Women walk as smoke engulfs the area after Israeli bombardment at al-Daraj neighborhood in Gaza City on April 16, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. (Credit: AFP)


Israel strikes Bekaa; Hezbollah attack injures 18, including 13 Israeli soldiers: Day 194 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

After heavy Israeli night strikes on southern Lebanon, Hezbollah launched a series of attacks against northern Israel.

A member of the Amal movement was killed on Tuesday evening in the targeted strike on Ain Baal.

The US House of Representatives will vote Saturday on legislation on releasing funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

22:12 Beirut Time

This blog is now closed. Thanks for following our live coverage of the Gaza war and its repercussions in the region, especially in southern Lebanon. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Good night!

22:08 Beirut Time

An Israeli soldier at the scene of a Hezbollah strike on Arab al-Aramche in northern Israel, April 17, 2024. (Credit: Avi Ohayon/Reuters)

Today marked the highest number of injuries from a Hezbollah attack on northern Israel since the start of cross-border fighting on Oct. 8. The party struck a "community center" in Arab al-Aramshe where soldiers, security officials, and civilians were gathered, Israeli media reports, wounding 18 in total.

According to the Israeli army, five reserve soldiers were seriously wounded, one critically. Thirteen reservists were wounded in total, as were two security officials and three civilians.

The Israeli army said it was investigating why the Iron Dome's interceptor missiles were not launched at the incoming Hezbollah rockets. The defense system is programmed to evaluate whether missiles will fall in civilian areas and only launch an interceptor missile when this is determined to be the case.

👉 Read our full report here.

22:03 Beirut Time

The United States is deeply concerned by claims in a report from the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) that agency staff and others detained by Israeli forces in Gaza were subjected to ill-treatment, State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, cited by Reuters.

Washington will press Israel on the need for a full investigation into allegation regarding UNRWA staff, Patel said, after a report outlined incidents including severe beatings and detainees being forced to strip naked.

22:02 Beirut Time

Israel's Air Force says its fighter jets struck Hezbollah infrastructure north of Baalbeck amid concerns that increased exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah could fuel further escalation, Reuters reports.

"Earlier this evening, IAF fighter jets struck significant Hezbollah terrorist infrastructure used by the terrorist organization's aerial defense system in northern Baalbeck," the statement said.

21:01 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that it has completed a large-scale exercise in preparation for a possible war scenario against Hezbollah, Haaretz reports.

The exercise was led by the 91st Division and is intended to prepare soldiers to deal with complex terrain, severe weather conditions and multi-casualty incidents.

The 91st Division, the Air Force, Israel Police and search and rescue forces participated in the exercise.

The 91st Division, also known as the Galilee Formation, has its headquarters in the Biranit barracks, against which Hezbollah claimed at attack, with missiles, early this morning. It's the regional division of the Israeli army's Northern Command and is responsible for the front with Lebanon.

20:48 Beirut Time

Qatar is reassessing its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas after suffering criticism, its prime minister says, reported by AFP.

"Qatar is in the process of a complete re-evaluation of its role because there has been damage to Qatar," Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani told a press conference, without elaborating.

20:45 Beirut Time

Turkey has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to drag the Middle East into war "to stay in power," AFP reports.

"It's obvious that Netanyahu is trying to drag the region into war to stay in power," Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidanan told a press conference in Qatar.

20:41 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that World Food Program (WFP) deliveries of flour have entered Gaza via the Israeli port of Ashdod as part of announced efforts to increase aid to the besieged Palestinian territory, after mounting pressure on Israel to ease its restrictions on life-saving supplies, AFP reports.

"Eight trucks of World Food Program flour entered the Gaza Strip from the port of Ashdod today," the army said in a statement. The trucks then traveled south to Kerem Shalom crossing to enter the Strip. In early April, Israel pledged to use this port, located some 30 km north of Gaza, to deliver aid, easing the pressure on the land crossings into the enclave, of which there are only two — Rafah and Kerem Shalom — that Israel has permitted to be used.

20:37 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

Israeli artillery has targeted the area around Srireh and Wadi Berghoz, in Hasbaya district, a security source tells our correspondent Muntasser Abdallah.

Artillery shells were also fired toward the outskirts and southern district of Khiam, and in the Berghoz area of Rashaya Fawqar, also in Hasbaya district.

20:16 Beirut Time

More details on the strike in Iaat from our correspondent:

The Israeli strike destroyed warehouses and was carried out shortly before 7 p.m.. Two people were injured near the site of the strike and were transferred to a nearby hospital. The army has cordoned off the area.

