A motorist rides a motorcycle past the site of an Israeli strike on a vehicle in the Adloun plain area, between Lebanon's southern cities of Sidon and Tyre, on April 23, 2024. (Credit: Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)


Israel claims to have eliminated half of Hezbollah's commanders in southern Lebanon: Day 201 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hezbollah and Israel exchange heavy fire along the border.

The US Senate approves the transfer of $13 billion in military aid to Israel.

The Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council says that an offensive on Rafah would lead to an "apocalyptic situation".

21:03 Beirut Time

Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the Gaza war. Make sure to come back tomorrow for more news and analysis of the ongoing conflict.


20:42 Beirut Time

"Hezbollah doesn't often respond to what it considers to be pure propaganda," a source close to the party told L'Orient Today in response to the Israeli claim that Israel had eliminated "half the commanders" of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

"This type of propaganda is usually aimed at their own people, the Israeli settlers, with the aim of boosting their morale while the war is going on," the same source added. "Not even five Hezbollah commanders have been killed since Oct. 8 ... Moreover, the party, as an organization, does not depend on one or two commanders."

Find the full details here.

20:39 Beirut Time

"Israel is moving ahead with its operation targeting Hamas in Rafah," said Israeli government spokesman David Mencer at a press briefing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Israel intends to carry out an assault on Rafah, the city where an estimated 1.5 million war-displaced Gazans have taken refuge.

He insists that destroying the last Hamas battalions in Rafah is crucial to achieving the objectives of the war against Hamas.

Read the full story here.

20:25 Beirut Time

The US State Department asked the Israeli government for information on mass graves discovered in Gaza, reports Reuters.

Since Saturday, the Gaza Strip's Civil Defense has exhumed the bodies of around 340 people from mass graves in the Nasser hospital compound in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.

20:13 Beirut Time

Latest developments in southern Lebanon:

The Israeli army fired two missiles at the Rihan mountains (Jezzine) in southern Lebanon, a security source tells our correspondent.

Israeli artillery bombarded the area around Labouneh (Sour).

19:06 Beirut Time

Senior Israeli intelligence and military officials met in Cairo with the head of Egyptian intelligence and other counterparts to discuss a possible operation at Rafah, three senior Israeli officials told the Axios website.

The Israeli officials said that close military and diplomatic coordination with Egypt was one of the fundamental conditions for Israeli military action at Rafah, particularly because of Israel's intention to take control of the Philadelphia Corridor, which adjoins the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

This is the second time since Oct. 7 that Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and Israeli Army Chief of Staff General Harzi Halevi have visited Egypt to discuss a possible operation at Rafah.

18:49 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claims responsibility for a new attack carried out at 4:40 p.m. on the Israeli Rouaissat al-Alam site, between the Kfar Shouba hills and the Shebaa farms.

18:49 Beirut Time

"Israel's security is essential," said President Biden, quoted by Reuters. The aid signed "will rebuild the air defense" of Israel, he asserted. "This bill significantly increases humanitarian aid for Gazans. Israel must ensure that this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay," said the American president.

18:48 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden signed the national security bill providing aid to Ukraine and Israel, Reuters reports. "This is a great day for world peace," he said. "It will make America and the world safer."

18:30 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden signed the national security bill providing aid to Ukraine and Israel, Reuters reports. "This is a great day for world peace," he said. "It will make America and the world safer."

18:18 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden signed the national security bill providing aid to Ukraine and Israel, Reuters reports. "This is a great day for world peace," he said. "It will make America and the world safer."

17:56 Beirut Time

Hamas posted a video on its Telegram channel of one of the Israeli hostages it abducted during its Oct. 7 attack and taken to Gaza, reports AFP.

This unprecedented attack on Israeli territory resulted in the deaths of 1,170 people and the kidnapping of 250 others. According to AFP's count, 129 are still hostages, of whom 34 are considered dead, according to Israeli officials.

16:16 Beirut Time

Israeli artillery targeted the outskirts of the towns of Jibbain and Tayr Harfa (both located in the Sour district) according to a security source.

16:03 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has announced that it has hit 40 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon, reports AFP.

"A short time ago, Israeli army fighter jets and artillery struck around 40 Hezbollah terrorist targets" around Aita al-Shaab in southern Lebanon, including weapons storage sites, the army said in a statement.

16:02 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Sunday that "half of Hezbollah's commanders in southern Lebanon have been eliminated. These are the people responsible for offensive actions." According to him, "the other half is hiding and abandoning southern Lebanon to IDF operations."

Gallant, who held operational discussions this morning at the army's northern command, added that "our main goal was and remains to create a different security situation here, and the residents of northern Israel can return to their homes quietly and safely. We are considering several alternatives to solidify the matter, and the near future will be decisive in this regard."

