A technician repairs power lines damaged during Israeli strikes the previous day on the southern Lebanese village of Alma al-Shaab on April 17, 2024. (Credit: AFP)


US to oppose Palestinian request for UN membership; Hezbollah member killed in Blida: Day 195 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

One civilian was killed by Israeli strikes in Khiam, which suffered under heavy artillery fire and white phosphorus bombs overnight.

Two Hezbollah fighters were killed in a strike in Kfar Kila.

Yesterday, a Hezbollah strike on northern Israel wounded 18 people, including 13 reserve soldiers.

Nearly 34,000 people killed in Gaza since Oct. 7.

22:20 Beirut Time

We're closing today's live coverage of the Gaza war and its repercussions in the region — notably in southern Lebanon. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Good night!

20:36 Beirut Time

The United States will vote against the Palestinians' request to become full members of the United Nations at the scheduled Security Council meeting set to take place in a few hours, a US official told Reuters, "thus preventing the world organization from effectively recognizing a Palestinian state," the report reads.

This could mean that Washington will use its veto power against this decision, which the world's leading power has already done on several occasions since Oct. 7. — except during the vote on the resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, which was adopted on March 25. Or it could mean the US will vote against the decision, hoping to form a majority.

Palestinians have had the lower status of "non-member observer state" at the UN since 2012. The admission of a state to the UN must first receive a positive recommendation from the Council (at least 9 votes out of 15 in favor, without a veto from a permanent member), then be approved by the General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority.

20:17 Beirut Time

The Israeli army reported that its troops in Gaza had concluded an operation to gain control of the “Netzarim Corridor,” established earlier in the war to dissect the Gaza Strip in two, from the coast to the eastern border, allowing the army to control the movement of Palestinians between northern and southern Gaza, Haaretz reports.

The army has managed a checkpoint on a main road into northern Gaza for several months now and routinely denies UNRWA access as the aid agency attempts to deliver supplies to Palestinians in the north, where people are already dying of starvation.

According to the Israeli army, more than 40 Palestinian fighters were killed in face-to-face combat during the operation. 

20:16 Beirut Time

At least one building in the northern Israeli village of Yiron was struck by anti-tank rockets, according to the Israeli army, cited by Haaretz. A building was damaged, but there were no casualties. Tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from northern Israel in October, but some residents remain, along with Israeli troops stationed in the area. Hezbollah recently claimed responsibility for an attack on this site.

The Israeli army also reported that sirens warning of a hostile aircraft infiltration into northern Israel had been triggered, but was soon after determined to be a false identification. Rocket sirens sounded in Arab al-Aramche — the army said a missile was launched from Lebanese territory and caused no casualties.

19:56 Beirut Time

The funeral of a Hezbollah member killed by an Israeli strike, in Doueir, Nabatieh district, in southern Lebanon, on April 18, 2024. (Photo sent by our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah)

19:51 Beirut Time

The latest developments in southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two attacks carried out at around 6:20 p.m., the first on "two buildings used by enemy soldiers" in the Yiron settlement, opposite the Lebanese village of Yaroun, in Bint Jbeil district. The second targeted a building of the same type in the Manara area, opposite the Lebanese town of Houla.

• Residents of the Ras Naqoura area told our correspondent that Israeli machine-gun fire had damaged a Lebanese Army watchtower in the area. When contacted, the army said it had "no information" on the incident at present.

19:49 Beirut Time

A destroyed car in front of a building struck by Hezbollah missiles in Arab al-Aramshe, in northern Israel, April 18, 2024. (Credit: Hannah McKay/Reuters)

On two occasions this week, Hezbollah managed to carry out precision strikes against northern Israel, using drones and missiles — without the famous Israeli air defense system, the Iron Dome, being activated.

Yesterday, a Hezbollah attack on a "new military reconnaissance headquarters" in the border town of Arab al-Aramshe wounded 18 people, around 14 of them Israeli reserve soldiers.

