Palestinians walk through a makeshift street market as they prepare for Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in Rafah in the southern gaza Strip on April 8, 2024. (Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)


Netanyahu says date has been set for Rafah invasion; Hamas refuses latest Israeli proposal: Day 185 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Israel claims to have killed a Hezbollah regional commander in a strike on Sultanieh last night.

Hamas says that "no progress" has been made in cease-fire talks after its representative departed Cairo for internal consultations on the negotiations.

Israel has withdrawn its troops from the south of the Gaza Strip, notably from the town of Khan Younis, according to the army, in preparation for further operations in the enclave.

22:36 Beirut Time

We're wrapping up today's live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions in the region. Thanks for following along. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more news updates and analysis. Goodnight!

20:50 Beirut Time

Palestinians walk past damaged buildings in Khan Younis on April 8, 2024 after Israel pulled its ground forces out of the southern Gaza Strip, six months into the devastating war sparked by the Oct. 7 attack. (Credit: AFP)

20:43 Beirut Time

CIA Director Bill Burns presented a new proposal yesterday in Cairo that would secure the release of 40 hostages held in Gaza in return for a six-week cease-fire, three Israeli officials told Axios.

Burns met with the head of Israel's Mossad, the prime minister of Qatar and the Egyptian spy chief, in the latest effort to break the deadlock in negotiations.

According to the Axios report, the deal would also include the release of at least 700 Palestinians detained in Israel, including more than 100 who are serving life sentences.

Burns' meeting was held separately from simultaneous meetings between the Hamas delegation, and the Egyptian and Qatari mediators.

White House spokesperson John Kirby confirmed the proposal was presented, saying "We are waiting for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar's response. It could take a few days."

20:16 Beirut Time

Turkey says Israel blocked its request to drop aid into Gaza and that it has therefore decided to respond with "a series of new measures" against the country, reports AFP.

"Today we learned that our request, which was welcomed by the Jordanian authorities, has been rejected by Israel," said Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan. "We have decided to take a series of new measures against Israel," he added, believing that there was "no excuse" for this refusal of aid "to the starving [people in Gaza]."

20:13 Beirut Time

A United Nations (UN) team inspects the grounds of al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest hospital, which was reduced to ashes by a two-week Israeli raid, on April 8, 2024. (Credit: AFP)

20:07 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that a date has been set for an offensive on the city of Rafah, which Israel claims is one of Hamas' last strongholds in the Gaza Strip, despite fighting that continues in several areas of the enclave, reports AFP.

Victory over Hamas "requires entering Rafah and eliminating the terrorist battalions there. This will happen — there is a date," said the Israeli Prime Minister in a video statement.

19:50 Beirut Time

⚡️ A "senior source" in Hamas said in a statement released by the group that Israel's response to the latest proposals made in Cairo "does not include a permanent cease-fire or withdrawal from the Gaza Strip."

Hamas also claimed that the draft it received from Israel falls short in securing the return of displaced Palestinians, saying their return "would be to makeshift camps, not to their regions and homes."

"The Israeli position is still to put obstacles in the way of a truce," the statement said. Earlier today an Egyptian source claimed progress was being made in the mediation process, while Hamas claimed the opposite.

19:45 Beirut Time

Israel is purchasing 40,000 tents to prepare for the evacuation of Rafah, an Israel official told AP, speaking on condition of anonymity, since they were not authorized to speak to the media.

This report is aligned with earlier ones made late March by Israel's Channel 12 News and the Jewish News Syndicate, which claimed that as part of the Israeli army's preparations for its planned invasion of Rafah, Netanyahu had ordered the purchase of 40,000 tents from China.

"Clear places will be defined in the Strip where the tents will be placed and the refugees will stay" Channel 12 reported.

Israel has been under increasing pressure to either cancel its invasion of Rafah or, in the case of the US, at least prove that serious steps were being taken to mitigate civilian casualties. As of now, the US officials say they have yet to see any sufficient plans of the sort.

19:30 Beirut Time

The United Nations Security Council has referred the Palestinian Authority's application to become a full member of the world body to the committee on the admission of new members, Reuters reports.

Malta's UN Ambassador Vanessa Frazier proposed that the committee meet on today at 3 p.m. EDT (10 p.m. Beirut time) to consider the application. Malta is president of the Security Council for April.

19:28 Beirut Time

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid said he discussed the need for a solution in Gaza, most importantly the release of hostages still being held there, during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken today, Reuters reports.

