The Israeli attack on a house in Odaisseh in the Marjayoun district, on May 20, 2024. (Photo sent to L'Orient Today by a local resident.)


Heavy cross-border fire between Hezbollah and Israel, four party members killed: Day 227 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

ICC seeks arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas leaders

Deadly Israeli bombardment of Naqoura and Mais al-Jabal.

Pro-Iranian fighters killed in strike blamed on Israel in central Syria.

White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met with Netanyahu on Sunday.

23:37 Beirut Time

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

23:35 Beirut Time

"Over the course of the day, numerous shots were identified crossing into various areas of northern Israel," the Israeli army said, quoted by AFP. "One soldier was slightly wounded by a hit in the Biranit area, and was evacuated for medical treatment ... Combat aircraft hit a Hezbollah launcher in the Aita al-Shaab area, from which the shots were identified," the statement reads.

The Israeli army also claims to have targeted "a Hezbollah terrorist cell" in the Mais al-Jabal area, and to have hit "a Hezbollah weapons storage site and military complex."

20:55 Beirut Time

⚡ An Israeli drone targeted a motorcycle driving along the Sour-Naqoura road, near the village of Mansouri, in Sour district, a security source told our correspondent in southern Lebanon. The strike killed one person and seriously injured another. Israeli drones continue to hover over the villages of Mansouri and Hennieh as well as the coastal road in Sour district.

20:34 Beirut Time

Netanyahu says he "rejects with disgust" the arrest warrants requested by an ICC prosecutor for both the Israeli leader and Hamas officials, reports AFP. Israel has been the subject of global criticism for its war on Gaza, and stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. 

"As Prime Minister of Israel, I reject with disgust The Hague prosecutor's comparison between democratic Israel and the mass murderers of Hamas," he said in a statement.

20:26 Beirut Time

One hundred and six of Israel’s 120 Knesset members signed a statement against the ICC Prosecutor’s decision to apply for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant on charges of crimes against humanity, Jerusalem Post reports.

The statement reads: "The state of Israel is in the midst of a just war against a criminal terror organization. The [Israeli army] is the most moral army in the world. Our heroic soldiers are fighting with courage and dedication that has no second, according to international law, like no other army has ever done.”

Israel's military offensive on Gaza has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, the majority civilians, displaced the majority of the population, and destroyed more than half of the Strip's buildings and infrastructure.

The only members of parliament that did not sign the statement are from the Arab parties Hadash-Ta'al and Ra'am, and the Labor parties.

19:59 Beirut Time

The International Criminal Court prosecutor's application for arrest warrants for Israeli leaders is "outrageous," says US President Biden, cited by Reuters.

"And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas," Biden said in a statement.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has described as "shameful" the ICC's decision to apply for the arrest warrants, which would target Netanyahu, Gallant in Israel and Haniyeh, Sinwar, and al-Masri from Hamas for alleged crimes against humanity.

"We reject the equivalence established by the prosecutor between Israel and Hamas. It is a disgrace," said Blinken in a statement quoted by AFP, adding that the ICC had "no jurisdiction" over Israel.

19:10 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, Israeli warplanes launched two highly explosive missiles on the town of Aita al-Shaab, Marjayoun district, according to a security source cited by L'Orient Today correspondent in the South.

Residents reported that the explosions were heard and tremors were felt in areas a significant distance from the site of the strikes.

19:10 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has announced having carried out the following attacks on northern Israel this afternoon:

• At 2:50 p.m., with artillery shells, on the Israeli “Malakia” site, where Israeli soldiers were deployed, resulting in “direct hits.” The party also claimed to have targeted the Israeli “al-Marj” site at the same time.

• At 3:30 p.m., the Israeli “Ramieh” site, located opposite the southern Lebanese village of Ramieh in the Bint Jbeil district.

• At 4:15 p.m., the Israeli town of Metula, facing Khiam in the Marjayoun district.

• At 4:50 p.m., the “Jal al-Alam” site, situated opposite the southern Lebanese village of Labbouneh in Sour district.

• At 5 p.m., the Israeli “Marj” site, located opposite the southern Lebanese town of Markaba in Marjayoun district.

18:54 Beirut Time

Here’s an update on the security situation in southern Lebanon:

• Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of the southern town of Houla, Marjayoun district.

• A house in Odaisseh, Marjayoun district, was targeted. No injuries were reported, as reported by local residents.

• The Israeli army also struck a house on the outskirts of the Maaliyah area south of Sour. Ambulances from the Amal-affiliated Risala Scouts were dispatched to the site of the attack.

• Al-Risala stated that Civil Defense personnel participated in firefighting operations following Israeli shelling with phosphorus shells on the town of Markaba, in Marjayoun district.

