Smoke rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike on Ghazieh that targeted a tire factory, injuring several people, on Feb. 19, 2024. (Video obtained by L'Orient Today)


Several injured in Israeli strikes south of Saida; Israel claims targeting Hezbollah weapons depots: Day 136 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Israel intends to continue its offensive in Gaza for at least another six to eight weeks, according to officials.

Houthi rebels struck a UK-registered, Lebanese-operated, Belize-flagged cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden and claim it is at risk of sinking. 

At least 29,092 people have been killed and 69,028 injured in Gaza since Oct. 7.

23:12 Beirut Time

We're closing our live coverage of the war on Gaza for the day, thank you for following along. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis.

21:46 Beirut Time

UN rights experts called for an independent probe into alleged Israeli abuses against Palestinian women and girls, including killings, rapes and sexual assault, AFP reports.

The statement by the seven independent UN experts prompted an angry reaction from Israel, which rejected the "despicable and unfounded claims." Despite the fact that it cites numerous reports from Gaza and the West Bank, the Israeli mission in Geneva dismissed the statement saying the human rights experts were "motivated by their hatred for Israel, not by the truth."

The experts voiced alarm at "credible allegations of egregious human rights violations" targeting women and girls across Palestine.

👉 Read the full report here.

21:42 Beirut Time

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has recalled his ambassador to Israel for discussions, a source in Brazil's foreign ministry said, cited by Reuters, as a diplomatic scuffle plays out over the president's recent comments about Israel's war on Gaza.

The Brazilian ambassador to Israel had previously been summoned by Israel's foreign minister for a reprimand following comments by Lula likening the war on Gaza to the Nazi genocide during World War II.

"What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments," said Brazil's president, known as Lula, before offering up a comparison. "In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews," Lula said last weekend during an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.

Earlier today, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Lula is not welcome in the country until he takes back his comments.

21:13 Beirut Time

Here are the latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• Israeli artillery targeted the south-western district of the town of Mais al-Jabal, Marjayoun district, with four shells, according to local residents.

• The area around Marwahine, Sour district, was targeted in an Israeli drone attack, local residents told our correspondent in the South.

• Residents saw flares over Naqoura, in Sour district.

• The Arab-speaking Israeli army spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, wrote on X that "terrorist Hezbollah infrastructure" had been targeted in Mais al-Jabal and Adaisseh.

• Two first responders from al-Rissala Scout Association, affiliated with the Amal Movement, were injured while fighting the fire in one of the warehouses in Ghazieh targeted by Israeli strikes this afternoon, our correspondent reports, citing the organization. The injuries are not critical.

20:07 Beirut Time

The Lebanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges "all countries wishing for the return of stability and calm to southern Lebanon to condemn the continuous and prolonged Israeli aggressions on Lebanon, the latest being that on Ghazieh," reports the state-run National News Agency (NNA).

"The international community must put pressure on Israel to stop its provocative attempts to extend the war and drag Lebanon into it, while [Lebanon] is working to avoid it," the statement reads, denouncing "a threat to the stability of Lebanon and the region, which will only result in misfortune and destruction."

20:03 Beirut Time

Palestinian Muslims perform the Friday Noon prayer on a street in east Jerusalem on Feb. 16, 2024, as age restrictions have been imposed to access the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. (Credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Israel will limit Muslim worshipers’ access to al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, according a statement released Monday from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office, claiming the restrictions are because of a need for increased security.

Hamas' military operation on Oct. 7 was called al-Aqsa Flood, named for the mosque and purportedly carried out in retaliation for ongoing Israeli aggression against worshipers there. Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) both denounced the restrictions and called for Palestinians to mobilize against them.

A source who participated in the meeting that took place between Netanyahu and Israeli security officials told Haaretz that the prime minister's decision to accept the restrictions — originally proposed by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir — was taken contrary to the Shin Bet security position.

👉 Read the full report here.

19:41 Beirut Time

Apart from the significant strikes on Ghazieh, here are other updates from southern Lebanon from this afternoon:

• The Israeli army shelled the outskirts of the villages of Yater and Aita al-Shaab in the district of Bint Jbeil, residents told our correspondent.

• The locality of Adaisseh, Marjayoun district, was targeted by an Israeli airstrike, according to residents.

