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Israel strikes Bekaa, Nasrallah speaks, Beirut port plan to be revealed: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Here’s what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Wednesday, March 13

Israel strikes Bekaa, Nasrallah speaks, Beirut port plan to be revealed: Everything you need to know to start your Wednesday

Dust covers the rubble left behind from an Israeli strike on the Bekaa Valley on March 11, 2024. (Credit: Matthieu Karam/L'Orient Today)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 158 of the Gaza war here.

An Israeli strike killed one and injured six on a Bekaa road leading to Baalbeck yesterday afternoon after Hezbollah fired 100 rockets at Israel in retaliation for a bombardment of eastern Lebanon the day before. In its largest salvo since Oct. 8, Hezbollah fired 100 rockets toward Israeli missile defense and rocket launching infrastructure to retaliate against Israel’s Baalbeck bombardment Monday evening. A Hezbollah member denied to L’Orient Today that the location struck was linked to the party, claiming it was “not positioned near civilian areas.” Residents said the house struck in Ansar contained supplies for a nearby hospital and an olive oil press. The local soccer club's couch told L’Orient Today that, had Israel struck 10 minutes later, three-quarters of the club’s members could have been killed. Israel claimed that its second attack on eastern Lebanon since the start of the war, which hit a two-story house and a timber warehouse, was aimed at “the Hezbollah air force."

The mayor of Hrajel (Keserwan), three kilometers west of popular skiing destination Faraya, confirmed the discovery of an unexploded Israeli missile — which “obviously fell by mistake in the village, as it was heading towards the Bekaa for a raid,” the official surmised. The Israeli army claims to have killed more than 300 Hezbollah members and targeted the party in nearly 4,500 strikes in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 7. L’Orient Today estimates that Israeli attacks have killed at least 52 civilians since the start of the war.

The Public Works Ministry is scheduled to present this morning a French plan to renovate the Beirut port after the devastating Aug. 4, 2020 blast. During a meeting with the press earlier this month, French Embassy Regional Economic Office chief François Sporrer presented the three-part plan (renovation of damaged quay no. 9, zoning to expedite goods processing and installing solar energy) as costing between $50-100 million, set to be financed by the Beirut Port Authority, and necessitating three-to-four years for completion. Caretaker Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh said last week that the rehabilitation aligns with a “strategic vision to develop the Lebanese port sector so it can fulfill its role in the Eastern Mediterranean region.” The project was devised by French engineering firms Egis and Artelia along with France’s national electricity company Électricité de France (EDF). Blast victims’ relatives called for the investigation to resume after nearly two years of paralysis during their monthly commemorative vigil last Monday, marking 1308 days since the disaster that killed more than 220 people and ravaged swathes of the capital.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah is scheduled to deliver an address this evening. Today’s speech comes amid increasingly hostile statements from Israeli officials and attempts to mediate an end to cross-border fighting, marked by a recent visit from US envoy Amos Hochstein to Beirut. Nasrallah’s previous speeches have commemorated party members killed on its “support front” for Gaza, which he has repeatedly recontextualized from a regional to a domestic scope: first claiming the clashes strengthen Lebanon’s position in eventual negotiations over the land border dispute with Israel and then underlining them as defensive and deterring Israel’s desire for military expansion.

Mount Lebanon Judge Joelle Abou Haidar scheduled a hearing this Friday with five teachers accused of “inciting homosexuality” by distributing a worksheet showing families with same-sex parents, for which two educators have been suspended, various sources confirmed to L’Orient Today. The Lebanese Maronite Order said the teacher behind the distribution and the coordinator who approved it have been suspended for one month from the Collège Central des Moines Libanais. The Order’s statement claimed the teachers who approved the CE1 class (2nd grade) worksheet illustration, adapted from Quebecois author Élise Gravel, intended to use it to show that extended family mbers can support orphaned children and denied any link to homosexuality. Last year, several homophobic attacks targeted LGBTQ+ people in Lebanon. After one attack allegedly perpetrated by Christian extremist group Jnoud al Rab (Soldiers of God) Human Rights Watch executive director Tirana Hassan linked a rise in “already-pervasive online harassment” with “far-reaching offline consequences” with officials’ anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Officials’ stances ranged from attempts to ban LGBTQ+ events, to fierce criticism of legal amendments protecting LGBTQ+ community members, to prosecution and new law proposals that could triple prison time for individuals convicted of “the promotion of sexual perversion.”

At least 31,184 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry. The first ship carrying aid across the tentatively opened maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza departed yesterday morning and is set to arrive, according to AFP, in “several days,” attempting to work around restrictions to ground deliveries imposed by Israeli authorities and the unrelenting fighting as famine looms over the enclave where children have already begun dying from malnutrition and dehydration.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “They were beloved grandparents. An Israeli airstrike killed them in their own home”

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 158 of the Gaza war here.An Israeli strike killed one and injured six on a Bekaa road leading to Baalbeck yesterday afternoon after Hezbollah fired 100 rockets at Israel in retaliation for a bombardment of eastern Lebanon the day before. In its largest salvo since Oct. 8, Hezbollah fired...