Rockets fired from southern Lebanon are intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system over the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on May 17, 2024. (Credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP)


Two killed in Israeli strike in Bekaa, three killed in strike on Zahrani: Day 224 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

An Israeli strike on Zahrani killed a Hezbollah fighter and two Syrians, including a 13-year-old boy.

The Israeli army says approximately 75 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Golan Heights, "dozens" were intercepted.

At the ICJ, an Israeli lawyer said Gaza war "like all wars, is tragic … it has exacted a terrible human price but it is not genocide." South Africa has called for measures ordering Israel to withdraw from Rafah.

Meeting in Manama, the Arab League called for an “immediate” cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

21:22 Beirut Time

That's it for today's live coverage of the war on Gaza and its repercussions in the region, notably in southern Lebanon, and around the world. Thanks for joining us. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more news updates and analysis. Goodnight!

21:21 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

Israeli aircraft bombed a two-story house in the center of the southern Lebanese village of Houla, in Marjayoun district, our correspondent in the South reports. Ambulances were dispatched to the scene. A man and his wife who were nearby when the strike occurred were injured. The Israeli airforce also struck Ainata, in Bint Jbeil district.

Hezbollah announced in a statement that its fighters had targeted the Israeli site of "Samaka," in the disputed Kfar Shuba Hills at 6:30 p.m., as well as the Israeli position of "Zebdine," located in the disputed Shebaa Farms.

21:18 Beirut Time

The Houthis released a video showing how they tracked an American MQ-9 Reaper attack-and-surveillance drone and shot it down with a missile in the early hours of this morning. In a post on X showing the interception, the Houthis say the drone was downed “while it was carrying out hostilities in the airspace of Ma’rib Governorate.”

This is the fourth US drone shot down over or near Yemen by the group since the start of the war on Gaza, according to Middle East Eye. The advanced US drones reportedly cost over $30m.

20:33 Beirut Time

Charhabil al-Sayyed, Hamas official for the Bekaa region, "was killed in an Israeli strike that targeted his car," a source close to the Palestinian group confirmed to AFP.

On March 13, a member of the armed wing of Hamas was killed in an Israeli strike that targeted his car in southern Lebanon. And on Jan. 2, the deputy political leader of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, was killed in a drone attack attributed to Israel in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Since the start of the war, 29 members of Palestinian factions have been killed in Israeli strikes on Lebanon.

19:53 Beirut Time

⚡ The Israeli strike on a car as it was driving along Masnaa road in Bekaa killed two Palestinians, our correspondent in the region reports.

The victims were Charhabil al-Sayyed, a member of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and his bodyguard, Mohammad Ramadan, a resident of Saida. The strike also wounded one person.

Since Oct. 8, when the front between Hezbollah and Israel was opened, 29 members of Palestinian factions have been killed by Israeli attacks on Lebanese soil.

19:04 Beirut Time

Hezbollah members and supporters attend the funeral of Ali Ayoub, a Hezbollah fighter who was killed in a targeted Israeli drone strike on the road between Qana and Remmadieh (Sour) in southern Lebanon on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of our corresponden

18:46 Beirut Time

⚡ Israeli aircraft targeted a car on the Masnaa road, our Bekaa correspondent Sarah Abdallah reports, citing eyewitnesses. Initially, it was thought that both people in the car had been killed, but upon transporting them to hospital, one was found to be still alive, suffering injuries.

18:45 Beirut Time

UK-based news outlet, Middle East Eye, has obtained secret military documents that reveal Egypt destroyed more than 2,000 tunnels in the border city of Rafah, built to circumvent Israel’s suffocating blockade on the enclave since 2007.

The documents reveal that the tunnels were destroyed by military engineers between the years 2011 and 2015, and that senior members of the armed forces also ordered a survey on the feasibility of digging a canal along the entire border with Gaza as an alternative solution.

According to the documents, which Middle East Eye has published in full, all the tunnels destroyed during this period were designated as commercial or transport tunnels.

18:35 Beirut Time

While carrying out airstrikes on Rafah, an Israeli fighter jet accidentally dropped an ordinance on the Israeli town of Yated, five kilometers from the border with Gaza, Jerusalem Post reports. The missile did not explode, according to an army statement released this afternoon.

