Smoke rises above buildings during Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 21, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Hamas movement. (Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP)


283 bodies recovered from mass grave at Nasser Hospital; Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone: Day 199 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Dozens of bodies were discovered buried in an apparent mass grave in the courtyard of a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza.

Netanyahu announces "increased military and political pressure on Hamas."

Israeli strikes on two houses in Rafah yesterday killed at least 16 people.

22:00 Beirut Time

That's it for today's live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions in the region — notably in southern Lebanon. Thanks for following along. We'll be back tomorrow with more news updates and analysis. Good night!

20:59 Beirut Time

Update from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Israeli warplanes carried out two raids on an area between the villages of Taybeh and Rabb Thalathin, both in Marjayoun district, according to residents.

• Israeli artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Yaroun, in Bint Jbeil district, residents told L’Orient Today’s correspondent.

• Hezbollah announced that it had targeted the headquarters of the 3rd infantry brigade of the Israeli army’s 91st division in the Ein Zeitim area this afternoon with dozens of Katyusha rockets.

Haaretz reported that about 35 rockets were launched at Safed in northern Israel, saying “most” of the rockets fell in open areas and caused no damage or injuries. It also cited the Israeli army announcing it had attacked Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.

19:26 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told combat soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion — which the US is considering sanctioning — that “if something happens, we take care of it, not one will teach us morals,” according to a Haaretz report.

The battalion is accused of abusing Palestinian detainees, notably a 78-year-old dual Palestinian-American citizen who died of a stress-induced heart attack as a result of harsh treatment. The unit operated primarily in the West Bank before it was moved out of the territory and most recently has been serving in Gaza.

If the sanctions are implemented it would be the first time the US is carrying out such an action against the Israeli army and would be in response to US laws that prohibit providing military assistance to individuals or security force units that commit gross violations of human rights, Reuters reports.

On Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said an announcement regarding the sanctions could be made “very soon.”

19:14 Beirut Time

Rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israeli positions, a security source told our correspondent in southern Lebanon, Muntasser Abdallah.

About 10 minutes ago, Haaretz reported that alarm sirens had sounded in several areas of the western Galilee in northern Israel simultaneously, including Shlomi, Arab al-Aramshe, and Hanita.

19:10 Beirut Time

Updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Israeli fighter jets struck the villages of Adaisseh and Rabb Thalathin, in Marjayoun district, L’Orient Today’s correspondent in the region reports, citing local residents.

• Hezbollah announced that at 4:45 p.m., its fighters targeted Israeli soldiers deployed at the Israeli site of “Samaka,” located in the disputed Kfar Shuba hills.

18:20 Beirut Time

Israel has yet to provide any evidence supporting its claim that a significant number of UNRWA staff were members of "terrorist organizations," according to an independent review conducted by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. Reuters viewed a copy of the report, which is set to be released later today.

Colonna was appointed in February by the UN to lead an investigation into the allegations, which prompted more than a dozen donors to freeze financial support for the leading humanitarian agency in Gaza. Israel had presented a portfolio to US officials in which it accused 12 UNRWA staff of having taken part in the Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel. Some countries resumed funding after determining independently that there was not enough evidence against UNRWA to justify cutting funds.

17:50 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

• Israeli drones targeted, with three rockets, a two-story house in the area between Srifa and Dardaghia, east of the southern coastal city of Sour, residents told our correspondent in the region. At least three people were slightly injured, one of whom was inside the house at the time of the strike, according to security sources. The other two were in the house next to it. Paramedics from the Amal-affiliated Risala Scouts transported the wounded to hospital. A family living in the basement of the targeted house survived, with no injuries.

• An Israeli raid targeted the Jabbour hill, located between Jezzine and Western Bekaa districts. According to our correspondent, the targeted area is closer to the Jezzine locality of Sarireh

16:48 Beirut Time

The number of bodies recovered from a mass grave at Nasser Hospital in southern Gaza has risen to 283, according to the Palestinian news agency, Wafa.

