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Hezbollah injures Israeli soldiers, Mossad killing in Lebanon, calls for calm after Iran strike: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, April 16.

Hezbollah injures Israeli soldiers, Mossad killing in Lebanon, calls for calm after Iran strike: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

A Lebanese army soldier gestures while holding a wireless transceiver as he stands with other civil defense first responders before an impact crater following an Israeli air strike that hit a road in Lebanon's southern village of Alma al-Shaab on April 15, 2024 amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Credit: AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 192 of the Gaza war here.

Hezbollah said its explosives planted in Tell Ismail, near the southern Lebanese border, killed and wounded trespassing Israeli soldiers. Israel’s army confirmed that its soldiers were wounded near the Lebanese border, without adding further details, Israeli news source Haaretz reported. Hezbollah continued to announce cross-border strikes claiming to hit Israeli military targets as southern Lebanon’s residents told L’Orient Today’s correspondent of airstrikes persisting in the region and demolishing buildings across the area. While the border clashes in southern Lebanon have primarily been fought with projectiles, land trespasses over both sides have been documented with Hezbollah claiming to have thwarted at least two prior Israeli infiltration attempts and Israel announcing the killing of crossers later revealed as Islamic Jihad fighters. Last month, an explosive charge on the Lebanese side of the border wounded United Nations military observers and their language assistant.

As the caretaker cabinet discussed Syrian deportation plans, North Lebanon governor Ramzi Nohra instructed local authorities to apply new restrictions on displaced Syrians, including bans on gatherings and stricter law enforcement. Ministers attending the consultative meeting yesterday – including three Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) affiliates usually absent to boycott the presidential vacuum – discussed how to discriminate who among the Syrians in Lebanon figured in the “actual displaced” by the more than decade-long civil war. The Foreign Ministry made the distinction in a statement last week announcing upcoming mass deportations of those who did not meet its criteria. According to caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi’s estimate, 1.2 million Syrians in Lebanon are unregistered and only 300,000 people have residency permits out of the 800,000 registered. The same day, FPM chief Gebran Bassil in a video shared on X proposed criteria to deport Syrians including detainees, re-entrants who returned to Syria with refugee status as well as labor law and municipal law violators. Nohra’s crackdown on Syrians in North Lebanon – where the Lebanese Army between last April and October announced stopping thousands attempting to enter through informal crossing points from Syria – follows several measures put in place over the past year by Lebanese authorities, ranging from the municipal to the state level. The latest crackdowns come amid pressure from Cyprus, facing an influx of informal migrants, to curb irregular sea departures from Lebanon along with waves of retaliatory violence after Lebanese Forces official Pascal Sleiman was killed and taken to Syria.

Depositors’ rights group Mouttahidoun (United in Arabic) protested outside eight banks yesterday, vandalizing the storefronts with epithets, citing alleged tampering in lawsuits opposing continued informal capital controls on foreign currency accounts. Mouttahidoun founder Rami Ollaik warned that the protests would escalate, threatening they would extend to bank directors’ homes. After Mouttahidoun backed several depositors’ hold-ups against their banks to forcibly retrieve their funds, it led to a series of protests against commercial banks and Banque du Liban (BDL). The last protest vandalizing several banks occurred in February 2023, when the Depositors’ Cry group attacked the storefronts of six banks in Beirut’s Badaro neighborhood while depositors’ actions took place outside the homes of bank chairmen and the director of the Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL). Attempts to sue banks over the informal capital controls, while having some success overseas, has faced strong opposition from the ABL which ordered a strike after a ruling ordering an asset seizure against one bank – and led to an intervention from caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati barring security forces from applying Judge Ghada Aoun’s measures, deemed illegal in light of dismissal requests against her, against banks maintaining secrecy on select employees’ accounts.

Initial findings implicate Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in the killing of alleged Hamas financier Mohammad Srour, found shot to death in a Beit Mery villa last week, a judiciary source told AFP. A security source told AFP the Mossad used Lebanese and Syrian agents to lure Srour to Beit Mery, where he was discovered six days after his reported disappearance. Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi Sunday evening also accused the Mossad of involvement in a televised interview Sunday evening. Srour has faced US Treasury sanctions since August 2019 for allegedly mediating the transfer of Iranian funds to Hamas.

At least 33,797 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry. As Israel vows “painful” retaliation against Iran’s Saturday strike while international actors and the United Nations Security Council call for restraint, the Israeli army’s spokesperson said they did not “lose sight, not for a moment,” on Gaza. In Gaza, before dawn, dozens of Israeli strikes hit the Khan Younis area, leaving eighteen people dead in their wake, the enclave’s Civil Defense said. Israel released 150 people detained during its assault on Gaza, many of whom testified of torture and abuse, Reuters reported. One person told Reuters they lost their leg after their Israeli captors refused them medical treatment for an inflammation contracted during the detention.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Iran attacks Israel: Consequences for Lebanon

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 192 of the Gaza war here.Hezbollah said its explosives planted in Tell Ismail, near the southern Lebanese border, killed and wounded trespassing Israeli soldiers. Israel’s army confirmed that its soldiers were wounded near the Lebanese border, without adding further details, Israeli news...