Mourners carry the body of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli strike, during a funeral in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip May 16, 2024. (Credit: Hatem Khaled/Reuters)


Arab League calls for UN peacekeeping force in Palestinian territories; two Hezbollah fighters killed in car strike: Day 223 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hezbollah launched more than 60 rockets toward northern Israel today. It also launched S5 one-way drones, which wounded three Israeli soldiers in Metula.

Two members of Hezbollah were killed in an Israeli strike on a car south of Sour.

Ismail Haniyeh says he and other Palestinian factions will decide on governance in Gaza after the war.

South Africa asked the ICJ to order Israel to halt its operations in Rafah and withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Tomorrow, Israel will present its defense.

22:41 Beirut Time

That's it for today's live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions in the region, especially in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah and Israel continue their cross-border fighting. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more news updates and analysis. Thanks for joining us. Goodnight!

22:04 Beirut Time

Al Jazeera reports that the Gaza Media Office has named four journalists who have been killed in recent Israeli attacks, bringing to 147 the number of journalists killed by Israel's war on Gaza, since it began seven months ago.

• Hael Al-Najjar, an editor at Al-Aqsa Media Network

• Mahmoud Jahjouh, a photojournalist for the Palestine Post website

• Moataz Mustafa Al-Ghafrit, a photojournalist for the Ard Canaan website and the Palestinian Media Corporation

• Amna Mahmoud Hamid, a presenter and newspaper editor for a number of media outlets

21:59 Beirut Time

The Israeli army says that two Thai hostages earlier believed to be alive in Gaza were killed in the Oct. 7 attack and their bodies are being held in the Palestinian territory, AFP reports. Army spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that Israel had informed the families of the two Thai citizens, who were agricultural workers in the  "plantations" at the village of Be'eri, in the Gaza Envelope.

21:54 Beirut Time

Israeli news outlet Haaretz has published a report that sheds light on what it says are “operational-security failures” within the Israeli army by which media posted online allows for troops in Gaza to be tracked down to their exact location.

Videos and photos posted online by Israeli soldiers, military reporters, the army, and the Defense Ministry have revealed the location of Israeli troops in Gaza, Haaretz says, which demonstrates that the army isn't enforcing field-security protocols on soldiers and civilians who enter the Strip.

Haaretz provides several examples, including when Palestinian journalists identified a group of soldiers after troops posted two different videos from the same place onto social media. The reporters shared the videos, noting the exact location where the footage was filmed, and the posts racked up more than a million views. Satellite images confirmed that the army had indeed operated in that location.

21:45 Beirut Time

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says military operations in Gaza's southern city of Rafah are crucial in the fight against Hamas, which Israel continues to pledge it will dismantle, despite the fact that seven months into the war, the Israeli army continues to battle Palestinian militants in several areas of the Strip where it had previously declared victory over Hamas battalions.

"The battle in Rafah is critical... it is a fight that decides many things in this campaign," Netanyahu said, as the international community, including its most important allies, criticizes the operation and urges Israel to restrain from entering the city, which had been the last refuge for almost two million Palestinians in Gaza.

21:34 Beirut Time

Smoke rises after rockets launched from southern Lebanon landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on May 16, 2024. (Credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP)

20:44 Beirut Time

Hamas says it "regrets" Mahmoud Abbas's criticism of it, AFP reports. The Palestinian president had accused Hamas of having "given pretexts" to Israel to attack Gaza. "The military operation carried out unilaterally by Hamas on that day, Oct. 7, gave Israel more pretexts and justifications to attack the Gaza Strip, killing, destroying, and displacing hundreds of thousands of people," Abbas had said.

20:40 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced its fighters carried out a drone attack "against industrial facilities belonging to the enemy's War Ministry [the Elbit company], including the David Cohen factory in Tal Hay [north of Kiryat Shmona], which specializes in the production of electronic systems for the Israeli army." Hezbollah says the attack was carried out in retaliation for an Israeli army attack in the Bekaa region on Wednesday night.

20:21 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has "launched a large-scale operation against Hezbollah-affiliated terrorist targets in Lebanon and attacked around ten targets," its Arabic-speaking spokesperson Avichay Adraee announced on X.

"Earlier in the day, warplanes attacked a cell of saboteurs in the Qana region as they prepared to carry out an imminent terrorist attack against Israeli territory," the army claims. "Throughout the day, warplanes hit a series of targets belonging to Hezbollah in Lebanon and destroyed them."

