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New Hezbollah drones wound three, 37 arrested in Shatila, factories closed for dumping into Litani: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

Here is what happened yesterday and what to expect today, Friday, May 17.

New Hezbollah drones wound three, 37 arrested in Shatila, factories closed for dumping into Litani: Everything you need to know to start your Friday

A smoke plume rises over athe southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila during Israeli bombardment on May 16, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters. (Credit: Rabih Daher/AFP)

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Catch up on yesterday’s LIVE coverage of Day 223 of the Gaza war here.

Two shepherds struck by Israeli artillery fire on Marjayoun have been hospitalized, an Israeli drone strike killed two Hezbollah fighters in Sour (southern Lebanon), and new Hezbollah drones wounded three Israeli soldiers in Metula (northern Israel). Hezbollah announced strikes on Israeli military technology production sites – notably the army electronics producers. The new drone technology deployed by Hezbollah yesterday expands an arsenal in which explosive-laden drone dispatches are becoming more prominent. Israel, meanwhile, has repeatedly used drones to assassinate Hezbollah fighters and higher-profile targets, sparking the party’s concern over spying and hacking. Hezbollah’s attempts at countering drone strikes, and its revelations of advanced drone-downing technology, were followed by an Israeli strike near Baalbeck – where Israel claims Hezbollah develops aerial weapons and trains soldiers. Since then, more strikes on eastern Lebanon have followed, killing several civilians and fighters, including an overnight attack on Khraybeh in the Bekaa yesterday – a day after a Hezbollah drone attack – which was met with a 60-rocket cross-border barrage by the party.

The Lebanese Army arrested 37 people in a raid on alleged drug traffickers in the Shatila refugee camp (Beirut’s southern suburbs), which left one person dead and another injured in a shootout with soldiers. Videos on social media show heavy deployment of tanks and army vehicles in the camp. Security services regularly announce drug busts and arrests, but heavily mobilized raids are less common. In February 2023, three soldiers were killed in Bekaa clashes during raids on a drug trafficking gang. In the summer of 2022, the Lebanese Army engaged in a series of raids in Bekaa seeking to arrest drug kingpin Abu Saleh that left one soldier and several suspects dead and many others injured. Security forces regularly announce foiled attempts to smuggle drugs, mostly hashish and Captagon, out of Lebanon. Social media personality and manufacturer of eponymous wafer “Dr. Food” was accused of smuggling unspecified drugs to Turkey, a judicial source confirmed to L’Orient Today.

Four food production factories accused of dumping wastewater into the Litani River have been shuttered, Industry Minister George Bouchikian confirmed to L'Orient Today. Litani River Authority chief Sami Alawieh told L’Orient Today that the four factories were systematic polluters, emptying harmful wastewater into Lebanon’s longest river. Alpha Interfood, one of the manufacturers targeted by the crackdown, told L’Orient Today they had not been notified and that their plant was “up to standard” and equipped with a water purification system. The Litani River Authority has for years urged authorities to intervene against industrial pollution of the waterway, described as a “national catastrophe” by then-Industry Minister Wael Bou Faour in 2019 – a year after dozens of unlicensed factories polluting the river were shuttered and dozens of licensed plants were threatened with closure if they continued to pollute.

At least 35,272 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the latest figures from the enclave’s Health Ministry. More Israeli soldiers will be sent to Rafah, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, while more among those still sheltering in the southernmost city were killed by Israel’s continued bombardment. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out of eastern Rafah after Israel ordered evacuations and pushed into the city despite international warnings against the catastrophic humanitarian toll that would ensue. While supplies dwindle in Gaza amid renewed restrictions to already meager aid flows, the US announced the opening of a makeshift seaport to ferry aid to the enclave. 

In case you missed it, here’s our must-read story from yesterday: “Parliamentary session: Much ado about almost nothing

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 223 of the Gaza war here.Two shepherds struck by Israeli artillery fire on Marjayoun have been hospitalized, an Israeli drone strike killed two Hezbollah fighters in Sour (southern Lebanon), and new Hezbollah drones wounded three Israeli soldiers in Metula (northern Israel). Hezbollah...