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Israel strikes Baalbeck, army rescues 20 migrants, Salameh nephew indicted in Paris: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, March 12.

Israel strikes Baalbeck, army rescues 20 migrants, Salameh nephew indicted in Paris: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Mourners take part in the funeral of four members of one family killed by in Israeli air raid in southern Lebanon days earlier, on March 11, 2024, in Blida near the border with Israel, amid increasing cross-border tensions between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel as fighting continues with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: Hassan Fneich/AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 157 of the Gaza war here.

Israeli airstrikes on Baalbeck yesterday evening killed one person, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the area reported. Israel’s two air raids struck between Shmustar and Taraya as well as in al-Ansar leaving six people hospitalized. As of yesterday evening, the targets of Israel’s second attack on Baalbeck since Oct. 8 remained unclear. On Feb. 27, in the first Israeli assault on Baalbeck since 2006, the bombardment of Hezbollah-affiliated supermarket food storage sheds and a house in Addous, Bekaa killed two of the party’s members. 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. Last November, caretaker Culture Minister Mohammad Mortada ordered the removal of the Blue Shield emblem designating the Baalbeck temple complex a protected site, saying “the atrocities committed in Gaza have proved that such a ‘shield’ does not protect anything.”

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said channels remained open with local and international actors to “keep the war away from Lebanon” and ensure “things will go no further” as cross-border strikes between Hezbollah and Israel continued. Mikati’s comments come amid ramped-up threats of escalation from Israel if it cannot return its displaced border residents and Hezbollah’s refusal to stop the support front for Gaza until a cease-fire begins in the enclave. Israeli media reported that bomb shelters and food reserves were being prepared in northern Israel as part of the “Operation Stable Anchor” contingency plan “to launch an attack on Lebanon,” Israeli Major General Uri Gordin was quoted as saying. Hezbollah announced the death of one of its fighters yesterday, raising the number of party members killed since Oct. 8 to 242. An Israeli drone dropped leaflets over Wazzani (Hasbaya) accusing Hezbollah of endangering its inhabitants, alarming residents by the village mayor’s account, describing it as a “psychological war.” Israel previously dropped leaflets with anti-Hezbollah messages on southern Lebanon and reports have emerged of residents receiving threatening or coaxing Israeli phone calls.

The Lebanese Army announced it rescued 20 people from a sinking makeshift migration vessel off the coast of Tripoli. The Lebanese Army regularly thwarts irregular migration attempts whether by returning attempted migrants to shore or breaking up pre-trip gathering points and arresting the people smugglers involved. People smugglers have reportedly charged would-be migrants thousands of dollars for the perilous sea crossing from Lebanon, which, according to 2022 figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), accounted for nearly half of the 378 deaths on the Eastern Mediterranean route. Informal migrants attempting to escape increasingly dire living conditions risk death from drowning, starvation, and dehydration, as well as being stranded at sea, kidnapped or arrested by foreign authorities.

The French judiciary indicted former Banque du Liban (BDL) Governor Riad Salameh’s nephew, Emile Salameh, last month, in connection to fraudulent financial activity, AFP reported yesterday. Emile Salameh is suspected of ill-gotten gains, money laundering, and concealing criminal activity. His lawyer told AFP that the charges are attributable to third parties in which Salameh did not participate. UAE state-owned daily The National last year cited Monaco judicial documents claiming that Emile received cash transfers from his father, Raja Salameh, originating from Forry Associates — a company owned by Raja thought to have been used to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars in allegedly ill-acquired commissions from the sale of BDL assets. Riad and Raja Salameh have been targeted by several asset freezes and summoned to several hearings before the Lebanese judiciary — including questioning before European prosecutors visiting Beirut to investigate whether Salameh’s overseas assets were acquired with illegally sourced funds. Salameh, the subject of Interpol red notices, has repeatedly denied all charges.

At least 31,112 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry. Israeli shelling fell across Gaza City, Khan Younis, Rafah and dozens of areas in the enclave on the first day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month during which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a “silencing of the guns.” Jordan, the United States, France, Belgium and Egypt airdropped new aid deliveries to Gaza where the threat of starvation looms nearly inevitable, by international organizations’ assessments, as attempts at more efficient aid delivery stall. Saudi Arabian King Salman called in his Ramadan message for the international community to "uphold its responsibilities to put an end to these heinous crimes" in Gaza.

In case you missed it, here’s our new must-read series that premiered yesterday: “Spotlight on Ozempic

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 157 of the Gaza war here.Israeli airstrikes on Baalbeck yesterday evening killed one person, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the area reported. Israel’s two air raids struck between Shmustar and Taraya as well as in al-Ansar leaving six people hospitalized. As of yesterday evening,...