Lapid, speaking to reporters following the discussion, said a hostage deal is difficult but doable. Earlier this afternoon, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that he believes Israel has reached the "opportune moment" for finally reaching a hostage agreement with Hamas.

19:23 Beirut Time

CIA Director William Burns was in Cairo over the weekend for "a serious round" of negotiations on securing the release of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, and Hamas is reviewing a new proposal now, the White House said, cited by Reuters.

White House spokesperson John Kirby said the United States was taking the discussions very seriously and was hoping to secure a hostage release deal as soon as possible, since it would also lead to a ceasefire of around six weeks.

He said more than 300 aid trucks entered Gaza on Sunday, but the White House would continue to press Israel to allow more humanitarian aid supplies into the Palestinian enclave.

19:06 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah announced that it targeted a deployment of Israeli soldiers at 6:10 p.m. near the Israeli site of Hadeb Yarine, located opposite the Lebanese border village of Dhaira, using Burkane missiles.

• The recent Israeli attack on Adaisseh targeted a house. Ambulances were dispatched to the site of the strike. Some local residents report that two people suffered minor injuries.

18:29 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• The Israeli army opened fire on the outskirts of Naqoura, Labouneh mountain and Alma al-Shaab in Sour district and on the Deir Mimas hill in Marjayoun district around 5 p.m., residents of the village told L'Orient Today.

• The Israeli army launched airstrikes around the areas of Kfar Shuba and Kfar Hammam in Hasbaya districrt, a security source told L'Orient Today.

• The Israel army announced that following rocket alarm sirens that sounded in northern Israel earlier this morning, two intercepting rockets were launched, and that one of them successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial object, Haaretz reported.

18:22 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told newly drafted soldiers today that he believes Israel to be "at an opportune moment" for reaching a hostage exchange deal with Hamas, a day after the military pulled all but one brigade from Khan Younis, Gaza's biggest southern city.

According to reports from Israeli media and AFP. Gallant said the deal will require "difficult decisions," but that Israel has "the utmost obligation to bring our captives back home.”

👉 Read the full report here.

18:01 Beirut Time

On Saturday evening, Hezbollah announced that it had shot down an "armed" Israeli Hermes 900 drone. "This is an important step," said Hassan Nasrallah during his speech. "Israel says we're crossing red lines. But who said we wouldn't? That's what they're doing too!"

Nasrallah has concluded his speech.

17:58 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "To those who say that the Lebanese state must have the decision on war and peace — When you went to war in 1975, was it the Lebanese state's decision or yours? The Kataeb, the Lebanese Forces? It was you who waged war, not the Lebanese government. You've come to criticize a Resistance that's fighting the enemy, and if we wage war against him, you're making a scandal."

On Friday, the leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, said that Hezbollah had "lost the power to decide to stop the war" with Israel. The same day, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea asserted that Hezbollah continued to "monopolize decisions on peace and war."

17:51 Beirut Time

Nasrallah on the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from southern Gaza: "This is a very important development. Why this unexpected withdrawal? All analyses and possibilities are on the table. Some say it's so the soldiers can rest. Others say they're leaving to prepare for the battle of Rafah."

On Sunday, Israeli soldiers withdrew from Khan Younis, a city in southern Gaza that has been the scene of destructive warfare for several months, in order to "prepare for future operations," the Israeli army said.

Disregarding international pressure, Netanyahu reaffirmed his determination to eradicate Hamas "throughout the Gaza Strip, including Rafah," which he described as the Palestinian movement's last major stronghold, despite the fact that Hamas continues to be carrying out military operations in various different areas of the Strip, including northern Gaza, where the Israeli army had already claimed military victory.

17:46 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "When a cease-fire is announced in Gaza, it will be a defeat for Israel, for Netanyahu, for Likud! [Israeli officials] will be judged for their failures. It will be a historic defeat for them, they will be judged and could go to prison."

On Saturday, Hamas asserted that it would not give up its demands: a complete cease-fire, a total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the return of displaced persons with the Strip and a serious agreement to exchange hostages with Palestinians detained by Israel.

Netanyahu responded on Sunday that there would be no cease-fire without the release of all hostages. Hamas has often said that releasing hostages is not practically feasible while fighting continues in Gaza, as coordination and communication are greatly hindered.