Rescue and ambulance crews found an additional 73 bodies at Nasser today, following the Israeli army’s withdrawal on April 7 from Khan Younis, where the hospital is located. The grave was first discovered on Saturday, in the courtyard of the hospital, and the digging is still underway.

As the Israeli army laid siege to the hospital, the people within the compound were unable to bury the dead in cemeteries and were forced to bury them in the courtyard, the Civil Defense said, cited by AP. Some of the bodies were of people killed during the initial siege of the hospital by the army, while others were killed when the army raided the hospital itself.

👉 Read more here.

16:16 Beirut Time

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh, in comments made during an interview with the Turkish broadcaster A News, blamed Israel for stalling the cease-fire talks, saying it refuses to agree to a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

“Despite dozens of sessions and communications exchanged via our mediators, the Zionist enemy until this point has not agreed to a cease-fire in Gaza. All they want is the return of captives so they can continue the war on Gaza and this cannot be,” Haniyeh stated.

“They want Hamas and the resistance to agree to maps referencing the deployment of the Israeli army as if to say we are legitimizing the occupation of the Strip. There must be a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.”

In a rare public comment last Friday, CIA chief Bill Burns, who had taken a leading role for the US in the talks, placed the blame on Hamas for the deadlocked negotiations, saying the group had rejected the latest proposal.

15:05 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that it arrested a suspect in the recent murder of a young Israeli shepherd in the West Bank, where armed settlers had carried out deadly raids on several villages in retaliation, reports AFP. Benjamin Achimeir, aged 14, had disappeared on April 12 while grazing his sheep, which had returned without him to the farm where he lived in the settlement of Malachei HaShalom, north-east of Ramallah. His body was discovered the next day nearby.

Read the full story here.

12:58 Beirut Time

Here is an update on the situation in southern Lebanon and northern Israel:

- Hezbollah said it targeted "the surveillance equipment across from the [southern] village of al-Wazzani (Hasbaya) with suitable weapons at 11:20 a.m."

- Hezbollah said it targeted an Israeli soldiers' position in the vicinity of the Hanita site, located in western Galilee, with artillery shells at 10:25 a.m.

- According to local residents, Israeli jets attacked the Mahmoudiyah area overlooking the Litani Valley near the Khardali Bridge.

12:50 Beirut Time

The Gazan health ministry announced on Monday a new death toll of 34,151 people killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement on Oct. 7, reports AFP.

In the space of 24 hours, at least 54 more deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which also reported 77,084 wounded in six and a half months of war.

12:28 Beirut Time

(Courtesy of Muntasser Abdullah/L'Orient Today)

Sheikh Nabil Qaouq of Hezbollah's Central Council stated that the recent "confrontation proved Iran's strength and ability to enforce strategic changes against the interests of the US and Israel," when it attacked Israel last week.

Qaouq spoke during a memorial event held by Hezbollah in Kfar Roummane (Nabatieh), emphasizing that the party "has forced Israeli settlers to flee deeper into Israel, demonstrating Hezbollah's success." He also highlighted the "resistance's capability to down Israeli drones like Hermes 900 and Hermes 450 and its proficiency in surpassing Israeli air defense systems."

10:49 Beirut Time

The head of Israeli military intelligence, General Aharon Haliva, tendered his resignation due to his "command responsibility" in the unprecedented attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Oct. 7, the Israeli army announced, quoted by AFP.

General Haliva "in coordination with the Chief of Staff has requested that his duties be terminated," the army said in a statement. "It has been decided that General Haliva will leave his post and retire from the army, once his successor has been appointed."

10:07 Beirut Time

Gaza's civil defense also reported that Israeli strikes on two houses in Rafah had left at least 16 people dead yesterday. A total of 34,097 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war, the majority of them civilians.

10:06 Beirut Time

An AFP photographer saw members of the civil defense exhume human remains in the hospital courtyard on Sunday. AFP images show Gazans massed in the same area, searching for missing relatives. Among them, Oum Mohammed al-Harazeen, who is looking for her husband. "He's been missing for about a month. He only went out to bring us food and water. He disappeared the moment the Israeli army entered Khan Younis," she says.

