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Israel strikes Baalbeck, Hezbollah downs drone, Fady Ibrahim dies: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Israel strikes Baalbeck, Hezbollah downs drone, Fady Ibrahim dies: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Lebanese soldiers and emergency service personnel inspect the rubble at the site of an Israeli airstrike in the vicinity of Baalbek city in the central Bekaa plain on Feb. 26, 2024. (Credit: AFP)

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Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 143 of the Gaza war here.

An Israeli airstrike targeted Baalbeck for the first time since 2006, killing at least two people after hitting Hezbollah-affiliated supermarket food storage sheds and a house in Addous, Bekaa. The deceased were two Hezbollah members, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the area reported. A security source told L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the region the warehouses were used to store foodstuffs for Hezbollah’s al-Nour supermarket chains, which sell discounted goods to al-Sajjad cardholders — mainly underprivileged households. Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah vowed the attack “will not go unanswered.” The party retaliated with a 60-rocket salvo on an Israeli military base in the Golan heights, piling on to several cross-border strikes on northern Israel that Hezbollah claimed yesterday. Israel alleged its Baalbeck attack hit part of Hezbollah’s Bekaa air defense unit, linking it directly to the party’s interception of a drone in southern Lebanon earlier the same day.

An Israeli drone strike killed one person after hitting a car in Mjadel, Sour. Hezbollah later announced the death of one of its members, slain by the Mjadel strike according to L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the area. Hezbollah announced the interception of an Israeli Hermes-450 surveillance drone over Nabatieh with a surface-to-air missile. The downed drone, with a worth estimated at $2 million, is used, for both reconnaissance tasks and to guide artillery fire. Military expert Riad Kahwaji told L'Orient Today that the strike, which demonstrates Hezbollah’s air defense capacity, is “highly significant.” Israel has repeatedly used drone strikes to assassinate Hezbollah fighters and has succeeded in infiltrating the unmanned aerial vehicles as far as Beirut’s southern suburbs where it struck and killed Hamas cadre Saleh al-Arouri in January.

Speaking about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told the US and Spanish ambassadors to Lebanon that the country is continuing efforts to “contain the escalation” while seeking “comprehensive and lasting solutions.” Hezbollah parliamentary bloc chief Mohammad Raad repeated that the party’s confrontation with Israel were “delicate,” saying the party is pushing to maintain the fighting on its “terms” while avoiding a response enabling Israeli escalation.

Beloved Lebanese television star Fady Ibrahim died on Monday at the age of 67, following complications related to diabetes, the president of the Lebanese Actors Guild Nehme Badawi announced via Facebook. Ibrahim emerged as a star in the 1980s, appearing in Lebanese, Egyptian and Syrian series like "Sons of Al-Rasheed: Alameen And Almamon," "Asmahan" and "The Second Gate." Ibrahim, who had recently undergone the amputation of a lower limb, was reportedly unable to afford proper medical treatment amid Lebanon’s severe economic crisis, despite his family’s appeals for financial support.

At least 29,782 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s Health Ministry. UNRWA chief Phillipe Lazzarini urged Israel’s approval of “significant aid” to avoid a famine threatening to starve 300,000 people in northern Gaza. Reports from Gaza City found residents thin and visibly starving with sunken eyes, made sick by salty water and resorting to “bird and donkey food.”

Emir of Qatar Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani is set to discuss the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza, Israel-Hamas mediation and ramped-up aid for the enclave with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, Israeli officials traveled to Doha for another round of negotiations after deadlocked Cairo talks failed to converge Hamas’s demands for a full Israeli withdrawal and an immediate cease-fire in Gaza with Israel’s ultimatum of an immediate hostage release. During the night, US President Joe Biden said that he expects there to be a cease-fire agreement within the next week.

US news website Axios, citing two US officials, said Israeli intelligence chiefs told their Egyptian counterparts an assault on Rafah would not lead to a wave of Palestinian refugees in Egypt. The threat of Israel’s invasion of Rafah, which Israeli officials have repeatedly committed to despite international contraindications, has loomed over the more than one million people displaced to Gaza’s southernmost city.

The Palestinian Authority premier submitted his government’s resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas, saying the coming period will “require new governmental and political measures.” Palestinians in Beirut’s Shatila refugee camp expressed their discontent with the Palestinian Authority, regarding it as either incompetent in facing Israel or complicit.

Death and devastation from the war in Gaza remain unconfined to any geographic scope: An American serviceman set himself on fire outside Israel’s Washington Embassy to protest the war on Gaza. The US provides billions of dollars in military aid to Israel and has repeatedly vetoed UN Security Council action urging a cease-fire in Gaza. The White House opposed an Israeli invasion of Rafah while US President Joe Biden has repeatedly urged Israel to protect civilians and opt for targeted strikes — which millions of dollars in precision munitions set for delivery to the Israeli military aim to achieve.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “What you need to know about the $2 million Israeli drone Hezbollah shot down today”

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 143 of the Gaza war here.An Israeli airstrike targeted Baalbeck for the first time since 2006, killing at least two people after hitting Hezbollah-affiliated supermarket food storage sheds and a house in Addous, Bekaa. The deceased were two Hezbollah members, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in...