• Hezbollah claimed responsibility for attacks carried out at 3:15 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 4:15 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. on Israeli positions opposite the Lebanese villages of Dhaira and Boustan, both in Sour district, and twice in the disputed, Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms.

• The Israeli army's Arabic-speaking spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, reported that the military had carried out an attack on a Hezbollah position in Dhaira. He also said that yesterday, the Israeli army had identified "a Hezbollah agent who had entered a building" in Aita al-Shaab, and had subsequently bombed the building.

• According to Adraee, Israel had also attacked rocket-launching facilities in Aitaroun, in Bint Jbeil district, and Adaisseh, within the last 24 hours.

19:19 Beirut Time

The United States has proposed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that would underscore "support for a temporary cease-fire in Gaza as soon as practicable," according to the text seen by Reuters today.

The proposed resolution is in response to an Algerian one put forward on Tuesday that also called for a cease-fire but did not condemn Hamas, which the US has often considered a necessity.

The draft text also "determines that under current circumstances, a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries."

It said such a move "would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances."

19:03 Beirut Time

Updates from medical sources responding to the strikes in Ghazieh:

• Thirteen wounded were transferred to a local hospital, including three Lebanese, one Palestinian and eight Syrians, including four children. Included in this tally is the two injured Syrian workers we reported on earlier. They were working in the warehouses at the time they were targeted by the Israeli army.

• A woman who lived near the site of one of the strikes was also taken to a hospital in Saida to treat bleeding as a result of the blast, but she has since been released in good condition.

18:56 Beirut Time

18:55 Beirut Time

Testimony from Ghazieh, relayed by our correspondent in the South, Muntasser Abdallah:

"There was heavy damage in the surrounding areas, glass storefronts shattered, and women fainted ... I was standing at the door of my shop when I heard the sound of the planes. I knew an attack was coming, I heard the sound of missiles and felt the ground give way beneath my feet. A powerful blast propelled me several meters and I landed on the ground. I heard women screaming. The damage was heavy but, thank God, I wasn't hurt." — Ahmad, shopkeeper

18:36 Beirut Time

The Arabic-speaking spokesperson for the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee, announced that the military "targeted Hezbollah weapons warehouses near Saida in response to the explosion of an aerial device whose debris was found near Lake Tiberias this afternoon," in a post on his official X account.

 Earlier today, Haaretz reported that an Israeli police bomb squad was scanning the scene of a drone that had fallen near the village of Arbel close to Lake Tiberias — also known as the Sea of Gallilee. Later, the army announced that the drone "most likely did not belong" to the Israeli military and that the "circumstances of the incident are under investigation."

"We will continue to respond forcefully to Hezbollah's aggression," Adraee wrote. It has not been confirmed where the drone originated from and Hezbollah did not claim responsibility for the incident.

18:28 Beirut Time

Medical sources report that at least eight people were wounded in the Israeli air strikes on Ghazieh and have been transferred to nearby hospitals. The same sources say that none of those wounded are in critical condition.

18:17 Beirut Time

The locations in Ghazieh targeted late this afternoon by the Israeli army are in the municipality's industrial area. Between the two locations that were targeted, three warehouses were struck. One of the warehouses contained barrels of oil, another tanks of fuel used to power electric generators, and a third contained scrap metal and tires.

17:53 Beirut Time

Smoke rises from the site of an Israeli airstrike on Ghazieh that targeted a tire factory and injured two Syrian workers on Feb. 19, 2024. (Video obtained by L'Orient Today)

The Israeli strike on a tire factory in Ghazieh injured two Syrian workers, according to medical sources cited by L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South, Muntasser Abdallah.

17:47 Beirut Time

A screen grab from a video showing one of the explosions, the result of Israeli airstrikes, in Ghazieh, five kilometers south of the major Lebanese coastal town of Saida, on Feb. 19, 2024. (Video sent by residents to our correspondent in the South)

17:41 Beirut Time

More information on the strike in Ghazieh:

• The first strike targeted a tire factory near a warehouse belonging to the major water company, Rim,  according to our correspondent. It is located close to the Zahrani-Saida highway.

• The second strike targeted Ghazieh's main road, which is also the main coastal road running along the sea from Beirut to Sour. The strike was close to Chahouri mosque.

