Smoke billows from the area of an Israeli air strike on the southern Lebanese village of Khiam near the border with Israel on March 23, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: Rabih DAHER / AFP)


Israeli strikes kill 2 Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon and Syrian citizen in Bekaa region: Gaza war, day 170

What you need to know

Two hospitals in Khan Younis have been besieged by the Israeli army.

The UN Security Council will vote on a new draft resolution calling for a ceasefire on Monday.

Hezbollah "will not be afraid" to retaliate against strikes against civilians in Lebanon, according to the party's number two.

22:54 Beirut Time

Thank you for following our LIVE coverage of day 170 of the Gaza war. We will be back tomorrow with more news updates.

22:52 Beirut Time

Emmanuel Macron spoke by telephone today with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The two leaders "discussed the unjustifiable death toll and humanitarian situation in Gaza," according to the Elysée Palace via AFP.

They jointly called for an "immediate and lasting" ceasefire and "insisted that subjecting civilians to the risk of starvation was unjustifiable."

They called for a two-state solution, "the only one capable of meeting the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for peace and security" which "implies the creation of a Palestinian state including Gaza."

22:50 Beirut Time

Israel bans UNRWA humanitarian convoys to northern Gaza

Israel informed the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) on Sunday that it would no longer approve any of its humanitarian convoys to reach northern Gaza, where several dozen people have already died of starvation.

In a message posted on X, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini lamented that the agency, "the main lifeline" for Palestinians, "is no longer able to provide vital assistance to the north of the Gaza Strip."

"Despite the tragedy unfolding before our eyes, the Israeli authorities have informed the UN that they will no longer approve any UNRWA food aid convoys to the north" of the enclave.

"This is outrageous," said Lazzarini, who denounced an Israeli desire "to hinder survival aid during a provoked famine."

"These restrictions must be lifted," he added. "By preventing UNRWA from fulfilling its mandate in Gaza," famine "will arrive even faster" in the area "and many people will die of starvation, dehydration and lack of shelter."

"This cannot happen; it would only taint our collective humanity," he continued.

Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza since Oct. 9 and strictly controls aid arriving mainly from Egypt.

20:53 Beirut Time

The US Middle East Military Command (CENTCOM) and the Jordanian Air Force conducted a humanitarian aid drop in the northern Gaza Strip on Mar. 24, 2024, around noon Gaza time, according to a message posted on X by Centcom.

"The combined joint operation included food provided by Jordan and a US Air Force C-130 aircraft," according to the post.

The C-130 dropped "the equivalent of 13,080 meals, including rice, flour, milk, pasta and canned goods."

CENTCOM described the humanitarian aid as "vital" for the north of the enclave, where the population is on the brink of starvation, while Israel is blocking overland aid convoys. 

The UN has repeatedly stated that airdrops, which have become commonplace in recent weeks, are no substitute for ground aid.

20:48 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, several Israeli air strikes targeted an area south of Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun), according to residents.

The first missile hit a house, but no casualties have yet been reported, while a second landed between Mais al-Jabal and Blida, but failed to detonate.

Israeli warplanes continue to fly intensively over Western Bekaa, which was hit by an Israeli strike for the first time today, while an Israeli drone flies at low altitude over Baalbeck and surrounding areas.

20:27 Beirut Time

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hold a press conference after a meeting on the Gaza war, at the headquarters of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the New Administrative Capital (NAC), east of Cairo, Egypt, Mar. 24, 2024. (Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters)

20:21 Beirut Time

French President Emmanuel Macron has raised his voice to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reiterating his "firm opposition" to an Israeli offensive on Rafah and warning that "the forced transfer of population constitutes a war crime," according to AFP.

In a telephone conversation with the head of the Israeli government, the French leader also reiterated his call for "an immediate and lasting ceasefire in Gaza" and "strongly condemn[ed] recent Israeli announcements on settlements."

On Friday, Israel announced the seizure of 800 hectares of land in the occupied West Bank intending to build new settlements.

20:18 Beirut Time

On a visit to Egypt, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged Israel to "remove the last remaining obstacles" to the entry of humanitarian aid, desperately needed by the 2.4 million inhabitants of the Palestinian territory, according to AFP.

"When you look at Gaza, it's almost as if the four horsemen of the Apocalypse are galloping overhead, sowing war, famine, conquest and death," Guterres said, quoted by AFP.

"On one side of the border, we see humanitarian trucks as far as the eye can see, on the other a humanitarian catastrophe that is getting worse every day," he added.

The previous day, he had called for an end to the "nightmare" being experienced by the population and demanded "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire" as well as the release of "all hostages" held in Gaza since the Hamas attack.

Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza since the start of the war and strictly controls aid arriving mainly via Rafah.

20:16 Beirut Time

The faces were solemn and the step was heavy for the procession. At the Holy Family, the only Catholic church in Gaza City, the faithful had come to pray "for peace" on Palm Sunday.