The Israeli army described these targets as "a military building and reconnaissance site in Aita al-Shaab, a reconnaissance site and terrorist infrastructure in the Mais al-Jabal region, as well as a military building in the Kfar Kila region, and two others in Naqoura and Houla." 

A residential apartment was struck in the center of Naqoura in the late afternoon, according to our correspondent in the region.

20:17 Beirut Time

The head of German diplomacy, Annelna Baerbock, said she was "deeply concerned by the Israeli army's current operations in Rafah," stressing that thousands of people had "nowhere safe to flee," AFP reports.

Germany, one of Israel's key supporters, is "committed to defending" its security, Baerbock said, but "this also means doing everything possible to ensure that Israel does not lose itself in this war."

Even if Hamas could "immediately put an end to the suffering of the people in Gaza" by releasing the Israeli hostages, it is also clear that the war against the movement cannot be won "only militarily," she said.

20:15 Beirut Time

More than 100 academics, university professors, and researchers have been killed in Israel's onslaught on Gaza over the last seven months, according to the Gaza media office, which published a list naming each one.

"We strongly condemn the occupation's assassination of scientists, academics, university professors and researchers, who are a distinguished group in the Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip," the statement reads, cited by AFP. "This sends a clear message that they aim to completely eliminate scientists and researchers in the educational sector."

Among those on the list of 104 names is Sufyan Tayeh, who was the president of the Islamic University and a leading researcher in physics and applied mathematics. Top surgeon and professor of medicine Adnan al-Barsh was also listed. 

19:19 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the deaths of two of its fighters: Ali Faouzi Ayoub, born in 1999 and originally from Ain Qana in southern Lebanon, and Mohammad Hassan Ali Fares, born in 1990 and originally from the southern suburbs of Beirut.

According to information from our correspondent, these were the two people killed earlier today in a targeted drone strike on a car driving along the road between Qana and Remmadieh, in Sour district. This brings the total number of Hezbollah members killed since the beginning of the war to 301. Around 400 people have been killed by Israeli strikes on Lebanon in the seven months of cross-border fighting.

Hezbollah also announced in a statement that its fighters had targeted the Israeli "Marj" site located opposite Markaba, at 5:07 p.m., and also targeted surveillance equipment set up at the Israeli site of "Jal al-Deir" at 5:15 p.m.

19:10 Beirut Time

The Arab League has called for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in the Palestinian territories at a summit dominated by the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza.

According to an AFP report, the "Manama Declaration" issued by the 22-member bloc called for "international protection and peacekeeping forces of the United Nations in the occupied Palestinian territories" until a two-state solution is implemented.

The declaration also called on "all Palestinian factions to join under the umbrella of the Palestine Liberation Organization," which is dominated by Hamas' political rivals, the ruling Fatah movement. The Arab League added that it considered the PLO "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people".

17:29 Beirut Time

Haaretz reports that one Israeli soldier was seriously wounded and two lightly wounded in a drone strike on Metula, in northern Israel. Earlier, Hezbollah announced that it had launched an attack on Metula using S5 one-way drones, the party's first use of this particular weapon, targeting a deployment of Israeli troops stationed there.

17:18 Beirut Time

A session at the International Court of Justice is currently underway in which South Africa is appealing to the panel to order a halt to Israel's operation in Rafah. Professor Vaughan Lowe, a lawyer for the South African legal team, told the ICJ that the provisional measures already issued for Israel by the court were "not effective" in protecting Palestinians against genocide, and asked the court to "reassert its own authority and the authority of International law."

Lowe told the Court that the Israeli offensive on Rafah, underway as of last week, is "the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people."

“It was Rafah that brought South Africa to the court, but it is all Palestinians as a national ethnic and racial group who need the protection from genocide that the court can order,” he said.

17:11 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

• Israeli warplanes targeted a house in the middle of the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura, damaging the building, which is located close to two of the town's mosques and health centers belonging to the Risala Scouts and the Islamic Health Committee, according to eyewitnesses who spoke with our correspondent in the South. Ambulances were dispatched to the site of the strike. L'Orient Today's correspondent reports that the targeted apartment was unoccupied.

•Israeli military aircraft were heard flying at a low altitude overhead in the major coastal city of Saida.

• Israeli warplanes broke the sound barrier over villages in the central and western areas of southern Lebanon, creating a shock wave that results in a "sonic boom." One warplane flew at low altitude over Iqlim al-Kharroub, breaking the sound barrier twice. 

16:32 Beirut Time

According to residents cited by our correspondent in the South, the Israeli army bombed the eastern and Abu Laban areas in the village of Aita al-Shaab, in Bint Jbeil district. Two Israeli raids were also carried out on Mais al-Jabal, as well as a strike on Hula, in Marjayoun district.

At 1:38 p.m., Hezbollah carried out an attack on a group of soldiers in Metula, using — for the first time — S5 one-way drones equipped with rockets, according to a military source cited by our correspondent. These drones, which Hezbollah confirmed having used in the attack, are programmed to fire on their target before falling and exploding on the same target, causing double damage.

16:30 Beirut Time

The American-built temporary port designed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid through maritime routes into Gaza has been put in place on the shore of the besieged territory, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007. Assistance will soon be on its way, announced Brad Cooper of the US Military Command for the Middle East (CENTCOM), cited by AFP.

15:43 Beirut Time

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced that additional troops will join the ground operation in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

“We are exhausting Hamas,” he said, adding that “a number of tunnels have been destroyed” in the Rafah area.

15:42 Beirut Time

Also in Manama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared: “Our government has not received the financial support it expected. Israel continues to withhold funds, deepening an already catastrophic situation," reports Reuters.

The Palestinian president also accused Hamas of “giving pretexts” to Israel to attack Gaza, reports AFP. “The military operation carried out unilaterally by Hamas on that day, Oct. 7, gave Israel more pretexts and justifications to attack the Gaza Strip, killing, destroying and displacing hundreds of thousands of people,” Abbas said at the Arab League summit in Bahrain.

15:33 Beirut Time

The King of Bahrain called for an “international conference for peace” at the opening of the Arab League summit in Manama, in the midst of the war between Israel and Palestinian Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The host country is calling for “an international conference for peace” in the Middle East, as well as “support for full recognition of the State of Palestine and its membership of the United Nations,” said Hamad ben Issa Al Khalifa.

15:32 Beirut Time

Israel continues to shirk its responsibilities and efforts to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza,” said Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi in Manama, Bahrain, at the 33rd Arab League summit, Reuters reports.

15:20 Beirut Time

In addition to this deadly targeted strike, the early afternoon was marked by several Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon:

- Artillery fire and firebombs targeted an area between Halta and Kfar Shouba, in the Hasbaya district, according to residents.

- Artillery fire also targeted the southwest of Khiam and Tallet al-Hamames (Marjayoun), injuring two shepherds who were hospitalized, according to local residents.

- Israeli aircraft bombed the Rihan Heights (Jezzine), according to a security source.

- Artillery shells targeted the outskirts of Yarine (Sour).

14:47 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, a targeted drone strike on the road between Qana and Remmadieh (Sour) left two people dead, according to a security source and witnesses at the scene. No information was immediately available on the identity of the victims.

14:46 Beirut Time

The Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, is “on a pastoral visit” to Gaza City to deliver a “message of hope, solidarity and support” in the territory ravaged by more than seven months of war, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem announced.

“His Beatitude, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of Jerusalem has entered Gaza and joined the parish of the Holy Family” in Gaza City for a pastoral visit, said the Catholic patriarchate, whose diocese includes Cyprus, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories and Israel, in a statement.

13:39 Beirut Time

Gaza's Ministry of Health has announced a new death toll of 35,272 in the Palestinian enclave since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement on Oct. 7.

In the space of 24 hours, at least 39 additional deaths have been recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which also reported 79,205 wounded in over seven months of war.

13:16 Beirut Time

The United States announced the completion of a temporary pier on the coast of the Gaza Strip, to deliver more aid to the territory ravaged by seven months of war and whose main entry points have been blocked for over a week.

US military personnel, “supporting the humanitarian mission to deliver additional humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in need, have secured the temporary jetty at Gaza Beach,” said the US Central Command on X, the US Joint Command with particular responsibility for the Middle East. “Trucks loaded with humanitarian aid are expected to begin docking in the coming days,” the Command continues, adding that the aid will be handed over to the UN, which will “coordinate its distribution in Gaza.”

13:12 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for four attacks carried out this morning against Israeli army positions, saying it had struckspy equipment” at each of the targeted sites.

The party said it struck the “Adathersite (opposite the Lebanese village of Rmaish in the Bint Jbeil district) at 08:35 a.m., then the Zariit barracks (opposite the Lebanese town of Ramieh) at 11:00 a.m.

Hezbollah then carried out two simultaneous attacks at 11:10 a.m., against the Israeli “Ramiasite (also opposite Ramieh) and the “Jal al-Alam” (opposite Naqoura in the Sour district).

