A group of young Palestinians ride a donkey cart through a destroyed beach road, in Gaza City, Feb. 19, 2024. (Credit: Kosay Al Nemer/Reuters)


US vetoes Algerian UN Security Council resolution, advocates instead for a US draft: Day 137 of Hamas-Israel war

What you need to know

Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh is in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials.

UN vote expected on a cease-fire resolution prepared by Algeria; Washington proposes an alternative text.

21 injured after Israeli strikes on Ghazieh, south of Saida.

22:18 Beirut Time

We're ending our live coverage of the war on Gaza for today. Thank you for following — we'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis, right here at L'Orient Today.

21:45 Beirut Time

“A sustainable pause is only possible once Hamas is dismantled,” Israeli government spokesperson Elon Levy said, but Israel is not against the UN Security Council resolution drafted by the US, which calls for a temporary cease-fire and was written up in response to Algeria’s own draft resolution.

"We’re glad our allies continue to stand with us in whatever roundabout way they choose to express it," he said, in response to journalists' questions regarding America's shifting position, and what many see as an increasingly strained relationship between the two countries, long-time allies.

Levy said that the release of hostages and a temporary pause in order to facilitate that, is in line with Israeli policy. On Monday, the US vetoed the Algerian draft, advocating for its own instead. Both call for a cease-fire, but the Algerian proposal does not condemn Hamas — a must for any proposal that seeks US support.

21:36 Beirut Time

“We repeat the warning that Hezbollah must back off … or else we will be forced to push it away” said official Israeli government spokesperson Elon Levy in today’s press briefing, adding that preferably the hostilities end “in the context of a diplomatic framework in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, which renders illegal [Hezbollah’s] presence south of the Litani River.”

Levy said Israel “will not accept the ongoing displacement of tens of thousands of civilians” from the north of the country, “and the ongoing shelling of their homes.”

In Gaza, almost two million people have been displaced by Israeli military operations there, and one third of the Strip’s building have been flattened by Israeli bombardment. In Lebanon, more than 86,000 people have been displaced. The Israeli army regularly strikes residential buildings and at least 5,140,000 square meters of land have been scorched by white phosphorus and flare bombs.

👉 Read the full report here.

21:08 Beirut Time

Israeli border police stop a man from heading to a protest against the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza and demanding the immediate release of Israeli hostages. Trucks waiting to enter Gaza from Egypt can be seen in the background, at the Kerem S

20:52 Beirut Time

Hamas has confirmed receipt of a shipment of medicines under a deal brokered by Qatar and has begun delivering the supplies to hostages held in Gaza, Qatar's foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement today, cited by Reuters.

Qatar and France brokered a deal with Israel and Hamas last month on the delivery of urgent medication to hostages held in Gaza in return for humanitarian and medical aid for the most vulnerable civilians in the enclave.

"Qatar received these confirmations as the mediator in the agreement, which includes the entry of the medicines and shipment of humanitarian aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip, especially in the most affected and damaged areas, in exchange for delivering the medicines needed by hostages in the sector," Qatar's foreign ministry spokesman, Majed Al-Ansari, said in a statement.

20:22 Beirut Time

A Hezbollah spokesperson told L'Orient Today that the party officially denies a report appearing in Israeli media that one of its drones was found in an orchard in the Galilee, near the home of a local Israeli army official. According to Hezbollah, the drone was like an Israeli one.

On Monday, the Israeli army used the discovery of pieces of a drone near the Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Tiberias, as justification for its strikes on three warehouses in Ghazieh, located just five kilometers south of the major Lebanese coastal city of Saida.

18:32 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah announced its fighters carried out an attack at 4:15 p.m. against the same Israeli position they hit a few hours earlier facing the village of Markaba, Marjayoun district, using a Burkan-type missile, according to the party's statement.

• In the afternoon, ambulances headed for Kfar Kila, Marjayoun district, following a, Israeli air strike on the town, according to our correspondent in the region.

18:26 Beirut Time

(L-R) US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield listens as Algerian Ambassador to the UN Amar Bendjama speaks during a UN Security Council vote on Israel's war on Gaza, at UN Headquarters in New York City on Feb. 20, 2024. (Credit: Angela Weiss

The United States vetoed Algeria's proposed UN Security Council resolution, which called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, even as President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure to dial back support for Israel, AFP reports. The US advocated instead for its own alternate resolution proposal, which calls for a temporary cease-fire, but also condemns the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, which Algeria's draft does not do.

