Palestinians use a donkey-pulled cart to transport some of their belongings as they flee Khan Younis toward Rafah further south in the Gaza Strip, on Jan. 25, 2024. (Credit: AFP)


Israel and Hamas agree on hostage exchange, negotiations stall over cease-fire, Haaretz reports: Day 111 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Hezbollah claims to have hit two Israeli Iron Dome platforms with two suicide drones.

All active hospitals in Gaza are “overcrowded,” warns the Red Cross.

At least 25,700 people killed and 63,740 others injured in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Gazan health ministry.

22:45 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage from day 111 of the Hamas-Israel war.

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

22:40 Beirut Time

While the Israeli government continues to push back against reports that it could be involved in truce negotiations, information is still surfacing regarding the ongoing mediation towards a hostage exchange between Israel and Hamas, with involvement from Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.

Israeli news outlet Haaretz reports a source familiar with the talks as saying that Hamas and Israel had reached a “basic agreement on the majority of the deal’s terms” – with one key issue stalling further negotiations: the guarantee of a cease-fire.

According to this source, the draft proposal includes a 35-day truce and plans for those detained by both sides to be released. The criteria for the release of prisoners were determined, but their identities were not yet set.

21:49 Beirut Time

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed calls for Israel to protect civilians after a deadly strike on a UN shelter in Gaza that brought rare US condemnation, AFP reports.

Two tank shells struck the UN shelter yesterday in Gaza's main southern city of Khan Younis, killing 12 people, according to the United Nations.

The Israeli army is the only force known to have tanks operating in the Gaza Strip. It said it would conduct a "thorough review."

In contrast with Israel's frequent criticism of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, Blinken credited the agency for its efforts "to help people who are in desperate need."

"The work that the UN is performing in Gaza is quite literally life-saving and no one else can do it — and no one else is doing it," he said.

👉 Read the full report here.

21:29 Beirut Time

A pro-Palestinian supporter is arrested during a demonstration outside the German embassy in Nairobi earlier today. Police dispersed peaceful demonstrators using tear gas as protested outside the German embassy in Nairobi against the country's support of Israel's offensive in Gaza. (Credit: Tony Karumba/AFP)

21:23 Beirut Time

We just received more details on the airstrike in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam:

• The house, which was targeted by the Israeli army with three missiles, was empty.

• There was someone in the house facing the one that was struck. This person was injured by glass fragments and taken to the hospital for treatment, Khiam residents told our correspondent in the south.

21:18 Beirut Time

Between Oct. 7 and Dec. 7, Belgium's anti-discrimination agency, Unia, registered 91 reported incidents related to the war in Gaza, AFP reports. This number exceeds the 57 recorded for the whole of 2022.

Of the 91 incidents, 66 were antisemitic in nature and eight were anti-Islamic or anti-Arab.

👉Read the full report here.

21:10 Beirut Time

An Israeli drone has fired three missiles on a house in the western neighborhood of the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, in Marjayoun district, residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

20:00 Beirut Time

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki (C) speaks with Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib (L) ahead of a meeting of EU Foreign ministers at the European Council building in Brussels, on Jan. 22, 2024. (Credit: Virginia Mayo/AFP)

Norway has agreed to act as an intermediary to help unfreeze tax funds earmarked for the Palestinian Authority (PA) that are held by Israel, the Norwegian foreign minister says, cited by Reuters.

Under interim peace accords reached in the 1990s, Israel's finance ministry collects tax on behalf of the Palestinians and makes monthly transfers to the PA. But no payments have taken place since November following the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in October.

On Jan. 21, Israeli officials said the Israeli cabinet had approved a plan for frozen tax funds earmarked for the Gaza Strip to be held by Norway instead of transferred to the PA.

"Work is now underway to try to establish the framework for such a solution. We are in dialogue with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and other stakeholders," Norwegian Foreign Minister Barth Eide told Reuters, without giving further details.

