Palestinian girls navigate through the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City (Credit: AFP)


Maritime aid corridor to Gaza could open this weekend; five killed in faulty aid airdrop: Day 154 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hamas will make "no compromise" on its demands for a permanent cease-fire in the Gaza Strip. Talks are set to resume next week.

UK Foreign Minister David Cameron believes that the maritime corridor planned to bring aid to Gaza will take months to set up.

At least five people have died after being crushed by humanitarian aid parcels when the parachutes malfunctioned during an airdrop on northern Gaza.

21:21 Beirut Time

That's it for today's live coverage of the Gaza war — thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis, right here at L'Orient Today.

21:08 Beirut Time

The UN special rapporteur on torture requested an investigation in Israel to take a deeper look at mounting evidence that the army is abusing Palestinian detainees.

Alice Jill Edwards said she received allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and war-ravaged Gaza.

“I’m calling on … Hamas, the state of Palestine, Israel to put their torture tools down, to really have a focus on peace and a prospect of living side-by-side as neighbors in the future,” she said.

Israel has detained thousands of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank since the start of the war. Most of them are being held without charge, in administrative detention. There have been many enforced disappearances of Palestinians in Gaza, especially in the north.

21:03 Beirut Time

Israel targeted the southern Lebanese town of Aita al-Shaab, in Marjayoun district, with artillery shelling, and simultaneously struck the same location with a rocket, local residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the region.

21:01 Beirut Time

A new legal case brought by Israelis, including family members of captives held in Gaza, alleges the US branch of the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is complicit in aiding “terrorism.”

The court complaint claims that Hamas and other Palestinians were “financed and aided” by UNRWA and its US-based non-profit organisation in regards to their Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

UN Watch, a Geneva-based body that says it monitors the UN based on its Charter, published the complaint.

“Defendant UNRWA USA has been and is fully aware that UNRWA works with and for Hamas, providing operational and financial support for their activities, and UNRWA USA aids, abets, and provides material support for those activities under the guise of humanitarian assistance,” it reads.

Israel has said it wishes to dismantle UNRWA, the main organisation getting aid to besieged Palestinians in the battered Gaza Strip, over claims that a handful of its thousands of employees participated in the Oct. 7 attacks.

In the dossier it produced to back up its claims, Israel identified 11 individual UNRWA employees as having doubled as militants. UNRWA employs 13,000 people in Gaza.

20:00 Beirut Time

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which monitors Middle East waterways, says it has received a report of an incident 50 nautical miles (about 93km) southeast of the Yemeni city of Aden in waters where Houthi rebels have been attacking ships, significantly affecting the global shipping economy in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

19:25 Beirut Time

Here are the latest updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Israeli interception missiles explode in the skies over the town of Mais al-Jabal, in Marjayoun district, according to residents, cited by our correspondent in the south, Muntasser Abdallah.

• The outskirts of Mais al-Jabal were subjected to Israeli artillery shelling. Israeli shelling also targeted the outskirts of the towns of Kounin, Aitaroun and Barashit all of which are located in the Marjayoun district, security sources reported to L’Orient Today.

• Hezbollah said that in response to the Israeli attacks on “southern [Lebanese] villages and civilian homes,” its fighters targeted Israeli artillery positions in the Israeli village Dishon, located near the border with Lebanon, with Katyusha rockets at 6:18 p.m.

18:48 Beirut Time

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron says the planned maritime corridor to bring aid into Gaza “will take months to stand up” in its entirety. While he welcomed the US-led initiative, he called for aid to immediately be let into the Israeli port of Ashdod, north of the Gaza Strip.

“Ships could go today from Cyprus to Ashdod with aid,” Cameron told the BBC, adding that “Britain will play a part in the pre-screening” of aid in Cyprus, and “we can play a part if necessary in the provision of the aid and its delivery.”

Humanitarian groups have repeatedly stated that the delivery of aid via air or sea routes is inefficient and costly, insisting that the usage of land crossings is the most effective way.

A joint US-Jordanian airdrop last week saw their militaries pushing aid packages into the sea, with Palestinians swimming or paddling out into the water to retrieve what they could of the delivery, as seen in a video report from Al Jazeera.

Today, five people died when an airdrop delivery malfunctioned and the parachutes failed to open. The packages of supplies fell directly onto people gathered below.

👉 Find out what we know about the US port plan here.

👉 Read what we know about maritime aid deliveries to Gaza here.

17:58 Beirut Time

Earlier this afternoon at the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• A resident of Ain al-Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in Saida, southern Lebanon, told L'Orient Today that an Israeli aircraft flew over the camp earlier this afternoon and was fired at with a Kalashnikov rifle from down below.

The resident noted that those who shot at the sophisticated aircraft were aware that the weapon would not have impacted it, but that their actions were motivated by "enthusiasm."

