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Israel strikes Iran, Palestine UN membership vetoed, heavy bombardment of southern Lebanon: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Friday, April 19.

Israel strikes Iran, Palestine UN membership vetoed, heavy bombardment of southern Lebanon: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Palestinians inspect the damage to a building in the city of Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on April 18, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group. (Credit: AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 195 of the Gaza war here.

Israel struck an Iranian military airport in Isfahan in early morning strikes as part of its retaliation to Iran's own weekend strikes on Israel. Iran said it shot down three small drones that had entered its airspace. The strike lead to the grounding of flights in the country that was slowly being lifted around an hour after the strikes. Iran said that there has been no disruption to major infrastructure and that flights are slowly resuming. This is a developing story.

Israel killed three Hezbollah members and a civilian after carrying out new drone strikes on homes in southern Lebanon and conducting overnight its most intense bombardment to date on Khiam. At least 281 Hezbollah members have been killed in Syria and Lebanon since Oct. 8, by L’Orient Today’s count. Yesterday, Israel killed one person and injured another after hitting a house in Blida (Marjayoun). Overnight, the Israeli army conducted six airstrikes on Khiam while firing artillery and white phosphorus shells at the area. Israel’s latest attack follows days of retaliatory escalation with Hezbollah, which inflicted 13 injuries in an attack on an Israeli army base in response to the killing of high-ranking party members earlier this week – an unprecedented toll since Oct. 8, despite the party’s repeated claims of inflicting more casualties than Israel recognizes.

Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi met with governors and security chiefs to discuss the implementation of regulations targeting displaced Syrians, as the state’s new deportation plans pile on to recent housing, work and administrative restrictions. Mawlawi claimed the state’s circulars and deportation plans aim to “protect” the displaced population, calling displaced Syrians’ presence in Lebanon in its current form “unacceptable.” On Wednesday, a Syrian refugee camp was dismantled in Bar Elias (Bekaa) while another in Marj was barely spared following locals’ intervention after an army raid on both informal settlements seeking the alleged perpetrators of a Tuesday killing in Azzouniyeh (Aley). Last week, the government announced plans to deport Syrians in Lebanon who do not meet its criteria for being part of the “actual displaced.” Lebanese officials have repeatedly claimed that vast numbers of Syrians in Lebanon are there for “economic” reasons. Mawlawi further called for clampdowns on vigilantism, after outbreaks of discriminatory violence over the past week, instigated by the killing and abduction to Syria of Lebanese Forces official Pascal Sleiman, threatened Syrians through beatings, expulsions and informal checkpoints. Officials’ renewed focus on Syrians in Lebanon – in light of the recent violence and international pressure against informal departures from Lebanese shores – comes after a wave of aggressive policing that began last April through mass arrests and deportations, tightened work regulations and new administrative hurdles to access housing and documents.

Banque du Liban (BDL) announced measures intending to incentivize payments by card, including reduced fees, and reduce the predominance of cash payments since the implementation of informal banking restrictions in Oct. 2019. BDL’s statement said it contacted Visa and Mastercard to reduce the fees associated with using bank cards issued abroad in Lebanon. The statement also said it was collaborating with the Finance Ministry to facilitate tax payments by card.

At least 33,970 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s health ministry. Overnight Israeli raids left at least 11 people dead amid mass demolition in Rafah, al-Jazeera reported, while AFP cited eyewitness testimony of bodies lining the streets of the southernmost town. During a UN Security Council meeting, the US vetoed Palestine's request to have full UN membership. The proposal enjoys an overwhelming global majority but first required Security Council approval before it was voted on by the UN in its entirety. The Us has vetoed similar proposals in the past. Israeli officials have stolidly expressed their intent to invade Rafah, straining ties with Israel’s allies over the potential harm to civilians – seeking a last refuge in the Egypt-bordering town, which has had its population density multiplied as it serves as a last refuge for more than 1.5 million people displaced by Israel’s onslaught through Gaza. No Tech for Apartheid, a grouping of tech workers and anti-Gaza war protest groups, announced the dismissal of 28 Google employees after the group organized protests in several of the tech giant’s offices over Project Nimbus – a contract supplying Israel with cloud computing and AI services from Google and Amazon.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “How did Hezbollah's drones manage to pass through Israeli air defenses – twice in one week?

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 195 of the Gaza war here.Israel struck an Iranian military airport in Isfahan in early morning strikes as part of its retaliation to Iran's own weekend strikes on Israel. Iran said it shot down three small drones that had entered its airspace. The strike lead to the grounding of...