The Israeli army withdrew from Khan Younis on April 7, after carrying out what it called a "precise and limited operation" in this hospital, one of the largest in Gaza.

10:05 Beirut Time

Also in the south of the besieged Palestinian territory, in Khan Younis, the Gaza Civil Defense announced that it had exhumed at least 50 bodies of Palestinians buried in the courtyard of a hospital. When questioned by AFP, the Israeli army said it was verifying these claims. According to the Gaza Civil Defense, some of the bodies found in Khan Younis "were stripped of their clothes, which certainly indicates that they were arrested, tortured and subjected to ill-treatment by the occupying army."

10:04 Beirut Time

Regarding the situation in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "in the coming days, we will increase the military and political pressure on Hamas, because this is the only way to free our hostages and win our victory." Netanyahu made these remarks in a video message broadcast on the eve of Passover.

More than six months after the start of the war, triggered by an unprecedented attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Oct. 7, Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his determination to launch a ground offensive in Rafah, which he considers to be Hamas's last major stronghold. According to the UN, almost one and a half million displaced Gazans are massed in this city on the southern tip of the territory. On Friday, the G7 reaffirmed its opposition to "a large-scale operation" in this town on the border with Egypt, fearing a bloodbath.

09:44 Beirut Time

At 7a.m., Hezbollah claimed to have fired "missiles" at the Israeli position of "Dhaira," opposite the Lebanese village of the same name in the Sour district.

Shortly afterward, Israeli artillery targeted Tayr Harfa and Dhaira.

09:43 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two strikes during the night:

The first, with artillery fire, at 7:45 p.m., targeted Israeli soldiers near the "al-Aassi" position, opposite Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun). At 11:05 p.m., Hezbollah retaliated against Israeli attacks against civilians, notably in Kfar Kila, by targeting "two buildings used by soldiers in Metula."

09:41 Beirut Time

Apart from the strike in Sire and the downed drone, several exchanges of fire took place along the border between Lebanon and Israel.

- Between 10 and 11 pm, Israeli artillery fire targeted Mais al-Jabal and the outskirts of Houla (Marjayoun).

- The following hour, heavy automatic weapons fire from the Israeli village of Metoula targeted Kfar Kila (Majayoun). At around 11:30 p.m., artillery fire targeted the south of Khiam, while an hour later artillery shells hit Yaroun (Bint Jbeil).

09:40 Beirut Time

The Hermes 450 is a multi-charge drone made by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based weapons manufacturer, and costs around $2 million. Nicknamed the Zik by the Israeli army, this type of drone is mainly used for attack and reconnaissance missions. It can reach an altitude of almost 5.5 kilometers and is used by the Israeli Air Force's Unit 161.

This is not the first drone of this type that Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for destroying. On Nov. 18, 2023, the Shiite party claimed to have shot down its first Hermes 450, the second since the start of the conflict.

Here is more information about the "war of drones."

09:38 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that it had shot down a Hermes 450 drone at 10:50 p.m. over Aaishiyeh, in the Jezzine district.

The Israeli army reported that one of its drones "fell in Lebanese territory" after being hit by a "surface-to-air missile." "The incident is under investigation," said the Israeli army, which claims that its air force then struck the missile launch site.

At 1 a.m., the Israeli army bombed the Jezzine area, according to security sources. Missiles were launched at Jabal Abou Rashid, near Sire.

09:36 Beirut Time

The Lebanese-Israeli border was busy last night.

At around 10:30 p.m., the Amal Movement, which is involved in border clashes and is regularly targeted by Israel, announced the death of one of its members: Wassim Moussa Moussa, born in 1974 and originally from Kfar Kila. According to information from L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South, Moussa was killed in an Israeli strike on a house in the center of Kfar Kila (Marjayoun), at around 8 p.m.

According to L'Orient Today's count, 18 Amal Movement members have been killed since fighting began along the border on Oct. 8. Added to this number are two rescue workers from the Islamic Mission (al-Rissala) scouts, an organization affiliated with Amal.

09:03 Beirut Time
09:02 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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