He said he was deeply concerned about the PA's financial situation, which he described as "grave."

👉 Read the full report here.

18:48 Beirut Time

The Health Ministry in Gaza says Israeli forces killed 20 people in line to receive humanitarian aid on the outskirts of Gaza City today, AFP reports.

"The Israeli occupation committed a new massacre against thousands of hungry mouths who were waiting for humanitarian aid at the Kuwait roundabout in Gaza, claiming 20 martyrs and 150 wounded," said ministry spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra.

In a separate statement, Hamas claimed the incident amounted to a "horrific war crime." Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said they were killed by "artillery shells and missiles," a claim AFP was unable to verify independently.

The Israeli army did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.

The casualties were brought to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where bodies were seen lying on the floor, an AFP journalist said. Crowds of people gathered around the injured with pools of blood collecting beneath them.

18:40 Beirut Time

Britain and the United States say they sanctioned four senior Houthi officials for their roles in supporting or directing attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea, Reuters reports.

Those sanctioned were Houthi Defense Minister Mohamed Nasser al-Atifi, Commander of Houthi Naval Forces Muhammad Fadl Abd Al-Nabi, Coastal Defense Forces Chief Muhammad Ali al-Qadiri, and Muhammed Ahmad al-Talibi, who the two governments described as the Houthi forces director of procurement.

👉 Read the full report here.

17:54 Beirut Time

Since the war in Gaza, Jerusalem has become "like a desert," says Rami Nabulsi, a Palestinian resident of the Old City in East Jerusalem, in a recent report from Reuters.

"Jerusalem was meant to be a city of joy," he said. "Now, when you walk in the city, even the walls are crying."

Israeli authorities have since increased security checks around the Old City amid fears of unrest spilling over, particularly around flashpoint holy sites.

And tourists have been staying away across the country — traffic at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv was down 78 percent from the previous year in November and 71 percent in December, figures from Israel's airport authority show.

👉 Read more here. 

17:31 Beirut Time

Credit: Photo sent by residents of Kfar Kila to our correspondent in the south.

Updates from the last hour in southern Lebanon:

• Israeli warplanes raided the outskirts of southern Lebanese towns Kfar Kila and Blida, Marjayoun district, residents told our correspondent in the south, Muntasser Abdallah.

• The Israeli army's attacks on Kfar Kila heavily damaged shops and targeted the vicinity of a gas station, residents of the town tell L'Orient Today.

• Israeli artillery shelling also targeted the outskirts of Yarine, Dhayra and Tyr Harfa, all in Sour district.

16:19 Beirut Time

General Abbas Ibrahim, former head of General Security, says Israel has violated UN Resolution 1701 "nearly 30,000 times" in social media post picked up by the state-run National News Agency (NNA). "Israel is the country that has most violated Resolution 1701 since its adoption," he wrote.

This resolution put an end to the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel and established the presence of the Lebanese Army and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the south of the country, between the Blue Line (a UN-drawn border with Israel) and the Litani River.

In 2022, the platform, launched by artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, revealed that since 2007, the Israeli air force has occupied the skies over Lebanon for the equivalent of eight and a half years, or 3,098 days, with a total of 22,111 military aircraft.

15:58 Beirut Time

Here's an update from the last hour in southern Lebanon:

• An Israeli warplane fired four missiles on the al-Jabour heights in the village of Rihan, Jezzine district, eyewitnesses told our correspondent in the south.

• The director of Amal Wahab Public School in Rihan told our correspondent that the school, which is the located close by to where the four missiles struck, was emptied following the attack. She said that 250 children (between six and 13 years old) were sent home as the administration fears strikes will resume.

• An Israeli drone fired three missiles targeting the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab, Bint Jbeil district, according to residents.

