This picture taken from a position in northern Israel shows an Israeli Air Force fighter jet flying over the border area with south Lebanon on Feb. 25, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as Gaza war continues. (Credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP)


Israel wants to 'get Hezbollah to withdraw to where it belongs,' warns Gallant: Gaza war, day 142

What you need to know

"The more the Israeli attacks multiply in southern Lebanon, the more the resistance strengthens its capabilities," says Hezbollah.

Two Hezbollah fighters were killed in an Israeli strike in Syria.

Negotiations continue in Qatar between Hamas and Israel on a potential truce.

21:01 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage of day 142 of the Gaza war. We will be back tomorrow with more news updates.

20:07 Beirut Time

King Abdullah II of Jordan has warned of a wider regional war if Israel continues its military campaign in the Gaza Strip during Ramada— the Muslim holy month due to begin on March 10 or 11 — according to AFP.

At a meeting in Amman with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the King of Jordan warned that "the continuation of the war against Gaza during the holy month of Ramadan" would increase "the threat of an extension of the conflict," according to the official Jordanian agency Petra quoted by AFP.

19:52 Beirut Time

With an operation at Rafah, Israel will be "a few weeks away" from a "total victory" over Hamas, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the American channel CBS, quoted by AFP.

19:30 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at a meeting at the northern command that the attacks in Lebanon will continue even if a hostage deal and temporary cease-fire in Gaza are agreed upon, according to Haaretz.

"If anyone thinks that when we get a hostage release deal and pause in Gaza, it will alleviate what is going on here, they're wrong," he said.

In an announcement released by his bureau, Gallant said that the goal is "to get Hezbollah to retreat to where it needs to be. Either by agreement or by force."

19:20 Beirut Time

People find their way through a rubble-covered alley, following overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 25, 2024, amid Gaza war. (Credit: Said Khatib/AFP)

18:36 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that it had attacked a Hezbollah "cell of saboteurs" in Blida (Marjayoun district) in southern Lebanon, as it was "leaving a military building,"  announced the Israeli army's Arabic-speaking spokesman, Avichay Adraee, on X.

Warplanes attacked the cell and "two other military buildings in the area," he added.

Earlier, a "suspicious aerial target" was intercepted as it entered Israeli territory from Lebanon, said Adraee.

Missile fire was identified from Lebanon towards the Israeli towns of Margaliot, Jabal el-Rous, Kiryat Chmona, Manara and Malikiya, and the Israeli army attacked the sources of the fire, he concluded.

18:03 Beirut Time

Latest security developments in south Lebanon (past hour)

• An Israeli air strike fired two missiles at the village of Khiam (Bint Jbeil district), reports a security source quoted by our correspondent in the region.

• Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two attacks, carried out at 4:35 p.m. and 4:50 p.m. The first targeted a building where Israeli soldiers were gathering in Manara, opposite Houla (Marjayoun). The other targeted "two buildings where Israeli soldiers were gathering" in Malikiya, opposite the town of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil).

17:27 Beirut Time

An Israeli soldier seized by Hamas militants during their Oct. 7 attack was killed the same day and his body is being held in Gaza, the army and a campaign group said today, according to AFP.

17:13 Beirut Time

Latest security developments in southern Lebanon (past two hours)

• Hezbollah announced the death of one of its fighters, Ali Karim Nasser, born in 1989 in Haddatha (Bint Jbeil district).

It was not immediately clear where Ali Nasser was killed. According to L'Orient-Le Jour's count, 215 Hezbollah fighters have been killed by Israel in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 8.

• A house was targeted in the southern village of Blida (Marjayoun district,) local residents told our correspondent.

17:02 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said today that it was not clear yet whether a hostage deal would materialize from ongoing talks, declining to discuss specifics but saying Hamas needed to "come down to a reasonable situation," according to Reuters.

Netanyahu, speaking in an interview with CBS News, added he was meeting with staff later today to review a dual military plan that included the evacuation of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and an operation to destroy remaining Hamas battalions.

"If we have a deal, it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway," he told CBS.

16:51 Beirut Time

The US said today that multinational talks in Paris came to an "understanding" on a possible deal for Hamas to release hostages and for a new ceasefire in the Middle East, according to AFP.

"Representatives of Israel, the United States, Egypt and Qatar met in Paris and came to an understanding among the four of them about what the basic contours of a hostage deal for a temporary ceasefire would look like," White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN.

16:37 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden has not been briefed on Israel's plan for military operations in Rafah, but believes civilian life must be protected, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said today in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" program, according to Reuters.

"We do not believe that an operation, a major military operation, should proceed in Rafah unless there is a clear and executable plan to protect those civilians, to get them to safety and to feed, clothe and house them," Sullivan said. 

15:42 Beirut Time

Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah said at a ceremony that attacks on Lebanese villages in the south were prompting the party and its allies to "strengthen its capabilities."