The Israeli army said it was investigating why the Iron Dome's interceptor missiles were not launched toward the incoming Hezbollah one-way drones and guided missiles. 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.

Elijah Magnier, former war journalist and military expert, explains to L'Orient-Le Jour how and why Hezbollah's drones managed to slip through the net.

👉 Read the interview here.

19:13 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of one of its fighters, Hussein Ali Hazimeh, born in 1996 and originally from Mais al-Jabal, in Marjayoun district. Our correspondent in the South confirmed that Hazimeh was killed in the Israeli strike that targeted a house in Blida this afternoon.

This brings the total number of Hezbollah members killed since Oct 8 to 281, with 251 of those killed in Lebanon and the other 30 killed in Syria. The total number of casualties from Israeli strikes in Lebanon is 368, according to L’Orient Today’s count.

19:13 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah announced that at 6 p.m. it fired missiles toward a deployment of Israeli soldiers near Hanita.

• Israeli artillery targeted the localities of Yaroun and Maroun al-Ras, in Bint Jbeil district, residents told our correspondent in the region, Muntasser Abdallah.

18:30 Beirut Time

Latest updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Hezbollah announced that it fired artillery shells at the Israeli site of "Zebdine," located in the disputed Shebaa farms, at 5 p.m.

• The party also said that it fired rockets at the Israeli site of "Ruwaisat al-Alam" in the Kfar Shuba hills at 5:20 p.m.

• Sirens for "hostile aircraft infiltration" sounded in several villages in northern Israel, according to Haaretz. The Israeli newspaper also reported that rocket sirens sounded in the village of Arab al-Aramshe, which was struck yesterday by Hezbollah, wounding 18 people.

17:47 Beirut Time

The latest updates from southern Lebanon:

• Israeli artillery shelled the outskirts of Kfar Hammam, in Hasbaya district, according to local residents.

• At least five missiles were fired from the Kfar Shuba and Shebaa heights toward Israeli positions, our correspondent reports, citing a security source.

17:34 Beirut Time

🔴 The Israeli strike on a house in Blida, Marjayoun district, has killed one person and wounded another, our correspondent in the South reports, citing a security source.

17:18 Beirut Time

An elderly man was evacuated from his home amid Israeli bombardment in Boustane, in Sour district, in southern Lebanon, the Civil Defense announced in a post on X.

The evacuation was carried out around 2 p.m., in cooperation with units from the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon). The man was transferred to a Civil Defense Center in Sour.

16:58 Beirut Time

Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel's National Security Minister, has called for the execution of Palestinian security prisoners to ease overcrowding in the country's jails, according to a post published on X.

In the same post, he welcomed a decision by the Israeli army to build "936 additional prison places for security prisoners."

"The death penalty for terrorists is the right solution to the incarceration problem, until then — glad that the government approved the proposal I brought," he said.

Israel has arrested more than 7,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7, many of them held in administrative detention, with no charge or trial. In some cases, Israel has even re-arrested Palestinians initially freed in the November hostage exchange deal with Hamas.

16:24 Beirut Time

The situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two attacks on Israeli positions. The first was a missile strike at 12:30 p.m. against soldiers and vehicles present at the Israeli "Marj" site, located opposite the southern Lebanese village of Markaba, in Marjayoun district. This strike was launched after "precise surveillance" of troop movements in the area and caused "casualties," according to the party statement. The second strike was launched at 2 p.m., also with missiles, against Israeli soldiers in the "Hanita" woods, opposite Alma al-Shaab, in Sour district.

• The Israeli army bombed a house in Blida, in Marjayoun district, according to local residents. 

15:04 Beirut Time

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is refusing to transfer 600 million shekels (around $158,800) from the war budget to improve infrastructure that would extend humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, according to a political source reported by Haaretz. The budget is supposed to be used in part for the renovation of Highway 10 – which runs along Israel's border with Egypt – the opening of a crossing point for the transport of goods to the north of the Gaza Strip and the expansion of the Kerem Shalom crossing point, explains the Israeli media outlet.