• Israeli artillery targeted the outskirts of Labbouneh, Sour district

• Hezbollah announced that its fighters targeted the Israeli Raheb site, facing the southern Lebanese border town of Aita al-Shaab, at 1:55 p.m.

17:52 Beirut Time

Here are the latest updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Hezbollah announced that its fighters targeted a deployment of Israeli soldiers at 4:30 p.m., at the Jal al-Alam Israeli position, located across from the Lebanese border town of Naqoura, Sour district.

• Israeli artillery shelling targeted the hills and outskirts of Kfar Shuba, Hasbaya district, with machine gun sweeps from the Rwaisat al-Alam Israeli site facing the town.

• Hezbollah said that its fighters targeted a deployment of Israeli soldiers in the Samaqa Israeli military position in the occupied hills of Kfar Shuba, Hasbaya district, at 3:20 p.m. with rockets, claiming they directly hit the target.

• Israeli military aircraft launched three missiles toward the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab, Marjayoun district, and three missiles on the Khallet Warda area in the town, according to residents.

• Hezbollah targeted the Israeli Rwaisat al-Alam site in the hills of occupied Kfar Shuba at 3:30 p.m.

17:11 Beirut Time

(Credit: AFP)

At least five people have been crushed to death after being hit by aid packages airdropped into Gaza, Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reports from Rafah.

The parachute that was used to airdrop the aid did not open, the correspondent said, causing the boxes to fall directly onto people who were gathered there in large numbers, hoping to receive some desperately needed and severely limited supplies.

Two people were killed on the spot, while three were severely injured and later died at Kamal Adwan Hospital, in northern Gaza, according to initial reports from Al Jazeera.

👉Read the full report here.

16:53 Beirut Time

Illustration by Jaimee Lee Haddad/L'Orient Today

This week has been full of reports from the US that show both a flood of secret weapon deliveries to Israel and also what appears to be increasing discomfort regarding its relationship to the country, which is five months into an offensive on Gaza that has killed at least 30,800 people, around 70 percent of whom are women and children.

The UN issued a warning mid-February that selling arms to Israel could be in violation of international humanitarian law, and already at least five countries, some of which have historically been generous supporters of Israel, have halted or suspended weapons sales.

The US and Israel are deeply intertwined, and military experts from on both sides of the ocean say that Israel's war in Gaza would be unsustainable without the huge amount of American support it receives.

So, how solid is that support? Is the Biden Administration making moves to prevent the States from being further implicated in what the World Court has ruled could plausibly be considered genocide?

👉 Read our full report here.

15:11 Beirut Time

Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building in Deir al-Balah following Israeli bombardment, in the central Gaza Strip, on March 8, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Credit: AFP)

14:55 Beirut Time

Here is an update on the situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border:

- Hezbollah announced the death of another of its members – its third today. The party named the member as Ali Amin Marji, born in Blida, like the other two members whose deaths were announced today, in 1974. According to our court, 238 Hezbollah members have been killed in Lebanon and Syria since the fighting between the party and Israel began on Oct. 8.

- According to residents, Israeli artillery targeted the area between Houla and Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun).

14:05 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has denied "deliberately" targeting journalists after the publication of a new analysis implicating it in strikes that killed a Reuters journalist and wounded six reporters, including two from AFP, in southern Lebanon in October.

The Israeli army "deplores any harm caused to uninvolved parties and does not deliberately open fire on civilians, especially when it comes to journalists," said a military spokesman in response to a question from AFP.

13:23 Beirut Time

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said, in Cyprus, that she hopes a corridor will open on Sunday, enabling humanitarian aid to be transported from the Mediterranean island to the war-torn Gaza Strip.

"We are very close to the opening of this corridor, hopefully this Sunday," Von der Leyen said during a visit to the port of Larnaca in the south of the island, with Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides.

13:16 Beirut Time

The situation on the border between Lebanon and Israel:

- No new strikes have been reported in the last three hours.

- Following the strike on Baraa Sheet (Bint Jbeil), which took place at around 10 a.m., a medical source told L'Orient Today that two people had been slightly injured and hospitalized. Both were civilians in the vicinity of the bombed site.

- Hezbollah announced the deaths of two of its members "on the road to Jerusalem," the term used since October to refer to party members killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon and Syria. The two members killed were Hadi Hijazi, born in 2004 and originally from Blida in southern Lebanon, and Fadel Kaour, born in 2003 and also originally from Blida. It was not immediately clear where these two men were killed.

Since Oct. 8, 237 Hezbollah members have been killed in Israeli strikes, according to our count.

12:32 Beirut Time

UN rights chief Volker Turk said that the expanding Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank could constitute war crimes and impede the viability of a Palestinian state, AFP reports.

Turk's comments came during a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

"Such transfers amount to a war crime that may engage the individual criminal responsibility of those involved," he said.