19:52 Beirut Time

⚡️ Israeli aircraft struck an area in Iaat, near Baalbeck in the Bekaa, our correspondent in the region, Sarah Abdallah, reports. The strike targeted an area near a mosque, according to the same source.

The official National News Agency (NNA) reports that it was a drone strike and that the area targeted "includes three garages, in a residential area" of Iaat. Israeli army radio reports that the strike was in retaliation for the Hezbollah strike on Arab al-Aramashe.

Image: Photo sent by residents to our correspondent

19:21 Beirut Time

Europe should widen its sanctions regime on Iran, French President Emmanuel Macron said ahead of an EU leaders' summit in Brussels, adding that sanctions should target entities involved in the production of drones and missiles in particular, Reuters reports.

European Union leaders will meet on Wednesday to discuss stepping up sanctions against Iran after Tehran's missile and drone attack on Israel.

18:46 Beirut Time

The Middle East crisis and new sanctions against Iran will be at the heart of the G7 foreign ministers' discussions, which run from this evening until Friday on the small Italian tourist island of Capri off the coast of Naples.

The ministers, led by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will "discuss the situation in the Middle East, what has happened between Iran and Israel, the situation in Gaza and the situation in the Red Sea," where Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are disrupting shipping, Italian diplomatic chief Antonio Tajani announced on X.

➡️ More details here.

Image: Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa (center) arrives in Capri for a G7 meeting, April 17, 2024. (Credit: Tiziana Fabi/AFP)

18:38 Beirut Time

The US House of Representatives will vote Saturday on separate texts releasing funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, the institution's Republican leader, Mike Johnson said.

"We expect the final vote on these bills to take place on Saturday evening," he wrote in a letter to elected officials, seen by AFP.

18:31 Beirut Time

⚡️ The Israeli army says 14 soldiers had been wounded, six of them seriously, near the border with Lebanon in a strike claimed by Hezbollah, reports AFP.

"In recent hours, a number of anti-tank missiles and drones were identified as they crossed the border from Lebanese territory towards the village of Arab al-Aramshe in northern Israel," the army said in a statement. "Six soldiers were seriously wounded, two moderately and the other six slightly," it added.

18:15 Beirut Time

The US House of Representatives "must urgently pass" proposed legislation on new aid to Ukraine and Israel, and humanitarian aid to Gaza, Joe Biden urged in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

"While both countries are fully capable of defending their own sovereignty, they depend on American assistance to do so, including arms. And we are at a pivotal moment," wrote the American president, after the Republican leader of the House of Representatives announced that he would be submitting separate texts on aid to the Ukrainian and Israeli allies in particular for a vote later this week.

17:58 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced in a press release that its fighters targeted the Israeli "Zebdine" barracks, located in the disputed Shebaa Farms, at 3:40 p.m., using Falak missiles (produced in Iran).

The party also claims to have targeted "spy equipment" in Ramtha, in the disputed Kfar Shuba hills, at 3:50 p.m. According to Hezbollah, both attacks hit their targets "directly."

17:57 Beirut Time

Israel's cabinet approved a five-year, 19-billion-shekel ($5 billion) plan to rebuild and strengthen communities near the Gaza border, known as the Gaza Envelope, after the Oct. 7 attack, the Prime Minister's Office announced, cited by Reuters.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would invest the funds in housing, infrastructure, education, employment, health and other areas.

"Hamas terrorists wanted to uproot us — but we will uproot them and deepen our roots," he said in a statement. "We will build the Land of Israel and protect our country."

Israeli villages along the border of the besieged enclave suffered major damage during the fighting between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army in the days following the initial breach of the militarized Gaza border.

16:47 Beirut Time

Haaretz has reported that the number of wounded from Arab al-Aramshe has risen to 18, with one in critical condition and two in serious condition, citing the Galil Medical Center where victims of the Hezbollah strike, which Israeli media says targeted a "community center" were taken for treatment. Haaretz had previously reported 14 injuries from the attack.

16:41 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

Israeli aircraft have targeted a house in the southern Lebanese village of Naqoura, in Sour district, residents tell our correspondent in the region. The house belonged to a Hezbollah member who was killed less than a month ago in an Israeli strike. No injuries have been reported.

16:39 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the visiting foreign ministers of Germany and Britain for their support but said Israel would reach its own decisions on its security.

“They have all sorts of suggestions and advice. I appreciate that. But I want to make it clear — we will make our own decisions, and the state of Israel will do everything necessary to defend itself,” he said, according to a statement released by his office and cited by Israeli media.

The comment appears to be in response to international appeals for de-escalation, warning Israel against carrying out an attack on Iran that could trigger a regional war.

Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi warned from Tehran Wednesday morning that the smallest strike by Israel on Iranian soil would bring a “massive and harsh” response. Iran insists its attack on Israel was limited and carried out in "self-defense" following the embassy strike in the Syrian capital.

👉 Read the full report here.

16:34 Beirut Time

The United Nations has appealed for $2.8 billion in funding to assist more than three million people in Gaza and the West Bank until the end of the year, to help ease food shortages and prevent looming famine in Gaza, Reuters reports.

A flash appeal published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that sum was needed to help 3.1 million people and "reduce human suffering and prevent further loss of life."

A major chunk of funding — $782.1 million — will be destined for food aid for 2.2 million people in Gaza and 400,000 people in the West Bank, the appeal said.

👉 Read the full report here.

15:28 Beirut Time

According to the Galil Medical Center in Nahariya, northern Israel, where casualties from the Hezbollah strike on Arab al-Aramshe have been taken, the number of wounded has risen to 14, Haaretz reports. Still two remain in serious condition. Haaretz had previously reported seven injuries from the strike.

Arab al-Aramshe is a northern Israeli border town located opposite the southern Lebanese villages of Dhaira and Yarine.

15:18 Beirut Time

At least seven people were wounded in a Hezbollah drone strike that struck a "community center" in the northern Israeli town of Arab al-Aramshe, Haaretz reports. Two of the wounded are in serious condition and have been hospitalized in Nahariya.

Earlier today, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a "missile and drone" strike on military infrastructure in this same town, carried out in retaliation for yesterday's Israeli strikes on Ain Baal and Shehabieh, which killed four people, including three members of Hezbollah, one of them a field commander.

The Israeli army announced that it attacked the sites from which it says Hezbollah launched the rockets toward Arab al-Aramshe, and that fighter jets attacked a military structure "where Hezbollah members were residing" in the southern Lebanese village of Aita al-Shaab, Haaretz reports.

According to our correspondent in the South, air strikes targeted houses in Yarine and Labouneh, in Sour district, without causing any casualties. It was not immediately clear whether these were the attacks claimed by the Israeli army.

14:32 Beirut Time

An update on the situation on the border between Lebanon and Israel as of 11:30 a.m.:

- Israeli artillery fire targeted Alma al-Shaab and Dhaira (Sour), according to reports from local residents.

- Israeli aircraft bombed Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil).

- Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a missile and one-way drone strike carried out at 1:15 p.m. against Israel's "new military reconnaissance headquarters" in Arab al-Aramshe (opposite Yarin, in the Sour district). According to the party, the strike, carried out in retaliation for the previous day's Israeli attacks on Ain Baal and Shehabiyeh, which left at least four people dead, caused casualties. According to Haaretz, warning sirens sounded in the town of Arab al-Aramshe at the time of the strikes.

13:18 Beirut Time

The Israeli army reported that it had targeted several "Hezbollah military sites and infrastructures" during the night, notably in Khiam, Mansouri, Alma al-Shaab and Yater, in southern Lebanon. L'Orient Today had previously reported on these strikes.

In a message posted on X, the Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman, Avichay Adraee, added that "several shots have been observed coming from Lebanese territory" since the morning, causing warning sirens to go off in northern Israel. These strikes "caused no casualties," according to the military official. The Israeli army "attacked the sources of these shots."

In the morning, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for several strikes, notably on the Branit region and the Meron base in northern Israel.

13:14 Beirut Time

Mediator Qatar said that talks between Hamas and Israel over a cease-fire in Gaza have stalled, the Gulf nation's prime minister said, according to AFP.

"We are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling, and we are trying as much as possible to address this stalling," Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani stated. 

12:50 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that it targeted, at 11:30 a.m., the "air control unit" at the Meron Israeli base with guided missiles and claimed that it destroyed its equipment. The party added that this attack was a retaliation to Israel's attacks on southern Lebanese villages and houses.

The Israeli army confirmed that "munitions were fired at the air control base in Meron" but did not report any casualties or damage, according to Haaretz.

12:42 Beirut Time

According to information obtained by the Wall Street Journal from Syrian sources, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have taken "emergency measures" concerning their infrastructure in Syria. These measures include the evacuation of some IRGC members from bases in Syria, while others are not staying in military installations at night, "when Israeli strikes are more likely," according to these sources. "Only a few soldiers remain on site to defend weapons stocks," according to the WSJ. According to a Syrian activist interviewed by the American newspaper, "lower-ranking soldiers are hiding in vehicles or stores in Deir ez-Zor and Damascus, while senior officers are renting apartments in residential buildings to avoid detection."

These measures have been taken as Israel claims to be preparing a response to last weekend's Iranian strikes, which were themselves launched in response to the strike on Iranian consular facilities in Damascus.

