Palestinians gather to collect aid food in Beit Lahia, in the northern Gaza Strip, on Feb. 26, 2024. (Credit: AFP)


Hamas has 'responded favorably' to efforts of truce agreement mediators, says Haniyeh: Day 143 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hezbollah shot down an Israeli drone at Iqlim al-Tuffah, in the Nabatiye region.

The Israeli army presented a "plan for the evacuation" of civilians from Gaza's combat zones.

29,782 Palestinians killed and 70,043 wounded in Gaza since October 7, according to Gaza's health ministry.

21:50 Beirut Time

We thank you for following our live coverage of the Gaza war and its impacts on Lebanon and the region today.

We will continue our coverage of the conflict tomorrow morning.

21:23 Beirut Time

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

* Three Israeli shells targeted the southern village of Yaroun in the Bint Jbeil district, according to local residents.

* Israeli artillery shelling was aimed at the town of Dhairah in the Sour district and its outskirts, local residents reported.

*Two paramedics sustained minor injuries "while carrying out their duties during the airstrikes on the town of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district) today," according to a source at the Islamic Health Association, which is connected to Hezbollah. The source also mentioned that the strike caused significant damage to two ambulances.

21:16 Beirut Time

Israel has filed a report with the International Court of Justice about measures taken to comply with an interim ruling that called on it to prevent Gaza war actions that might amount to genocide, Reuters reports, citing an Israeli official. ➡️ More details here.

20:58 Beirut Time

According to Israeli media, the Hezbollah fighter killed today in Mjadel, southern Lebanon, Hassan Hussein Salami, is a regional commander of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, however, has described him as one of the party's fighters, but has not mentioned his rank. L'Orient Today was not immediately able to reach Hezbollah for comment.

Hezbollah has only confirmed the rank of one of its slain members since Oct. 8. Wissam Tawil, who was killed in an Israeli attack in January, was described by the party as a military commander. The party also published his biography and an account of his work within the party.

20:13 Beirut Time

The Israel army's chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, and Shin Bet security agency director Ronen Bar visited Egypt last week to reassure their Egyptian counterparts that they will take steps to ensure that any military operation in Rafah will not create a wave of Palestinian refugees into Egypt, the US news website Axios reports, citing "two US officials briefed on the issue."

Egypt has already warned that the displacement of Palestinians to the Sinai Peninsula would lead to a rupture in its relations with Israel.

20:05 Beirut Time

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have accused Israel of continuing to restrict humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip despite a request from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to do everything possible to prevent genocide in the besieged territory, reports AFP.

According to the two NGOs, the number of humanitarian aid trucks entering Gaza has fallen by around a third since the court's decision, handed down in the context of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of violating the UN Genocide Convention.

19:52 Beirut Time

The Jordanian army today executed the biggest air drop operation so far to deliver aid to Gaza where the mostly displaced population of 2.3 million is facing crisis levels of hunger, an army statement cited by Reuters said.

The operation deployed four C-130 planes, including one belonging to the French air force, army spokesperson Mustafa Hiyari said, according to Reuters.

Aid was dropped to 11 sites along the Gaza coast from its northern edge to the south for civilians to collect, Hiyari told Reuters. Previous air drops that parachuted in medicines and humanitarian provisions were sent to hospitals the Jordanian army runs in Gaza.

Image: A Jordanian military aircraft drops humanitarian aid over Rafah in the skies of the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 26, 2024. (Credit: Said Khatib/AFP)

19:12 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes in the north of the Gaza Strip will be able to return “only after all hostages” are released.

“If we have to introduce a cease-fire temporarily, we will fight again until the last abductee is returned,” Gallant told the families of the Israeli captives, according to Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth news outlet.

19:01 Beirut Time

The head of Hamas's political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said, in remarks reported by the Qatari national news agency QNA, that his movement "has responded favorably to the efforts of the mediators" involved in reaching a truce in Gaza and a prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel.

Hamas "has approved the negotiation process, showing great seriousness and flexibility, but Israel is prevaricating, and this is what Hamas will not tolerate," Haniyeh added.