15:29 Beirut Time

The emergency coordination committee for displaced persons in southern Lebanon held a meeting at the Grand Serail on Thursday, chaired by Environment Minister Nasser Yassine and the Secretary General of the High Defense Committee, General Mohammad Moustapha. It was announced that over the past three months, financial aid has been provided to 16,500 displaced families, in addition to the distribution of some 17,000 food boxes and 14,000 medical interventions.

15:27 Beirut Time

Hamas is eyeing its position in Palestinian politics following the end of the Israeli offensive in Gaza with the release of its 16-page documents detailing the group's reasoning for the deadly Oct. 7 attack, according to AFP.

Viewed largely as being made for an international audience, the document urges for more international support, especially amongst the global south and countries that were previously colonized as well as saying that there is a need for a new, revamped Palestine Liberation Organization, which belongs to Fatah, the party of the Palestinian president and Hamas-rival Mahmoud Abbas.

However, analysts say that if Hamas is serious about having a political future where it is more widely accepted, especially following Oct. 7, then the group needs to start discussing its political visions and strategies more, something that the document mostly fails to accomplish.

Read the full story here.

15:14 Beirut Time

A woman was injured in Bezouriyeh after glass broke in a house due to the Israeli bombing of another house in the village and was taken to the hospital, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

14:58 Beirut Time

BREAKING: The Israeli army bombed a house in the southern Lebanon non-border village of Bazourieh in Sour district and ambulances are heading towards the location of the attack, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

On Saturday, the Israeli army assassinated a Hezbollah fighter in the first attack of the village since the beginning of the war.

(Photo sent by a resident of Bazourieh)

14:55 Beirut Time

Israel said that it was confident that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague would throw out South Africa's "spurious" case against them, Reuters reports.

"We expect the ICJ to throw out these spurious and specious charges," Israel government spokesperson Eylon Levy said.

The ICJ is expected to issue a ruling on Friday for an emergency measure that would require Israel to end its offensive in Gaza.

14:40 Beirut Time

The death toll from strikes on a structure belonging to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Khan Younis has risen to 12, the agency said on Thursday.

"Twelve people died and over 75 were injured, 15 of whom are in critical condition," Thomas White, UNRWA's head in Gaza, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, according to the UN, two tanks fired on a UNRWA training center that had been converted into a shelter since the start of the war, where thousands of displaced people had taken refuge.

14:26 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has been accused by Gaza's Health Ministry of attacking a group of people who were queuing for humanitarian aid in northern Gaza.

The spokesman for the Gazan Health Ministry, Ashraf al-Qudra, has condemned Israel for committing "a massacre against thousands of hungry mouths who were waiting for aid,” in a statement on Telegram.

He says 20 people were killed, and 150 wounded in the strike at the Kuwait Roundabout in Gaza City. Ramy Abdu, the chairman of Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said his organization had "warned in two previous statements of Israel's continued killing of citizens waiting for aid, yet no action is taken against Israel."

13:55 Beirut Time

Idan Amedi, a reservist and actor in the Israeli Netflix series Fauda, ​​has been released from hospital after being seriously injured during his military service in Gaza, reports Haaretz.

Six Israeli soldiers were killed and eight others injured when a truck filled with explosives exploded in the Bureij region, in the center of the enclave. Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari said the explosion was caused "inadvertently" by Israeli tank fire.

Haaretz adds that the actor said that "Israel must not abandon the hostages" and that he received a visit from a hostage released by Hamas, who told him that she had lost confidence in the system of Israeli politics and army.

(Credit: Gil Cohen-Magen)

12:57 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an 11:20 a.m. attack with two suicide drones that hit infrastructure belonging to the Iron Dome, Israel's defense system, in the Israeli area of Kfar Blum.

Haaretz reported earlier that "two aerial targets from Lebanon" penetrated Israeli territory and "fell" near Kfar Blum, with no damage reported.

The party had targeted the Iron Dome on Dec. 18, the first time this had happened since clashes with Israel began on Oct. 8.