14:37 Beirut Time

Palestinian fishermen pull in their net at the beach in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 23, 2024. (Credit: AFP)

14:34 Beirut Time

Hezbollah said that in response to Israeli attacks on southern Lebanese villages and civilian homes, especially the "massacre" in Hanine "which resulted in the martyrdom and injury of several civilians," its fighters targeted Israeli soldiers in the Netu'a forest, that faces the Lebanese border town of Rmeish, in Marjayoun district

This is the fourth strike launched by Hezbollah today in response to yesterday's Israeli strike on Hanine.

14:33 Beirut Time

The Hezbollah attack on two houses in Avivim, in northern Israel, caused no casualties, The Jerusalem Post reports, despite Hezbollah's claims to the contrary.

Avivim is located less than one from the border with Lebanon and has been struck several times since the start of the war. The residents' committee Chairman Shimon Biton, told Israeli media that "over 20 homes in Avivim have been directly hit, and another 20 homes indirectly impacted, out of around 100 in the settlement."

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system is designed to determine where incoming projectiles will land and fire interceptor missiles for those that appear to be targeting civilian areas. However, the Iron Dome is known to be less effective in intercepting rockets that are fired from less than four kilometers away.

Biton echoed sentiments often reported on by Israeli media from residents of the country's north, largely evacuated, saying that the community there are "in a state of exile within the State of Israel."

"It's disheartening that there's no policy, no sense of security." Biton told the Israeli Maariv news outlet.

13:57 Beirut Time

Israel's invasion of Rafah, postponed for several weeks amid disputes with Washington, whose support is paramount to Israeli military activity, will happen "very soon," according to the mass-circulation Israel Hayom newspaper, cited by Reuters.

Several other Israeli media outlets carried similar reports. Some noted footage on social media that appeared to show the erection of a tent city meant for Palestinians moved from Rafah. The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel is coordinating with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates on such an evacuation, noting it could take two-to-three weeks.

The Israeli television channel Kan 11 cited two American officials who said that a plan for the Rafah operation has been presented to the US as well as "other agencies in the region," and details how the military will move forward in stages, based on a regional division of the southern Gazan city into "defined areas," Jerusalem Post reports, citing Kan 11.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and the Israeli military spokesperson's office had no immediate comment, Reuters reported.

13:21 Beirut Time

An update from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

• Israeli warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on Ramieh and Aita al-Shaab, both located in the Bint Jbeil district, launching around 15 rockets, local residents reported. The residents described the strikes as “massive” and said that the area is under a heavy cloud of smoke. The Israeli army said that it conducted dozens of strikes on southern Lebanon

• According to our correspondent in the region, rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards Israel.

• Earlier, the Israeli army targeted the outskirts of Alma al-Shaab and Dhaira, in Sour district, as well as the outskirts of Yaroun and Maroun al-Ras, all with artillery shells. The reports came from local residents, via our correspondent, Muntasser Abdallah.

13:07 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for three attacks on northern Israel since this morning:

• The first, at 10:05 a.m., against the "Raheb" military position opposite Aita al-Shaab, in Bint Jbeil district, using artillery shells.

• In a second retaliation to yesterday's Israeli strike on Hanine, which killed a woman and child, the party also targeted Shomera, opposite Marwahine, Sour district, with "dozens of Katyusha rockets." During the night, Hezbollah launched a similar attack against another town in northern Israel, Margaliot.

• In a third retaliatory strike for the Hanine "massacre," Hezbollah targeted a "building in which soldiers were stationed," in the town of Avivim, located opposite Maroun al-Ras, in Bint Jbeil district. The party's press release states that this strike "caused casualties." Haaretz reported, based on information from a northern Israeli regional council, that two houses in Avivim were directly hit by anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon. The Israeli army said it had "attacked the source of the fire."

• Five rockets were also fired toward Netu'a and Shtula, according to the army, which fell in open areas, according to Haaretz, and warning sirens were activated in several towns across northern Israel.

11:48 Beirut Time

The move to transfer brigades from northern Israel to southern Gaza follows a series of developments that seem to be indicating preparations by the Israeli army to carry through with what would certainly be a devastating operation on Rafah, in southern Gaza.

A report published by Al Jazeera yesterday revealed satellite imagery obtained and assessed by the news outlet's fact-checking team that shows troops and military vehicles stationed at army bases and outposts along the border with Gaza.

The analysis indicated that Israel has already deployed more than 800 military vehicles — around 100 near the north of the Strip and around 700 in the Negez desert, near the south of the Strip.

👉 Read more here.

10:54 Beirut Time

🔴 The Israeli army has announced that it is mobilizing two reserve brigades that have been operating in northern Israel on the front with Hezbollah, to return to southern Gaza, Haaretz reports.

The 2nd Reserve Brigade of the 146th Division and the 679th Reserve Brigade of the 210th Division will be transferred from the north of Israel, to the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reported, citing the army.