• Elsewhere in Marjayoun district, the Islamic Health Organization, associated with Hezbollah, extinguished a large fire that broke out in the grasslands and wheat fields south of the city of Khiam — also the result of the Israeli army dropping phosphorus bombs.

18:49 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the deaths of two of its fighters: Mohammad Abbas, born in 1997 in the town of Barish, in Sour district, and Milad al-Hajjiri, born in 1993 in the city of Baalbek in the Bekaa. Both were killed in an Israeli strike earlier today on Mais al-Jabal in the Marjayoun district. This raises the total number of Hezbollah members killed since Oct. 8 to 309.

17:25 Beirut Time

The International Criminal Court’s various functions are divided between three Chambers: the Pre-Trial Division, the Trial Division, and the Appeals Division.

Prosecutor of the ICC, British Judge Karim Khan, has applied to the Pre-Trial Division for arrest warrants for Israeli PM Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, as well as leaders of Hamas.

One of the functions of this division is to grant or deny the Office of the Prosecutor leave to initiate an investigation, according to the ICC's website. It makes a preliminary determination as to whether the case falls within the Court’s jurisdiction, and is mandated to issue arrest warrants and summonses to appear before the Court.

Six judges were appointed to the Pre-Trial Division on March 13, 2024. The are Judges Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Reine Alapini-Gansou, María del Socorro Flores Liera, Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez, Iulia Motoc and Haykel Ben-Mahfoudh.

16:48 Beirut Time

Hamas says it "strongly condemns" the ICC prosecutor’s decision to arrest warrants against its leaders for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on or following Oct. 7.

Hamas denounced "the attempts by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders,” according to a statement from the group.

It demanded the cancellation of the request, adding that Khan’s application for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant had come “seven months too late.”

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told The Washington Post that the group is a “resistance movement and we have the right to resist the occupation and confront it by all legitimate means.”

16:17 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced the death of one of its fighters, Hussein Hussein, born in 1989 in the town of Bednayel in the Bekaa. He was killed in an Israeli strike earlier today in central Syria, according to information obtained from a security source by L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South.

16:17 Beirut Time

Hezbollah has claimed two new attacks against Israeli positions:

• The party says that at 1:35 p.m., its fighters targeted the "Israeli Ramim Barracks," facing the Lebanese village of Markaba, in Marjayoun district.

• At 2:45 p.m., Hezbollah fighters targeted an Israeli army position at the eastern entrance of al-Ghajar village, located in the Israeli-occupied Golan heights, with guided missiles. The party claims to have directly hit the site where Israeli troops were stationed, causing casualties. Hezbollah said in its statement that it had observed wounded Israeli soldiers being evacuated from the site of the strike.

15:20 Beirut Time

Gaza's Ministry of Health has announced a new death toll of 35,562 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 106 additional deaths have been recorded, according to a ministry statement, which also lists 79,652 wounded in more than seven months of war.

14:29 Beirut Time

Here's an update on the situation in southern Lebanon :

- According to local residents, Israel targeted the outskirts of Rashaya al-Foukhar in the Hasbaya district.

- Local residents reported that Israel targeted Markaba and Wadi Hounin, both located in the Marjayoun district.

Hezbollah announced it launched several strikes against Israeli positions:

- It stated that in retaliation for the Israeli attack on Naqoura, it targeted the "headquarters of 91st Brigade in Biranit," adjacent to Rmaish, in the Bint Jbeil district. This strike was launched with a Burkan rocket and caused “partial destructionof the target, “wounded Israeli soldiers” and “caused fires.”

- A second strike targeted the “Zebdine” site in the disputed Shebaa Farms at 1:30 p.m.

- The third targeted the “Rahebsite, opposite Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil), at 1:25 p.m. 

14:25 Beirut Time

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has applied to obtain an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Gaza Strip.

“Based on the evidence collected and reviewed by my office, I have reasonable grounds to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and Yoav Gallant, the Minister of Defense of Israel, bear criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the State of Palestine [in the Gaza Strip] from at least October 8, 2023,” the Hague-based ICC said in a statement.

14:20 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, Israeli aircraft struck the village of Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun), according to local residents.

The strike left at least one person dead and another seriously injured, according to L'Orient Today's correspondent informed by a security source.

The victims were taken by ambulance to hospitals in the region. 

14:19 Beirut Time

At least six fighters from pro-Iranian groups were killed in strikes attributed to Israel on their positions in central Syria, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (OSDH).

