northern city of Jenin and its refugee camp early Tuesday and were still present this afternoon. On Wednesday, the military said that Israeli forces seized dozens of weapons and dismantled multiple bomb-making laboratories.

19:39 Beirut Time

Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen warns that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu could lose the support of US President Joe Biden due to the war in Gaza. Cohen, a prominent Jewish lawmaker who is considered a close ally of the Biden administration, said that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan would convey this message during his visit to Israel.

In a post on X, Cohen said Netanyahu has "gone way too far" and that Sullivan "will be informing him that the bombing must be greatly limited or Israel will be without its last real friend, the US and Joe Biden." Cohen added that getting the hostages out of Gaza must be a priority, and that Biden is "finished with Bibi's Putin-like no holds barred war."

18:34 Beirut Time

Palestinian rescue teams put out a fire at the Shehada family home which was destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Dec. 14, 2023. (Photo by Mahmuh Hams/AFP)

18:15 Beirut Time

Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced on Telegram that its snipers shot four Israeli soldiers in Gaza City, specifically in the northwest area.

The group said its fighters also targeted three Israeli army vehicles using Yasin-105 anti-tank weapons in Shujaiya, east of Gaza City.

17:48 Beirut Time

Palestinian telecommunication companies Paltel and Jawwal say communications and internet services are completely cut off in Gaza, reports Reuters.

17:40 Beirut Time

A shell fell on a house in Aita al-Shaab, causing a fire to break out, a local resident told L'Orient Today's regional correspondent.

17:34 Beirut Time

A Palestinian reacts at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Dec. 14, 2023. (Credit: Sami Abu Tabak/Reuters)

17:11 Beirut Time

France said Thursday that it is concerned about the heavy toll among journalists covering the conflict between Israel and Hamas, and it is pushing to get Agence France-Presse (AFP) reporters out of the Gaza Strip.

16:46 Beirut Time

Israeli is currently shelling the area between houses in the villages of Mhaybib and Blida in the Marejyoun district, one of the town's residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

16:32 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel needs more than several months to "win" in Gaza, he tells American National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, according to a White House statement.

16:30 Beirut Time

Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant and American National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed the need to enable Israelis to return to their homes near the Lebanese border, according to a statement reported by Reuters.

16:18 Beirut Time

An Israeli airstrike targeted the town of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district), a security source told L'Orient Today.

16:12 Beirut Time

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says he hopes the bloc’s member states will reach an agreement on the situation in Gaza and reiterated that Spain supports a ceasefire, Al Jazeera reported.

“The ceasefire should open the door to diplomacy and to the realization of a two-state solution,” he said at the EU summit in Brussels. Sanchez has repeatedly called for a permanent ceasefire and an end to killings in Gaza.

15:52 Beirut Time

The military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza announced on Telegram that its fighters “sniped” an Israeli soldier in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, west of Gaza City.

The group also said its fighters bombed Israel’s military forces near a hill in the east of Gaza’s central governorate with a barrage of mortar shells.

15:46 Beirut Time

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip (Credit: Shadi Tabatibi/Reuters)

15:45 Beirut Time

Four shells were fired from an Israeli Merkava tank a short while ago at houses in the center of the southern town of Yarin, according to a town resident contacted by L'Orient Today.

15:44 Beirut Time

The Israeli Knesset voted to extend the Israeli army's reserve duty exemption age, according to Haaretz.

Moments after approving the updated state budget, the Knesset voted to extend the age of exemption from military reserve service by one year, to prevent reserve soldiers from retiring in 2024 with the expectation that the war will continue.

15:33 Beirut Time

Britain said it adopted a new sanctions regime against Iran on Thursday as it announced measures against seven individuals, including the head of Tehran's Quds Force, for threatening or planning the destabilization of Israel.

"The behavior of the Iranian regime poses an unacceptable threat to the UK and our partners," Foreign Minister David Cameron said in a statement.

Those subject to travel bans and asset freezes under the new sanctions included Esmail Qaani, the head of the Quds Force that is the arm of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which controls its allied militia from Lebanon to Iraq and Yemen to Syria.

15:24 Beirut Time

One person was wounded in Markaba and transferred to hospital after an Israeli bombardment hit his home, a resident of the village told our correspondent in southern Lebanon.

The mukhtar of the village of Tayr Harfa told our correspondent that an empty dwelling was damaged after being hit by an Israeli rocket, noting that the incident caused no injuries.

According to a security source, three Israeli rockets fell on Wadi Slouki, near the village of Houla.

15:13 Beirut Time

18,787 people have been killed and 50,897 wounded in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Reuters.

15:10 Beirut Time

At 2:20 p.m., Hezbollah announced that it had targeted the Israeli barracks at Yiftah and a gathering of Israeli soldiers who were near the site.

It also claimed to have inflicted "confirmed injuries."

15:02 Beirut Time

Two interceptor missiles exploded over the villages of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil) and Blida (Marjayoun), witnesses told our correspondent in southern Lebanon.

Israel also targeted the area between Ainata and Kounin (Bint Jbeil) about half an hour ago.

Four Israeli rockets also targeted the eastern outskirts of the village of Aitaroun, a local resident told our correspondent.

14:48 Beirut Time

Palestinians check the damage inside the Shehada family home destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on Dec. 14, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP)

14:21 Beirut Time

Breaking: An Israeli drone fired a rocket at a mosque in the village of Jibbain (Sour), causing "major damage," local residents told our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah.

