Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli air strike on the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the border with Israel on Feb. 9, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: Rabih Daher/AFP)


Netanyahu calls for plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah; Hezbollah and Israel trade cross-border fire: Day 126 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for numerous attacks on Israeli positions from southern Lebanon.

"War is not the solution," says the Iranian foreign minister during a visit to Beirut.

The US warns of a "disaster" in Rafah. 

19:10 Beirut Time

This concludes our coverage for today. Be sure to follow our live coverage tomorrow and read other reporting from our journalists.


18:52 Beirut Time

BREAKING: Hezbollah announces that at 5:50 p.m. it attacked an Israeli position in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights with "tens of Katyusha rockets."

18:40 Beirut Time

A large number of missiles were fired from Lebanon toward northern Israel around 6 p.m., a security source told L'Orient Today. Haaretz reported shortly after that dozens of rockets were fired and intercepted in an earlier barrage on Israel's north

18:26 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that they attacked at 4:35 p.m. an Israeli position facing the south Lebanon border village of Mhaibib, Bint Jbeil in the last hour and said they "directly hit" the target.

18:18 Beirut Time

Kataib Hezbollah, an influential Iraqi armed group that forms one part of Hashed al-Shaabi and allied with Iran, has lashed out at the United States for its strikes in Iraq after a drone strike killed a senior commander of the faction in Baghdad, reports AFP.

On Wednesday evening in the Iraqi capital, a drone strike killed a senior commander of the group, Abu Bakr al-Saadi, accused by the US military of being "directly responsible for planning and participating in attacks on US forces" in the Middle East.

"For the blood shed by our commanders and fighters, the responsibility lies with America, and with those who refuse or hinder the departure of its occupying forces from Iraq," the Kataib Hezbollah accused in a statement. "Let them know that our nation will not abandon the blood of its martyrs and that its men are still determined to fight," the group added.

18:09 Beirut Time

Israeli aircraft violated Lebanese airspace at several locations throughout the country today, and appear to have increased the frequency of their overflights considerably over the past three days. 

(Photo: Adam Muro)

18:02 Beirut Time

The killing of three Palestinians in an occupied West Bank hospital last month by Israeli commandos disguised as medical staff and Muslim women could constitute a war crime, a UN panel of experts has said, quoted by Reuters.

The three militants were killed on Jan. 29 during an undercover operation carried out jointly by the army, the Shin Bet security service and the border police at the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, one of the West Bank's most volatile cities, the Israeli army said.

"Under international humanitarian law, killing a wounded and defenseless patient being treated in a hospital constitutes a war crime," the UN experts said in a statement, referring to Basel Al-Ghazzawi, a patient being treated for wounds caused, they said, by an Israeli air strike.

"By disguising themselves as apparently harmless and protected medical personnel and civilians, Israeli forces also committed the prima facie war crime of perfidy, which is prohibited in all circumstances," they added, calling on Israel to investigate.

17:09 Beirut Time

In the last 30 minutes:

•⁠ ⁠The Israeli army struck a house in the southern Lebanon border village of Naqoura (Sour) with no casualties being recorded, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

•⁠ ⁠The Israeli army struck a house in the south Lebanon border village of Khiam (Marjayoun) which damaged some nearby houses with no casualties being recorded, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

•⁠ ⁠Hezbollah announced that it attacked at 3:10 p.m. the surveillance equipment of an Israeli position in the disputed Shebaa Farms and at 3:30 the surveillance equipment in an Israeli position facing the south Lebanon border village of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil) and said they "directly hit" the target. The party also said it attacked at 3:30 an Israeli position in the disputed Chebaa Farms in their second attack on the area in less than 30 minutes and that, at 4 p.m., they targeted an Israeli position in Malkia, which is also adjacent to the southern Lebanese border village of Aitaroun.

16:49 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israel military to present him and his cabinet with plans to evacuate civilians living in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, according to a statement issued by his office and relayed by Israeli media and Reuters.

In addition, Netanyahu ordered the army and other authorities in charge of the matter to present "plans to defeat the Hamas battalions still operating in the city."

16:38 Beirut Time

"We have clearly told the United States that it must not support the genocide carried out by the Zionists on Gaza, as well as their crimes in the occupied West Bank," said Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian from Beirut, where he arrived for a visit to meet a number of local politicians.

"We have been saying it since the beginning of this crisis: War is not the solution," continued the Iranian foreign minister, quoted by NNA (the state-run national news agency).

16:34 Beirut Time

The Israeli army fired on a house in the village of Naqoura (Sour), on the border between Lebanon and Israel, without causing any casualties, local residents told L'Orient Today.

