A man visits the grave of a loved one at the start of the Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at a cemetery in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 10, 2024. (Credit: AFP)


Russia calls on Israel, Iran to 'exercise restraint,' warns citizens from traveling to the region: Day 188 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Israel announces opening of Erez border crossing into north Gaza, claims uptick in aid deliveries, but UN disputes Israeli numbers, which include half-full trucks.

Three sons and four grandchildren of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli strike on a refugee camp in Gaza yesterday.

Biden says Iran "is threatening to launch a major attack against Israel."

19:05 Beirut Time

We're closing today's live coverage of the Gaza war. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Goodnight!

19:01 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that its fighters attacked the Israeli "Bayyad Blida" site, facing the southern Lebanese town of Blida, in Marjayoun district, at 6 p.m.

19:00 Beirut Time

Hamas has indicated that it might not have 40 living hostages in Gaza who meet the criteria for an exchange under a proposed cease-fire agreement with Israel, currently under negotiation, the New York Times reports.

A senior Israeli official said Israel had been relayed Hamas’ claim and a senior Hamas official said that the group had informed mediators facilitating the negotiations of the issue. The Israeli official and the Hamas official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The assertion raised fears that more hostages might be dead than previously believed and came as talks between Hamas and Israel stalled amid disagreements over the permanency of a cease-fire, the return of displaced Palestinians to northern Gaza and other issues.

18:53 Beirut Time

Iran’s permanent mission to the UN criticized the council for failing to condemn Israel’s “reprehensible act of aggression” on Iran’s diplomatic premises in Syria’s Damascus last week.

In a statement on X, the delegation stated that if the perpetrators had been brought to justice, “the imperative for Iran to punish this rogue regime [Israel] might have been prevented."

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other top officials have promised retaliation for the attack on the consulate building that killed members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two generals.

18:51 Beirut Time

Here's an update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

• Israeli warplanes raided the outskirts of Ramieh, in Bint Jbeil district, coming from the direction of Jabal al-Blatt, according to local residents.

• Hezbollah stated that its fighters targeted the Israeli "Samaka" site in the disputed Kfar Shuba hills at 5:00 p.m.

• Hezbollah also stated that it targeted the Israeli "Ramtha" site at 5:05 p.m., located in the hills of Kfar Shuba.

• Israeli warplanes raided the towns of Yarin and Dhaira, both located in the Sour district, local residents told our correspondent in the South.

• Israeli warplanes targeted a house in Khiam, in Marjayoun district, residents report.

17:36 Beirut Time

A woman and a girl sit together inside a hut built with used food cans with a roof of palm fronds, constructed as an installation to illustrate the harsh living conditions of displaced Palestinians relying solely on canned food to survive, in Deir el

17:30 Beirut Time

Eight organizations, including Amnesty International France, announced legal procedures to demand "the suspension of arms deliveries" from France to Israel, AFP reports.

"There is clearly a risk that the weapons and military equipment that France exports to Israel may be used to commit serious crimes against civilian populations in the occupied Gaza Strip," the NGOs, associations, and unions, including Attac and Solidaires, warned in a statement.

"In doing so, France violates international rules, including the Arms Trade Treaty, and risks becoming complicit in violations of international law, including war crimes and possible genocide." The statement's co-authors have filed or are filing three separate urgent legal procedures.

👉 Read the full report here.

17:07 Beirut Time

Moscow has called on Iran and Israel to exercise restraint amid spiraling tensions in the Middle East, AFP reports.

Tehran has issued fresh threats against Israel over a strike earlier this month that killed two Iranian generals, triggering US President Joe Biden to pledge "iron-clad" support for Israel yesterday.

"It is very important for everybody to exercise restraint in order not to destabilize the region, which is already not gifted with stability or predictability," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Russia has previously condemned Israel's conduct in its six-month war in Gaza. Moscow traditionally tried to maintain relations with all major powers in the Middle East. But the Gaza conflict has dented its ties with Israel and it has already been strengthening military and political ties with Iran.

Peskov said Russia had not been approached as a potential mediator between the two arch rivals.