"We will not allow Israel to exploit negotiations to cover up its war to starve" the Palestinian people, continued Haniyeh, who met the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, in Doha.

18:42 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has announced the death of another of its fighters: Hassan Hussein Salami, born in 1974 in the town of Kherbet Selm (Bint Jbeil district.)

Salami was killed in an Israeli strike on a car in the town of Mjadel (Sour district), a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

According to L'Orient Today's count, 218 members of Hezbollah have been killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 8.

17:53 Beirut Time

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society will suspend all coordination procedures for medical missions in the Gaza Strip for 48 hours "due to its failure to guarantee the safety and security of the society's teams, patients, and the injured present in hospitals, centers, and ambulances belonging to the society, because of the Israeli occupation forces' non-compliance and respect for the coordination procedures and mechanisms agreed upon with the United Nations organizations," the PRCS has announced via X.

"The society will evaluate this situation over the next two days to reach a conclusion that enables it to protect its teams and vehicles and ensure that they are not exposed to the danger of death or injury, by seeking the intervention of active countries in the international community to guarantee this protection," the post adds.

17:49 Beirut Time

Here's the latest updates from south Lebanon:

* For the first time since Oct. 8, Israeli aircraft struck the outskirts of Berghoz (Hasbaya), according to a security source. The attack entailed two strikes.

* Israeli artillery targeted the outskirts of Kfar Shuba, Rashaya al-Foukhar, (Hasbaya) and Sarira (Jezzine), local residents report. This is also the first time that Sarira has been targeted since the beginning of cross-border strikes in October.

17:24 Beirut Time

Hezbollah also announced two additional attacks this afternoon.

In separate statements, the party said that it targeted Israel's "Radar" position at 4.15 p.m. and its "Rouaissat al-Alam" position at 4.20 p.m., both located in the occupied Shebaa farms. Hezbollah adds that both attacks were conducted "with missiles."

Hezbollah has launched eight strikes against positions in northern Israel since this morning.

17:20 Beirut Time

At 4 p.m., Hezbollah announced it had fired around 60 rockets at an Israeli military base in the occupied Golan Heights. According to the party, the attack on the "Golan Brigade headquarters in Nafah comes in response to strikes in the vicinity of Baalbek and attacks on villages and civilian homes."

At least two Hezbollah members were killed in Israeli strikes this morning, which targeted the area around Baalbeck for the first time since the start of the war in Gaza.

17:14 Beirut Time

The head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, MP Mohammad Raad, says his party is aware that its "confrontation with Israel on the Lebanese front is delicate" and that its consequences could have repercussions on Israeli "calculations."

"The enemy wants us to slide down a path that will enable it to open new fronts to its advantage and take advantage of international support … and we seek to push it to fight on our terms,"  he asserted, in a speech delivered in Adsheet (Nabatieh district) on the sidelines of a ceremony in honor of Hassan Mahmoud Saleh, a Hezbollah member recently killed in an Israeli bombardment. He also warned that these clashes "will leave a bitter taste in Israel's mouth if it miscalculates with Hezbollah."

Raad also accused "Arab regimes of standing by the enemy to encourage it to violate Hezbollah territory."

17:10 Beirut Time

Lebanon's foreign affairs minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, has issued a statement assuring that Lebanon is "continuing its efforts to contain the escalation and prevent the worst" in south Lebanon.

Bou Habib, who received both the US ambassador and the Spanish ambassador in his office today, added that "the very worrying developments of the last few days threaten not only the security of Lebanon but that of the entire region."

He continued, "Our approach is aimed at seeking comprehensive and lasting solutions with a view to emerging from this crisis and conflict."

16:25 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has announced the deaths of two of its fighters: Hassan Ali Younes, born in 1969, from Brital in the Bekaa, and Ahmed Mohammed Sindiane, born in 1966, from the village of Ali al-Nahri, also in the Bekaa.