According to the president of the village municipality, Talal Akil, the attack caused no injuries.

(Photo screenshot from video sent by local resident via Muntasser Abdallah)

14:01 Beirut Time

Six Israeli rockets targeted the outskirts of Shihine and Marwahine (Sour), local residents told our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah.

Three Israeli rockets also targeted the outskirts of the village of Khiam (Marjayoun), he added.

13:43 Beirut Time

Schoolchildren from Palestinian refugee camps gather during a protest in solidarity with children in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, near the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, in Beirut, Lebanon, Dec. 14, 2023. (Credit: Mohamed Azakir/Reuters)

13:22 Beirut Time

An Israeli rocket was fired by a drone at a house on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil), local residents told our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah. No information about any casualties has been released up to this point.

13:04 Beirut Time

Seven Israeli rockets targeted the western outskirts of Blida (Marjayoun), local residents told our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah.

One of these rockets targeted a home, our correspondent added, noting that no information concerning injuries had been released to date.

12:55 Beirut Time

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the situation in the Gaza Strip as "catastrophic," saying it could not be compared to that in Ukraine.

"What's happening is a catastrophe," Putin told a televised press conference M. "Look at the special military operation (in Ukraine) and look at what's happening in Gaza and see the difference. There is nothing like this in Ukraine," the Russian president assured.

12:37 Beirut Time

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he was banning those responsible for settler violence against Palestinians from entering British territory.

“Extremist settlers, by targeting and killing Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Cameron said on X, according to Reuters.

“We are banning those responsible for settler violence from entering the UK to ensure our country is not a home to people who carry out these acts of intimidation,” he added.

12:36 Beirut Time

Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned that a multinational force proposed by the United States to protect shipping in the Red Sea would face "extraordinary problems," Iranian state media reported Thursday, according to Reuters.

“If they make such an irrational decision, they will face extraordinary problems,” Ashtiani told the official Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA). “ No one can act in a region where we are predominant,” he added, referring to the Red Sea.

Ashtiani's comments come after the United States said last week it was in talks with other countries to set up a task force following a series of attacks by Yemen's Houthis against ships in the Red Sea.

12:11 Beirut Time

Tanzania announced the death of its second and latest national missing since Oct. 7, a 21-year-old student, according to AFP.

"We have been informed by the Israeli government that Joshua Mollel, a young Tanzanian studying in Israel with whom we have lost contact since Oct. 7, 2023...was killed immediately after being captured by Hamas," Tanzanian Foreign Minister January Makamba said on X.

In November, the Tanzanian authorities had announced the death of the first national, 22-year-old Clémence Felix Mtenga, without specifying the circumstances of his death.

12:07 Beirut Time

The Israeli army, which invaded the Kamal Adwan hospital in the north of the Gaza Strip, prevented medical staff from providing care to 10 wounded people in the emergency unit, causing the death of two of them, Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said on Telegram, according to al-Jazeera.

According to al-Qudra, the soldiers forced medical staff to gather all the wounded and infants in the neonatal ward on the second floor and cut off power, water and electricity.

11:44 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced in a press release the death of one of its fighters, Ahmad Hassan Moukahal, from the village of Jouaya (southern Lebanon).

This brings to 104 the number of Shiite party fighters killed since the start of the war, according to our count.

11:32 Beirut Time

An Israeli rocket was launched by a drone on the outskirts of the village of Yaroun (Nabatieh), according to our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah.

11:17 Beirut Time

In a statement, Hezbollah said it had targeted "a gathering of Israeli soldiers near the Israeli base of Shomera," bordering southern Lebanon, at 10 a.m.

11:16 Beirut Time

Two Israeli artillery shells hit the eastern outskirts of Naqoura, local residents told our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah.

10:51 Beirut Time

Israeli warplanes targeted the outskirts of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil), local residents told our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah. Two rockets fell in the Jabal Kehail area followed by another two rockets soon after, striking the same area.

(Photo provided by residents of the area via Muntasser Abdallah)

10:20 Beirut Time

Four Israeli rockets targeted the outskirts of Naqoura and Alma al-Shaab (Sour district), reports our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah, quoting a security source.

10:19 Beirut Time

Seventeen journalists lost their lives while carrying out their duties in the midst of the Hamas-Israel conflict, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in its annual report.

Thirteen journalists died “under Israeli fire” in Gaza. The war also caused the death of three working journalists in Lebanon and another in Israel, killed by Hamas.

According to RSF, 45 journalists lost their lives in the exercise of their duties in 2023, compared to 61 last year.

Read more here.

(Photo: Bashar Taleb/AFP)

09:57 Beirut Time

A woman from the Palestinian Ashour family holds the body of a baby as others mourn, on Dec. 14, 2023, at Najar Hospital in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Credit: Mahmud Hams/AFP)

09:50 Beirut Time

New Israeli bombings in southern Lebanon:

Three Israeli shells targeted an area located between the villages of Taybeh and Odaisseh in the district of Marjayoun, according to local residents cited by our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah. Electricity was also interrupted in Taybeh after high-voltage cables were hit by shrapnel.

Israeli artillery also targeted the outskirts of Khiam, using two shells, according to locals.

09:11 Beirut Time

Make sure to read the Morning Brief to ensure that you are caught up with what has been happening and what to expect for today.

Morning Brief

Children face brunt of Lebanon crises, Hezbollah fighters killed in south, Parliament addresses LAF leadership: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

09:10 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of day 69 of the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza.