Israeli security officers at the site of a strike launched from Lebanon in Kiryat Shmona, northern Israel, May 10, 2024. (Credit: Ayal Margolin/Reuters)


Israeli Defense Minister opposes 'unlimited Israeli military rule' in post-conflict Gaza: Day 222 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

“Soon we'll have to make a decision” to bring Israelis back to the north of the country, says Yoav Gallant.

Palestinians commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Nakba.

After the elimination of one of its members, Hezbollah launches dozens of rockets towards northern Israel.

21:13 Beirut Time

Thank you for joining us for our coverage. Be sure to come back tomorrow for more live updates.


21:05 Beirut Time

Caretaker Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati hailed “Russia's continued support for Lebanon in all areas” and “hoped for a greater Russian effort to stop Israeli aggression in South Lebanon,” said the Grand Serail in a statement published on X as Mikati held talks with Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia's deputy foreign minister.

Their meeting took place in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, where Mikati arrived this evening to take part in the 33rd Arab League summit scheduled for tomorrow. Also present were the Ministers of Foreign Affairs Abdallah Bou Habib, Education Abbas Halabi and Agriculture Abbas Hajj Hassan.

21:04 Beirut Time

The Israeli army attacked “a military building belonging to the Radwan Force (Hezbollah's elite unit) as well as a platform from which rockets were launched in the direction of the Meron region,” announced its Arabic-language spokesperson, Avichay Adraee, on X. 

He added that the Israeli air force had attacked a “military building affiliated to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in the Blida region of southern Lebanon”. “During the day, several shots were fired towards areas in the north of the country. The army retaliated against the sources of the fire", he concludes.

20:17 Beirut Time

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's war cabinet, voiced his support for Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's public disagreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's approach to post-war planning in Gaza.

Gallant “spoke the truth,” Gantz said in a video quoted by Reuters. “The responsibility of the leadership is to do the right thing for the country, at any cost,” he added.

19:45 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any initiative to establish an alternative to Hamas for the governance of Gaza first requires the elimination of the Palestinian group, and demanded that this goal be pursued “without apology,” Reuters reports.

His remarks follow a public rebuke of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who accused the government of avoiding serious discussion of a non-Hamas proposal for post-war Palestinian governance.

19:44 Beirut Time

A British shipment of almost 100 tons of aid has left Cyprus bound for a new sea dock in Gaza, the British Foreign Office said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

“We are leading international efforts with the US and Cyprus to establish a maritime aid corridor. The first shipment of British aid from Cyprus to the temporary pier off Gaza is an important moment in increasing this flow,” said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

19:35 Beirut Time

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi reacted to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant's remarks by calling for his removal, Haaretz reports.

“Such a Minister of Defense must be replaced in order to achieve the objectives of the war,” said Ben-Gvir. According to him, “from [Gallant's] point of view, there is no difference between Gaza being controlled by Israeli soldiers or by Hamas assassins. This is the very essence of the Minister's conception, which failed on Oct. 7 and continues to fail today.”

Karhi, for his part, said that Gallant should “show a little modesty towards those who have warned him for all these years about his erroneous vision of the world.”

18:57 Beirut Time

Developments in southern Lebanon in the last hour:

- Hezbollah targeted the Israeli naval site of Ras Naqoura with artillery shells at 5 p.m., the party said in a statement.

- Israeli drones carried out strikes in the vicinity of Yaroun (Bint Jbeil), according to witnesses.

18:34 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant called on his government to make a decision on the governance of the Gaza Strip after the war, saying it would “not support unlimited Israeli military rule over Palestinian territory”, Reuters reports.

In a televised press conference, Gallant said that, shortly after the conflict began in October, he had proposed a plan for a new Palestinian administration not linked to Hamas, but that he had “received no response” from the various Israeli cabinet bodies.

18:18 Beirut Time

Soon we will have to make a decision on how to get Israelis back to their homes in the north – through an agreement or military action,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was quoted by Haaretz as saying at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

17:57 Beirut Time

Latest developments in southern Lebanon:

- Israeli planes have bombed the heights of Mount Rihan (Jezzine), residents report to our correspondent.

- Hezbollah announced in a statement that its fighters had targeted the Israeli Samaka site in the disputed Kfar Shouba Hills at 4:58 p.m.

17:56 Beirut Time

According to a security source, one of the rockets launched by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, in the direction of Israel, failed to hit its target and fell on a house in an agricultural area in Mansouri, south of Sour, injuring five people of Syrian nationality. A medical source told our correspondent that one of the victims succumbed to his injuries.

17:17 Beirut Time

Caretaker Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib with his Bahraini counterpart Abdel Latif el-Zayani in Bahrain, May 15, 2024. (Photo provided by Lebanese Foreign Ministry)

During a visit to Bahrain, the caretaker Lebanese Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, held talks with his Bahraini counterpart, Abdel Latif el-Zayani, and then with his Iraqi counterpart, Fouad Hussein, according to a press release from the Lebanese Minister's office.

During his meeting with the Bahraini minister, Bou Habib emphasizedLebanon's commitment to diplomacy as a means of resolving conflicts and promoting stability”, while calling for respect for international law." The Lebanese minister also stressed the need to “give peace a real chance after more than 75 years of conflict and war.”

Confronting the Iraqi minister, Bou Habib stressed the need to “strengthen stability in Lebanon by putting an end to the process of delimiting land borders with Israel and resolving points of contention.”

17:14 Beirut Time

“At the moment, nearly half a million people have evacuated the Rafah combat zone. The humanitarian catastrophe we have been talking about has not happened and will not happen,” claimed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement, adding that Israeli forces were "fighting their way through the Gaza Strip ... while evacuating the civilian population and fulfilling [their] obligations to meet their humanitarian needs."

17:07 Beirut Time

Latest developments in southern Lebanon:

- Artillery fire caused powerful detonations on the outskirts of Naqoura and Alma al-Shaab (Sour), residents report to our correspondent.

- Israeli warplanes bombed the village of Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil) and ambulances were dispatched, according to a security source.

- The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, announced in a press release that it had bombed the Israeli barracks at Liman from southern Lebanon, “with a salvo of rockets, in response to the continuing Zionist aggression and massacres against civilians in Gaza.”

16:50 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health has announced a new death toll of 35,233 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian movement on Oct. 7, reports AFP.

In the space of 24 hours, at least 60 additional deaths have been recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which also reported 79,141 wounded in more than seven months of war.

16:26 Beirut Time

The UK announced an additional £139 million (around $175 million) in funding for humanitarian aid to Yemen, which has been at war for over nine years and is experiencing “one of the world's worst humanitarian crises”.

The new funds will “help feed over 850,000 people and treat 700,000 malnourished children,” the UK Foreign Office said in a statement.

15:13 Beirut Time

Irish Foreign Minister and deputy Prime Minister Michael Martin says Ireland, a prominent pro-Palestinian voice in Europe, will recognize Palestinian statehood by the end of May.

Martin told Newstalk radio station, "We will be recognizing the state of Palestine before the end of the month. The specific date is still fluid, because we’re still in discussions with some countries in respect of a joint recognition of a Palestinian state.” Palestine is already recognized as a sovereign state by 143 out of 193 member states of the UN.

In March the leaders of Spain, Ireland, Slovenia and Malta said in a joint statement that they stand ready to recognize Palestinian statehood, AFP reports.

According to a Guardian report, Martin said the plan was intended “to send a signal to the Palestinian population at large that we support their right to self-determination and the idea of a two state solution as ultimately the only way that Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace.”

Martin ruled out meeting Israeli officials during a trip to the region he has planned which will include a stop in Lebanon, and also was critical of the US funding new arms shipments for Israel.

👉 Read more here.

15:02 Beirut Time

Palestinians hold symbolic keys as they take part in a protest to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, in the occupied West Bank, May 15, 2024. (Credit: Mohamad Torokman/Reuters)

14:55 Beirut Time

Palestinian flags and DFLP banners during a demonstration organized in front of UNRWA's Beirut offices, May 15, 2024. (Credit: DFLP)

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) organized a demonstration in front of the UNRWA regional office in Beirut to mark the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, in the presence of Palestinian politicians and residents of Beirut's refugee camps.

"The Israeli occupation is trying to create a second Nakba," said Youssef Ahmad, a representative of the DFLP. He stressed the need to preserve UNRWA — the primary support network for Palestinian refugees — and provide it with the necessary financial support, while calling for human rights and social equality to be granted to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

14:49 Beirut Time

The Israeli army says 60 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel in a recent barrage that caused minor damage, Haaretz reports. Hezbollah earlier announced dozens of rockets fired toward army headquarters and surveillance equipment in Israel, in response to the drone attack on a car south of Sour that killed a party fighter. Israel claimed the targeted individual was a Hezbollah field commander, which the party did not confirm.

