This picture taken from northern Israel shows smoke billowing during the Israeli bombardment in southern Lebanon on May 25, 2024. (Credit: Jalaa Marey/AFP)


Israel conducts airstrikes, attacks in southern Lebanon: Gaza war, day 232

What you need to know

The Israeli offensive has claimed at least 35,903 lives in Gaza, according to the enclave's Health Ministry.

A drone strike in the Homs region of Syria reportedly killed two Hezbollah fighters.

G7 calls on Israel to "guarantee" services to Palestinian banks.

19:10 Beirut Time

Thank you for following today. We'll be back in the morning with more updates from Gaza, south Lebanon and the region. 

19:08 Beirut Time

Here's what has happened in the last few hours in South Lebanon:

* At around 4 p.m., Israeli aircraft attacked the village of Jibbayn (Sour).

* Hezbollah announced in a press release that it fired several rockets at 4:15 p.m. at the Israeli post of Zebdine, in the disputed Shebaa Farms.

* At around 6:40 p.m., Israeli artillery pounded the western quarters of the village of Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun).

* At 6:50 p.m., Hezbollah issued a statement announcing that it had bombed the Israeli site of "al-Manara," opposite the Lebanese village of Houla (Marjayoun).

* At 7 p.m., Hezbollah issued a new statement announcing that it had targeted "with the appropriate weapons" the Israeli posts at "Roueissat al-Alam," on the disputed Kfar Shuba heights.

16:14 Beirut Time

Mediated negotiations between Israel and Hamas to reach a deal to free Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip are due to restart next week, Reuters is reporting, quoting "an official with knowledge of the matter."

According to the source, the decision was taken after the head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency met the head of the CIA and the prime minister of Qatar, which has been a mediator.

"At the end of the meeting, it was decided that in the coming week negotiations will open based on new proposals led by the mediators, Egypt and Qatar and with active US involvement," the source said.

15:59 Beirut Time

Here's the latest news from Lebanon-Israel border:

* Israeli artillery fire targeted Khiam and the outskirts of Rab al-Talatine, in the Marjayoun district. In the Rab al-Talatine area, the shelling caused a fire, according to local residents. Rescue workers from the Risala Scout Association (affiliated with the Amal Movement) said they had extinguished the flames.

* Security sources reported an aerial bombardment between Odaisseh and Markaba (Marjayoun). The strike targeted a house close to a UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) position. Fighter jets also targeted Yaroun (Bint Jbeil), the area around Kfar Kila (Marjayoun) and Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil).

* Rockets were fired from southern Lebanon at Israeli positions, a security source reported. Shortly afterwards, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for a strike against the "Zar'it barracks" opposite Marwahine in the Sour district. The party said the strike, using "guided missiles and artillery fire," "destroyed its target" and was carried out "in retaliation for the assassinations" committed by the Israeli army, citing a strike launched two days ago in Mansouri (Sour). According to our information, this drone strike on a motorcycle caused injured two people.

15:39 Beirut Time

Gaza casualty toll update: A total of 35,903 Palestinians have been killed and 80,420 have been injured in the Israeli military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza Health Ministry said in its latest statement, Reuters reports.

14:46 Beirut Time

The British government has criticized the International Court of Justice, saying its ruling would strengthen Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Reuters reports.

The ICJ, which is the highest U.N. body for hearing disputes between states, made the emergency ruling yesterday in South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide.

"The reason there isn’t a pause in the fighting is because Hamas turned down a very generous hostage deal from Israel. The intervention of these courts — including the ICJ today — will strengthen the view of Hamas that they can hold on to hostages and stay in Gaza," a UK Foreign Ministry spokesperson said late yesterday. "And if that happens there won’t be either peace, or a two-state solution."

14:34 Beirut Time

The G7 Finance Group meeting in Italy will call on Israel to "guarantee" banking services to Palestinian banks, so as to prevent vital transactions in the occupied West Bank from being blocked, according to a draft final statement obtained by AFP.

"We call on Israel to take the necessary measures to ensure that banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks remain in place," the major financial powers of the world's richest countries urge in the draft text. This call comes after Israel this week threatened to deny Palestinian banks access to its banking system.

14:14 Beirut Time

Spain's foreign ministry has warned Israel that the orders issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are "binding" and has demanded that they be respected.

"The ICJ's orders, including the one to halt the Israeli offensive at Rafah, are binding. We demand their application," wrote Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares on social network X.

"This also concerns the ceasefire, the release of hostages and access to humanitarian aid. The suffering of the people of Gaza and the violence must stop," he added.

The UN's highest court on Friday ordered Israel to "immediately" halt its military offensive in Rafah, a decision likely to add to international pressure for a truce after more than seven months of war.

14:00 Beirut Time

Here's the latest from the Lebanon-Israel border:

* Israel fired shells at the outskirts of Rashaya al-Foukhar (Hasbaya), around Naqoura and Zebqine (Sour), as well as near Markaba (Marjayoun), according to local residents.

* Hezbollah announced that it had targeted "a Merkava tank as it entered the al-Marj site," opposite Markaba. The strike, carried out according to the party using a "guided missile,"  "destroyed" the vehicle and "wounded and killed" the soldiers on board. The Israeli army and media have so far reported no casualties along the border.