The Israeli army also struck the village of Khiam (Marjayoun), according to other local residents.

Shortly before 4 p.m., Haaretz reported that anti-tank fire targeting northern Israel had been detected and that the Israeli army had returned fire.

16:31 Beirut Time

The Israeli army said it had intercepted a "suspicious aerial target" off the northern port city of Haifa, amid high tension along the border with Lebanon, according to Reuters.

An Israeli army spokesman said the target had caused no damage or injuries. "I can't confirm the exact proximity to the port, but the fact that, in accordance with protocol, no siren was sounded means that the target was far enough away," said the spokesman, declining to say whether the target or its source had been identified.

The seaports of Haifa and Ashdod are crucial entry points for Israeli trade. Last December, the Israeli army claimed to have intercepted a drone coming from Lebanon, triggering sirens in the Haifa suburbs.

16:28 Beirut Time

Any major offensive by the Israeli army in Rafah, the last refuge for people displaced by the war in the Gaza Strip, will exacerbate the "endless tragedy" unfolding there, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has warned, quoted by AFP.

The situation is "very worrying," with "an intensification of operations and bombings" that are "getting closer," explained Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, the main humanitarian aid agency in Gaza, at a press briefing in Jerusalem. "Any large-scale military operation among this population will only add another layer to the endless tragedy that is unfolding," he added.

16:18 Beirut Time

The Israeli army continues to attack Al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Red Crescent said on its X account.

"We are concerned about the safety of our teams inside Al-Amal Hospital, as well as the wounded and patients, due to the occupation's continued raid on the hospital," the organization lamented.

16:11 Beirut Time

The Israeli attack in Maroun al-Ras targeted a headquarters of the Amal Movement, which was totally destroyed, a source from the movement told our correspondent in the region. No injuries were reported.

However, local residents report that three civilians were slightly wounded in houses near the headquarters.

16:02 Beirut Time

Developments in southern Lebanon over the past hour:

- The area around Kfar Shouba (Hasbaya) was shelled by three Israeli artillery fire, residents report to our correspondent in the region. The area around Kfar Hamam, in the same caza, was hit by five shells.

- The Sharq Horsh area, in the Nabatieh district, was targeted by Israeli warplanes for the first time since the start of the fighting.

- Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack carried out at around 2.20 p.m. on an Israeli Merkava tank at the Israeli Baghdadi site, claiming to have destroyed the tank.

- The area around Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil) was also targeted by Israeli artillery, according to local residents.

15:19 Beirut Time

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported on its X account less than an hour ago that the Israeli army was carrying out a raid on the Al-Amal hospital in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip.

14:57 Beirut Time

In the last hour:

•⁠ ⁠The Israeli army bombed the outskirts of the southern Lebanon border villages of Jibain, Yarine, and Dhairah in the Sour district, residents of the villages told L'Orient Today.

•⁠ ⁠The Israeli army struck the outskirts of the southern Lebanon border village of Maroun al-Ras in Bint Jbeil, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

14:56 Beirut Time

According to the Palestinian agency Wafa, 25,000 people gathered at the site of Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem for Friday prayers "despite the restrictions and military measures imposed by the Israeli occupation forces at the gates of the mosque ... for the fifth consecutive month."

The number of worshippers gathered often fluctuated between 50,000 and 70,000 in the months before the restrictions were imposed, according to figures previously reported by Wafa.

(Credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

13:56 Beirut Time

Syrian air defenses responded to “ hostile targets ” in the vicinity of Damascus, Syrian state media reported cited by Reuters.

13:45 Beirut Time

The foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Jordan, along with a senior PLO official, met in Riyadh to discuss the situation in Gaza, as reported by the UAE national news agency, quoted by Reuters.

During the meeting, the UAE Foreign Minister, Abdallah ben Zayed Al Nahyan, stressed the need to intensify efforts to prevent the spread of the conflict in the region.

13:38 Beirut Time

In the last 30 minutes:

•⁠ ⁠An Israeli drone struck a house in the south Lebanon border village of Markaba (Marjayoun) which caused a fire while no casualties were recorded, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

•⁠ ⁠The Israeli army shelled the south Lebanon border village of Wazzani in Hasbaya district, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

•⁠ ⁠An Israeli drone struck the outskirts of the south Lebanon village of Yohmor in Nabatiyeh district, residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

12:59 Beirut Time

British Airways has announced that it will resume flights to Israel on April 1, after suspending them in early October for security reasons linked to the war between Israel and Hamas.