17:39 Beirut Time

Nasrallah on the Israeli strike that killed seven aid workers from the American NGO World Central Kitchen in Gaza last Monday: "This is a crime, which we condemn. Most of the victims were foreigners. There was only one Palestinian. And now Biden has interfered, even though he didn't raise his voice about the 33,000 dead Palestinians — women and children!"

17:35 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "Because Israel is weak and the Resistance is strong, the front has remained firm. And the horizon has darkened for Israel."

17:34 Beirut Time

Nasrallah on the latest telephone conversation between US President Joe Biden and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: "To say that the Americans have no power over Israel is false. It's just talk. All the Americans have to do is say 'We will stop funding' and the Israelis will tremble. Biden had to calm Netanyahu down, because there was a risk of spreading conflict in the region."

17:28 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "[Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu is out of touch with reality. He recently said he was one step away from total victory ... when everyone is telling him he's lost! That's why I told you he was crazy last week.

He hasn't achieved any of his goals and he claims to be one step away from total victory! Another lunatic out of touch with reality is [Defense Minister Yoav] Gallant. What does Gallant say? He says he's wiped out Hamas! And two hours later, [the Israeli army] takes a beating in Khan Younis!"

17:26 Beirut Time

Several times in his speech Hassan Nasrallah has paid tribute to Mohammad Reza Zahedi. "He was a solid, reliable general, present with strength. Even in difficult times," says the Hezbollah leader. "He was a friend, humble, honest, and true."

He also points out that the Iranian general "spent four years in Lebanon from 1998 to 2002" and "helped liberate Lebanon from occupation in 2000."

"We felt a great loss, just like when Kassem Soleimani fell as a martyr," he says.

General Kassem Soleimani, architect of Iran's military operations in the Middle East, was killed in January 2020 by an American strike in Iraq.

17:24 Beirut Time

The relationship between Zahedi — the Iranian Guards commander killed in Damascus — and Hezbollah goes back to 1998. At the time, the young general was involved in reinforcing Hezbollah's military capabilities and had established a connection between Damascus and Haret Hreik, a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs, which enabled Hezbollah to secure its supplies through Syria.

He was also a non-Lebanese member of Hezbollah's Consultative Council (Shura), contributing to the party's most important decisions. In practice, he was one of Hezbollah's most influential figures in the field after the death by assassination in 2008 of Imad Moghnieh, the party's former military chief. In the wake of the Syrian war in 2011, he was appointed by Tehran as the military chief for Lebanon and Syria.

Read more about Zahedi and the meeting held by Iran's Supreme National Security Council following his killing, during which the decision to retaliate was taken. 👉 OLJ columnist Mounir Rabih shares the details.

17:12 Beirut Time

Nasrallah on relations between Iran and Lebanon: "The Islamic Republic of Iran does not interfere at all in Lebanon's internal affairs.

What happens in Lebanon with regard to ministers, governments and officials, Iran has nothing to do with that. What matters to them is supporting the Resistance."

17:07 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "Some analyses have concluded that the Israeli aggression was a big mistake, a stupidity, a strategic error — and that Iran is expected to retaliate. Retaliating is Iran's natural right."

17:01 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "There are two new elements to [the Damascus] attack. The first is that this attack targeted a place linked to Iran. It targeted the Iranian consulate, which means Iran. Not just Syria. It's Iranian land that's been targeted.

The second is the level of aggression. General Zahedi was one of the highest-ranking officers."

17:00 Beirut Time

The Lebanon and Syria leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps' al-Quds Force, Mohammed Reza Zahedi. (Credit: Fars Media Corporation)

Who was Mohammad Reza Zahedi, killed by Israel in Damascus and to whom the current ceremony underway is dedicated?

Zahedi is believed to be the most senior Iranian representative ever killed on Syrian soil, often accompanying the IRGC Commander-in-Chief on his trips to the Levant.

👉 Read more about him and his role in the region here.

16:56 Beirut Time

Nasrallah: "The Israelis want to magnify their act by making it look like they've fought a battle against Iran in Syria

Israel announced that it has achieved an objective. It claims it wants to expel the Iranian advisors present in Syria, to make them flee.

The presence of these military advisors since 1982 is intended to support the Lebanese and Palestinian Resistance against the Israeli enemy. Incidentally, the claim that Syria is occupied by Iran is a lie."

16:44 Beirut Time

Nasrallah:  "We never asked the Revolutionary Guards present in Syria to fight on the ground. They were asked to advise, that was their role.

[The Israelis] targeted an embassy. How can you target an embassy, and how come there are military advisors there? It's logical, it's like all embassies.