13:56 Beirut Time

⚡ An Israeli drone strike in central Syria has killed two Hezbollah fighters, AFP reports, citing a war monitor.

"An Israeli drone fired two missiles at a Hezbollah car and truck near the town of Qusayr in Homs province, as they were on their way to al-Dabaa military airport, killing at least two Hezbollah fighters and wounding others," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Hezbollah has yet to announce any casualties among its ranks today.

12:02 Beirut Time

There were also several strikes from southern Lebanon towards Israeli positions after 9 p.m:

* Following these strikes, Hezbollah announced two attacks: the first, it said, was in response to the Israeli attack on the town of Hanaway. Hezbollah said its attack used a suicide drone on the "newly established headquarters of the 91st Division of Israeli soldiers in the Israeli area of Ayelet." The map published by the party shows the targeted site near the town of Ayelet Hashahar, in northern Israel, facing the Lebanese town of Maroun al-Ras (Bint Jbeil). The second attack took place at 9:30 p.m. against an Israeli position in Beit Hillel, facing Houla (Marjayoun district). According to Hezbollah, this attack used Falaq missiles.

* The Israeli army, cited by Haaretz, said that "around 20 rockets were launched from Lebanon"  and that "several falls were detected in the communities of Dov and Manara that caused damage."

11:55 Beirut Time

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, calm prevails this morning in the south's border villages and towns; however, security sources reported the following attacks overnight:

* After 9:30 p.m., the Israeli air force carried out a series of airstrikes targeting the town of Yaroun (Bint Jbeil district), specifically the southeastern area of the town, as well as the Maasara area in Maroun al-Ras (Bint Jbeil), and the Wadi al-Asafir area on the outskirts of Khiam (Marjayoun). The airstrikes were accompanied by Israeli artillery fire using phosphorus shells in the town of Odaisseh (Marjayoun).

11:50 Beirut Time

One person was killed this morning in a car bomb in the Syrian capital Damascus, AFP reports, citing the official Sana news agency. No details of the victim's identity were reported. The explosion took place in the upscale neighborhood of Mazzeh, where the Iranian embassy and consulate are located. Iran blamed Israel for a deadly April 1 strike on a building in its embassy compound.It is also a neighborhood where Hezbollah has a strong presence, according to AFP.

11:46 Beirut Time

Meanwhile, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani announced the resumption of funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) after a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Mustapha in Rome.

UNRWA, which coordinates almost all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza-based employees of involvement in the Oct. 7 attack. This led many countries, including the United States, the agency's main donor, to abruptly suspend funding to it. Several countries have since resumed payments.

An independent review of UNRWA, conducted by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, highlighted certain "problems linked to the neutrality" of the agency but stressed that Israel had not yet provided proof of its main accusations.

11:44 Beirut Time

In a bid to revive truce talks, CIA chief William Burns is expected in Paris, and French President Emmanuel Macron yesterday received the prime mnister of Qatar and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan.

According to the French presidency, the leaders discussed the implementation of the "two-state solution," i.e., a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel. Spain, Ireland and Norway this week announced their recognition of the state of Palestine. The leaders also discussed the "levers that could be activated to obtain the reopening of all crossing points" to the Palestinian territory, and examined how to "increase and deepen their cooperation on humanitarian aid."

11:41 Beirut Time

Early this morning, Palestinians and AFP crews also reported airstrikes and artillery fire in Khan Younis (south) and in several districts of Gaza City (north). Fighter jets and helicopters hit the Jabalia camp (north) and shells landed near a power station north of the Nusseirat camp (center), according to witnesses.

11:40 Beirut Time

Gazans reacted to the ICJ decision:

"We hope the court's decision will put pressure on Israel to end this war of extermination," Umm Mohammad Al-Ashqa, a Palestinian from Gaza City displaced by the violence in Deir al-Balah, told AFP.

Mohammad Saleh, also speaking from Deir al-Balah in the center of the Palestinian territory, said "Israel is a state that considers itself above the law. So I don't believe that … the war can only be ended by force."

11:38 Beirut Time

Despite the ICJ ruling, Israeli bombardments have since continued in the Gaza Strip, notably in neighborhoods in the east and center of Rafah. Clashes have also broken out between the Israeli army and the armed wing of Hamas.

11:36 Beirut Time

Hamas, which took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, welcomed the ICJ's decision but criticized the fact that it was limited "only to Rafah."

The ICJ also ordered the "immediate and unconditional release" of the hostages in Gaza, who were abducted during Hamas's attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which triggered Israel's ongoing assault on Gaza.

11:35 Beirut Time

Israel defended itself, arguing that it has "not carried out and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area" that are likely to "lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population," AFP reports.

Its army launched ground operations in Rafah on May 7, with the aim of wiping out the last remaining battalions of Hamas.

11:32 Beirut Time

The Israeli army persists in bombarding Rafah, the day after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered it to suspend operations there, against the backdrop of efforts in Paris to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. It has also continued to pound other areas of the enclave.

The UN's highest court — whose decisions are legally binding although it lacks mechanisms to implement them — also ordered Israel to keep the Rafah crossing with Egypt open for essential humanitarian aid deliveries. The crossing was closed after the launch of Israel's ground operation in early May. 

11:18 Beirut Time

Good morning, 

We'll be here all day with live updates from Gaza, south Lebanon and the wider region.