A picture taken from the Israeli border with Gaza shows Israeli army vehicles maneuvering inside the Gaza Strip, on June 4, 2024. (Credit: Menahem Kahana/AFP)


Israel says it's prepared to 'shift to offense' on Lebanese front: Day 242 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hezbollah targeted the Golan with a "swarm of drones," while Israeli strikes hit the Bekaa and the South.

French President Macron called for "the utmost restraint" at the border between Lebanon and Israel.

Biden told TIME Magazine that people have "every reason" to assume Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political self-preservation.

22:52 Beirut Time

Thanks for following our live coverage of the war on Gaza and the parallel fighting between Hezbollah and Israel along Lebanon's southern border. We'll be back tomorrow morning with more news updates and analysis. Goodnight!

22:51 Beirut Time

Hezbollah is not seeking to widen its conflict with Israel but is ready to fight any war imposed on it, its deputy leader told Al Jazeera. Naim Qassem said Hezbollah is “ready for the battle and will not allow Israel to secure any victories.”

“Any Israeli expansion of the war on Lebanon will be met with devastation, destruction and displacement in Israel,” he added. “If Israel wants to fight an all-out war, we are ready for it.”

The Lebanese front, Qassem said, is permanently linked to Gaza, echoing similar sentiments expressed by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, who has repeatedly described the group’s support for Gaza as “final."

The comments come amid flaring tensions, as far-right Israeli ministers push for Israel to escalate its war with Hezbollah, literally calling “War!” while visiting the northern border with Lebanon.

22:32 Beirut Time

Qatar confirmed that it delivered an Israeli proposal to Hamas that reflected the positions stated by U.S. President Joe Biden, adding that the paper was now much closer to the positions of both sides, Reuters reports.

Qatar, which has been mediating on Gaza between Israel and Hamas, also stressed that there should be a clear position from both parties to reach a cease-fire deal, its foreign ministry spokesperson said in a press briefing.

"We are waiting for a clear Israeli position that represents the entire government in response to the U.S.'s Gaza proposal," Majed Al-Ansari added.

20:18 Beirut Time

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for "the utmost restraint" at the border between Lebanon and Israel, where the exchange fire has increased significantly in recent days.

France remains "fully committed to preventing any risk of escalation" and "promoting a diplomatic solution" at this border, said Macron in a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to an AFP report.

20:13 Beirut Time

⚡ Israel is prepared to “shift to offense” in its fighting with Hezbollah along the Lebanese-Israeli border, according to the Israeli military Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi.

“We are approaching the point where a decision will have to be made, and the [Israeli army] is prepared and very ready for this decision,” Halevi said while touring an army base in Kiryat Shmona, as reported by Times of Israel.

“We have been attacking for eight months and Hezbollah is paying a very, very high price. It has increased its strengths in recent days and we are prepared after a very good process of training … to move to an attack in the North,” he is cited as saying. “[We have] strong defense, readiness to attack, [and] we are approaching a decision point.”

19:08 Beirut Time

The wave of fires burning in several locations scattered across northern Israel over the last several days is the effect of increased weapon fire from Lebanon, Haaretz reports, but specifically as a result of interceptions by its Iron Dome missile defense system.

The interceptions scatter large quantities of flammable fragments of ammunition, meaning several fires can be ignited across a wide area simultaneously. The blaze in Biriya Forest today was burning at ten separate locations following missile interceptions, according to the report.

18:52 Beirut Time

Members of the civil defense of al-Risala Scouts Association during firefighting operations following the Israeli raid on the town of Odaisseh, in the Marjayoun district. (Credit: al-Risala Scouts)

18:50 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah said that it targeted Israeli soldiers stationed in the forest of Natuha, in northern Israel, at 3:40 p.m.

• Two members of the Lebanese Army were treated for smoke inhalation as a result of fires ignited by phosphorus shells used by the Israeli army against the town of Markaba, in Marjayoun district today. They were taken to hospital for treatment, local residents reported.

18:31 Beirut Time

US President Joe Biden told Time magazine that he believes it is “uncertain” whether Israeli forces have committed war crimes in Gaza.

Time’s journalists asked Biden directly: “From the intelligence in the evidence you've seen, either currently or in the last months, have Israeli forces committed war crimes in Gaza?”