This is the biggest Israeli attack on Iranian military advisers in years."

16:43 Beirut Time

Nasrallah on Mohammad Reza Zahedi: "The problem we have with martyrs like this is that on the one hand we want to pay tribute to him, while on the other hand we give the impression of recognizing an enemy exploit."

16:38 Beirut Time

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has begun his speech, a tribute to Iranian General Mohammad Reza Zahedi, killed a week ago in an Israeli strike on the consular section of the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

The general was a high-ranking member of the elite al-Quds force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

16:23 Beirut Time

In Beirut, the ceremony hosted by Hezbollah commemorating the Israeli attack on the Iranian embassy in Damascus last Monday has begun. The attack killed 16 people, including seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp and a member of Hezbollah, Hussein Reda Youssef.

During his speech on Friday marking Quds Day ("Jerusalem Day"), Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said that this attack marked a "turning point" in the six-month long conflict that has turned many areas of the region into zones of heightened tension and violence. Nasrallah also said that an Iranian response to the attack was "inevitable."

Nasrallah is due to speak again shortly.

16:06 Beirut Time

Here's what's been happening at the Lebanese-Israeli border in the past 50 minutes:

• Israeli warplanes raided the southwestern outskirts of the village of Khiam, Marjayoun district, according to a security source relayed by our correspondent in the South. Residents confirmed with L'Orient Today that Israeli artillery shelling targeted this area, also striking the hill of Hamames, south of Khiam.

• Interceptor missiles exploded over the village of Houla, Marjayoun district, residents told L'Orient Today.

15:04 Beirut Time

Nicaragua and Germany traded words at the UN's top court in a case brought forward by the Latin American country accusing Germany of being complicit in genocide by supplying Israel with weapons, AFP reports.

In the first of a two-day hearing, lawyers for Nicaragua told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) it is a "pathetic excuse to the Palestinian children, women and men" for Germany to supply aid to the enclave all the while helping to "furnish the military equipment that is used to kill and annihilate them."

Germany dismissed the accusations as "grossly biased."

"Germany completely rejects the accusations. We never did violate the Genocide Convention nor international humanitarian law either directly nor indirectly," Germany's lawyer stated, adding that the European country is committed to "upholding of international law."

At the end of the hearings, the ICJ will decide whether or not to implement "preventative measures" that would demand that Germany halt its arms sales to Israel.

South Africa has a separate case causing Israel of genocide at the ICJ. In January, the court issued a preliminary ruling that called on Israel to avoid genocidal acts. The court is not expected to issue a final verdict for several years.

15:03 Beirut Time

Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, is in the Syrian capital Damascus a week after an Israeli strike on the annex of the Islamic Republic's consular building killed seven, including a high-ranking IRGC commander, AFP reports.

Discussions are expected to be "mainly focused" on the repercussions of the Israeli strike.

14:47 Beirut Time

Gaza's health ministry announced that 33,207 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7 with 38 killed in the last 24 hours.

It added that 75,933 others have been wounded.

13:31 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of another of its members, Ahmad Amine Shamseddine, from the village of Markaba.

According to our correspondent in the South, Shamseddine was killed in the Israeli airstrike that targeted the village of Sultanieh last night. According to Reuters and the Israeli army, the attack also killed a Hezbollah commander and two other people.

12:36 Beirut Time

Hezbollah MP Hassan Ezzeddine giving a speech, April 8, 2024. (Photo provided by our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah)

"The Resistance has used only 1 percent of its qualitative weapons; all the clashes taking place today are with ordinary conventional weapons developed by the Resistance," asserted Hezbollah MP Hassan Ezzeddine.

Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the death of a party member in hostilities with Israel, Ezzeddine also asserted that "the Resistance is working on the ground to force the enemy to return to discipline." "So far, things are under control; the enemy knows that if it goes far, it will lead to a broad and global war," he continued.

11:42 Beirut Time

Lebanon's Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri announced that he will not be receiving people for Eid al-Fitr congratulations due to the "current situation" and wished the Lebanese in general and Muslims, in particular, a blessed Eid al-Fitr.

"On Eid al-Fitr, we salute the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance fighters, the martyrs and their sacrifices, ... our steadfast people in the villages on the border with occupied Palestine and the displaced people," Berri said.

"Eid is the return of ... people to the land ... and the work of all sincere people in Lebanon of all political ... orientations with honest intentions to find solutions to the crises that threaten our country, without which there is no value of any Eid."