The company will "resume [its] flights on April 1" to Tel Aviv airport, and this destination will be integrated into the company's "short-haul network," British Airways announced in a statement sent to AFP. The aircraft will thus be smaller than before the conflict, reflecting the company's expectations of lower demand.

Flights to Israel will also make a 45-minute stopover in Larnaca, Cyprus, until May 31, to change crews.

Many other airlines had stopped flying to Israel in the wake of the deadly Hamas raids and rocket attacks from Gaza, particularly towards the Tel Aviv region. Since then, several airlines have announced that they are resuming flights, including Lufthansa, Air France and Ryanair.

12:48 Beirut Time

White House spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz were likely to discuss the situation in Gaza and "what we can do together, as strong allies, to continue to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and that humanitarian aid gets to the people who need it."

The US Senate passed a $95.34 billion bill including aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Thursday, after Republicans blocked a compromise bill that included immigration policy reforms.

12:17 Beirut Time

"The Israeli enemy knows that the result of any battle with Lebanon will be a more severe and harsh defeat than the one in Gaza," said Nabil Qaouq, a member of Hezbollah's Central Council, at a ceremony honoring a martyr of the party in Haoush, southern Lebanon. "When the enemy thinks of waging war in Lebanon, he thinks again and again, because the resistance is ready for every possibility and every surprise. Lebanon will only be the site of their defeat and our victory," he continued.

According to Qaouq Israel "has failed to change the course of the war, despite American support, massacres and famine, and has not succeeded in these four months in recovering its hostages, killing Hamas leaders or dominating the resistance."

(Credit: Photo provided by Hezbollah press office)

11:55 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announces that it attacked at 11:15 a.m. the surveillance equipment at the Dovev Israeli position facing the south Lebanon border village of Rmaish, Bint Jbeil, and said they "directly hit" the target.

11:27 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health has announced a death toll of 27,947 people, mostly women, children and teenagers, in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas.

It reported a total of 107 deaths in the last 24 hours, and 67,459 wounded since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

11:27 Beirut Time

Also in southern Lebanon, in the morning, a missile fired from an Israeli drone targeted a house in Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil), which caught fire.

No information was yet available on possible casualties.

11:26 Beirut Time

Outside of the Hezbollah strike, according to security sources, there was repeated Israeli artillery fire on the outskirts of Yaroun, Rmaish and Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil), first between 10.30 p.m. and 11 p.m., then again after 11 p.m.

11:18 Beirut Time

The situation in southern Lebanon overnight

The night was mainly marked by a barrage of rockets launched by Hezbollah towards northern Israel, in retaliation for the strike targeting a Hezbollah commander who was traveling by car in Nabatieh.

In a statement, the party claimed responsibility for the fire, launched at 11 p.m. "in retaliation for the strikes on villages in the south, and especially the latest strike on Nabatieh, which targeted resistance fighters." This strike involved the firing of "tens of Katyusha rockets" in the direction of the "headquarters of the 3rd [Israeli] infantry brigade, in the Ain Zeitim base."

11:15 Beirut Time

Regarding the situation in Gaza, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "alarmed" by the ground operation at Rafah. "Such action would exponentially worsen the current humanitarian nightmare, whose regional consequences are already incalculable," he wrote on social network X.

In a second publication, he affirmed his "clear condemnation of violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza," just as he condemned "the horrific acts of Hamas." "I repeat: We need an immediate cease-fire and the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages" held by Hamas.

11:13 Beirut Time

In Yemen:

The United States announced that it had carried out strikes on Thursday targeting four surface drones and seven cruise missiles "ready to be launched against ships in the Red Sea" by Yemen's Houthi rebels. The drones and missiles were "identified in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen" and posed "an imminent threat" to shipping, the US Middle East Military Command (CENTCOM) said on X.

11:11 Beirut Time

The US warned on Thursday of a "disaster" in Rafah and said it would not support an operation "without serious and credible planning" for civilians there.

"I think, as you know, the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been excessive," said US President Joe Biden, in a rare criticism of Israel.

11:10 Beirut Time

Gaza is no longer Gaza,” Palestinian Authority Culture Minister Atef Abou Seif told AFP, who was in Gaza to launch Palestinian Heritage Day when the war between Israel and Hamas broke out. He was stuck there for 90 days.

11:08 Beirut Time

The situation in Gaza:

During the night from Thursday to Friday, witnesses reported deadly strikes in central and southern Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent expressed regret over the death of three children in an Israeli strike on Rafah, according to AFP.

11:06 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the ongoing war in Gaza.