15:00 Beirut Time

Gaza's health ministry said that at least 33,970 people have been killed since Oct. 7, 71 of whom were killed in the last 24 hours.

The ministry added that 76,770 others have been injured since the war began.

14:36 Beirut Time

The spokesperson for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, Andrea Tenenti, said in a statement that "UNIFIL peacekeepers continue to carry out their missions, as do the force's civilian personnel" reports the official National News Agency (Ani).

"UNIFIL's work continues, including patrols, supply and logistics convoys and troop rotations, inside and outside Lebanon", he said. Adding that "the safety of UN personnel and their families is our priority," he explained that "in October 2023, UNIFIL decided, as a precaution, to relocate the families of its civilian personnel outside the area of operations, notably to Tyre."

The media regularly report that UNIFIL, which operates along the border with Israel, has ended its operations, but this is denied each time by the UN force.

13:42 Beirut Time

According to Israeli and US media reports, the Netanyahu government considered carrying out rapid retaliatory strikes against Iran but ultimately revised its plans. Despite this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains that Israel "reserves the right to protect itself" against Iran.

13:28 Beirut Time

An update on the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border:

-⁠ ⁠An Israeli drone fired a missile on a house in the outskirts of Markaba (Marjayoun), residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South.

-⁠ ⁠Sirens sounded in northern Israel due to a "suspected hostile aircraft infiltration," according to Haaretz.

13:26 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that its "fighter jets attacked [last night] terrorist targets of the Hezbollah terrorist organization in the Khiam area" (Marjayoun).

In a post published on X, the Israeli army added that "several terrorist infrastructures used by the organization along with two other military buildings" were targeted in Khiam.

L'Orient Today reported this morning that Israel carried out six raids, dropped white phosphorous bombs and fired more than 100 artillery shells on Khiam over the night.

The Israeli army also said this morning that its "air force aircraft" killed two Hezbollah members in Kfar Kila (Marjayoun). L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South earlier reported that two Hezbollah members were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Kfarkila last night.

13:08 Beirut Time

The commanders of the 91st and 146th divisions of the Israeli army met with the heads of local authorities and councils in northern Israel, as well as commanders deployed in the region, to present their assessment of the situation and the activities they are undertaking to increase preparedness in the north, in the face of Hezbollah attacks, Haaretz reports.

This information comes as tensions have risen along the border between Lebanon and Israel following Iranian strikes against Israel last weekend.

12:46 Beirut Time

According to al-Jazeera, Israel's "large-scale" attacks in the Gaza Strip last night were particularly bloody in the southern city of Rafah, where at least eleven Palestinians were killed, including five children. "We also recorded further air strikes in the areas of al-Moughraqa and Deir al-Balah. These two towns were the scene of massive demolitions by the Israeli army, with many neighborhoods completely destroyed," reports a correspondent for the channel.

"The Israeli army withdrew from the Nusseirat refugee camp, leaving behind a trail of destruction. Civil defense teams are working to find victims buried under the rubble." Local media report that the Israeli army has deployed more tanks and armored vehicles near the border areas with Rafah, in preparation for a possible ground invasion of the densely populated area where around 1.5 million people live, the media reports.

11:36 Beirut Time

At a meeting in Doha on Wednesday, the head of Hamas's political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, reportedly told Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan that the Islamist movement was ready to dissolve its armed wing if a Palestinian state were created within the 1967 borders, according to the Al-Jazeera and Middle East Eye media.

While Hamas has mentioned acceptance of a two-state solution in the past, this is the first time that a split between the political and military branches has been mooted. Haniyeh is expected in Ankara on Saturday for a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who describes the movement designated terrorist by the United States and other Western countries as a "resistance group."

11:30 Beirut Time

In Gaza, the Israeli army announced that it had assassinated the head of investigations for Hamas's internal security system in Beit Hanoun, Haaretz reports. The Palestinian group has so far not reacted to these statements.

11:15 Beirut Time

Dismantling the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) could accelerate famine in Gaza and condemn a generation of children "to despair," fuelling "endless cycles of violence," its boss warned yesterday.