12:46 Beirut Time

The mukhtar of the town of Tayr Harfa (Sour) told our correspondent that an Israeli bombing that took place earlier this morning hit a building close to the place where the funeral of a resident was taking place. The building in question was empty, he said, adding that it had already been bombed twice before.

12:39 Beirut Time

Palestinians look for salvageable items amid the rubble of a building destroyed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 25, 2024, amid continuing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Credit: AFP)

12:15 Beirut Time

Israeli bombings hit the outskirts of the villages of Tayr Harfa and Jibbayn (Sour) around noon, according to residents testifying to our correspondent in southern Lebanon. Four explosions were heard near these towns. Israeli planes also fly over Zahrani and Saida, further north.

12:11 Beirut Time

There needs to be "immediate action" to stop medical services in Gaza from grinding to a halt, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is warning.

“Every functioning hospital in the Gaza Strip is overcrowded and short on medical supplies, fuel, food and water ... And now two more facilities risk being lost due to the fighting,” said William Schomburg, head of the ICRC’s office in Gaza – cited in a report by Al-Jazeera.

As L'Orient Today reported yesterday, heavy fighting around the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis has blocked access for patients and medics.

11:43 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces that they attacked at 11 a.m. an Israeli position facing the south Lebanon border village of Naqoura in Sour and said they "directly hit the target."

11:42 Beirut Time

Caretaker Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib thanked UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for his remarks at the UN Security Council session and invited him to visit Lebanon, reports Bustros Palace on X.

Facing Guterres, the head of Lebanese foreign policy also reiterated " Lebanon's attachment to the work of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) and that of the Lebanese authorities to ensure its security and facilitate its operations." He insisted on Lebanon's desire "to fully and balancedly apply" Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Also present at the meeting was Jean-Pierre Lacroix, delegate for UN peacekeeping operations.

11:20 Beirut Time

Hezbollah says it carried out an attack on an Israeli military position in the disputed Shebaa Farms at 10 a.m. this morning.

11:08 Beirut Time

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a far-right figure, accused Qatar, one of the key players in negotiations with Hamas, of being "responsible" for the Oct. 7 attack.

Qatar is a country that supports and finances terrorism,” he said. The emirate “is the godfather of Hamas and is largely responsible for the massacres committed by Hamas on Israeli citizens,” said Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionism Party, on X.

"One thing is clear: Qatar will not be involved in any way in what happens in Gaza after the war," he added.

11:02 Beirut Time

Australian mining giant BHP Group has announced that it is diverting almost all its shipments from Asia to Europe from the Red Sea, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

11:02 Beirut Time

At least 50 Palestinians have been killed in Khan Younis in the last 24 hours, Ashraf Qudrah, spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, told Reuters on Thursday.

The town in the south of the Gaza Strip has become the epicenter of intense fighting. Yesterday, clashes took place around three of the city's hospitals, including Nasser Hospital, surrounded by dozens of tanks "on all sides," leaving only a "corridor" for people to leave – according to the enclave's media office, quoted by AFP.

The Israeli army claims that leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement are in Khan Younis.

10:53 Beirut Time

Israel has declassified more than 30 secret orders made by the heads of its government and army to refute claims that it committed genocide in Gaza, according to the New York Times.

The documents, which were reviewed by the American newspaper, reportedly show Israeli efforts to reduce the deaths of Palestinian civilians in the strip. It comes as the International Court of Justice at the Hague is expected to give an initial response tomorrow to South Africa's petition which accuses Israel of genocide. Johannesburg insists that they have proof of Israel's intent to commit genocide in the form of inflammatory public statements made by Israeli leaders – of which the Times says these documents will hope to rebuff.

However, the dossier is highly curated and omits orders from the first 10 days of the war – when Israel blocked aid to Gaza. Read more here.

10:03 Beirut Time

The Israeli army ordered residents in its northern areas of Shlomi, Kibbutz, Hanita and the surrounding area to shelter in their homes following a report of an infiltration suspicious person in northern Israel near the Lebanon border. Scans of the area so far show no signs of infiltration, the Israeli army said.

