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Repatriation trip to Syria, two missing in Jbeil waters, Achrafieh patrols: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Tuesday, May 14.

Repatriation trip to Syria, two missing in Jbeil waters, Achrafieh patrols: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

A worker clears spilled goods away from damaged trailer trucks that were carrying humanitarian aid supplies on the Israeli side of the Tarqumiyah crossing with the occupied West Bank on May 13, 2024, after they were vandalized by other activists to protest against aid being sent to the Gaza Strip. (Credit: Oren Ziv/AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 220 of the Gaza war here.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Israel’s threats of all-out war with Lebanon “have come to nothing,” and that displaced northern Israelis who want to return to their homes should appeal to their government to stop the war in Gaza. With almost 300 party members killed since Oct. 8, Nasrallah described “martyrdom” as “God’s greatest reward,” during yesterday’s ceremony commemorating party military chief Mustafa Badreddine – killed in Syria in 2016. A cross-border anti-tank rocket attack by Hezbollah wounded four Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah has said it would stop attacks on Israel when it stops its war on Gaza – as was seen during the November truce in the enclave. Israel, however, with repeated threats of total war from some of its officials, has said that it would not stop its attacks until it can guarantee the safety of its northern residents — which involves, among other things, Hezbollah’s withdrawal from the border area. US Envoy Amos Hochstein, who mediated the Lebanese-Israeli indirect maritime border negotiations in Oct. 2022, during a visit to Beirut in March said a truce in Gaza “will not systematically extend to Lebanon.”

A repatriation trip for Syrians departing from the Bekaa is scheduled for this morning, General Security announced yesterday. The agency did not disclose the number of people aboard. It is the first “voluntary return trip” so-described by General Security since mass repatriation convoys for Syrians left in November 2022 with hundreds on board. At the time, the government faced scrutiny from international organizations that consider Syria unsafe for return, warning of grave risks faced by returnees, such as arrest, torture and death. Since then, the Lebanese government has ramped up measures to reduce the number of Syrians in the country including waves of deportations last April and recent plans to expel en masse Syrians who do not meet its criteria.

The Civil Defense confirmed the death of one person missing off the coast of Jbeil since Sunday while continuing to search for two other swimmers. One person was rescued from a group of nine swimmers struggling in turbulent waters Sunday. Five managed to make it to shore. Civil Defense Maritime Rescue Unit chief Samir Yazbeck urged people to avoid swimming when there are strong sea currents and for beach resort managers to prevent access to the sea during rough tides. Jbeil mayor Wissam Zaarour, indicating he cannot prevent access to the beach “as it is a public right,” said he requested the Public Works Ministry to commission lifeguards on the beaches. At least seven people were reported to have drowned at the end of April while swimming on the Lebanese coast while the year before saw a spike in drownings, Yazbek told L’Orient Today.

Seeking half a million dollars to muster 240 Neighborhood Watch recruits armed with “a flashlight, a baton, a walkie-talkie and a whistle,” Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel appealed for contributions from Beirut and Achrafieh residents. Gemayel said area residents were “the ones demanding this,” while his party “just chose to be part of it and handle the technical side.” Gemayel seeks to revive NGO Achrafieh 2020’s 2022 Eyes of Achrafieh project which enlisted 120 guardsmen patrolling the area between 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. to supplement municipal police officers, intervene when possible and otherwise contact security forces. Gemayel’s X post comes amid fears of rising crime rates, after a series of widely reported violent crimes across the country.

At least 35,091 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s Health Ministry. The ministry warned that what remains of the healthcare system – after months of fighting near hospitals and Israeli army raids on medical institutions – was hours away from total failure due to a lack of fuel. Resources have been increasingly scarce since Israel tightened controls on the crossings with Egypt last weekend, through which aid entered Gaza in already insufficient quantities, by international organizations’ estimates.

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Experts weigh in: Why is Lebanon’s solar ‘boom’ no longer booming?

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 220 of the Gaza war here.Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Israel’s threats of all-out war with Lebanon “have come to nothing,” and that displaced northern Israelis who want to return to their homes should appeal to their government to stop the war in Gaza. With almost 300 party...