Residents inspect the damage due to Israeli bombardment in the southern Lebanese village of Khirbet Silm near the border on Feb. 28, 2024. (Credit: Hassan Fneich/AFP)


Israel carries out strikes near Damascus; Mikati praises French, American efforts to protect Lebanon: Gaza war, Day 145

What you need to know

Hezbollah claims responsibility for several attacks against Israel.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh urges the "axis of resistance" to step up its support for Gaza.

Hamas claims responsibility for firing rockets from southern Lebanon for the first time since November.

21:49 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our live coverage of the war in Gaza and south Lebnanon. We will continue our coverage of the conflict tomorrow morning.

21:49 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our live coverage of the war in Gaza and south Lebnanon. We will continue our coverage of the conflict tomorrow morning.

21:21 Beirut Time

Here's what's been happening at the Lebanese-Israeli border since 8:05 p.m.:

* Israeli artillery shelling targeted the village of Houla, as well as Wadki Sluqi, Wadi al-Bayad on the outskirts of Houla; the outskirts of Markaba; and several areas in the village of Mays al-Jabal (Marjayoun district), residents told our correspondent in the south.

* Israeli machine-gun-fire combed the outskirts Houla and flares were fired over Mays al-Jabal.

* Interceptor missiles exploded over Houla, according to residents.

* According to a security source relayed by our correspondent in the south, missiles were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israeli sites in the Upper Galilee.

21:13 Beirut Time

Syrian air defense systems have intercepted an "Israeli aggression" in the vicinity of Damascus, Reuters reports, citing Syrian state television. Earlier, Syrian state media reported that explosions were heard near Damascus and that air defenses intercepted "hostile targets" near the capital.

20:55 Beirut Time

⚡ Syrian state TV reports that explosions have been heard near Damascus, Reuters reports.

Explosions were heard near Damascus on Wednesday night, according to Syrian state media, which further reported that air defenses intercepted "hostile targets" near the capital.

The pro-Iranian channel al-Mayadeen reports that a loud explosion was heard in the Sayyida Zeinab district of Damascus.

20:23 Beirut Time

The US State Department says it is continuing to urge Israel to facilitate access to Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, Reuters reports.

The State Department said today that it continues to urge Israel to facilitate access to the Al-Aqsa compound for peaceful worshipers during Ramadan, in line with the past.

19:44 Beirut Time

The Israeli army says on X that "several launches from Lebanon towards Israel were detected [and] some of them landed in Lebanon and the rest in open areas in Israel" without causing casualties.

Hezbollah earlier claimed it struck the Israeli sites of Ramtha and Sammaqa in the disputed Shebaa farms as well as a deployment of Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the Israeli site of Birkat Risha.

18:21 Beirut Time

⚡️ Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesman for the Arab world, Ofir Gendelman, said in a video posted on X that "the inhabitants of northern Israel will inevitably return to their homes" and that "diplomatic efforts are being made to reach a solution."

"If efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701 fail, the military option remains possible, and Hezbollah will pay a heavy and unforgettable price," he added.

18:19 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has claimed three attacks against Israel since 5 p.m.:

* Hezbollah announced that it hit a deployment of Israeli soldiers in the vicinity of the Israeli site of Birkat Risha, close to the Lebanese southern town of Houla (Marjayoun district), with missiles at 5 p.m.

* The party also said that it hit the Israeli sites of Ramtha and Sammaqa in the disputed Shebaa farms  with missiles at 5 p.m. and 5:05 p.m., respectively.

No incidents have recorded since then.

17:39 Beirut Time

"We reaffirm the need to work to halt the Israeli aggression on Lebanon and to act realistically with foreign initiatives, which I consider to be welcome," said caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in the preamble to today's cabinet session, which began shortly after 4 p.m. in Beirut.

The caretaker premier also reiterated his appeal to the international community to "put pressure on Israel to stop its aggressions and violations of Lebanese sovereignty."

"In all the Arab and international meetings we attend, we affirm Lebanon's attachment to its role and the values it represents, and we sense the international interest in our situation,"  he added. "We greatly appreciate the French and American efforts to protect Lebanon, and we are counting on their action to deter the enemy. We call once again for the application of all the prerogatives of [UN Security Council resolution] 1701 and for Israel to be obliged to apply it."

17:33 Beirut Time

A German frigate has repelled an attack by Houthis in Yemen, the German army announced on X, as part of an EU mission launched on Feb. 19 to help protect international shipping in the Red Sea.

The frigate "Hesse" intercepted a drone on Tuesday evening. "Shortly afterwards, a second drone approached the ship. The crew again took defensive measures and also managed to engage the target," said the military. "There was no physical or material damage to the frigate," it concluded.