09:50 Beirut Time

(Credit: Hezbollah Media Office)

Hezbollah's Executive Council member Nabil Qaouq says that Israel must understand the "message" of attacking the Meron air base by his party which is a retaliation for the targeting of civilians which is a "red line." During a commemoration of a Hezbollah member who was assassinated by Israel in his village in Bezouriyeh in Sour district, Qaouq said that every time the "enemy increases the pace of its attacks on the civilians, the resistance will increase its retaliation."

09:25 Beirut Time

The situation in South Lebanon since last night:

Hezbollah announced that it had attacked the Israeli position of Birket Risha at 9:30 p.m., located opposite the village of Boustan in the district of Sour.

– A security source tells our correspondent that the sound of a shot coming from an Israeli position was heard in Alma al-Shaab (Sour).

– The Israeli army also bombed the outskirts of the villages of Dhairah, Alma al-Shaab, Tayr Harfa, Yarine, Boustan and Jibbayn, Khiam in the district of Marjeyoun and Rashaya al-Foukhar in Hasbaya, early in the morning, a security source told L’Orient Today.

09:22 Beirut Time

Qatar said it was "dismayed" by the statements attributed to Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing them of "obstructing and undermining the mediation process, for reasons which seem to serve his political career more" than the "Israeli hostages," underlined at night the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The conflict is also exacerbating regional tensions, particularly off the coast of Yemen where Houthi rebels, close to Iran, fired missiles against two American ships on Wednesday, forcing them to turn back.

The rebels have given the United Nations one month for their British and American employees to leave areas under their control in Yemen, after new British and American strikes, a UN spokesperson announced on Wednesday.

09:20 Beirut Time

Israeli protesters blocked a key Tel Aviv artery Wednesday evening to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to accept a pause in fighting or even a cease-fire.

"Enough! ... We do not want the hostages to return to us in the form of corpses, we have had enough of the bombings in Gaza, we have had enough of seeing dead children, we want to send a clear message: People in Israel are demanding an agreement, demanding peace,” demonstrator Sapir Sluzker Amran told AFP.

Qatar, Egypt and the United States are currently trying to mediate to reach a new, longer truce in Gaza including the release of hostages and prisoners.

But in a recording obtained by Israeli channel 12, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deemed the mediator role of Qatar, the country where the political leadership of Hamas is established, “problematic.”  

09:19 Beirut Time

Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, affirmed that the reception center bombed by Israel in Khan Younis was “clearly” identified and that its coordinates had been “shared with the Israeli authorities.” He denounced “a flagrant violation of the fundamental rules of war.”

The United States, Israel's closest ally, said it "deplored" these attacks and called for UN sites in Gaza to be "protected."

The Israeli army told AFP that a "review" of the operations was underway but that it had "ruled out ... an air or artillery strike," also mentioning "the possibility" of a Hamas bombing.

In Europe, Rome and Paris announced respectively that one hundred Palestinian children injured in Gaza would be treated in Italian hospitals and that seven injured children had arrived in France for treatment.

09:16 Beirut Time

The situation in Gaza this morning:

The town of Khan Younis remains the epicenter of clashes between the Israeli army and Hamas on Thursday, reports AFP.

During the night, witnesses reported airstrikes towards Rafah and fighting in Khan Younis, with the Gazan Ministry of Health counting numerous deaths and injuries across this territory ravaged by months of war.

Tank fire on a building of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in Khan Younis had already left at least "nine dead and 75 injured" on Wednesday, said Thomas White, head of the organization in Gaza, where medical and UN sources fear that the toll will rise.

The Israeli army said it had "surrounded" Khan Younis and called on the local population to leave for Rafah, further south. But the fighting makes transport to this city dangerous, where the majority of the 1.7 million Palestinians already displaced by the war are concentrated.

09:12 Beirut Time
09:11 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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