The resolution, which Algeria had been working on for three weeks, demanded "an immediate humanitarian cease-fire that must be respected by all parties."

"Proceeding with a vote today was wishful and irresponsible," said Washington's ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield. "We cannot support a resolution that would put sensitive negotiations in jeopardy." Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh is in Cairo today for mediation discussions with Qatari and Egyptian officials. 

"This is not, as some members have claimed, an American effort to cover for an imminent ground incursion," Thomas-Greenfield said ahead of the vote.

The Algerian draft resolution opposed the "forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population," and demanded the release of all hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7.

17:27 Beirut Time

In the last hour, Hezbollah announced four attacks against three Israeli positions, two of which were in the disputed, Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms and two of which were facing the southern Lebanese border village of Markaba, Marjayoun. The party said its fighters used a Burkan missile in one of the attacks.

16:49 Beirut Time

French and Lebanese officials are working together to curb the escalation in southern Lebanon and restore calm to the area that has been under Israeli bombardment since Oct. 8, according to a statement from Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib.

Bou Habib spoke following his meeting with French Ambassador Hervé Magro, stressing “the importance of finding lasting solutions through the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701.” This resolution put an end to the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, mandating that neither sides would be present in the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River, which would instead be stewarded by UNIFIL and the Lebanese Army.

Earlier, we reported that during his meeting with Bou Habib, the French diplomat had assured his Lebanese counterpart that Paris was "working to reduce tension" in southern Lebanon. 

16:29 Beirut Time

Updates from the last half-hour in southern Lebanon:

• An Israeli drone targeted a house in the southern Lebanese border village of Blida, Marjayoun district, residents told L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the South.

• An Israeli drone struck the outskirts of the southern Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila, Marjayoun district, according to residents.

• The Israeli army shelled the outskirts of the southern Lebanese village of Rashaya al-Fawqar, in Hasbaya district, residents told L'Orient Today.

15:28 Beirut Time

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has announced that it is once again suspending aid distribution in the northern Gaza Strip, which is in the grip of "chaos and violence", reports AFP.

Three weeks ago, the WFP had already suspended food aid deliveries to northern Gaza, ravaged by more than four months of war, following an Israeli strike against a truck belonging to another UN agency. It resumed deliveries on Sunday, but since then its trucks have been "looted" or targeted by gunfire in a context of "total chaos and violence," it said in a statement.

14:45 Beirut Time

Qatar says "dual standards" in the international community have been "negatively affecting talks" on a hostage deal, according to a report by Al Jazeera.

As talks continue, with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh arriving today in Cairo for further discussions, Qatar has made comparisons between the war in Gaza with Ukraine and criticized international institutions for failing to bring the war to an end.

Today the UN Security Council will vote on a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza, however, it is unlikely to pass as the US has vowed to veto it. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has proposed an alternative resolution for a "temporary cease-fire."

13:58 Beirut Time

Here are the latest developments in southern Lebanon over the last two hours:

-Israeli artillery hit the area around Wazzani, Adaisseh and Tallousa, in Marjayoun district, with eight shells, a security source tells our correspondent.

-Residents of the town of Blida (Marjayoun) report an Israeli airstrike on two homes, which were destroyed. No injuries have yet been reported. Rescue workers from the al-Rissala Scouts helped remove the rubble and clear the road after the attack.

-Another strike targeted a house in Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil), and Israeli aircraft also bombed the area around this town, according to local residents.

13:31 Beirut Time

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it has completed a second evacuation mission from Gaza's Nasser Hospital, transferring a total of 32 critical patients, including children, out of the site taken over by fighting, Reuters reports.

Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis ceased operating last week after a week-long siege followed by a raid. WHO staff said the destruction around the hospital was "indescribable" and expressed concern for the 130 or so sick and injured patients and 15 doctors remaining inside the site.

"WHO fears for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers who remain in the hospital and warns that further disruption of life-saving care for the sick and injured would lead to further deaths," the WHO said on X. "Efforts to transfer the remaining patients are continuing. The site has no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage "create a breeding ground for disease," the WHO added.

12:29 Beirut Time

"Our position is clear: We are working to reduce tension" in South Lebanon, said French Ambassador to Lebanon Herve Magro during a meeting with Abdallah Bou Habib, Lebanon's caretaker foreign minister, reports the state-run National Information Agency (NNA).