11:41 Beirut Time

A security source also reported a second salvo of rockets fired from southern Lebanon towards northern Israel, while according to Haaretz, warning sirens were activated in northern Israel due to “suspected hostile air intrusion.”

11:40 Beirut Time

The Israeli army has launched several strikes on southern Lebanon since the morning:

- It bombarded Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil).

- Artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Shihine (Sour).

- The outskirts of Houla (Marjayoun) were bombarded.

- Artillery hit the outskirts of Hebbarieh and Rashaya al-Foukhar (Hasbaya).

11:31 Beirut Time

After a security source reported to L'Orient Today that rockets had been fired towards northern Israel at around 10 a.m., Hezbollah announced that it had launched strikes “in retaliation for the shelling in the Bekaa, with more than 60 Katyusha rockets, against the headquarters of the 210th Golan Division in Nafah, against the Kilaa air defense base and against the Yoav barracks.”

These various Israeli military infrastructures are all located some twenty kilometers from the border with Lebanon. 

10:39 Beirut Time

Three people were killed by the Israeli army in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian authorities announced early on.

“Three martyrs were shot dead by the occupying forces in Tulkarem,” said the Ministry of Health. The three deceased individuals were in their twenties, according to the same source.

10:22 Beirut Time

The Israeli army announced that “friendly fire” was responsible for the death of five soldiers in the northern Gaza Strip the previous day. Asked by AFP about media reports mentioning the event, a military spokesperson confirmed it without giving further details.

10:21 Beirut Time

Following Israel's overnight strike in eastern Lebanon, an Israeli army spokesperson said he could “confirm that an air strike was carried out deep inside Lebanon against a terrorist target” linked to the manufacture of “precision rockets” by Hezbollah.

10:20 Beirut Time

Following Israel's overnight strike in eastern Lebanon, an Israeli army spokesperson said he could “confirm that an air strike was carried out deep inside Lebanon against a terrorist target” linked to the manufacture of “precision rockets” by Hezbollah.

09:51 Beirut Time

Benjamin Netanyahu is determined to launch a major ground offensive in Rafah. Concerned for the civilian population, the United States and much of the international community are opposed to such an offensive in this town on the Egyptian border, where hundreds of thousands of displaced persons are crowded together.

South Africa is due to ask the UN's highest court later today to order Israel to halt its incursion into Rafah, an operation it has described as “genocidal” and threatening the “very survival of the Palestinians” as a group. Israel, which denies the South African accusations, will respond on Friday. In a judgment handed down in January, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent any act of genocide and to allow humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. But the court did not go so far as to order a cease-fire.

09:51 Beirut Time

As Israel continued its strikes on the enclave, four Palestinians were killed this morning in a bombardment that targeted their homes in central Rafah, according to the city's hospital.

09:50 Beirut Time

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that the Islamist movement, which took power in Gaza in 2007 and which Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to annihilate, was “here to stay” and would decide with other Palestinian factions on governance in Gaza after the war with Israel, according to remarks quoted by AFP.

Haniyeh added that the outcome of cease-fire talks was uncertain as Israel “insists on occupying the Rafah crossing and amplifying its aggression” in Palestinian territory.

09:49 Beirut Time

In addition to the strike on the Bekaa, Israel hit the following areas of southern Lebanon during the night:

- Between midnight and 1 a.m., continuous artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Houla, Wadi Slouqi and Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun).

- At around 1:30 a.m., Israeli aircraft bombed the outskirts of Kfar Shouba (Hasbaya). 

09:47 Beirut Time

The night in Lebanon saw a series of Israeli strikes, particularly in the Bekaa, deep inside the territory.

According to a security source quoted by L'Orient Today's correspondent in the Bekaa, several strikes targeted the area around Khraybeh, near Nabi Sheet, a Hezbollahtraining camp,” This area is located close to Syria, in eastern Lebanon.

So far, no information has been released on the damage caused by these bombardments, except that they caused a major fire and that ambulances were on the scene during the night. 

These strikes followed a “drone attacklaunched the previous evening by Hezbollah against military infrastructure near Tiberias, some 30 kilometers from the border with Lebanon. This strike was claimed by the party to be in retaliation for the elimination, in a targeted strike, of one of its members, the previous day, near Sour.

08:56 Beirut Time
08:55 Beirut Time

Good morning!

Thank you for joining us for our ongoing coverage of the war in Gaza and its regional and global impacts.