12:23 Beirut Time

"Lift the siege on Gaza": Demonstrators in Sin al-Fil, March 8, 2024. (Credit: Matthieu Karam/L'Orient Today)

Around a hundred demonstrators staged a sit-in in Sin al-Fil, in Beirut's eastern suburbs, in front of the headquarters of UN Women, the UN entity for gender equality and women's empowerment, in a show of solidarity with Gaza, on the occasion of International Women's Day.

"We've come to shout it from Beirut: The children of Gaza are being killed," chanted one demonstrator.

Read all about the sit-in here.

11:00 Beirut Time

An update on the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border:

- Israeli artillery fired on Tallet al-Hamames, south of Khiam, according to local residents.

- Israeli aircraft struck an area between Mansouri and Majdal Zoun (Sour), according to residents.

- The town of Baraa Sheet (Bint Jbeil) was bombed by Israeli aircraft, according to residents.

Israeli drones are also flying at very low altitudes over several areas of the Bekaa, including Riyak, Temnine al-Tahta and Ali al-Nahri.

10:32 Beirut Time

US Central Command (Centcom) said yesterday it had carried out defensive strikes against four mobile anti-ship cruise missiles and several drones belonging to the Houthis in Yemen.

In recent months, the Yemeni rebels, who have close ties with Iran, have stepped up their attacks in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, major maritime passages for world trade. They claim to be acting in support of the Palestinians in Gaza, and target ships they believe to be linked to Israel or its allies, notably the United States. On Wednesday evening, one of these strikes resulted, for the first time, in deaths among the crew of a targeted vessel.

10:30 Beirut Time

Gaza's health ministry announced that 30,878 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

It added that 72,402 have been injured since the war started.

10:07 Beirut Time

MP Hassan Ezzeddine (Hezbollah) at a ceremony in Tayr Debba, South Lebanon, March 8, 2024. (Photo courtesy of Hezbollah press office)

Hassan Ezzeddine, a Hezbollah MP, declared at a ceremony in honor of a member killed in an Israeli strike in Tayr Debba, said that "the resistance will not allow the Israeli enemy to make up for what it has lost on the ground, through political games." According to him, the resistance "has tied the hands" of Israel, which has failed to prevent Hezbollah from "possessing the weapons that constitute a real deterrent."

09:42 Beirut Time

The situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border last night:

Between 9 and 10 pm

-Israeli aircraft bombed a neighborhood in Majdal Zoun (Sour), leaving one person slightly injured. The al-Rissala Scouts civil defense organization, linked to the Amal movement, reported that one person had been hospitalized.

- A house in Talloussa (Marjayoun) was also bombed. One house was destroyed and a family in a neighboring house suffered minor injuries from shattered windows.

- Israeli drones flew at medium altitude over Saida and the Palestinian camps in the region.

Between 10 and 11 pm

- Israeli machine-gun fire targeted the Shebaa region (Hasbaya caza).

The rest of the night was mainly marked by drone overflights.

09:27 Beirut Time

Regarding cease-fire negotiations:

The mediators –USA, Qatar, Egypt – were hoping to reach an agreement on a truce coupled with a hostage release in exchange for Palestinian prisoners before Ramadan. But their talks in Cairo with Hamas representatives were suspended after four days and "are due to resume next week," according to the Egyptian pro-government media Al-Qahera News. They are not "broken off" and "differences are fading," assured the US ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew.

The Hamas delegation left Cairo for Doha, where the movement's leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is based, after Israel failed to meet its "minimum demands," according to a Palestinian official. Hamas is calling for a definitive cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, which Israel refuses.

09:25 Beirut Time

According to the Gazan Ministry of Health, at least 20 civilians, most of them children, have died of malnutrition and dehydration in the Palestinian enclave.

The situation is particularly critical in the north, where the delivery of aid by land is virtually impossible due to fighting, destruction and looting.

09:24 Beirut Time

The construction of this "temporary pier" will take several weeks and does not involve the deployment of American soldiers on the ground, US officials said, adding that the Israelis had been informed. According to them, the maritime aid will leave from the port of Larnaca in Cyprus, the European Union country geographically closest to Gaza, where the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is expected to arrive on Friday.

09:23 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden urged Israel in his State of the Union address last night not to use humanitarian aid as a "bargaining chip," while saying he was working towards "an immediate cease-fire."

"I am working hard to achieve an immediate cease-fire of at least six weeks," declared Joe Biden, as the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement entered its 6th month. Aid "cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip," he stressed, saying he had also ordered the US army to establish a port in Gaza enabling "a massive increase" in the quantity of aid delivered each day.

09:21 Beirut Time

Make sure to read the Morning Brief so that you are caught up with what has been happening before the start of the weekend.

Morning Brief

Civilian killed, public employees receive salaries, social protections extended: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

09:20 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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