As is typical, the party announced that both fighters were killed "on the road to Jerusalem," without specifying the time or place of their deaths. However, our correspondent in the Bekaa, Sarah Abdallah, cites security sources as saying the two fighters were killed in today's Israeli strike in the Baalbeck area.

According to L'Orient Today's count, these two deaths bring to 217 the number of Hezbollah party members killed by Israel in Syria and Lebanon since Oct. 8.

16:19 Beirut Time

The Israeli army today attacked "complexes used by Hezbollah's air defense unit in the Bekaa," Arabic-speaking Israeli army spokesperson Avichay Adraee said. Delivering his remarks via a post on X, he added that the attack was carried out "in retaliation for the firing of a surface-to-air missile towards a Zik unmanned drone that fell earlier in the day."

"Zik" is the nickname given by the Israeli army to the Hermes 450, according to Israeli media.

"The [Israeli] army will continue its work to protect the state of Israel in Lebanese airspace against the terrorist Hezbollah," the spokesperson concluded..

15:53 Beirut Time

Israeli officials headed to Qatar today, where Hamas has its political office, to work on terms of a Gaza truce and hostage release deal, Reuters cites a source as telling the news agency.

According to Reuters' cited source, the Israeli working delegation, made up of staff from the military and the Mossad spy agency, has been tasked with creating an operational center to support negotiations, and its mission would include vetting proposed Palestinian militants that Hamas wants freed as part of a hostage release deal. ➡️ Click here for more.

15:45 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli barracks at Biranit, opposite the Lebanese town of Rmaish in the Bint Jbeil district, at 1.15 p.m. This is the fifth strike Hezbollah has claimed since this morning.

Residents of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) told our correspondent in the region that Israeli aircraft had attacked the village.

15:42 Beirut Time

A US military service member who set himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington over the weekend in an apparent act of protest against the war in Gaza has died, Reuters reports, citing local media. ➡️ More details here.

14:51 Beirut Time

At least one person was killed in the Israeli drone strike on a car in Mjadel (Sour) that was previously reported, according to our correspondent in southern Lebanon who cited security and medical sources.

The Amal-affiliated al-Risala Scouts transported the victim to a local hospital.

14:33 Beirut Time

An Israeli drone fired a missile at a car on the Mjadel road (Sour), reports our correspondent in South Lebanon, citing security sources.

Ambulances were dispatched to the scene after the vehicle caught fire.

14:32 Beirut Time

"The Israeli attack on Baalbeck will not go unanswered," warned Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah, according to Reuters.

At least two Hezbollah members were killed in Israeli strikes this morning targeting the town of Baalbeck for the first time since the start of the war in Gaza, AFP and Reuters reported, citing security sources. 217 Hezbollah members have been killed in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 8. The Israeli army said its airstrikes targeted sites used by Hezbollah's "aerial defense system" after the party shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone earlier in the day.

14:30 Beirut Time

The League of Arab States has called Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories an "affront to international justice" before the UN's highest court, claiming that failure to end it amounts to "genocide," according to AFP.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, today concludes a week of hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented 52 countries called to testify.

"This prolonged occupation is an affront to international justice," the representative of the Arab League told the magistrates. "Failure to put an end to it has led to the current horrors perpetrated against the Palestinian people, tantamount to genocide," said Abdel Hakim El-Rifai.

14:28 Beirut Time

More details on the warehouse that was targeted in an airstrike in the Bekaa:

We understand from a security source that the warehouse that was hit supplied Al-Sajjad, a chain of co-op supermarkets owned by Hezbollah.

Back in 2021, Hezbollah created this co-op where Lebanese, Iranian, Syrian and Iraqi products were sold for lower prices than other similar products in the market. It was introduced to help low-income families amidst high inflation after Lebanon’s national currency lost more than 85 percent of its value due to the economic crisis. Some criticized Hezbollah for using it as a way of taking further steps towards a mini-state.

13:43 Beirut Time

At least two Hezbollah members were killed in Israeli strikes this morning targeting the town of Baalbeck for the first time since the start of the war in Gaza, AFP and Reuters reported, citing security sources.

