Search
Search

Morning brief

Fighting in southern Lebanon, smugglers arrested, Mikati postpones meeting: Everything you need to know to start your Monday

Here is what happened over the weekend and what to expect today, Monday, Feb. 26.

Fighting in southern Lebanon, smugglers arrested, Mikati postpones meeting: Everything you need to know to start your Monday

A vendor waits for customers along a street in Gaza City on Feb. 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip between Israel and the Palestinian militant Hamas movement. (Credit: AFP)

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.

Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 140, Day 141 and Day 142 of the Gaza war.

Israel’s attacks continued to cause death and destruction across southern Lebanon, killing five Hezbollah members over the weekend, while Israeli officials repeated that attacks on Lebanon will not end before a guaranteed return of displaced northern Israelis.

Hezbollah announced the death of two of its members Friday and three others yesterday, raising the party’s death toll since Oct. 8 in Syria and Lebanon to 215.

An Israeli attack on Blida’s main square Thursday evening killed two first responders from the Hezbollah-affiliated Islamic Health Committee. Israel’s shelling of southern Lebanon has previously killed and injured members of the Amal-affiliated civil defense al-Risala scouts and damaged its centers and equipment.

Israel’s attacks on southern Lebanon continued to destroy and damage residential areas and civilian infrastructure, most recently interrupting the water supply in Mansouri (Sour) by damaging the solar energy system to operate wells, the South Lebanon Water Establishment said. Israeli strikes have previously led to interruptions to electricity and water supply and telecoms networks.

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz claimed Hezbollah had been “pushed from the border-line,” repeating that Israel would only stop attacks on Lebanon if it could ensure the return of the over 80,000 Israelis displaced from the border region. Hezbollah continued its cross-border attacks, which the party says will be unrelenting before a cease-fire in Gaza.

Cypriot authorities on Saturday arrested two Lebanese men for allegedly piloting makeshift migration vessels that departed three days earlier from the shores of Tripoli, North Lebanon to Cyprus with 146 people aboard, AP reported. Cypriot police said the men claimed to have paid $2,500 each to board the vessels. The informal migrants, including 28 children, were taken to a reception center outside Nicosia. Earlier this month, Lebanon denied entry to more than 100 Syrian migrants thought to have left Lebanese shores before arriving in Cyprus. Cypriot Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said a political solution was necessary for the Lebanese “very big problem” of informal migration — which he has repeatedly broached with the European Union, pleading for additional resources to Lebanon. Lebanese security forces have repeatedly announced the arrest of people smugglers and the foiling of informal migration attempts.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati indefinitely postponed a cabinet meeting scheduled for Friday after Lebanese Army retirees protesting to demand improved pensions and fairness in public sector compensation blocked access to the Grand Serail.

Protesters decried the decimation of their salaries to L’Orient Today, demanding a revision to their pensions and to public sector salaries as a whole. Retired soldiers’ protests ramped up over the past week, with veterans repeatedly promising to escalate if their demands were not met.

Finance Ministry employees brandished their power to cut funds to public employees and government administrations by striking if the government reneges on temporary bonus payments. Finance ministry employees walked out on Thursday to protest the cancellation of a productivity bonus, allocated only to select public administration employees, equal to one-fifth of their salaries. Finance Ministry union representative Hassan Wehbe said the government used army retirees’ protests as a pretext to delay the measure, which he says has been ongoing since Nov. 2023, while finding claims of unfairness unfounded — as other disparities in compensation, for judges or professors, went unchallenged.

Elementary school teachers called for an increase in all public employee salaries and for per teaching day cash incentives.

Municipalities will close today for a one-day strike by municipal council workers demanding increased salaries and threatening to go on an open-ended strike.

Facing continued interruption to vehicle registration center operations, the Interior Ministry announced drivers’ licenses set to expire this year will continue to be valid until the end of June. The ministry adopted a similar measure last year after the monthslong closure of vehicle registration centers amid a corruption investigation implicating more than 100 employees, including senior officials and former director Hoda Salloum. Several centers remain closed, with the investigation piling onto a payment dispute with specialized service supplier Inkript that saw the contractor briefly shut down center systems and cut electricity supply last August.

At least 29,606 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry.

Israel and Hamas’ conditions for a ceasefire remained divergent — with the former demanding unconditional hostage releases and the latter demanding a complete Israeli withdrawal — as globe-trotting discussions attempting to mediate a ceasefire continued, with Friday’s Paris meeting now set to be followed by Qatari talks.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from over the weekend: “Two years in, Lebanon’s Ukrainian community watches in agony as war at home simmers on

Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 140, Day 141 and Day 142 of the Gaza war.Israel’s attacks continued to cause death and destruction across southern Lebanon, killing five Hezbollah members over the weekend, while Israeli officials repeated that attacks on Lebanon will not end before a guaranteed return of displaced northern...