11:43 Beirut Time

The United States will impose new sanctions against Iran following the attack launched against Israel last weekend, the White House announced last night, indicating that it "expects" its allies to follow suit soon.

"In the coming days, the United States will impose new sanctions targeting Iran, including its drone and missile programs," its Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Ministry of Defense, Jake Sullivan, President Joe Biden's National Security Advisor, detailed in a statement.

11:43 Beirut Time

The Gaza health ministry has announced a new death toll of 33,899 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement on Oct. 7.

In the space of 24 hours, at least 56 additional deaths have been recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which reports 76,664 wounded in more than six months of war.

11:06 Beirut Time

The Islamic Republic of Iran celebrated "Army Day" by hailing the "success" of its unprecedented attack on Israel and reaffirming that Teheran would respond "ferociously" if Israel retaliated on its soil. The Iranian operation of April 14 "has shattered the glory of the Zionist regime," declared President Ebrahim Raissi as he took part in the traditional military parade held at a base on the outskirts of Teheran.

10:48 Beirut Time

Israel's head of state called on "the whole world" to counter the threat posed by the Tehran "regime," during a meeting with the heads of diplomacy of the UK and Germany in Jerusalem.

Isaac Herzog said on X that he had had a "warm discussion" this morning with David Cameron and Annalena Baerbock. "The whole world must work decisively and resolutely against the threat posed by the Iranian regime, which seeks to undermine the stability of the entire region."

10:38 Beirut Time

In the morning, Hezbollah carried out a series of strikes in northern Israel:

- Against the command offices of Battalion 91 in the Biranit barracks (opposite Rmaish, in the Bint Jbeil district) using a Burkan-type missile at 7:30 a.m.

- At 7.50 a.m., against a "new" IDF position south of the Biranit barracks.

- At 8.30 a.m., against an Israeli army position at the Ramieh site (opposite the Lebanese town of Ramieh, in the Bint Jbeil district).

- At 8:50 am, against an Israeli army position south of the Biranit barracks.

10:36 Beirut Time

Also in southern Lebanon last night:

- At 2 a.m., shelling was reported in Khiam, where more than 12 shells fell.

- At 3 a.m., rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards the Upper Galilee. No one has yet claimed responsibility for these attacks.

- At 3:30 am, four airstrikes were carried out on Wadi al-Assafir, in Khiam, and near the Khiam technical school.

10:34 Beirut Time

The night was also turbulent in southern Lebanon:

- At 10 p.m., Israeli fighter jets struck empty houses in Yater (Bint Jbeil) and Mansouri (Sour). No casualties were reported.

- Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a strike, at 11.30pm, against an Israeli military vehicle in the town of Metula, "causing injuries and deaths."

- Shortly after 11 p.m., five Israeli shells fell on Tallet al-Hammames and the southern district of Khiam (Marjayoun). The Israeli army then used automatic weapons to target the towns of Kfar Kila (Marjayoun), Ouazzani (Hasbaya) and Khiam, from the Israeli town of Metula.

-Shortly after 1 a.m., an Israeli strike targeted a house in Alma al-Chaab (Sour), without causing any casualties.

10:16 Beirut Time

In Lebanon, tensions flared late yesterday. Targeted strikes in Ain Baal and Shehabiyeh killed at least four people, including two high-ranking Hezbollah officers.

This morning, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal Movement reported that one of the victims of the Ain Baal strike, a man who was standing next to the car targeted by a drone, was one of its fighters. According to the statement issued by Amal, the victim was Hussein Kassem Kerchat, born in 1972.

10:14 Beirut Time

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told a press conference in Seoul that she did not "believe" that the Palestinian Authority's draft resolution would "contribute to a two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reports Reuters.

Thomas-Greenfield's comments came after she was asked whether the US was prepared to recognize the Palestinian Authority's application for full membership in the UN.

10:13 Beirut Time

The UN Security Council is due to vote tomorrow on a Palestinian request to become a full member state of the United Nations, several diplomatic sources announced overnight. At the beginning of April, the Palestinian Authority relaunched a procedure initiated in 2011, but which had failed to prosper due to opposition from the United States.

Last night, the Arab group issued a statement affirming its "unwavering support" for the Palestinian request, but it seems destined once again to come up against an American veto.

10:12 Beirut Time

In Gaza, the Israeli army announced that its "military activities" were continuing in the center of the enclave, "with the aim of reinforcing army control" over the demarcation line between the north and south of the strip, which enables Israel to control Palestinian movements. As part of this operation, the Israeli army said it had destroyed infrastructure it described as "terrorist," resulting in a number of deaths.

10:06 Beirut Time
10:06 Beirut Time

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