17:28 Beirut Time

17:21 Beirut Time

Smoke rises from the site of an airstrike on the town of Ghazieh, five kilometers south of the major Lebanese coastal city of Saida, on Feb. 19, 2024. (Credit: L'Orient Today)

17:13 Beirut Time

What we know so far about the attack on Ghazieh:

• Two missiles struck the Ghazieh highway and the northern outskirts of the town. The exact targets of the strikes are not yet known.

• Ambulances are currently en route to the sites of the strikes.

17:08 Beirut Time

🔴 BREAKING: The Israeli army bombed the Lebanese town of Ghazieh within the last few minutes, reports our correspondent in the South, who spoke with residents from the town.

Ghazzieh is five kilometers south of the major coastal city of Saida and 49 kilometers north of the border with Israel.

More details to come.

16:30 Beirut Time

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says that revenues from the Suez Canal have "decreased by 40 to 50 percent" so far this year due to attacks on shipping by Yemen's Houthi rebels, cited in a Reuters report.

The canal is one of Egypt's main sources of foreign currency, with Cairo gripped by a severe financial crisis.

The Houthi attacks, which the group says are targeted at vessels with links to Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip, have caused many major shipping firms to suspend passage through the Red Sea, which usually carries around 12 percent of global trade.

Last Thursday, the Houthis' leader announced the group had no intention of halting its attacks and celebrated the "great success" and "victory" of having achieved their stated goal of using their access to the Red Sea to pressure the international community and Israel to end the war on Gaza.

👉 Read more about what they've achieved here.

15:19 Beirut Time

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14:45 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that the drone that fell near the village of Arbel close to the Sea of Galilee "most likely did not belong" to the Israeli military and that the "circumstances of the incident are under investigation," according to Haaretz.

Earlier today, Haaretz reported that a police bomb squad scanned the scene of a drone that landed near the Sea of Galilee.

14:37 Beirut Time

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is persona non grata in Israel after his remarks comparing the war in Gaza to the Holocaust, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz announced, quoted by AFP.

"I have informed President Lula that he is persona non grata in Israel until he apologizes and withdraws his remarks," said Katz during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, where he had summoned the Brazilian ambassador to Israel after the statements.

On Sunday, the Brazilian president accused Israel of committing "genocide" against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, comparing the Israeli offensive to the extermination of Jews by the Nazis.

"Brazilian President Lula's comments comparing the State of Israel's just war against Hamas, which has murdered and massacred Jews, to Hitler and the Nazis are a disgrace and a serious anti-Semitic attack on the Jewish people and the State of Israel," Katz said at the ceremony, which was attended by AFP.

13:41 Beirut Time

Also in the Red Sea, the European Union has officially launched its maritime traffic protection mission, announced European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"Europe will ensure freedom of navigation in the Red Sea, in coordination with our international partners," said a delighted Ms von der Leyen on X (formerly Twitter).

13:40 Beirut Time

A US cargo ship reported a "missile attack" off the coast of Yemen and requested military assistance, said maritime security company Ambrey. The company added that radio communications indicated that "the crew was unharmed."

13:20 Beirut Time

An update on the situation in southern Lebanon:

- Rocket fire targeted northern Israel, according to a security source. No one has yet claimed responsibility, and the Israeli army has not reported any strikes.

- The Israeli air force bombed the outskirts of Adaisseh, in the Marjayoun district, according to local residents. So far, no information has been made available on possible casualties.

12:45 Beirut Time

Qatar has called for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, which would lead to an end to attacks by Yemen's Houthis on maritime traffic in the strategic waters of the Red Sea, which have disrupted hydrocarbon deliveries in particular.

12:36 Beirut Time

A police bomb squad is scanning the scene of a drone that landed near the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel, according to Haaretz.

Hezbollah did not yet claim any attack against Israel today.

12:23 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health has announced a new death toll of 29,092 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement. It also reported a total of 107 dead in the last 24 hours, and 69,028 wounded since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

12:13 Beirut Time

Norway, which chairs the international donor group for Palestine, has announced that it has negotiated a temporary agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to prevent the Palestinians from being financially strangled.

Under an agreement dating back to 1994, the Palestinian Authority receives taxes - customs clearance revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA – but Israel has withheld some of these funds since the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, to prevent the Islamist organization from receiving funding. In response, the Palestinian Authority has refused any transfer of funds from Israel.

12:12 Beirut Time

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki told the International Court of Justice that his people were suffering "colonialism and apartheid" under Israeli occupation.