16:26 Beirut Time

A fire has broken out in one of the buildings of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis after Israeli artillery shells hit the site in the southern city.

Footage reportedly authenticated by Al Jazeera’s verification unit shows flames engulfing parts of the hospital amid attempts to extinguish them.

16:25 Beirut Time

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Wednesday he believes Hamas understands the need to form a new technocratic government in the Palestinian territories rather than a coalition including the Islamist movement.

"I think Hamas should understand this and I do believe that they are in support of the idea to establish today a technocratic government," based on expert individuals, who could "move the whole country into a period of transition," as a government including Hamas would be "boycotted" internationally, he told a press conference in Geneva.

16:23 Beirut Time

The Israeli finance minister has announced the approval of a new illegal settlements in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem, and said work will continue on authorizing further settlements despite widespread international criticism.

“We will continue the momentum of settlement throughout the country,” Bezalel Smotrich said in a statement.

The move comes just days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said his country considered Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to be inconsistent with international law, reverting to a longstanding US position that was overturned by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

15:15 Beirut Time

Seven Lebanese MPs visited the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, accompanied by the Director of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), Dorothee Klaus, reports our correspondent in South Lebanon.

The MPs are members of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Committee, including Fadi Alameh, Ali Osserian, Hagop Pakradounian, Nada Boustani and Haydar Nasser.

Fouad Osman, a Palestine Liberation Front (PFL) official in Ain al-Hilweh, told our correspondent that this was the first visit by parliamentarians to the camp.

The delegation visited UNRWA centers and met with a delegation from the Palestinian Action Committee. The MPs also promised to take the necessary steps to ensure that the United Nations puts pressure on the countries that have suspended aid to UNRWA, in the hope that they will reverse their decision.

14:05 Beirut Time

The head of Hamas's political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the group was willing to show flexibility when it comes to cease-fire negotiations, but that they were also prepared to continue the fighting, Reuters reports.

During the speech, Haniyeh also called on Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to march on Al-Aqsa Mosque on the first day of Ramadan, which is expected to be on either March 10 or 11. There has been speculation that the far-right Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu will impose restrictions on praying at one of Islam's most important sites during the holy month.

“The siege of Al-Aqsa and the siege of Gaza are one and the same,” Haniyeh said, adding that the holy site must remain open to all and that sacred places will be defended through “all forms of resistance.”

Haniyeh also urged the Iran-led and backed "Axis of Resistance" to step up its support for Gaza through political leverage, money and weapons.

"It is the duty of the Arab and Islamic nations to take the initiative to break the starvation conspiracy in Gaza," Haniyeh stated.

12:53 Beirut Time

Caretaker Defense Minister Maurice Slim disputed a front-page headline in the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Awsat, which quoted him as saying that "the Lebanese military is not combat-ready" in South Lebanon, should they be deployed there.

Read the full story here.

12:22 Beirut Time

(Credit: Michel Hallak)

The situation in southern Lebanon over the last two hours:

- Israeli jets bombed the Khreibeh area between Khiam and Rashaya al-Foukhar (Marjayoun) shortly before 11 a.m., according to local residents.

- At around 11.15 a.m., further Israeli bombardments hit the area around the village of Ebel es-Saki, north of Khiam (Marjayoun), on the banks of a river.

- The area around the village of Bint Jbeil and Ainata was also targeted by missiles, according to local residents. Residents told our correspondent in the region that the attack targeted an empty house.

In addition, around midday, Israeli aircraft flew over areas in the far north of Lebanon, notably over Tripoli and Akkar, according to our correspondent in northern Lebanon.

12:17 Beirut Time

Following strikes launched by Hamas from southern Lebanon against two military bases in northern Israel, Israeli police reported that fragments of rockets had fallen in the border town of Kiryat Shmona, causing material damage, according to AFP.

These Grad rocket strikes were launched in response to the "massacres" in Gaza and the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri on Jan. 2 in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a senior Hamas official said. Hamas had not claimed any attacks from South Lebanon since Nov. 6. Their silence remained unbroken even after the assassination of Arouri.

11:27 Beirut Time

Gaza's health ministry announced that the death toll in the enclave has increased to 29,954 since fighting began on Oct. 7.

The ministry added that 76 people had been killed in the last 24 hours and that 70,325 people have been injured.

11:11 Beirut Time

The Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for firing rockets from southern Lebanon at the headquarters of Israeli Eastern Command 769, "Camp Gibor," and the Beit Hilel airport barracks in northern Israel. These military infrastructures are located on the outskirts of Kiryat Shmona, opposite the Lebanese town of Houla (Marjayoun).