17:01 Beirut Time

Israel is blaming Hamas for the continued failure between the two sides to reach a hostage exchange and truce deal, saying the Palestinian group keeps "walking away" from a deal that would secure a Gaza cease-fire, AFP reports, citing the Israeli prime minister's office.

"There is a very reasonable offer on the table and Hamas keeps walking away," spokesperson David Mencer told reporters, claiming that international pressure on Israel was "helping Hamas," and that negotiations are at a standstill.

In the latest phone call between US President Joe Biden and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the former emphasized that Israel needs to encourage its delegation in Cairo to reach a deal with Hamas as soon as possible.

Hamas has remained staunch in its demand for a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip as a prerequisite for the release of Israeli hostages.

16:28 Beirut Time

Germany's foreign minister Annalena Baerbock discussed the tense situation in the Middle East with her Iranian counterpart and urged all sides to act responsibly and exercise restraint, the foreign ministry in Berlin said.

"No one can have an interest in a wider regional escalation," the German foreign ministry stated in a post published on X.

16:14 Beirut Time

The Gaza Health Ministry announced that 33,545 people have been killed in the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7. Thousands more are thought to be still buried under the rubble or missing.

In the space of 24 hours, a further 63 deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which added that 76,094 people had been wounded in more than six months of war.

15:25 Beirut Time

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) announced on Tuesday that it is allocating over $26 million to Holocaust survivors in Israel, Haaretz reports.

This one-time payment is in response to Israel's war in Gaza, the Claims Conference says, and amounts to $238 for each of the approximately 120,000 survivors in Israel.

The Israeli media outlet notes that many Holocaust survivors in Israel were affected by the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Among them are individuals who were injured, displaced, and those who hid from the attacks.

This payment follows another one-time allocation granted in December to Israeli survivors who were evacuated from their homes following the Oct. 7 attack. "It also comes on top of the total amount that Germany agreed to pay survivors and related organizations this year — more than $1.4 billion, the most ever — in a reflection of the high costs of caring for elderly survivors," Haaretz reports.

15:15 Beirut Time

Russia's foreign ministry told its citizens today that they should refrain from traveling to the Middle East, especially to Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, Reuters reports.

"The tense situation in the Middle East region persists," said the foreign ministry, which first issued such travel advice in October when it urged Russians not to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories after Hamas attacked Israel. "The situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone, as well as in the area of the 'Blue Line' between Lebanon and Israel, remains unstable."

"We strongly recommend that Russian citizens refrain from traveling to the region, especially to Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, except in cases of extreme necessity," it said.

Russia said the security situation in Jordan remained stable. The United States and its allies believe major missile or drone strikes by Iran or its proxies against military and government targets in Israel are imminent, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing US and Israeli security sources.

14:35 Beirut Time

Dozens of Israeli demonstrators have blocked the road on which trucks carrying humanitarian aid are traveling to the Gaza Strip near al-Awja (Nitzana) border crossing between Israel and Egypt, Al Jazeera and Haaretz report.

The border crossing has been closed for hours. Israel’s border guards arrested a number of demonstrators.

14:34 Beirut Time

Israel is continuing its war in Gaza but is also preparing for scenarios in other areas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says, cited by Reuters. The announcement comes amid growing concern that Iran is preparing to strike Israel in response for the killing of senior Iranian commanders in the Damascus embassy on April 1.

"We are preparing to meet the security needs of the State of Israel both in defense and attack," he said, in comments released by his office following a visit to an air force base in southern Israel.

14:30 Beirut Time

Russia's Kremlin said the Israeli attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus last week was a violation of all principles of international law, and called on all countries in the region to exercise restraint, Reuters reported.

14:28 Beirut Time

Here's an update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

• Israeli warplanes raided the outskirts of the towns of Dhaira and Naqoura, both located in the Sour district, security sources reported.

• Israeli shelling targeted a house in Tayr Harfa, also Sour district, with two shells, security sources told L'Orient Today.

• A resident reported that Israeli warplanes raided the eastern outskirts of the town of Jibbain, Sour district.

14:27 Beirut Time

The commander of US Central Command arrived in Israel today and is expected to meet with Israli army Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, among other senior officials, Haaretz reports.

