Men ride in the back of a truck loaded with furniture and other items as they flee bound for Khan Younis, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on May 11, 2024. (Credit: AFP)


Israeli army extends evacuation of Rafah neighborhoods: Gaza war, day 218

What you need to know

Lebanon welcomes the UN vote in favor of Palestinian membership.

Some 300,000 Palestinians have reportedly left the eastern districts of Rafah since the evacuation order issued by the Israeli army on May 6.

At least 34,971 people have been killed and 78,641 wounded in Gaza in over seven months of war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

18:57 Beirut Time

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18:32 Beirut Time

Egypt has refused to coordinate with Israel on the entry of aid into Gaza from the Rafah crossing due to Israel's "unacceptable escalation," Reuters reports Egypt's state-affiliated Alqahera News satellite TV as saying, citing a senior official.

17:06 Beirut Time

Hamas' armed wing has issued a statement saying Israeli hostage Nadav Popplewell has died of wounds that he sustained in an Israeli airstrike more than a month ago, Reuters reports. 

Earlier today, Hamas posted a 10-second video on Telegram showing Popplewell with a swollen eye, looking haggard as he spoke his name. The message was accompanied by the hashtags "Time is running out" and "Your government is lying."

➡️ More details here.

16:53 Beirut Time

The Israeli army says four rockets have been fired from Rafah towards the Kerem Shalom crossing, the gateway for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

The rockets "were identified coming from the area of Rafah," a town in the south of the Palestinian territory of Gaza, towards the crossing point, the army said in a statement.

One projectile was intercepted by the Israeli air defense system, while the others fell in unpopulated areas, without causing any injuries, according to the army.

16:35 Beirut Time

Here are the latest developments from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

* Hezbollah said it  targeted the Israeli Roueissait al-Qorn site in the Shebaa Farms at 3:40 p.m.

* At 3:15 p.m., the party also targeted the Israeli Samaka site in the disputed Kfar Shuba hills.

15:06 Beirut Time

Image: A woman mourns the death of a loved one in an Israeli strike in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, on May 11, 2024. (Credit: Doaa Rouqa/Reuters)

14:38 Beirut Time

The armed wing of Hamas has posted a video on Telegram showing an Israeli hostage held in the Gaza Strip since the Oct. 7 attack.

The footage, which lasts around 10 seconds and the recording date of which is not specified, shows a man with a swollen eye, looking haggard as he speaks his name.

The message is accompanied by the hashtags "Time is running out" and "Your government is lying."

14:35 Beirut Time

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry has welcomed the UN General Assembly's decision to qualify the state of Palestine for full membership in the organization.

➡️ More details here.

Image: The results of the vote on a resolution calling on the UN Security Council to reconsider and support Palestine's full membership of the United Nations are displayed at UN headquarters in New York on May 10, 2024. (Credit: Charly Triballeau/AFP)

14:19 Beirut Time

The Gaza Health Ministry says 34,971 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

In the last 24 hours, at least 28 more deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which is also reporting 78,641 wounded in over seven months of war.

13:43 Beirut Time

Here's an update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

* Heavy Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of the town of al-Wazzani (Hasbaya district), according to local residents.

* Local residents reported that Israeli shelling targeted the Wadi al-Bayyad neighborhood in the town of Houla (Marjayoun district).

* Machine-gun fire from Israeli positions targeted the Khallet Warda area in Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district), local residents reported.

12:21 Beirut Time

⚡ The Israeli army says about 300,000 Gazans have evacuated east Rafah, AFP reports.

12:04 Beirut Time

Image: This combination picture shows displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strikes, sheltering at a tent camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Feb. 29, 2024 (left), and displaced Palestinians preparing to evacuate a tent camp after Israeli forces launched a ground and air operation in the eastern part of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 10, 2024 (right). (Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Hussam Al Masri/Reuers)

11:58 Beirut Time

Against this tense backdrop, Egypt yesterday urged Hamas and Israel to show "flexibility" as mediators' efforts to reach a truce "continue," according to Al-Qahera News. The Egyptian encouragement comes despite the departure from Cairo of delegations from both sides.

Hamas has said that Israel's "rejection" of the truce proposal brings the negotiations "back to square one."

11:56 Beirut Time

According to the UN, around 110,000 people have fled since Israel called on the population of eastern Rafah to evacuate on Monday.

"Some 30,000 people are fleeing the city every day," said the UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), adding that most of them "have already had to move five or six times" since the war began.

11:55 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is defending an operation in Rafah (southern Gaza), where he believes the last Hamas battalions are entrenched.

Defying international warnings, the Israeli army has been making incursions into eastern Rafah since Tuesday, and has taken control of the border crossing with Egypt, sealing off a key gateway for humanitarian aid convoys.

The army also said yesterday that it was continuing its "precision anti-terrorist operation" in certain areas of eastern Rafah, and had "eliminated terrorist cells."

11:54 Beirut Time

The United States said late yesterday that it considers it "reasonable to believe" that Israel has violated international humanitarian law in Gaza, but is unable to reach a definitive conclusion, and will continue to supply arms to the country, according to a State Department report.

Also yesterday evening, an overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly ruled that the Palestinians deserved full membership of the organization. This symbolic vote, welcomed by the Palestinian Authority, angered Israel. "Violence pays," said Israel's head of diplomacy, Israel Katz, for whom the UN is rewarding Hamas for its attack on Oct. 7.

11:52 Beirut Time

In Gaza, Israeli strikes continued early today, despite criticism from Washington over the conduct of the war and the risk, according to the UN, of a "colossal humanitarian catastrophe" in the densely populated city of Rafah.

Early on Saturday, AFP crews reported strikes in various parts of Gaza following the release of a State Department report on the situation there.

11:50 Beirut Time

Here’s an update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

* Last night, after 9:00 p.m., Israeli artillery targeted Wadi al-Bayyad on the outskirts of the town of Houla (Marjayoun district), a security source reports.

* Civil defense teams affiliated with the Islamic Health Authority worked to open roads in the towns of Mais al-Jabal and Rab al-Thalathine (both located in the Marjayoun district) and remove rubble and debris from them following an Israeli airstrike, according to a security source.

* At 1:00 a.m., Israeli artillery targeted the Wadi al-Asafir neighborhood in the town of Khiam (Marjayoun district) with four shells, a security source told L'Orient Today.

11:46 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has attacked northern Israel several times this morning:

* At 7:10 a.m., Hezbollah's fighters targeted "the infrastructure and fortifications of the [Israeli] Ramieh site (opposite the southern Lebanese village of Ramieh in the Bint Jbeil district) with direct and guided missiles and artillery shells, causing direct hits."

* At 10:00 a.m., Hezbollah targeted the Ramieh site again.

* In the early hours of this morning, at 1:48 a.m., Hezbollah says that in response to the Israeli attack on the southern Lebanese village of Tayr Harfa (Sour district), its fighters targeted "a building housing enemy [Israeli] soldiers in Metula, facing Khiam in the Marjayoun district."

11:28 Beirut Time

Israel has called on residents from more areas of Rafah in the Gaza Strip to evacuate and head to the "expanded humanitarian area" in al-Mawasi, according to a post on social media site X by the military's Arabic spokesperson.

11:00 Beirut Time

Good morning, 

We'll be with you through out the day with live updates on the war in Gaza and the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in south Lebanon, as well as related events from around the region.