Fadlallah made his remarks at a ceremony in memory of an ambulance driver killed in an Israeli strike in Braasheet on Thursday.

"Israeli raids and attacks will only increase our support for the resistance," he said. "The more the attacks multiply, the more they push the resistance to work, by all means, to strengthen its capabilities and arm itself to deter them, to protect our country and defend the south."

He also called on the Lebanese government to include the Israeli strikes against rescue workers, which have killed four volunteers from the party-affiliated Health Committee since Oct. 8, as well as against civilians and journalists, in the complaints lodged with the UN Security Council "to deter the enemy."

15:02 Beirut Time

Iran has condemned the latest strikes by the United States and Britain on Yemen, saying they were seeking to "escalate tensions and crises" in the region, AFP reports.

Yesterday, US and British forces carried out fresh strikes against 18 Houthi targets in Yemen.

"With such attacks, America and Britain seek to escalate tensions and crises in the region, and expand the scope of war and instability," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani said in a statement. ➡️ More details here.

14:02 Beirut Time

Here's the latest update on the security situation in southern Lebanon over the past two hours:

* Explosions of intercept missiles were heard and seen above Wazzani, near the town of Houla (Marjayoun district), according to local residents.

* Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Kfar Hammam, Rashaya al-Fourkhar, and Kfar Shuba (all located in the Hasbaya district), local residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

14:00 Beirut Time

Here's the latest update on the security situation in southern Lebanon over the past two hours:

* Explosions of intercept missiles were heard and seen above Wazzani, near the town of Houla (Marjayoun district), according to local residents.

* Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Kfar Hammam, Rashaya al-Fourkhar, and Kfar Shuba (all located in the Hasbaya district), local residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

13:46 Beirut Time

⚡ Qatar will host mediated talks between Hamas and Israel aiming to finalize an agreement on a truce this week, Reuters reports, citing Egyptian security sources.

Representatives from both parties will later travel to Cairo for further talks aimed at reaching an agreement on the timing and mechanism for executing any deal, including hostage releases, the sources said.

The announcement follows talks held on Friday in Paris between mediators and an Israeli delegation, and others held in Cairo, in which Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh took part.

12:50 Beirut Time

In a radio interview, Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said that the country "continues to study the most appropriate response to the French roadmap concerning the situation in south Lebanon." He added that "this response should be completed this week."

The proposal, submitted by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne to the Lebanese authorities during his visit to Beirut in early February, sets out a three-stage plan for de-escalation of the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel in south Lebanon.

It aims to achieve "a potential cease-fire, with a view to ensuring the implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) (which put an end to the war between Israel and Hezbollah), which "remains the basis for stability on the border," as stated in the text consulted by L'Orient-Le Jour and confirmed by Reuters.

The proposal also aims to relaunch negotiations on the demarcation of the land border between the two countries at a later stage. It is based on the April 1996 agreement and provides for the creation of a supervisory commission comprising the US, France, Lebanon and Israel.

"A series of French visits to Israel have taken place, but so far we have not received any Israeli approval" of the French plan, added Bou Habib. "For Lebanon, the most important thing is to put an end to the current tensions, and we don't want half-measures that will be forgotten in a few months' time," he said.

12:10 Beirut Time

Here's the latest update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

*According to local residents, Israeli artillery has intermittently targeted the outskirts of the towns of Jibbayn and Dhairah (Sour district) since 9:30 a.m.

*Hezbollah claimed it targeted the Israeli Zibbdin barracks in the occupied Shebaa Farms at 11:15 a.m. with a Falaq-1 missile.

*Hezbollah reported targeting a gathering of Israeli soldiers near the Israeli Ramim military base in northern Israel, facing the Lebanese border village of Markaba (Marjayoun) at 10:05 a.m.

*Residents reported Israeli artillery shelling targeting the outskirts of Markaba and Aita al-Shaab, both located in the Marjayoun district.

12:06 Beirut Time

⚡ Two Hezbollah members have been killed in an Israeli strike in Syria. ➡️ More details here.

10:59 Beirut Time

Hezbollah MP Hassan Ezzeddine has asserted that his party "has used only a very small portion of its power and strength" in its ongoing conflict with Israel in southern Lebanon, which he described as "taking place in a restricted geographical area."

"Therefore, in the event of an expansion of the enemy's attacks, the resistance will be on the front line of defense and will confront the enemy," he continued.

Ezzeddine, speaking at a partisan event in Tayr Debba, south Lebanon, in memory of Fouad Moughniyeh, who was assassinated in 1994 in a car bomb attack in the southern suburbs of Beirut, said: "The resistance will show the enemy all its power, and the enemy will then regret what it has done."

Fouad Moughniyeh was the brother of Imad Moughniyeh, the party's former military chief, who was also assassinated in Syria in 2008.

