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Heavy fighting in southern Lebanon, possible election postponement, Rafah invasion plans: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Thursday, April 25.

Heavy fighting in southern Lebanon, possible election postponement, Rafah invasion plans: Everything you need to know to start your Thursday

A girl on April 23, 2024 during the commemoration of the 109th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Beirut. (Credit: João Sousa/L'Orient Today)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 201 of the Gaza war here.

Southern Lebanon residents witnessed heavy Israeli bombardment while Hezbollah responded to the killing of a woman and her niece yesterday with cross-border rocket attacks on buildings and homes purportedly garrisoning soldiers. The Health Ministry’s latest figures compiled 1,359 casualties in southern Lebanon since Oct. 8, among whom were 344 killed and 162 suffering from exposure to white phosphorus. Israel’s military claimed to have hit 40 Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon and to have eliminated half of the party’s commanders. A source close to Hezbollah said the figure was dubious, estimating that “not even five” commanders had been killed and describing the statement as “propaganda” aimed to appease the Israeli public. The same day, Israeli media Haaretz said the Israeli army moved two reserve brigades from the Lebanese border to Gaza. Cross-border strikes between Hezbollah and Israel have intensified over the past week, including unprecedented scales of Israeli bombardment and particularly heavy casualties caused by Hezbollah fire, which yesterday hit its southernmost point since Oct. 8. Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon have almost daily hit and demolished residential buildings, mounting a civilian death toll of more than 50 people – including seven members of the same family killed after Israel struck their home in Nabatieh. Though Hezbollah’s attacks have mostly targeted military units, outposts and equipment, it has previously struck buildings in which it claimed Israeli soldiers were stationed.

Parliament is scheduled to convene today to discuss a third postponement to municipal elections and overdue salary payments to the first Civil Defense members granted pay after years of volunteering. The Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb, the Renewal Bloc, the Forces of Change and independent MPs Bilal Hosheimy and Melhem Khalaf announced they would boycott the session. The Lebanese Forces also said they intend to appeal the extension if approved by Parliament, as they had already done the year prior – with an unfavorable ruling from the Constitutional Council maintaining the law.

Thousands of people marched from Bourj Hammoud to Antelias yesterday to commemorate the 109th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. “It’s astonishing that more than a century after the Armenian genocide began, we’re still facing it today,” former International Criminal Court First Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told L’Orient Today after an invitation to Beirut from the Armenian Patriarchate of Lebanon last week. Ocampo referred to the dissolution of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh after an Azeri military offensive and blockade, adding that “six genocides are still taking place in the world” while “nobody is talking about them.”

At least 34,183 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s Health Ministry. The spokesman for Israel’s government announced it was “moving ahead” with plans to invade Rafah despite weeks of international pleas against the operation, concerned for the safety of more than 1.5 million Palestinians displaced and crowded in the southernmost city. Israel’s announcement comes amid US approval for $26 billion in military aid to Israel and $1 billion in “food, medical supplies [and] clean water” for Gaza, urging Israeli authorities to ensure its delivery “without delay.” World Food Programme Geneva Director Gian Caro Cirri told Reuters Gaza was six weeks away from “ food insecurity, malnutrition and mortality” rates signaling famine while aid deliveries to the enclave, hampered for months by fighting and Israeli restrictions, continued to fall below the minimum requirements estimated by international organizations.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Hochstein back in Beirut to avoid the worst?

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 201 of the Gaza war here.Southern Lebanon residents witnessed heavy Israeli bombardment while Hezbollah responded to the killing of a woman and her niece yesterday with cross-border rocket attacks on buildings and homes purportedly garrisoning soldiers. The Health Ministry’s latest...