Answering a question about possible contact between France and Hezbollah, Magro replied: "We're talking to everyone, as you know. We hope to make progress."

12:26 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health has announced a new toll of 29,195 people killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement, reports AFP.

It also reported a total of 103 dead in the last 24 hours, and 69,170 wounded since Oct. 7.

12:08 Beirut Time

Israel's practices in the Palestinian territories are an "even more extreme" form of the apartheid South Africa experienced before 1994, Pretoria has told the UN's highest court, reports AFP.

"As South Africans, we feel, see, hear and sense in the depths of our being the inhuman discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of institutionalized apartheid against black people in my country," said Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, where the ICJ sits.

11:49 Beirut Time

Hamas political bureau chairman Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo this morning at the head of a delegation representing the Palestinian movement, a Hamas spokesman in Lebanon told L'Orient Today. Haniyeh went to Cairo "for discussions with Egyptian officials on the political situation and the ground," to discuss "efforts to stop the aggression and save the citizens" of Gaza.

11:47 Beirut Time

A senior Israeli army official has denied suggestions in a Saudi newspaper that Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar had recently fled to Egypt through tunnels in Rafah, according to Haaretz.

The Saudi publication Elaph had claimed that Israeli authorities had information that suggested that Sinwar fled with his brother and that there are concerns he took hostages with him. However, an unnamed official told Haaretz "they have no information" that Sinwar has left Gaza.

11:32 Beirut Time

Latest developments in southern Lebanon:

- Israeli jets carried out an attack on the outskirts of Houla and Wadi Slouqi (Marjayoun), residents report to our correspondent in the region. Rescue workers from al-Rissala Scouts went to the scene and helped remove the rubble. They report that the attack on Houla "targeted a house which was destroyed, with no injuries."

- Another attack targeted the area around Mais al-Jabal, in the same district.

- Two Israeli airstrikes targeted the vicinity of Shihine and Dhairah (Sour) reports a security source.

- Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a 10 a.m. attack on a group of Israeli soldiers near the Ramim barracks in northern Israel, opposite Houla.

10:50 Beirut Time

Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinian gunmen in Gaza's southern hub city of Khan Younis over the last 24 hours, the military has said today. The operations included an air strike on a Hamas arms cache that set off secondary explosions, Reuters reports.

09:20 Beirut Time

Updates on a strike by the Israeli army on Hezbollah warehouses in Ghazieh, south of Saida yesterday afternoon:

- ⁠21 people, including four children, and two Risala Scout first responders, have been wounded and are receiving hospital treatment.

-⁠ ⁠The strikes targeted an industrial area in Ghazieh. The Arabic-language spokesperson for the Israeli army, Avichay Adraee, said on X that the military "targeted Hezbollah weapons warehouses.” They say it was in response to the “explosion of an aerial device” whose debris was found near the Sea of Galilee (also known as Lake Tiberias) in northern Israel yesterday afternoon.

- ⁠This morning, fire brigades are continuing to extinguish the fire that broke out yesterday in the warehouses. Some private schools in the city of Saida are closed “in condemnation” of the strike, as well as to prevent danger to the students.

09:17 Beirut Time

The situation in southern Lebanon last night:

There were no new strikes by Israel on southern Lebanon during the night, although residents in the Sour district, as well as in Ghazieh, the area south of Saida that was struck earlier in the day, reported hearing Israeli jets flying above them.

09:13 Beirut Time

The US has proposed a UN Security Council resolution calling for a temporary cease-fire "as soon as practicable,” as well as for Israel not to go ahead with a planned offensive on Rafah in southern Gaza, the Guardian reports.

The Biden administration offered the text as an alternative to an Algerian draft resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, which is due to be debated today.

The Guardian said that this draft resolution is "a signal that Washington is willing to go through the UN to put pressure on Israel and not rely solely on bilateral messages."

09:10 Beirut Time

The humanitarian situation remains catastrophic this morning in the Gaza Strip, where almost 1.5 million Palestinians are crowded into the city of Rafah, threatened by an Israeli assault.

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Rafah's population has increased sixfold since the start of the war on Oct. 7. This town on the closed border with Egypt is the target of daily strikes by the Israeli army, which has said it is preparing a ground assault.

On Monday night, Israeli bombardments concentrated on the eastern Gaza Strip and the town of Khan Younis, according to an AFP journalist on the spot.

09:09 Beirut Time
09:07 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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