"This is an unusual event, the circumstances of which will be examined in depth," the army said, adding that Air Force engineering teams arrived at the scene to begin the investigation, which  "will be presented to the commander of the Air Force."

18:31 Beirut Time

Haaretz reports that the Israeli army has retrieved the bodies of three Israeli hostages from Gaza, citing army spokesperson Daniel Hagari. The bodies of Shani Louk, Amit Buskila, and Itzhak Gelerenter, who were taken hostage from the Nova music festival, were recovered from the Strip. No further details, including where in Gaza the bodies were found, have been released.

Shani Louk became a familiar face at the beginning of the war when footage circulated that appeared to show her body being "paraded" on the back of a truck leaving the Nova music festival. 

"The intense fighting continues in the entire Strip," Hagari said, cited by Channel 12 News. "The ultimate task of returning the hostages is before the eyes of every commander who is in the field and fighting."

18:28 Beirut Time

A group of Western nations wrote in a letter to the Israeli government — seen by Reuters — saying Israel must comply with international law in Gaza and address the devastating humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

All countries belonging to the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, apart from the United States, signed the letter, along with Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The five-page letter comes as Israeli forces bear down on the southern Gaza city of Rafah as part of its drive to eradicate Hamas, despite warnings this could result in mass casualties in an area where hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians have found shelter.

17:57 Beirut Time

Also from southern Lebanon, Hezbollah announced several attacks on northern Israel:

• At 3:15 p.m., the party targeted the Israeli site of “Jal al-Alam,” located opposite the southern Lebanese village of Labbouneh, in Sour district, with rockets and artillery shells.

• At 4 p.m., its fighters fired on the “Bayad Blida” site, opposite the Lebanese town of Blida, in Marjayoun district.

• Also at 4 p.m., Hezbollah claimed to have targeted the “al-Baghdadi” site in the same area.

• At 4:30 p.m., Hezbollah says its fighters targeted "spy equipment" in use at the “Branit barracks” site, not far from Rmeish, in Bint Jbeil district.

17:49 Beirut Time

An update from southern Lebanon, where Israel has bombed several areas in the span of about 15 minutes:

• According to eyewitness accounts gathered by our correspondent, an Israeli drone flew over the al-Aqabiya coastline in Zahrani, in Sour district, at around 4 p.m. — the same area where three people were killed earlier today

• The Israeli air force bombed the outskirts of Deir Siryan, in the area between the village and Taibeh, both in the Marjayoun district.

• Another strike then targeted the nearby locality of Kfar Kila in Marjayoun, according to a security source.

• A third strike targeted Kfar Hammam, in Hasbaya district, and destroyed a two-story house there. According to residents, the house was unoccupied and there were no casualties from the strike.

• A fourth strike targeted the town of Odaisseh, in Marjayoun. Emergency services were dispatched to the site of the strike.

15:49 Beirut Time

The situation along the Lebanese-Israeli border in the past hours:

•⁠ ⁠Israeli jets struck Yaroun (Bint Jbeil) with two rockets, a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent.

•⁠ ⁠Tens of rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward Israel, a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south. In a statement, Hezbollah claimed an attack "in response to the strike in Najjarieh that killed civilians," conducted with "50 Katyusha rockets" against a "logistical base" of the Israeli army in the disputed Golan Heights.

•⁠ ⁠The party also announced another response strike "with Katyusha rockets" against artillery batteries installed in "Zaoura," facing the Lebanese border village of Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil).‏

According to the Israeli army, cited by Haaretz, approximately 75 rockets were fired from Lebanon into Golan Heights, with dozens of them intercepted. Rocket sirens were activated in numerous communities in the north, Haaretz added, reporting that according to local officials, two were lightly wounded by rockets.

15:33 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of a 62-year-old member named Hussein Khodor Mehdi who hails from the town of Najjarieh in southern Lebanon. According to sources reported by L'Orient Today's correspondent, Mehdi is the Lebanese man who was killed by two Israeli drone strikes, which targeted his vehicle in the village of Naharieh (Saida). That strike also killed two Syrian nationals, including a 13-year-old child.