Read AFP's report on Palm Sunday celebrations in the besieged Palestinian enclave here.

19:28 Beirut Time

At a ceremony in Beirut's southern suburbs, Hezbollah's number two, Sheikh Naim Kassem, pledged that the party "will not be afraid" to retaliate against Israeli strikes against "civilian" targets, in response to bombardments that began last night in Baalbeck and the western Bekaa.

What else did Kassem say about the group's response and calls for Hezbollah to disarm?

➡️ Read all his statements here

Photo: Hezbollah's number two, Naim Kassem. (Credit: NNA photo archive)

19:07 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of another of its fighters today. Ali Mohammad Fakih, born in 1993 and originally from Nassariye in southern Lebanon, was killed "on the road to Jerusalem," as the party calls its members killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon and Syria since Oct. 8.

According to local sources, Fakih was killed in the strike on Adaisseh earlier in the day, which had already claimed the life of another party member, Hussein Ali Arslan.

This death brings the group's total death toll on the Lebanese and Syrian fronts to 246, according to our count.

19:03 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that it carried out three strikes on Israeli positions between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

• The first strike took place at 4 p.m. against an Israeli patrol at the "al-Marj" site, opposite the Lebanese village of Markaba (Marjayoun).

According to the party, this attack killed "one person and wounded another. Hezbollah regularly claims casualties, which are rarely confirmed by the Israeli army.

• The second attack was launched at 5:20 p.m., "in response to Zionist attacks on southern villages and civilian homes." It targeted "a building in which Israeli soldiers were stationed, in the Manara settlement," opposite the Lebanese towns of Houla and Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun).

The third was launched at 5:30 p.m. and targeted the "Roueissat el-Alam" site in the occupied Kfar Shuba Heights. It was carried out using "missiles," according to the party.

17:18 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced in a statement the killing of one of their fighters Hussein Ali Arslan who's from the Lebanese southern village of Taybeh.

Hezbollah did not announce the date and time of the death. However, local sources told L'Orient-Le Jour that the Hezbollah fighter was killed in the earlier strike on Adaisseh.

This is the first Hezbollah fighter killed since Mar. 12 which raises the group's death toll on the Lebanese and Syrian front to 245, according to our count.

16:49 Beirut Time

⚡️BREAKING: The Israeli raid that targeted the village of Adaisseh (Marjayoun district) in the early afternoon left one person dead, our correspondent reports, citing a security source.

Earlier in the day, Israeli warplanes targeted a house near the village's official school.

16:48 Beirut Time

Developments in south Lebanon since 4 p.m.

• Israeli warplanes raided Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district), a security source told our correspondent.

• Israeli artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Dhairah, Jibbayn and Tayr Harfa (Sour district), according to security sources.

15:55 Beirut Time

Lebanon's highest Sunni authority Grand Mufti Abdel Latif Derian said on Saturday that Palestine concerns all the Arabs and Muslims amid an ongoing war in Gaza, which has resulted in more than 32,000 deaths and many more injured, according to the Gaza's health ministry.

"Palestine concerns all Arabs and Muslims. It is our cause and will stay so no matter what the Zionist enemy overshadowed," Derian said during a Ramadan iftar hosted in his honor.

"Gaza and its people are experiencing a genocide. We have to ask the UN and humanitarian organizations what they did to prevent the Zionist aggression and ask them to stop this genocide against people who want to live freely on their land and have a free and sovereign state," the Grand Mufti added.

Lebanon has been experiencing ongoing attacks between Hezbollah and Israel on the Lebanese-Israeli borders following Hamas' Oct. 7 attacks which occasionally spread to other areas. Today, a drone attack struck the Bekaa following an overnight drone attack on Baalbeck.

14:51 Beirut Time

The latest on the Israeli strike in the western Bekaa :

* The Syrian driver of the vehicle targeted in the village of Soueiri, named locally as Mohammad Besbos, has succumbed to his injuries, our correspondent in the region reports. 

* According to our correspondent, this was the first attack on the western Bekaa since the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel began. The Baalbeck region has been targeted four times since Oct. 8.

14:15 Beirut Time

Here's what has happened over the last hour in south Lebanon:

* The Israeli army attacked a house in the border village of Adaisseh, residents of the village told L'Orient-Le Jour. Amal's Risala scout first responders said they took an injured person to a hospital nearby.

* The Israeli army attacked the outskirts of the southern villages of Tar Harfa and Alma al-Shaab, residents of the villages told L'Orient-Le Jour.

* Hezbollah announced that it attacked at 12:50 p.m. spy equipment at an Israeli position facing the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab in Bint Jbeil district.

14:07 Beirut Time

More details on the Israeli strike in the western Bekaa:

The driver of the targeted vehicle, a Syrian who lives in Soueiri and owns a supermarket in the village, was injured and is in a critical condition, local and security sources tell our correspondent in the area.