The agency, which has more than 30,000 employees in the region (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria), is accused by Israel of employing "more than 400 terrorists" in Gaza. And 12 of its employees are accused by the Israelis of having been directly involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israeli soil. These accusations led to the suspension of funding by certain donor countries, some of which have since resumed.

11:14 Beirut Time

At the same time, the Israeli army announced the entry into Gaza of eight trucks carrying flour from the World Food Program via the Israeli port of Ashdod, a new route for increasing aid to Gaza.

11:13 Beirut Time

The UN, which fears widespread famine in the territory of 2.4 million inhabitants, yesterday launched a $2.8 billion appeal for donations to help Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Benjamin Netanyahu denied "the allegations made by international organizations about a famine in Gaza" and asserted that Israel was doing "everything possible on the humanitarian issue."

11:12 Beirut Time

In Gaza, Israel is continuing its offensive and, during the night, witnesses told AFP of deadly strikes.

"I woke up to the sound of girls screaming 'mommy, mommy, mommy' and children calling to each other. I ran and found children running out ... there were corpses scattered everywhere inside the store and outside," Palestinian Jamalat Ramidan told AFP after a strike in Rafah (south), where more than a million people have been displaced by the violence.

10:48 Beirut Time

Following the intensive bombardment of Khiam, security sources and local residents reported the death of a civilian, Ahmad Hassan Ahmad, killed in one of the Israeli strikes. According to local residents, the victim was a Bedouin from Habboush, in the Nabatieh caza, who was visiting Khiam.

According to the same sources, the night strikes on the village totally destroyed three houses and partially damaged dozens of others.

10:34 Beirut Time

In the morning, Hezbollah announced the death of two of its members, Ali Ahmad Hamadeh, born in 1970 and originally from Doueir, South Lebanon, and Mohammed Jamil Shami, originally from Kfar Kila and born in 1982. According to information from L'Orient Today's correspondent, the two men were killed in a drone strike on Kfar Kila last night.

By L'Orient Today's count, 280 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in Syria and Lebanon since clashes with Israel began on Oct. 8.

Hezbollah also announced that "at dawn" it had used "missiles" to strike Israeli soldiers in Malkia, opposite the Lebanese village of Aïtaroun (Bint Jbeil).

10:32 Beirut Time

Other villages were also shelled by the Israeli army during the night.

- Between 10 and 10:30 p.m., the outskirts of Deir Mimas and Kfar Kila (Marjayoun) and an area north of Shebaa (Hasbaya) were targeted by artillery fire.

- Between 10.:30 p.m. and 11 p.m., three artillery shells fell on Tallet al-Azzieh and Taybeh (Marjayoun).

- Between 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., two artillery shells again targeted the north of Shebaa, as well as the area around Kfar Kila and Deir Mimas.

- Between 11:30 p.m. and midnight, Israeli aircraft fired two missiles at Kfar Kila.

- At 12:05 a.m., Hezbollah announced that it had struck a patrol of Israeli soldiers who were attempting to evacuate a military vehicle previously targeted by a strike near Metoula.

10:29 Beirut Time

According to information obtained from security sources and local residents, the night was particularly violent in Khiam (Marjayoun), in southern Lebanon, which was the target of six bombardments and sustained artillery fire. The Israeli army also dropped white phosphorus bombs on the village. More than 100 artillery shells targeted the village, according to our sources.

"It was the heaviest shelling we've seen since the fighting began on Oct. 8," a resident told our correspondent Mountasser Abdallah. "The shells kept falling, loud bangs were heard in every part of the village, without stopping, the houses shook with each air raid," said the man, who did not wish to be named. He also spoke of fires caused in the area by white phosphorus.

In the morning, the Islamic Mission Scouts, a rescue organization linked to the Amal movement, reported that its teams had gone to Khiam to clear the rubble and had transported a wounded man to a local hospital.

09:07 Beirut Time
09:04 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the ongoing war in Gaza and its regional and global impacts.