According to this UK-based NGO, which has an extensive network of sources in Syria, “Israeli strikes targeted two positions of pro-Iranian groups in the Homs region,” including “one belonging to Hezbollah in Qoussair,” near the Lebanese border.

13:54 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, the Israeli strike on Naqoura left at least two people dead, Abbas Awada, president of the Naqoura municipality, confirmed to L'Orient Today, along with a security source, local residents and the al Rissala scouts, who said they had helped in the rescue operation and transported the victims and wounded to hospitals. There were also two seriously injured in life-threatening conditions.

Hezbollah announced the death of two of its members: Abbas Mahdi, born in 1997, and Raef Mleyji, born in 1957, both from Naqoura. Information obtained by L'Orient Today's correspondent confirms that they were victims of the bombardment of Naqoura.

In addition, shortly after midday, four artillery shells targeted the area of Hamoul, on the outskirts of Naqoura, again according to L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South. In addition, drones are constantly flying low over the town, preventing services from clearing rubble to make roads passable, according to the Chairman of the Municipal Council.

11:32 Beirut Time

The situation in southern Lebanon since this morning has been marked by strikes on Naqoura:

Israeli warplanes bombed the center of this town in the district of Sour, near the municipal headquarters, destroying three homes and damaging neighboring houses, a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the South. Emergency services were dispatched to the scene.

The Israeli strikes were followed by a drone strike in the vicinity of the area, where Civil Defense rescue teams were deployed.

Some of the wounded were taken by ambulance to hospitals in the area. But they have not yet been identified, according to the security source.

10:08 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon at night:

- After 10 p.m. on Saturday, exchanges of fire from the Israeli site of Ramia (opposite the Lebanese town of Ramieh).

- After 10:30 p.m., Israeli aircraft bombed the outskirts of Odaisseh and Kafr Kila (Marjayoun), then Aitaroun (Bint Jbeil), where an empty three-story building was destroyed. It took emergency services two hours to extinguish the fire that broke out as a result of the bombardment.

- After 11:30 p.m., rockets were fired from southern Lebanon toward northern Israel, and the Israeli air force bombed two villages in the Sour district, Jibbain and Yarine, then the Awaida area (Marjayoun).

10:04 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden pledged on Sunday to listen topeaceful, non-violent protestsagainst Israel's war in Gaza, during a visit to Martin Luther King's alma mater aimed at appealing to young, African-American voters.

During his speech, Biden also called for a cease-fire in Gaza and the return of the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas on Oct. 7, while the Israeli army stepped up its strikes and fighting continued there.

As he spoke, a handful of students turned their backs on Biden and waved Palestinian flags, symbolizing their opposition to his policy of support, including military support, for Israel, a long-standing US ally. 

10:03 Beirut Time

Since the Israeli army took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on May 7, the delivery of humanitarian aid has come to a virtual standstill. The temporary pier docked by the Americans on the Gaza coast for the arrival of supplies enabled the delivery of 252 tonnes of Emirati food aid on Sunday, but the UN repeats that only the opening of road crossings can guarantee the necessary large-scale deliveries.

An aid convoy to Gaza was again attacked by Israeli militants on Sunday, but Israeli peace activists escorting it said they had allowed it to continue without too much damage. 

10:01 Beirut Time

The displaced from Rafah are fleeing to Khan Younis, further north, but “there is absolutely no safe place in the Gaza Strip,” repeated UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, on Sunday.

On Sunday, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported that at least 35,456 people had died as a result of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza since Oct. 7. The population of the besieged enclave is also threatened by famine, according to the UN.

10:00 Beirut Time

Sent by Washington, which, like many countries, opposes a major offensive in Rafah, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met his counterpart, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Sullivan called on Netanyahu to accompany Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip with a “political strategy” for the future of the Palestinian enclave, according to a White House transcript of the meeting.

The US national security advisor, who had met Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the previous day, praised the “potential for Israel and the Palestinian people” of an Israel-Saudi Arabia agreement, the White House said.

09:59 Beirut Time

While the world's media focus on the death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raissi in a helicopter crash in north-west Iran on Sunday, Israel continues to bombard the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses told AFP of explosions and fighting throughout the night in Jabalia, where the army had ordered the evacuation of neighborhoods on Saturday after rockets were fired into Israel. At the beginning of January, the Israeli army claimed to have neutralized Hamas in northern Gaza, but according to the army, the movement had regained a foothold in Jabalia.

In the south, the army announced that it was stepping up its operations in Rafah, close to the closed border with Egypt, where it said it wanted to reduce the last Hamas battalions. Most of the fighting is taking place in the eastern sector. Hamas reported “fierce fighting” there, with shells and anti-tank missiles being fired.

09:07 Beirut Time
09:07 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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