13:39 Beirut Time

An update from southern Lebanon:

• Dozens of rockets were fired from the South toward Israeli positions, a security source told our correspondent in the region.

• An Israeli military aircraft was heard flying over the western areas of south Lebanon, our correspondent reports.

• In response to the Israeli drone strike that killed a Hezbollah fighter in Sour yesterday, Hezbollah carried out several attacks against Israel. As per party statements, Hezbollah attacked the headquarters of the 91st Division in the Branit Barracks with “Burkan” missiles, directly hitting it and targeted at 12 p.m. the newly developed technical systems and espionage equipment at the radar site in the disputed Shebaa Farms. In both cases, the party claimed direct hits.

• In further retaliation, Hezbollah attacked the headquarters of the air control unit at the Meron base with dozens Katyusha rockets, heavy rockets, and artillery shells, hitting equipment and disabling some of it, Hezbollah said in a statement.

• Israeli artillery shelling targeted Horsh Yaroun and the area between Taybeh and Rab Thalathine, according to eyewitnesses.

12:28 Beirut Time

The head of Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc, Mohammad Raad, said Israel has tried and failed to rid itself of Hamas and Hezbollah resistance.

"When the Zionist entity attacked Gaza, it wanted to get rid of the [Hamas] resistance. The enemy was surprised to see that the [Hezbollah] resistance in Lebanon was on the lookout from the very first clashes with the resistance in Gaza," Raad said during a speech at a ceremony in Adsheet in tribute to one of the party's fighters killed in the clashes with Israel.

"The resistance will not give in. It is capable of continuing the fight until the end of [Israel's] mission to get rid of the resistance in Gaza and elsewhere," he added.

12:19 Beirut Time

A day after US President Biden warned Israel that a major attack on Rafah would cross a "red line" for US support, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on a rant during a meeting with his security cabinet, saying "We are not a vassal state of the United States!" according to three people with knowledge of his remarks, including one of Netanyahu's aides, who spoke with Axios.

Netanyahu and his close confidant Ron Dermer, Israel's minister for strategic affairs, were surprised by Biden's decision lats week to withhold a weapons shipment, two Israeli sources with knowledge of the issue told Axios.

Biden and other senior US officials privately told Netanyahu and Dermer several times recently that such a move could happen if they continued pushing toward an invasion of Rafah, a senior US official said. But Dermer, who was Israel's ambassador to Washington for eight years during the Obama and Trump administrations, told Netanyahu that Biden wouldn't dare take such a step, one Israeli source said.

An aide to Netanyahu recounted the prime minister telling the Cabinet meeting that he knew how to push back against US pressure and would do it again if necessary, Axios reports.

12:18 Beirut Time

The White House said yesterday that President Biden would veto a House GOP bill intended to pressure him to send weapons to Israel, calling it a “misguided reaction to a deliberate distortion of the Administration’s approach to Israel," American news outlet The Hill reports.

The push-back comes ahead of an expected vote this week on the Israel Security Assistance Support Act. GOP lawmakers introduced the bill after Biden warned he would withhold certain offensive weapons for Israel if its forces invaded Rafah in Gaza.

But the White House cautioned that the legislation “would undermine the President’s ability to execute an effective foreign policy," but still reiterated America's "ironclad" support for Israel.

The US already paused a shipment of bombs to Israel earlier this month over concerns of a looming full-scale invasion of Rafah. Officials said the large bombs were withheld because of the damage they could cause in high-density areas.

11:58 Beirut Time

The European Union has urged Israel to "immediately cease" its military operation in Rafah, in the southern Gaza, or risk "straining" its relationship with the bloc.

"Should Israel continue its military operation in Rafah, it would inevitably put a heavy strain on the EU's relationship with Israel," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement in the bloc's name.

11:44 Beirut Time

During the Nakba, around 531 villages were totally destroyed and some 15,000 Palestinians were killed by Zionist militias, who between 1947 and 1949 committed at least 70 massacres against Palestinians.

Thousands marched near Haifa, in northern Israel yesterday, to commemorate the 76th Nakba Day. Kareem Ali, 12, held a sign reading "My grandparents lived in Kasayir" as he marched beside his father, Hamdan, referring to one of the villages being remembered this year. The family now resides in Shefa'amr in northern Israel.

For many years, Hamdan's father, a farmer, would pass by the forcibly depopulated village and pick figs from a tree that remained. "Our memory is our power," he said.

