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Hezbollah commander killed, waste crisis averted, airport hack investigation ongoing: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here’s what happened over the weekend and what to expect today, Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Hezbollah commander killed, waste crisis averted, airport hack investigation ongoing: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

An undated handout photo released by Hezbollah military media press office on telegram on Jan. 8, 2024, shows Hezbollah Military Commander Wissam Hassan Tawil, known as Jawad, at an undisclosed location. (Credit: Hezbollah military media office/AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 94 of the Israel-Hamas war here.

Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon killed Hezbollah commander Wissam Hassan Tawil amid renewed threats from Israel's officials over continued border clashes. Israel struck Tawil’s car in Khirbet Silm, also seriously injuring another person. It is unclear whether the strike was a targeted assassination. With the assassination of a Hamas official in Beirut’s southern suburbs last Tuesday, Hezbollah and Israel’s clashes evolved to targeted assassinations and intensified shelling by the latter after three months of border skirmishes, which have involved up to 670 attacks by the party, according to a Friday address by its secretary-general. By L’Orient Today’s count, 154 Hezbollah fighters have been killed since Oct. 8. In addition to the strike on Tawil’s vehicle, Israeli shelling continued across southern Lebanon yesterday, notably interfering with attempts to repair issues with public power provider Electricité du Liban’s network. Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant both repeated their threats against Lebanon yesterday if Hezbollah’s cross-border attacks do not stop. Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad, whose son was killed in an Israeli strike in November, repeated that the party “does not fear” Israel’s threats and that it would not halt cross-border strikes before the end of Israel’s war on Gaza. Lebanon’s position with international interlocutors, according to the Grand Serail, is that it supports Hezbollah’s withdrawal from the border area — as stipulated by UN Security Council Resolution 1701 — given that “Israel withdraws from all Lebanese territories and puts an end to its land, air and sea incursions.” Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Lebanon would discuss a diplomatic solution to the border clashes with US envoy Amos Hochstein, who is expected in Beirut this week. Hochstein mediated the Lebanese-Israeli indirect maritime border negotiations last year.

Chouf, Aley and Baabda representatives agreed to reduce the volume of waste disposed of at the Costa Brava landfill after southern suburbs’ municipalities, fearing the dump’s premature saturation, threatened to turn back garbage trucks from the three districts. Lebanese Forces MP Ghayath Yazbeck told L'Orient Today the three districts would attempt to reduce their reliance on the Costa Brava. The Federation of Southern Suburbs Municipalities had since Dec. 21, 2023, threatened to halt the three districts’ access to the landfill as of yesterday. The compromise narrowly averted a waste crisis. Different issues, including landfill closures and sanitation employee protests, have in the past caused waste to pile up in Lebanon’s streets.

The Beirut Indictment Chamber overturned a decision to release on bail jailed Education Ministry official Amal Chaaban, who allegedly accepted bribes from Iraqi students seeking to obtain degree equivalences. The bribes were allegedly needed to ensure the expedited processing of equivalence seekers’ requests by the otherwise overwhelmed administration. Iraqi graduates seeking enrolment in Lebanese higher learning institutions, or a boost to their Iraqi civil service status, were asked to pay between $2,000 to $5,000. Caretaker Education Minister Abbas Halabi told L'Orient Today he would not interfere in the case out of “principle.”

Caretaker Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh denied that negligence was behind the hacking attack that displayed anti-Hezbollah messages on the Beirut Airport’s Flight Information Display System and disrupted its baggage inspection system. “Damage has been caused, but we are working to repair it,” Hamieh said, adding that an investigation would determine “within a few days” whether the breach was “internal or external.” Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Civil Aviation Director-General Fadi al-Hassan issued statements emphasizing a return to normalcy at the airport. Opposition MP Waddah Sadek blamed the breach on clientelist hiring. The breach on Sunday hijacked screens displaying flight schedules to broadcast a message threatening Hezbollah and its secretary-general “if Lebanon is dragged into a war.” The hacked screens displayed the logo of the Christian extremist group Soldiers of God (Jnoud al Rab), though they have distanced themselves from the incident.

At least 23,084 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, the enclave’s Health Ministry announced. US President Joe Biden claimed to have been “quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza.” Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, amid talks with regional leaders, dismissed that “anything will happen overnight.” The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said its installations have been attacked 220 times since the start of the war, including 63 times directly. The UN rights office said it was “very concerned by high death toll of media workers in Gaza,”

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “After Arouri assassination, Hamas in Lebanon desires vengeance”

Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 94 of the Israel-Hamas war here.Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon killed Hezbollah commander Wissam Hassan Tawil amid renewed threats from Israel's officials over continued border clashes. Israel struck Tawil’s car in Khirbet Silm, also seriously injuring another person. It is unclear...