The Israeli army claimed that its air strikes targeted sites used by Hezbollah's "air defense network" after the party shot down an Israeli Hermes 450 drone earlier in the day.

According to our correspondent in the region, citing security sources, foodstuffs were located in the targeted buildings, which belong to Hezbollah's al-Sajjad supermarket chain.

13:29 Beirut Time

The Israeli attack in the Bekaa targeted recently-built warehouses intended for packing goods prior to distribution to al-Sajjad, a Hezbollah supermarket chain, a security source told our correspondent.

13:29 Beirut Time

The Israeli military claims its airstrikes in the Bekaa were on sites used by Hezbollah’s "Aerial Defense Array." In a statement posted on its official Telegram channel, it said the strikes were in response to the downing of an Israeli Hermes 450 drone by Hezbollah earlier in the day.

According to our correspondent in the area, citing security sources, the buildings targeted were filled with foodstuff and belonged to Hezbollah's al-Sajjad supermarket chain.

12:48 Beirut Time

Map: Guilhem Dorandeu/L'Orient Today

Additional details on the Israeli strikes in the Bekaa:

According to a security source quoted by our correspondent, the targeted infrastructure included food storage sheds and a rented house near the sheds. The house and sheds were hit, as was a car carrying foodstuffs, according to the same source.

12:32 Beirut Time

The Israeli strikes in the Bekaa have left at least one dead and one wounded, a security source tells our correspondent in the region. Both were taken to a local hospital.

Reuters reports two dead, both Hezbollah members. L'Orient Today cannot confirm this for the moment.

The strikes targeted warehouses and a nearby house in the towns of Adous and Majdaloun. According to the source, the warehouses in question belong to al-Sajjad, a Hezbollah supermarket chain.

11:54 Beirut Time

Two people were injured in the Israeli strike near Adous in the Bekaa, a security source told our correspondent in the region. They have been transferred to one of the region's hospitals.

11:47 Beirut Time

Israeli jets have targeted warehouses near Adous, in the Bekaa, with two missiles, our correspondent in the region Sarah Abdallah reports, citing a security source. The warehouses contained foodstuffs, according to the same source.

This is the first time Israel has targeted this region since clashes with Hezbollah began on Oct. 8.

11:36 Beirut Time

Yemen's Houthi rebels reported this weekend the first civilian death since the start of US and British air strikes targeting the Iranian-backed group, whose attacks target shipping traffic off the coast of Yemen.

American-British bombardments in Yemen this weekend left one civilian dead and eight injured, the Houthi rebels' press agency announced on Sunday evening, the day after a new series of strikes in the country.

10:58 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health has announced a new toll of 29,782 Palestinians killed and 70,043 wounded in Gaza since Oct. 7, Reuters reports, citing the ministry.

10:54 Beirut Time

The Palestinian Authority government, based in the occupied West Bank, has submitted its resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh was quoted by AFP as saying.

"I presented the government's resignation to the President on Feb. 20, and I am submitting it in writing today," said Shtayyeh in Ramallah, adding that the decision was taken "in light of developments linked to the aggression against Gaza."

10:52 Beirut Time

Here is the moment that the Israeli drone went down after being targeted by Hezbollah. 

10:40 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claims to have shot down an Israeli Hermes-450 type drone with a surface-to-air missile, over Iqlim al-Teffah (Nabatieh), adding that the fall of the drone "was visible to the naked eye." The party asserts that "the eyes of the fighters will remain vigilant and continue to confront enemy aircraft, preventing them from achieving their objectives."

Residents had reported hearing a loud explosion and spotted a drone fall into the sky in Rihan (Jezzine), according to our correspondent. Several videos show a flaming object falling into the sky, leaving a white trail in its wake.

Hezbollah has previously claimed to have shot down drones twice since Oct. 8 but this had never been shown on video. A Hermes-450 drone is a medium-sized UAV that is capable of supplying real-time surveillance and was designed for long-endurance missions.

(Photo: Screen shot of a Hermes 450 drone, taken from the website of Elbit Systems, the manufacturer of the device.)