👉 Read more here.

11:29 Beirut Time

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah meeting with Hamas officials in Lebanon, photo distributed May 15, 2024. (Credit: Hezbollah press office)

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah received a delegation from Hamas, including Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas' regional politburo in Gaza since 2017, and Osama Hamdan, the movement's spokesman in Lebanon. The Hezbollah press release announcing the meeting did not mention its exact date or location.

The meeting entailed discussions on the latest developments in Gaza and in the "various support fronts," namely Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen, according to the statement. The leaders also discussed "the latest negotiations [for a truce in Gaza], international positions [on this subject] and student movements around the world" in support of Gaza.

10:00 Beirut Time

The Bekaa Beekeepers' Union issued a statement paying tribute to one of its members, Hussein Issa, a Hezbollah fighter killed yesterday in a strike on Mais al-Jabal. According to the statement, Issa was in the town "to check on his beehives" when he was killed.

Read more here.  👇

Hezbollah, Amal claim fighters killed, locals insist they were civilians: How accurate are the numbers?

Hezbollah, Amal claim fighters killed, locals insist they were civilians: How accurate are the numbers?

09:49 Beirut Time

Rafah border crossing remains closed ever since the Israeli army seized control of the Palestinian side of the vital entry point on May 7. Since then, aid has accumulated on the Egyptian side of the border as Palestinians suffer under extreme shortages of basic food, fuel, and medical supplies.

Israel said yesterday that it was up to Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing and allow humanitarian relief into the Gaza Strip, prompting Cairo to denounce what it described as "desperate attempts" to shift blame for the blockage of aid. Gaza has been under Israeli blockade since 2007 and Israel maintains strict control over anything and anyone that enters or exits the Strip.

09:45 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden's administration informed Congress yesterday of a $1 billion weapons package for Israel, official sources told AFP, a week after threatening to withhold some arms over concerns of a Rafah assault.

The administration informally notified the weapons package to Congress, which will need to approve it, a US official said, while a congressional aide who also requested anonymity said the weapons bought from US weapons makers amounted to around $1 billion.

Just last week, the Biden administration confirmed that for the first time, it had halted a shipment including 2,000-pound bombs, fearing they would be used with devastating risks for civilians in Rafah.

Congress could still block the weapons sale to Israel, with left-leaning members of Biden's Democratic Party outraged by the toll on civilians in the Gaza war. But the overall package passed despite opposition from the left, with the rival Republican Party almost unanimously in support of arms for Israel.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the new arms package. It said it could potentially include $700 million in tank ammunition and $500 million in tactical vehicles.

09:40 Beirut Time

Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah since May 6, and around 100,000 from northern Gaza, UN agencies say. That means around a quarter of Gaza's population of 2.4 million people have been displaced again in about one week. Seventy percent of the population of Gaza were already refugees prior to this war.

Israeli tanks have advanced further into eastern Rafah, reaching some residential districts of the southern border city in Gaza. Witnesses reported seeing tanks crossing the strategically important Salah al-Din road into the Brazil and Jneina neighborhoods.

“They are in the streets inside the built-up area and there are clashes,” one person told Reuters. A UN official said the most advanced Israeli positions were about two kilometers from his office.

09:25 Beirut Time

In Lebanon, the night was marked mainly by a drone strike around 10 p.m. on a car driving along a road south of Sour leading to al-Haush. Three missiles were fired at the vehicle, according to a security source quoted by our correspondent in the South, Muntasser Abdallah. One person was killed in the shooting, and two who were wounded are still hospitalized.

The person killed was identified as a member of Hezbollah, whose death the party announced shortly afterwards. He was Hussein Makki, born in 1969 and originally from Beit Yahoun in southern Lebanon, according to the Hezbollah statement.

The Israeli army announced that it had "eliminated a senior commander" of Hezbollah. Naming Makki, it said he was "responsible for the planning and implementation of numerous terrorist operations" against Israel. The specifics of Makki's position were not disclosed by Hezbollah.

09:15 Beirut Time

Good morning and welcome to today's live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions in the region and around the world. Today is the 222nd day of the war in Gaza and the 221st day of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Today is also Nakba Day, marking 76 years since the 1948 expulsion, when at least 750,000 Palestinians fled or were forced from their homes to make way for the creation of Israel.

🔴 You can catch up on yesterday's live blog here. 👈

☕ You can read the Morning Brief here. 👈