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Retaliation against Syrians, alleged Hamas financier killed, Hamas official’s children killed: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Here is what happened over the holiday and what to expect today, Friday, April 12.

Retaliation against Syrians, alleged Hamas financier killed, Hamas official’s children killed: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Residents of the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab walk past debris caused by previous Israeli fire as they visit their deserted village on the occasion of the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter, on April 9, 2024, in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel. (Credit: Hassan Fneich/AFP)

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Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 186, Day 187 and Day 188 of the Gaza war.

Unofficial checkpoints, curfews and assault threatened Syrians in Lebanon ahead of Lebanese Forces (LF) official Pascal Sleiman’s funeral, five days after he was killed in a carjacking and taken to Syria, by the Lebanese Army’s account. Following Syrian authorities’ repatriation of Sleiman’s remains and the Lebanese Army’s autopsy, LF supporters accompanied the hearse to Jbeil ahead of today’s ceremony, officiated by Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai. The army arrested seven suspects, including four suspects lured back to Lebanese territory from Syria by the army, who were part of a Lebanese-Syrian car theft gang. The car used to intercept Sleiman had reportedly been stolen days prior, while the official account of the killing is that the assailants only initially intended to abduct Sleiman to a remote location to avoid his reporting of the crime. While LF supporters initially doubted the army’s account, presenting the possibility that it was a politically motivated killing, various parties, including the Free Patriotic Movement and the LF, and government officials used the incident as part of an ongoing anti-Syrian rhetoric. Hezbollah also faced accusations of preventing tighter border controls and implication in the underlying issues (e.g. proliferation of illegal weapons) that set the scene for the crime. Syrian nationals in Lebanon told L’Orient Today they either feared leaving their homes or resorted to exceptional measures after encountering unofficial checkpoints checking the nationality of drivers or seeing videos that spread online purportedly showing discriminatory assaults. Another incident involved an attack by unidentified assailants on a Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) office in Jdita (Bekaa). The LF denounced the “barbaric” violence while endorsing the “urgent” repatriation of displaced Syrians.

Hezbollah and Israel continued to trade attacks, as southern Lebanon witnessed shelling, airstrikes and gunfire targeting homes, forests and the outskirts of towns across the area. Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad on Wednesday repeated the party’s warning that if Israel defeats Hamas in Gaza, it will launch an offensive on Hezbollah in Lebanon. The party has reframed its “support front” for Gaza as a means of deterring the threat of an Israeli offense on Lebanon – which pre-exists Oct. 7, by the party’s account. On Tuesday, Free Patriotic Movement chief Gebran Bassil called for international action to bring about a cease-fire in southern Lebanon “regardless of what is happening in Gaza,” expressing concern over Israel’s reported desire to drag Lebanon into “a war according to its scale, desires, and capabilities.” Hezbollah officials regularly claim they attempt to force “rules of engagement” with Israeli forces to avoid an escalation that Israel tries to impose. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Wednesday expressed his country’s support for the Lebanese Army in an interview with Al Arabiya TV, claiming Lebanon could ensure regional de-escalation.

Money changer Mohammad Srour, sanctioned by the US Treasury for allegedly financing Hamas, was found shot to death in Beit Mery, a security source told AFP on Tuesday. Srour’s family in a press conference, reported by L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the region, said he’d been missing for a week prior to his discovery in Beit Mery – where he had been shot five times and left carrying a sum of money untouched by the assailants, the security source told AFP. In Aug. 2019, the US Treasury sanctioned Srour for his alleged role as a middleman transferring “tens of millions of dollars” between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Hamas via Hezbollah. A US Treasury source, speaking to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity, said Treasury official Jesse Baker during his visit to Beirut last month called for “proactive” measures from Lebanese officials to stop the transfer of funds to Hamas from Lebanon and the regional redistribution of Iranian funds sent to Hezbollah.

At least 33,545 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry. Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will continue to wage war against a “defeated” Hamas in Gaza, with a looming invasion of Rafah drawing international concern. Three of Hamas official Ismail Hamiyeh’s children and four of his grandchildren were killed in an Israeli strike Wednesday. The undetermined status of Israeli hostages in Gaza piles on to issues preventing a ceasefire agreement, with an Israeli official’s estimate to the New York Times that the number of abductees killed in the enclave may be higher than previously reported. International organizations multiplied their attempts at legal action to interrupt the supply of arms to Israel with new cases in France following Nicaragua’s international complaint against Germany, a UK call to a vote to ban further exports and a successful Dutch ruling, currently being appealed, preventing the supply of jet parts to the Israeli army.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Lebanese with southern roots head to home villages for Eid despite war

Compiled by Abbas Mahfouz

Want to get the Morning Brief by email? Click here to sign up.Catch up on our LIVE coverage of Day 186, Day 187 and Day 188 of the Gaza war.Unofficial checkpoints, curfews and assault threatened Syrians in Lebanon ahead of Lebanese Forces (LF) official Pascal Sleiman’s funeral, five days after he was killed in a carjacking and taken to Syria, by the Lebanese Army’s account. Following Syrian...