14:33 Beirut Time

Thirteen countries – Japan, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Australia, South Korea and seven EU member states including France – have sent a joint appeal to Israel urging it not to launch a large-scale offensive on Rafah and to open Gaza's borders to humanitarian aid.

“We reiterate our opposition to a large-scale military operation at Rafah, which would have catastrophic consequences for the civilian population”, write the heads of diplomacy of these countries in the text, signed on the European side by France, Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands and addressed to their Israeli counterpart, Israel Katz.

13:49 Beirut Time

Senior Israeli security officials have recently sought an evaluation of the financial implications of establishing an Israeli military administration in Gaza following the conflict with Hamas, with the cost estimated to be around $5.3 billion annually, according to Ynet news site, as cited by the Time of Israel.

The report says that beyond the expenses of establishing a military government, Israel would also need to invest an undetermined sum in the reconstruction and repair of Gaza's infrastructure.

The report also noted that staffing the military government would require “400 personnel” and that five Israeli army divisions would need to remain in Gaza, which would lead to a reduction of troops on the northern border and in the West Bank, as well as a substantial increase in the deployment of reservists for operational duties.

13:19 Beirut Time

The Israeli army reported that “dozens of Israeli civilians” had set fire to a truck the previous evening in the West Bank, injuring its driver as well as Israeli soldiers, with Israeli media incriminating settlers who suspected a shipment of aid for the Gaza Strip. The incident took place in the vicinity of Kokhav Hashahar, an Israeli settlement in the Benyamin region of the north-western West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

According to the army, Israeli soldiers intervened to “separate the Israeli civilians from the driver” who had been attacked, and to treat the latter medically.

13:18 Beirut Time

A Friday hearing before the International Court of Justice was briefly interrupted as judges heard Israel's final arguments against South Africa's accusations of “genocide” in Gaza.

A woman shouting “liars” could be heard on the court's video feed, which was interrupted for less than a minute before restarting as Israel's representative concluded her remarks.

13:02 Beirut Time

Violent fighting pitted the Israeli army against Hamas in the north of the Gaza Strip, the day after Israel announced an “intensification” of its operations at Rafah in the south, reports AFP. The Israeli army fought Palestinian forces in the Jabalia refugee camp, which was also targeted by Israeli aerial bombardments and artillery fire, according to witnesses. Six people were killed in their bombed homes, according to the Palestinian Civil Defense, whose teams are trying to rescue other residents trapped in the rubble.

In the far south of the Palestinian territory, at Rafah, the armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam brigades, claimed to have targeted Israeli troops “stationed at the border post” with Egypt with shellfire.

12:57 Beirut Time

An update on the situation in southern Lebanon in the past hour:

⁠ ⁠One of the Israeli missiles that targeted the vicinity of al-Najjariya town did not explode. The drone strikes in that area, in the district of Saida, killed at least three people: A Lebanese man and two Syrians, including a 13-year-old child.

•⁠ ⁠Israel fired a mortar shell from its position opposite the town of Houla, wounding one person who was transported to the hospital for treatment, according to witnesses. The mortar fell near a site that was targeted by an Israeli raid yesterday.

12:35 Beirut Time

The war in Gaza is “tragic” but there is nogenocide,” Israel told the UN's highest court on Friday.

“A tragic war is underway, but there is no genocide,” said Gilad Noam, Israel's representative before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

12:07 Beirut Time

New death toll from this morning's Israeli strike in Najjarieh:

As previously announced, this strike killed a Lebanese man, whose identity was previously unknown, and two Syrians, including a 13-year-old child, according to security and medical sources.

The child killed was in the targeted van, along with others. He was working as a laborer with the owner of the vehicle. So far, no information was available on the identity of the third victim.

The Israeli drone also wounded five Syrian minors, according to medical sources.

11:29 Beirut Time

The “genocide case against Israel, in which South Africa is asking the UN's highest court to order a ceasefire in Gaza, is “totally disconnectedfrom reality, Israel told judges on Friday.