11:41 Beirut Time

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah will deliver a speech this afternoon at 4 p.m. Beirut time, as part of a ceremony commemorating the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus last Monday.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the total death toll from the raid blamed on Israel was 16. The attack killed seven members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, including Quds Force General Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

11:25 Beirut Time

"The [recent] Israeli escalation ... will not provoke us to take a decision to expand the war," Lebanese Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

Berri's comments were published by the pan-Arab newspaper yesterday.

"We, for our part, will not provide [Israel] with excuses to [expand the war], despite the massacres it has committed and continues to commit against civilians," Berri added.

11:24 Beirut Time

A Hamas official told Reuters that "no progress has been made" at the new round of negotiations in Cairo on a cease-fire in Gaza, also attended by delegations from Qatar, the USA and Israel.

10:33 Beirut Time

After the strike on Sultanieh, which left two people dead according to our correspondent's information, or three according to Reuters and the Israeli army, Hezbollah announced that one of its members, Ali Hussein, from Beirut, had been killed.

According to our information, he was a local commander of the party.

His assassination was claimed by the Israeli army. The troop's Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, claimed on X on Monday that "the Israeli army eliminated the commander of the Houjair area of Hezbollah's Radwan Force, who was involved in numerous rocket attacks on Israeli territory and was planning to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel." According to him, Hussein was "considered an important member of Hezbollah" and a "brigade commander." He also said that two other Hezbollah members were killed in the strike on Soultanieh.

The party has not yet announced the identity of the other victims of this strike.

However, it has announced the death of another member, Abed al-Amir Halawi, from the village of Kfar Kila (Marjayoun). According to our correspondent in the South, he was killed in Syria.

10:02 Beirut Time

Here is what happened last night in southern Lebanon:

- ⁠Between 9 and 10 p.m.: Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Aitaroun, Maroun al-Ras (Bint Jbeil district) and Houla (Marjeyoun).

-⁠ ⁠At 1:15 a.m.: Israeli jets destroyed a house located on the main road of the village of Sultanieh (Bint Jbeil), killing a Hezbollah official and a member of the party. Prior to this strike, this village had never been targeted by Israel since fighting started on Oct. 8. Following the raid, members of the Amal-affiliated Risala Scout Association worked on removing the rubble of the targeted house to search for other possible casualties.

-⁠ ⁠At 1:30 a.m.: Israeli jets fired several missiles at a house near a public square in the village of Kfar Kila (Marjayoun). No casualties have been reported.

10:00 Beirut Time

Germany is facing accusations from Nicaragua at the UN's highest court on Monday that Berlin is "facilitating the commission of genocide" against the Palestinians with its military and political support for Israel, reports AFP.

Managua has taken legal action against Germany before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), asking judges to impose emergency measures to prevent Berlin from supplying arms and other aid to Israel.

"We reject Nicaragua's allegations," Sebastian Fischer, spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry, said ahead of the hearings. "Germany has violated neither the Genocide Convention nor international humanitarian law, and we will demonstrate this fully before the International Court of Justice," he added to journalists.

10:00 Beirut Time

The Israeli army's announcements came in parallel with a new round of indirect negotiations in Cairo between Hamas and Israel via international mediators Egypt, the USA and Qatar.

A source quoted by Al-Qahera News, a media outlet close to the Egyptian security services, reported "significant progress" in narrowing the differences on several points of dispute in the agreement under discussion.

The Qatari and Hamas delegations have left Cairo and will return "within two days to finalize the terms of the agreement," the media outlet added.

The American and Israeli delegations are due to leave the Egyptian capital "in the next few hours," and consultations will continue over the next 48 hours, explains the same source.

09:59 Beirut Time

The Israeli army claimed that its troops had also withdrawn from Khan Younis to "prepare for future operations."

The army also said it had reached a new stage in its preparations for a possible war on its northern front with Lebanon and Syria, according to Reuters.

"Over the past few days, another phase of the Northern Command's war preparations has been completed, focusing on operational emergency warehouses for a broad mobilization of army troops should the need arise," the troop said.

09:58 Beirut Time

The city of Rafah, home to almost 1.5 million Palestinians, is preparing for a possible Israeli army offensive after international mediators met in Cairo to negotiate a truce in the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that his country's forces were "preparing for the continuation of their missions ... in the Rafah area."

08:56 Beirut Time
08:55 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.