The CENTCOM commander, General Michael Kurilla, is in regular contact with senior Israeli military officials.

13:51 Beirut Time

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani reiterated his country's support for the Lebanese Army in an interview with Al Arabiyah TV yesterday, emphasizing the need to work toward stability in southern Lebanon.

Around 100 Italian soldiers are currently training Lebanese soldiers in Beirut, Tiana told Al Arabiyah. Italy routinely provides the Lebanese Army with material and logistical support, donating millions of dollars-worth of military aid and providing army personnel and training meant to strengthen its capabilities.

"Lebanese Army Commander Joseph Aoun is a friend of Italy and a good mediator with Hezbollah, as well as a good leader for the Lebanese army," he said.

👉 Read the full report here.

13:20 Beirut Time

In addition to Israel counting aid trucks that are only partially full in its tally, Israeli restrictions mean the trucks often do not move through the border and into warehouses in a single day, further complicating a clear count, Reuters reports, citing OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke.

"Egyptian drivers and trucks can never be in the same area at the same time as Palestinian drivers and trucks. That means there is not a smooth handover. First everything has to come in, has to be offloaded, everybody has to go out, before a new set of trucks from inside Gaza with Palestinian plates, with vetted Palestinian drivers, can go in and pick it up," he said.

👉 Read the full report here.

12:35 Beirut Time

Palestinians visit the graves of loved one at the start of the Eid al-Fitr festival, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, at a cemetery in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 10, 2024. (Credit: AFP)

12:32 Beirut Time

Onlookers check the car in which three sons of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh were killed in an Israeli air strike in al-Shati camp, west of Gaza City yesterday. Qatar-based Haniyeh said his three sons and four of his grandchildren had been killed in th

12:29 Beirut Time

Israel will open a new land crossing into the Gaza Strip designed mainly to facilitate deliveries to Palestinians of aid from overseas or neighboring Jordan, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced yesterday, cited by Reuters.

Israel has gradually reopened two established cargo crossings and created a new crossing on its border, and last week announced it would admit Gaza-bound aid shipments at its southern port of Ashdod.

Briefing reporters, Gallant said a new crossing point would be created on the northern part of the Gaza border to reduce the time taken to truck in aid from Ashdod, 40 km (25 miles) away.

An aide said the crossing point would be between the Israeli village of Zikim and the Palestinian village of As-Siafa.

👉 Read the full report here.

11:50 Beirut Time

Israel claims to be sending record amounts of aid into Gaza, amid increasing pressure from the US, its key ally, to address the dire humanitarian situation in the Strip, under Israeli blockade since 2007.

However, Israel's numbers are being disputed. Reuters reports that while Israel claimed 419 trucks entered the Gaza on Monday, the main UN agency there, UNRWA, said only 223 trucks had come in on that day. The discrepancy comes from the point at which the trucks are counted. All trucks that enter Gaza are unloaded and reloaded again into different trucks.

OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke says the Israeli count is for the half-full trucks that enter the Strip, while the UN count is of the re-loaded, full trucks that then complete the delivery.

"Trucks that go in, screened by COGAT, are typically only half full. That is a requirement that they have put in place for screening purposes. When we count the trucks on the other side, when they have been reloaded, they are full," he said.

11:29 Beirut Time

Yesterday, Israeli war Cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that Hamas had been "defeated" in Gaza but that nonetheless the war would continue. One of Israel's long-stated goals in its offensive is to defeat Hamas — the others are to have all hostages returned and to ensure Gaza no longer "poses a threat."

"From a military point of view, Hamas is defeated. Its fighters are eliminated or hiding, its abilities are cut off, and we will continue to fight what remains of it," said Gantz, who is Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's top political opponent.

Gantz told reporters that the military will still enter Rafah — a plan that has received international pushback — and return to Khan Younis. Over the last several months, the Israeli army has claimed military victory in several areas of the Gaza Strip and withdrawn only to have Palestinian fighters reemerge.

11:28 Beirut Time

Good morning and welcome to L'Orient Today's live coverage of the Gaza war and its repercussion in region — notably in southern Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, and the Red Sea.

👉 You can catch up on yesterday's coverage here.