“South Africa is presenting the Court for the fourth time with a picture that is completely disconnected from the facts and circumstances,” said an Israeli representative, Gilad Noam, before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which sits in The Hague.

10:59 Beirut Time

The Gazan Ministry of Health announced on Friday a new death toll of 35,303 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement on October 7.

In the space of 24 hours, at least 31 more deaths were recorded, according to a statement from the ministry, which also reported that 79,261 people had been wounded in more than seven months of war.

10:57 Beirut Time

The two Israeli drone strikes, which targeted a vehicle in the village of Naharieh (Saida), killed the driver of the car, a man of Lebanese nationality, according to security sources quoted by L'Orient Today's correspondent in South Lebanon. No further information was yet available on the identity of the victim.

Three Syrian farm workers in the car were injured in the attack. The Civil Defense forces are working to extinguish the fire that broke out in orchards in the area following the strike.

10:18 Beirut Time

Four Israeli strikes hit the villages of Najjarieh and Aqibieh (Saida), in the Zahrani sector, including one carried out by a drone, according to security sources quoted by our correspondent. Ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

A drone also hit the “Boustan al-Barak” sector, between Odaisseh and Aqibieh (Saida).

10:17 Beirut Time

A first shipment of humanitarian aid destined for the Gazan population began to be unloaded on Friday morning via the temporary jetty that the army had finished securing the previous day on the coast of the Gaza Strip, the US military said on X.

On Friday “at approximately 09:00 a.m., trucks carrying humanitarian aid began unloading [a first shipment] through a temporary jetty” on the Gaza coast, as part of “a multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor of an exclusively humanitarian nature,” said the US Central Military Command (CENTCOM), covering the Middle East in particular.

10:15 Beirut Time

Canada announced on Thursday that it had for the first time imposed sanctions against “extremist settlers” accused of committing acts of violence against civilians in the West Bank.

The United Kingdom, France, the European Union and the United States have all taken similar measures in recent months.

10:14 Beirut Time

Spain denied a ship carrying an arms shipment to Israel permission to dock at a Spanish port, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Thursday.

“This is the first time we have acted in this way, as it is the first time we have detected a ship carrying a cargo of arms bound for Israel wishing to call at a Spanish port,” he told journalists in Brussels.

10:13 Beirut Time

Hamas on Thursday published a list of more than 100 academics and researchers it claims have been killed since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip triggered after the Palestinian Islamist group's attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

“We strongly condemn the occupier's assassination of scientists, academics, university professors and researchers, who constitute a prestigious group in Palestinian society in the Gaza Strip,” the media office of the Hamas government, which has been in power in Gaza since 2007, said in a statement.

10:13 Beirut Time

On the southern Lebanon front, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for an attack carried out at 10:50 p.m. on Thursday evening against “a technical team responsible for maintaining surveillance equipment previously targeted [by the party] in a strike on the Ramim barracks,” located opposite Houla and Markaba (Marjayoun).

Another attack was carried out by the party on Friday morning, at an unspecified time, “in response to the assassination [of two Hezbollah members] in Qana”, southern Lebanon, on Thursday. The strike targeted “a new Brigade 411 position [in the Israeli town of] Ga'aton, hitting tents intended to house officers and soldiers.” Ga'aton is a town in northern Israel, some ten kilometers inland from Yarine (Sour).

10:11 Beirut Time

Meeting in Manama on Thursday, the Arab League called for an “immediate” cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and an end to the “forced displacement” of Palestinians. It also called for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.

Meanwhile, Israel announced on Thursday that its army would “intensify” its ground operations in Rafah, despite international warnings against a large-scale offensive in this overcrowded city on Palestinian territory.

In Tel Aviv, families of the hostages demonstrated outside the Ministry of Defense on Thursday evening to demand the release of their loved ones.

10:10 Beirut Time

On Friday, Israel will respond before the UN's highest court to South Africa's allegations that it has intensified a “genocidal” campaign with its military operation in Rafah.

Pretoria has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ), based in The Hague, to order Israel to cease its incursion into Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which Israel claims is essential to eliminate militants from the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

08:59 Beirut Time
08:58 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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