While Hamas regularly claimed responsibility for attacks on Israeli positions from Lebanese territory at the start of the fighting along Lebanon's southern border, it had not done so for several months.

Earlier today, we reported that seven Israeli interceptor missiles exploded over the Israeli town of Metula, according to witnesses. This was reported while, according to a security source, rockets were launched twice from Lebanon towards Israeli positions.

10:20 Beirut Time

In addition to the missiles and airstrikes, interceptor missiles also exploded over northern Israel this morning and rockets were fired from Lebanon:

- Seven Israeli interceptor missiles explode over the Israeli Metula town, according to eyewitnesses.

- Israeli artillery shelling in Rashaya al-Foukhar (Hasbaya) according to local residents.

- According to a security source, rockets were launched twice this morning from Lebanon towards Israeli positions.

10:18 Beirut Time

Here is an update on the situation in southern Lebanon this morning:

- Two interceptor missiles exploded in the airspace of Tallet Al-Hamames, south of the town of Khiam (Marjayoun) according to local residents.

- Israeli jets attacked the outskirts of Beit Lif (Bint Jbeil) with three missiles, local residents reported.

- The mayor of Wazzani, near Houla in the Marjayoun district, told L'Orient Today that at 7:30 a.m. an Israeli drone fired a missile toward workers and farmers who were in the town’s fields. The missile exploded near them, causing no casualties. However, the farmers fled their fields to "safer places." He added that Israeli interceptor missiles were seen exploding in the airspace of the town.

09:50 Beirut Time

In addition to the artillery fire, airstrikes targeted several towns, causing three injuries:

- Israeli jets bombed a house in the town of Taybeh (Marjayoun). The house was destroyed, and ambulances headed to the location.

- A second strike also targeted a house in the town of Khirbet Silm (Bint Jbeil), injuring one person. Rescue teams deployed in the area to open the road after the strike.

- Israeli jets launched an airstrike targeting the town of Siddiqin (Sour) wounding a woman and her daughter who were in their house next to the targeted house with glass fragments. One of them was taken to the hospital for treatment. The al-Rissala Scouts Association said in a statement that their Civil Defense members took part in "rescue operations after the Israeli raid on the town of Siddiqin." One injured person was transferred to a hospital in the area.

- An Israeli strike targeted the town of Beit Lif in the Bint Jbeil district.

- Israeli military aircraft struck the outskirts of the town of Adaisseh (Marjayoun)

09:45 Beirut Time

Here is an update on the situation in southern Lebanon last night:

- ⁠Several villages in the Sour district were targeted with Israeli artillery shelling: Tayr Harfa (Sour,) targeted with three shells, Dhairah with two, and Shihine and Jibbain.

- Israeli artillery shelling also targeted the outskirts of the town of Houla (Maryajoun) from the eastern side, facing the Israeli Al-Abad site, with six shells.

09:29 Beirut Time

Fighting between Hezbollah and Israel is also continuing on the Lebanese-Israeli border, and seems to be worrying UNIFIL, which warned on Tuesday of "worrying developments" in the situation between the two warring sides.

09:28 Beirut Time

For its part, the UN said on Tuesday that Israeli forces were "systematically" blocking access to people in need of humanitarian aid in Gaza, further complicating the already delicate task of delivering this aid in what has become an anarchic war zone.

09:28 Beirut Time

The head of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Jan Egeland, interviewed live from Rafah by CNN, said on Tuesday that he had "never seen a place so bombarded for so long, with a population so trapped with no way out."

Humanitarian aid organizations "are overwhelmed in this ocean of need," he admitted.

09:27 Beirut Time

In Gaza, the situation remains disastrous. The Israeli offensive has claimed at least 29,878 lives in Gaza, the vast majority of them civilians, according to the latest death toll on Tuesday from the Gaza Ministry of Health.

The same ministry reported a death toll of 91 on Tuesday night in Israeli strikes across the Gaza Strip.

09:26 Beirut Time

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, whose country hosts a G20 finance ministers' meeting starting on Wednesday dominated by the conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, also reaffirmed on Tuesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin was engaging in "genocide against Palestinian women and children."

09:25 Beirut Time

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, on a visit to Paris, and French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday reiterated their shared desire to achieve a "very rapid cease-fire."

The release of the hostages is an absolute "priority" for Paris, said Macron. For his part, the Emir of Qatar denounced a "genocide of the Palestinian people," with "forced displacements" and "savage bombardments."

09:02 Beirut Time
09:02 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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