Image: MP Hassan Ezzeddine (Hezbollah) at a partisan event. (Photo courtesy of Hezbollah's press office)

10:39 Beirut Time

Israeli media hints at the possibility of a truce agreement:

According to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, quoted by the Al Jazeera website, there is "optimism about the possibility of reaching an agreement between Hamas and Israel [for the release of the hostages and the conclusion of a truce], before the start of the month of Ramadan."

Echoing this "optimism" expressed by Israeli public radio, the newspaper Yediot Aharonot this morning quoted Israeli officials who "hope that a deal in Gaza will lead to a diplomatic agreement with Lebanon" concerning the conflict that has been ongoing between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon since Oct. 8.

"As a result, the US has frozen its mediation between the two countries while the fighting continues," the newspaper adds.

10:01 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an attack carried out yesterday at 9 p.m. against "the headquarters of the Beit Hillel battalion, affiliated to the 769th territorial brigade," using Katyusha rockets.

The targeted barracks is located opposite the Lebanese town of Khiam (Bint Jbeil). According to the party, it launched the strike in response to Israeli "aggression" against "villages and civilian dwellings" in south Lebanon "and more specifically in Baraachit," which was bombed earlier in the day by Israeli aircraft.

09:55 Beirut Time

Image: People find their way through a rubble-covered alley, following overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 25, 2024. (Credit: Said Khatib/AFP)

09:43 Beirut Time

US and British forces carried out a fresh wave of strikes yesterday against 18 Houthi targets in Yemen, AFP reports..

The strikes "specifically targeted 18 Houthi targets across eight locations in Yemen," including weapons storage facilities, attack drones, air defense systems, radars and a helicopter, a joint statement said.

The statement was co-signed by Australia, Bahrain, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands and New Zealand, who gave unspecified "support" to the new round of strikes. ➡️ More details here.

09:38 Beirut Time

More details about overnight Israeli strikes on Gaza, as reported by Wafa, the Palestinian state-run news agency:

Dozens of Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed in the recent Israeli assaults. The affected areas include the western part of Khan Younis, the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City, the Shaaf area east of Gaza City and Beit Lahia in northern Gaza. Additionally, explosions have been reported in the Zaytoun neighborhood near Gaza City, according to Wafa.

09:20 Beirut Time

In south Lebanon, the night was calm, according to information from security sources.

No Israeli strikes targeted border villages overnight. However, before midnight, Israeli aircraft flew over several regions of the south. 

09:19 Beirut Time

In Tel Aviv, thousands of people gathered last night in "Hostage Square" to demand the release of 130 people still held in Gaza.

“We think about them all the time; we want them to come back to us alive and as quickly as possible,” Orna Tal, 60, whose friend is one of the hostages, told AFP. 

Image: Israeli security forces use a water cannon to disperse protesters during an anti-government demonstration in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on Feb. 24, 2024. (Credit: Jack Guez/AFP)

09:16 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced yesterday that its soldiers had killed "dozens of terrorists" in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, where military operations against urban guerrillas led by the Islamist movement are concentrated.

The Israeli military offensive has left 29,606 dead in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, since the start of the war on Oct. 7, according to the latest report from the Health Ministry in the enclave.

09:15 Beirut Time

Pending a possible agreement, the Israeli military offensive continues in the Gaza Strip, where the seriousness of the humanitarian crisis is deepening.

The enclave's Health Ministry said yesterday that a two-month-old child, Mahmoud Fatouh, died of malnutrition at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

According to an AFP journalist, at least six air raids were carried out on the city on Saturday evening. "There is no safe place in the entire Gaza Strip. We are all targeted, wherever we are," Hassan Hamad Qeshta told AFP after a strike that destroyed a building in Rafah.

09:13 Beirut Time

To conclude an agreement, Israel sets as a precondition "the release of all the hostages, starting with all the women," according to Benjamin Netanyahu's national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi. “Such an agreement does not mean the end of the war,” Hanegbi emphasized while speaking on Israeli's N12 television channel.

Hamas is demanding a “complete ceasefire” and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. According to a source in the Islamist movement, the plan discussed in January included a six-week break and the release of 200 to 300 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 35 to 40 hostages.

Israel has, according to local officials and media cited by AFP, given the green light to sending a delegation to Qatar shortly in order to continue the discussions of the last few days in Paris with a view to a new truce agreement in Gaza accompanied by the release of hostages.

09:10 Beirut Time

To start the day, here's an update on the latest developments in a possible truce and hostage-prisoner exchange agreement between Hamas and Israel:

Yesterday evening, the Israeli war cabinet, according to local officials and media, gave the green light to send a delegation to Qatar to continue discussions that began in Paris earlier this week with a view to a new truce agreement in Gaza accompanied by the release of Israeli hostages.

Mossad chief David Barnea visited the French capital on Friday at the head of an Israeli delegation to follow up on a truce project which he had discussed at the end of January with his American and Egyptian counterparts and the Qatari prime minister.

09:08 Beirut Time

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of this 141st day of the Gaza War and its repercussions in the occupied West Bank, south Lebanon, Red Sea and across the Middle East.