"Palestinians suffer colonialism and apartheid" and "some people are indignant about these words, but they should be indignant about the reality that is ours," Al-Maliki told the UN's highest court, according to AFP.

Starting today, the ICJ is holding hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented 52 countries called to testify. The United States, Russia and China will address the judges during a week-long session at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Read the full story here.

11:30 Beirut Time

The Houthis announced that they had targeted the Rubymar ship in the Gulf of Aden and said it was in danger of sinking. They also claimed to have shot down an American drone in Hodeida, according to a military spokesman for the group.

A UK-registered, Lebanese-operated, Belize-flagged open-hatch cargo ship was attacked in the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen on Sunday, according to UK maritime risk company Ambrey.

The British Maritime Safety Agency UKMTO reported that the crew had abandoned ship off Yemen after an explosion.

11:23 Beirut Time

Update on the situation in southern Lebanon this morning:

- Israeli artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab and Dhairah (Sour), our correspondent reports, citing local residents.

- Israeli warplanes carried out two strikes on the area between the villages of Boustan and Yarine (Sour), according to a security source.

10:57 Beirut Time

A Hamas official based in Qatar told Reuters that the group estimated it had lost 6,000 fighters in the four-month conflict, half of the 12,000 fighters Israel claims to have killed.

Hamas can keep fighting and is ready for a long war in Rafah and Gaza, said the official, who requested anonymity.

"Netanyahu's options are difficult and so are ours. He can occupy Gaza, but Hamas is still standing and fighting. He has not achieved his goal of killing Hamas leaders or wiping out Hamas," he added.

10:54 Beirut Time

The Israeli army continued its operations to the west of Khan Younis, said a spokesman quoted by Haaretz.

Over the past 24 hours, the air force has struck several Hamas squadrons. Israeli soldiers on the ground carried out raids during which weapons, drones, explosive charges and other military equipment were located.

10:41 Beirut Time

According to reporting done by Reuters, Israel will continue its full-scale military operations in Gaza for another six to eight weeks before it begins to scale down and focus more on targeted strikes and using its special forces.

Read the full story here.

09:43 Beirut Time

Israel has formalized its opposition to what it calls the "unilateral recognition" of a Palestinian state and declared that any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations, Reuters reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted this "declaratory decision" to a cabinet vote, which approved the measure unanimously, according to a statement.

09:20 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon last night:

Only one incident was recorded after midnight; two Israeli artillery shells fell on the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab and Rmaish (Bint Jbeil), security sources told our correspondent in the South.

09:18 Beirut Time

On the Lebanese side, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for nine strikes on northern Israel on Sunday.

Iranian officials warned the party not to give "Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a reason to launch a wider war in Lebanon or elsewhere," a Hezbollah member told the Washington Post on Sunday.

09:16 Beirut Time

In The Hague, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest court of the United Nations, is to begin today to examine the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967.

These hearings, requested by the UN General Assembly, are completely separate from South Africa's recent high-profile application to the court.

09:16 Beirut Time

Serious concerns have been expressed around the world, including by Israel's ally Washington, at the prospect of an offensive against Rafah, which Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to launch.

"Anyone who wants to prevent us from carrying out an operation at Rafah is in effect telling us to lose the war. I'm not going to give in to that," said the Israeli prime minister on Saturday, before reaffirming on Sunday that he was aiming for "total victory" against Hamas.

According to Benny Gantz, an offensive would be carried out in a coordinated manner and in dialogue with "American and Egyptian partners," "facilitating the evacuation of civilians" to "minimize ... as much as possible" the number of casualties in their ranks.

Israel has not yet officially provided details of how and where the civilians will be evacuated.

09:11 Beirut Time

Israel has warned that its army will launch an offensive against Rafah if Israeli hostages held in Gaza are not released by the start of Ramadan, despite international pressure to protect the estimated 1.4 million Palestinians crowded into the area.

"If by Ramadan the hostages are not home, the fighting will continue everywhere, including in the Rafah area," Benny Gantz, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu's war cabinet, said in Jerusalem on Sunday.

"Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages and the civilians of Gaza can celebrate the feast of Ramadan," added the former army chief in a speech to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, is due to begin around March 10.

09:06 Beirut Time

Be sure to read the Morning Brief so that you can catch up on what happened over the weekend and what to expect today.

Morning Brief

Cross-border fighting, building collapse, Nissan lawsuit: Everything you need to know to start your Monday

09:05 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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