The targeted vehicle was blue in color and carrying food products, but according to our correspondent, the vehicle did not belong to the man driving it at the time of the attack.

13:45 Beirut Time

The only effective and efficient way to deliver heavy goods to meet Gaza's humanitarian needs is by road and includes an exponential increase in commercial deliveries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Sunday, Reuters reports.

Speaking during a visit to Egypt, Guterres also warned of the impact the war in Gaza was having around the globe.

"The daily assault on the human dignity of Palestinians is creating a crisis of credibility for the international community," he said.

13:23 Beirut Time

⚡️ An Israeli drone has targeted a car on a road in the village of Soueiri (Bekaa), our correspondent in the region, Sarah Abdallah, reports, quoting a security source. The village mokhtar also confirmed the strike to L'Orient Today. It is not immediately clear who was targeted. Yesterday, Israel bombed a warehouse in Baalbeck, also in the Bekaa, injuring three people. 

13:11 Beirut Time

US intelligence chief Bill Burns and his Israeli counterpart David Barnea have departed Doha following talks on a temporary truce in Gaza and a hostage exchange, a source briefed on the talks tells AFP. ➡️ More details here.

12:52 Beirut Time

Israel's overnight strikes on Baalbeck, which injured three people, targeted an almost empty warehouse that contained some bags of wheat and iron bars, according to L'Orient-Le Jour's correspondent in the region. 

The strikes resulted in damage to the warehouse and nearby buildings.

The Israeli army meanwhile claims its air force attacked a weapons workshop belonging to Hezbollah in the Baalbeck area.

11:59 Beirut Time

Here's what has happened over the past 30 minutes in south Lebanon:

* Hezbollah announced that it attacked at 11:10 a.m. an Israeli position facing the southern Lebanese village of Naqoura in Sour district.

* Sirens were activated in northern Israel due to hostile aerial infiltration in Upper Galilee communities, including Kfar Blum and Shamir, Haaretz reported.

10:22 Beirut Time

Gaza casualty toll update: At least 32,226 Palestinians have been killed and 74,518 injured in Israel's military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, Reuters reports, citing the Gaza Health Ministry.

There have been 84 Palestinians killed and 106 injured in the past 24 hours, it adds.

10:09 Beirut Time

The Kela military base, which Hezbollah says it attacked overnight, was first struck by the party on Feb. 9. At that time, the pro-Hezbollah media outlet Almayadeen described the base as a barracks and a training camp for Israeli occupation soldiers. It also said that the 91st Division of the Israeli army commands the base, which is equipped with several anti-air systems deployed to protect troops at the base or who are conducting training exercises there.

The base is located around 16 km away from the closest Lebanese point from the east and 14 km away from the closest Lebanese point from the north, Almayadeen reported.

09:38 Beirut Time

Israel's defense minister, Yoav Gallant, will travel today for talks in the United States amid growing tensions between the two allies over the war in Gaza. Gallant is expected to meet with his counterpart Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, according to an Israeli government statement issued yesterday, AFP reports.

09:36 Beirut Time

Here's what happened overnight in south Lebanon:

* The Israeli army shelled the outskirts of Aita al-Shaab and Rmaish in Bint Jbeil district and Tallat Awaida in Adaisseh (Marjayoun) around 12 a.m.

* The Israeli army shelled the outskirts of Taybeh (Marjayoun) and Barghaz and the outskirts of Kfar Shuba in the Hasbaya district around 1 a.m.

* The Israeli army opened fire towards the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila (Marjayoun) and a number of missiles were intercepted on the eastern side of border villages in south Lebanese around 1 a.m.

* An Israeli drone struck the outskirts of Alma al-Shaab (Sour) and the Israeli army shelled the outskirts of Jibbayn (Sour) around 1:30 a.m.

* Hezbollah said it launched an attack at 1 a.m. in retaliation for the strike yesterday in Baalbeck on the Israeli Kela airbase "with more than 60 Katyusha missiles." The party said some of members of the Israeli military were training at the airbase after returning from Gaza.

* The Israeli army again bombed the area of Barghaz and the outskirts of Kfar Shuba and shelled the southern Lebanese border area of Dhairah (Sour) around 2 a.m.

09:17 Beirut Time

⚠️ Three people were injured by Israeli strikes overnight in the Baalbeck region, an AFP correspondent reports. "The Israeli air force fired five missiles at a two-storey residential building in al-Osseira, on the outskirts of Baalbeck," the correspondent adds.

In response, Hezbollah said in a statement that almost an hour later it had fired "more than 60 Katyusha rockets" at two Israeli military positions in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan.

09:15 Beirut Time

Good morning,

Today, Sunday, March 24, is the 170th day of the war in the Gaza Strip. It is also the 169th day of cross-border fire between Hezbollah and the Israeli army.

We'll be with you throughout the day with live updates from Gaza, Lebanon, the occupied West Bank and the wider region.