10:26 Beirut Time

Here are the developments in southern Lebanon last night:

- Shortly before 9 p.m., Israeli jets launched two attacks, one between Yarine and Dhairah (Sour), the other between Shihine and Umm al-Tout, in the same district.

- After 9 p.m., Israeli artillery targeted a farm near Kfar Shouba (Marjayoun). Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack on the Israeli site at Margaliot, using a Burkan missile. Machine guns were fired from the al-Abad site toward the outskirts of Houla (Marjayoun).

- After 10 p.m., Israeli artillery targeted Wadi Slouki and the Houla area, as well as Hamames and the Khiam area. Heavy machine-gun fire hit homes in the vicinity of Kfar Kila, fired from Metula in Israel.

- Hezbollah claimed responsibility for another attack carried out during the night, at 3.40 a.m., on the Israeli site of Baghdadi and its surroundings.

09:43 Beirut Time

The Emir of Qatar, Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani, will be in Paris on Tuesday and Wednesday for talks with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss, in particular, negotiations to obtain a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

This will be the Qatari emir's first state visit to the French capital since his accession to the throne in 2013, the Elysee Palace said, quoted by AFP. "Qatar is notably at work on the release of hostages, which is a priority for us," the presidency points out, while three French nationals are still being held hostage in the Gaza Strip, since the unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7.

Discussions will also focus on "ongoing efforts to obtain a cease-fire ... and enable massive aid to be delivered to the Gazan population."

09:33 Beirut Time

An American serviceman set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington on Sunday, officials said, with local media reporting that he was protesting the war in Gaza.

Emergency services rushed to the scene shortly before 1:00 p.m. in response to a "call about a person burning in front of the Israeli embassy," the capital's fire department said on X. When they arrived, they found that the Secret Service, the US government's VIP protection service, had already extinguished the fire. The man was taken to hospital with "serious life-threatening injuries," AFP learned from the same source.

This act came at a time of growing protests in the United States against Israel's offensive in Gaza.

09:14 Beirut Time

According to an AFP correspondent, hundreds of people, driven by hunger, fled northern Gaza on Sunday, where 300,000 inhabitants are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.

International aid, which is trickling in from Egypt, is subject to a green light from Israel, and getting it to the north is almost impossible due to the destruction and fighting.

A famine can still be "avoided" in Gaza if Israel allows humanitarian agencies to bring in "significant aid," the Commissioner General of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, said yesterday. In its statement, Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced that the war cabinet had approved a plan to deliver humanitarian aid "that will prevent looting," without further details.

In recent days, Palestinians in Gaza have told AFP that they have been forced to eat leaves, fodder for livestock and even slaughter draught animals for food. "In the next ten days, many people will die. They will die of hunger, not from the bombardments," said one resident, Marwan Awadieh.

09:11 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health announced on Monday that 92 Palestinians had been killed in overnight strikes.

The government press office said that 15 members of the same family had been killed in a house in Gaza City.

The war was sparked off on Oct. 7 by an unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas commandos infiltrating from Gaza, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, the majority of them civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data. The Israeli offensive has claimed 29,692 lives in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, since Oct. 7, according to the latest death toll from the Gazan Ministry of Health.

09:10 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has proposed a plan to evacuate civilians from the Gaza Strip, announced Benjamin Netanyahu, who is still determined to launch a military offensive against the overcrowded city of Rafah.

Many countries, including the United States, Israel's main ally, and humanitarian organizations have warned against a ground operation in Rafah, where, according to the UN, nearly 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of them displaced, are crowded together in extremely precarious conditions.

No details were provided on the modalities of an evacuation or on the locations of relocation.

While truce talks have resumed in Qatar, Netanyahu wants to launch a ground operation against Rafah, which he describes as the "last stronghold" of the Islamist movement Hamas. An offensive would only be "delayed" if a truce currently being negotiated were concluded, he declared on Sunday on the American channel CBS.

09:08 Beirut Time

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

Morning Brief

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

09:04 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the ongoing war in Gaza as well as its regional impact.