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Hezbollah calms concerns, over 300 killed in southern Lebanon, failed cease-fire talks: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, March 7.

Hezbollah calms concerns, over 300 killed in southern Lebanon, failed cease-fire talks: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Hezbollah militants and supporters attend the funeral of one of the group's members Hassan Hussein, his wife Ruwaida Mustafa, and their 25-year-old son Ali Hussein, killed a day earlier in Israeli bombardment, during their funeral in their southern Lebanese village of Houla on March 6, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 152 of the Gaza war here.

Amid continued local and international concern of an Israeli escalation in Lebanon, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem reframed Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel as reducing, rather than heightening, the risk of war by creating a “deterred enemy.” During local television station LBCI’s Kalam Bel Siyasa program on Tuesday evening, Qassem claimed the threat of war pre-exists the start of Hezbollah’s “support front” for Gaza – which the party previously reconstituted as aligning with Lebanese interests by granting leverage in post-war land border dispute negotiations. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati opined that Hezbollah’s retaliation has been contained to limit escalation. By Qassem’s prediction, there’s a “90 percent chance” that a full-scale war between Hezbollah and Israel will be averted. Qassem’s interview comes following US envoy Amos Hochstein’s visit to Beirut to mediate an end to the Hezbollah-Israeli clashes as Israel continued to threaten military escalation pending guarantees of a safe return for its displaced border area residents. In Cairo for the 161st Arab League session, caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said Lebanon seeks the resolution of the land border dispute with Israel (which includes Israeli occupation of Lebanese-claimed areas and 13 contested points along the frontier), an end to Israeli land, airspace and sea violations, support for the Lebanese army to enable its deployment to the border region and the return of the area’s residents.

Israeli shelling on southern Lebanon has killed at least 308 people since the start of cross-border clashes, according to the Health Ministry’s latest estimates. The ministry figures are pulled from hospital data and do not distinguish between military personnel and civilians. Hezbollah yesterday announced the deaths of two members, who along with a civilian woman formed the family slain in Israel’s attack on Houla the day prior. By L’Orient Today’s count, at least 234 Hezbollah members have been killed since Oct. 8. The party announced, “ in retaliation for “aggressions against the villages of the south and civilian homes,” an attack using an explosive drone, which the Israeli army said was shot down over Metula. Israel struck several houses and buildings in southern Lebanon yesterday and the evening before injuring two women and two boys in an attack on Debbine (Marjayoun).

With more than 30,000 people killed in Gaza, a third day of talks in Cairo failed to align Hamas and Israel’s conditions for a cease-fire while international actors continued their attempts to increase aid to the enclave where, Britain warned Israel, “dreadful conditions” abound. Hamas in a statement said the current draft deal lacks its demands for a “definitive cease-fire, the return of displaced persons, withdrawal from Gaza and the provision of humanitarian aid.” The group said it would continue negotiations with mediators. Meanwhile, the Gazan government media reported strikes on Khan Younis, Gaza City, Deir al-Balah. The Cypriot government said it was expecting a Friday visit from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss opening a humanitarian aid corridor for Gaza through Cyprus. “People are dying of hunger; people are dying of otherwise preventable diseases,” British Foreign Minister David Cameron said ahead of his UK meeting with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz during which he plans to deliver the first of a “whole series of warnings.”

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “The intelligence war between Hezbollah and Israel

Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 152 of the Gaza war here.Amid continued local and international concern of an Israeli escalation in Lebanon, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem reframed Hezbollah’s attacks on Israel as reducing, rather than heightening, the risk of war by creating a “deterred enemy.”...