This comes following yesterday's report in the Wall Street Journal that Israel was making plans with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates for an evacuation plan for Rafah, ahead of an anticipated and highly criticized military operation.

10:44 Beirut Time

The Israeli army targeted several villages in southern Lebanon during the night:

Shortly after 10 p.m., flares were fired over Houla, in Marjayoun district, and in Kfar Hammam, Hasbaya district. Around midnight, Israeli artillery fire targeted Tayr Harfa, in Sour district, and at 2 a.m., an Israeli warplane bombed Houla.

10:41 Beirut Time

There is relative calm in southern Lebanon this morning. Overnight, Hezbollah announced that it had carried out two strikes.

The first, at 8 p.m., targeted Israeli soldiers deployed near the northern Israeli village of Menara, located opposite the southern Lebanese village of  Houla, in Marjayoun district.

The second was carried out "in response to Israeli attacks on villages in the South, on civilian homes and above all the massacre in Hanine, which killed and wounded civilians." The party retaliated by hitting Margaliot "with dozens of Katyusha rockets."

10:35 Beirut Time

In Washington, the US Senate approved $13 billion in military aid to Israel, with a particular intention to reinforce its Iron Dome missile air defense system. The funding came as part of a $95.3 billion aid package with funds destined for Ukraine and Taiwarn, which passed through the senate with an overwhelming bipartisan majority. The majority of aid, around $60 billion, is being sent to Ukraine.

Israel's Foreign Affairs Minister Israel Kats said the financial support for Israel "is a clear token of the strength of our alliance and sends a strong message to all our enemies."

The bill also approved nine billion dollars for humanitarian aid in Gaza "and other vulnerable populations around the world," notably in Sudan, suffering a war of its own for more than a year.

10:21 Beirut Time

Germany plans to resume cooperation with UNRWA in Gaza, according to a joint statement made by the country's foreign and development ministries, cited by Reuters.

The decision follows an investigation by the former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna into whether some UNRWA employees were involved in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

The Colonna-led review of the agency's neutrality on Monday concluded Israel had yet to back up its accusations that hundreds of UNRWA staff members of Palestinian militant groups.

The German ministries urged UNRWA to swiftly implement the report's recommendations, including strengthening its internal audit function and improving external oversight of project management.

"In support of these reforms, the German government will soon continue its cooperation with UNRWA in Gaza, as Australia, Canada, Sweden and Japan, among others, have already done," said the ministries in the statement.

10:10 Beirut Time

Yesterday, 310 trucks of aid entered Gaza, the highest number since the start of the war, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini announced in a post on X.

"This shows that when there is a will, there is a way," Lazzarini wrote, noting that there still needs to be an increase in deliveries. The UN and other organizations have said that an average of 500 to 600 trucks need to enter Gaza daily in order to curb the risk of famine that threatens much of the Strip and has already claimed more than two dozen lives.

10:03 Beirut Time

Jamaica has officially recognized the State of Palestine, according to a press release shared last night by the country's prime minister, Andrew Holness.

"Jamaica continues to advocate for a two-state solution as the only viable option to resolve the longstanding conflict, guarantee the security of Israel and uphold the dignity and rights of Palestinians," the statement reads.

In doing so, Jamaica joins 140 United Nations member states who have also recognized the State of Palestine — more than the two third's majority required to approve full Palestinian membership, should the Security Council allow an application to pass through to the General Assembly.

10:01 Beirut Time

Civil Defense Emergency Response teams in Gaza unearthed a further 35 bodies yesterday from a mass grave at Nasser Hospital, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, bringing the total of bodies recovered to 310.

The Israeli army laid siege to and then raided the medical facility in early February, withdrawing on Feb. 22. An estimated 700 people are unaccounted for following the army's attack, according to the Gaza government media office.

The BBC verified footage showing Israeli soldiers detaining medical staff and patients — including a bedridden patient whose hands were bound. The BBC also verified footage documenting 21 instances of staff and patients at Nasser Hospital being targeted by gunfire.

09:53 Beirut Time

Yesterday was a deadly day in southern Lebanon and marked new strikes on both sides. In the morning, an Israeli strike on a car north of Sour killed who the Israeli army named as an influential member of Hezbollah's "air defense unit." The assassination comes after Hezbollah announced on Monday that it had downed another one of Israel's Hermes 450 drones.

In response, Hezbollah struck army bases — the headquarters of two units — 15 kilometers into Israel. Later that afternoon, an Israeli strike targeted a house in Hanine, Bint Jbeil district, killing a woman and her young niece and wounding four more children and their grandparents.

👉 Read a summary of yesterday's events here.

09:47 Beirut Time

Good morning. Today is day 201 of Israel's war on Gaza, and day 200 of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel along the Lebanese border.

🔴 Catch up on yesterday's live coverage here.

Read the Morning Brief here.