According to the transcript provided of the interview, Biden responded saying: “The answer is it's uncertain and has been investigated by the Israelis themselves. The ICC is something that we don’t, we don't recognize. But one thing is certain, the people in Gaza, the Palestinians havesuffered greatly, for lack of food, water, medicine, etc. And a lot of innocent people have been killed.”

The head prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) filed two weeks ago a request for arrest warrants against Netanyahu, Gallant, and three Hamas leaders, on the charge of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

👉 Read more about the interview here.

17:56 Beirut Time

War-with-Lebanon rhetoric has flared up again in Israel over the last several days as fighting with Hezbollah escalated along the border in a particularly violent week. This last week saw wildfires ignited on either side of the border, the destruction of many homes and stores in southern Lebanon, an Israeli strike at the entrance of a hospital in Bint Jbeil, and another on an ambulance. Seven Hezbollah members, three civilians and a medic were killed.

Yesterday, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called for Israel to occupy southern Lebanon and "severely damage" Beirut, in comments given to the press following a parliament session. Today, Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the border with Lebanon where fires raged, ignited by shells fired from across the border.

"They burn our regions, so we must burn all Hezbollah strongholds," Ben-Gvir said. "Destroy them. War!”

👉 Read the full report here.

17:18 Beirut Time

Here's an update from southern Lebanon:

• Hezbollah announced the death of one of its fighters, Haidar Musselemani, born in 1987 in Sour and a resident of the town of Naqoura, in Sour district. According to our correspondent, he was killed earlier today by an Israeli airstrike that targeted him as he rode his motorcycle in Naqoura.

• Rockets were launched from southern Lebanon towards the disputed Shebaa Farms and hills of Kfar Suba, as reported by a security source. According to Haaretz, a rocket siren sounded in the northern Israeli town of Rosh HaNikra.

• Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Aitaroun, in Marjayoun district, near Mount Arid, twice, igniting fires in the area.

16:58 Beirut Time

More updates from the southern Lebanese town of Odaisseh: The airstrikes carried out by Israeli warplanes on Odaisseh targeted residential and commercial areas several times, causing massive destruction. Additionally, a fire broke out in one of the restaurants, and ambulance and civil defense teams worked to extinguish it and search for casualties. So far, none have been reported, locals told our correspondent in the South.

16:56 Beirut Time

Fires are still raging in the forests of the town of Kfar Shuba, Hasbaya district, following the recent Israeli phosphorus shelling that targeted the wooded area some time ago. Residents of the town are urging the relevant authorities to take appropriate measures and mobilize quickly to extinguish the fires, "or they will soon reach our homes."

15:48 Beirut Time

Updates from southern Lebanon:

• The Israeli army targeted the outskirts of Houla and Markaba, both in Marjayoun district, with white phosphorous artillery shells, a security source and local residents told L'Orient Today. Fires have broken out in the Qabaa forest in the town of Markaba as a result of the phosphorus shelling.

• Israeli artillery shelling targeted a building on the outskirts of Odaisseh, Marjayoun district, causing significant damage to it, and causing it to catch fire, local residents reported.

• Khallet Ballout, located between Houla and Markaba, in Marjayoun district, was targeted by Israeli artillery shelling, local residents told our correspondent in the region.

15:31 Beirut Time

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

- Israeli artillery shelling with four phosphorus shells targeted the outskirts of Houla and Markaba (Marjayoun), a security source and local residents confirmed to L'Orient Today. Fires have broken out in the Qabaa forest in the town of Markaba as a result of the phosphorus shelling, local residents reported.

- Israeli artillery shelling targeted the outskirts of Adaisseh and Khallet Ballout located between Houla and Markaba (Marjayoun) local residents reported.

- A mortar shell fell near the Lebanese Army center between the towns of Houla and Markaba (Marjayoun) causing fires to break out, local residents reported.

14:45 Beirut Time

Israel's national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, visited Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel, where a major fire continues to rage after rocket fire the previous day, according to Haaretz. The far-right minister was “briefed” on the fire situation. Praising the work of the mobilized firefighters, he declared that “now it's the army's duty to destroy Hezbollah.” “Part of our country is affected, we shoot at it, we evacuate it. They burn our regions, we must burn all Hezbollah strongholds, destroy them. War!” declared Ben-Gvir.

14:34 Beirut Time

The situation in southern Lebanon:

- A man was wounded after an Israeli drone strike on his motorcycle in Naqoura (Sour), according to local residents.

- Artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Kfar Hammam and Rashaya al-Foukhar (Hasbaya), according to witnesses.

- Israeli fighter jets bombed Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) and Markaba (Marjayoun), according to security sources.

14:32 Beirut Time

Hezbollah announced that it had “retaliated for the assassination perpetrated by the Israeli army in Naqoura” the previous day by launching “an air attack with a swarm of drones,” on the headquarters of “Brigade 810,” in the “Maaleh Golan” base, in the disputed Golan Heights. This strike “targeted positions of Israeli soldiers and officers,” according to the party.

Yesterday, a targeted strike in Naqoura killed two Hezbollah members, Mohammad Shkair and Hussein Nassereddine. 

13:54 Beirut Time

Sanitary conditions are “appalling” in al-Mawasi, an area in the south of the Gaza Strip, where many of the Palestinians who have taken refuge since the start of the Israeli offensive on Rafah have an average of just one toilet for every 4,000 people, Oxfam has denounced.

“Living conditions are so appalling that in Al-Mawasi, there are just 121 latrines for 500,000 people – which means that 4,130 people have to share each toilet,” the NGO said in a statement. “The situation is inhuman. The conditions are unbearable, there is no clean water, people are forced to use seawater,” describes Meera, an Oxfam employee who now lives in Al-Mawasi after being displaced seven times since October, in the statement.

13:52 Beirut Time

Qatar, which plays the role of mediator between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, said it was awaiting “a clear positionfrom the Israeli government on the Gaza cease-fire plan announced by US President Joe Biden.

“We have not yet seen a very clear position from the Israeli government on the principles set out by Biden,” Qatar's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari told a news conference.

12:39 Beirut Time

Gaza's Ministry of Health has announced a new death toll of 36,550 in the enclave since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement almost eight months ago.

At least 71 people have been killed in the last 24 hours, said the ministry in a statement, which also reported 82,959 people wounded in the Palestinian territory since the start of the war on Oct. 7.

12:28 Beirut Time

An Israeli strike targeted the road between Libbaya and Yohmor in western Bekaa, resulting in the injury of one man, according to initial information reported by residents of Yohmor to L'Orient Today's correspondent in the Bekaa.

11:08 Beirut Time

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has called it “inconceivable” that more than 500 Palestinians have been killed in the occupied West Bank since Oct. 7.

“As if the tragic events in Israel and then Gaza over the past eight months were not enough, the population of the occupied West Bank is also subjected, day after day, to unprecedented bloodshed. It is inconceivable that so many lives have been taken so wantonly,” he said in a statement.

11:00 Beirut Time

This morning, a new exchange of fire took place along the Blue Line:

- Artillery fire targeted Alma al-Shaab and Naqoura (Sour).

- Hezbollah said it hit the “Ramim barracks” opposite Markaba and Houla (Marjayoun).  

10:59 Beirut Time

For its part, the Israeli army carried out a series of artillery strikes on localities in southern Lebanon:

- Artillery fire targeted Houla, the outskirts of Majdel Slim and Wadi Slouqi (Marjayoun),

- Around 1 a.m., artillery shells also fell between Ramieh and Aita al-Shaab (Bint Jbeil) and near Deir Mimas (Marjayoun).

The shelling caused a series of fires, all of which appeared to be under control this morning

10:57 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for two strikes on Israeli positions last night:

- In retaliation for the strike on Naqoura, the party said it had hit with “missiles,” “two buildings housing soldiers” in Israeli Shlomi.

- Another strike was carried out with “missiles” against “a deployment of soldiers” in Adather woods, opposite the Lebanese town of Rmaish (Bint Jbeil).

10:10 Beirut Time

The United States announced a draft UN Security Council resolution yesterday to support the Gaza cease-fire agreement put forward by President Joe Biden and call on Hamas to accept it.

“Today, the United States circulated a new draft Security Council resolution supporting the proposal on the table to stop the fighting in Gaza through an agreement on a cease-fire and the release of hostages,” US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement. “Many leaders and governments, including in the region, have supported this plan, and we call on the Security Council to join them in calling for its implementation without delay and without new conditions,” she added.

10:09 Beirut Time

The contradictory demands reiterated by the belligerents and the reactions coming from Israel cast increasing doubt on this plan as calls multiply around the world to halt the conflict, which this week enters its ninth month.

10:08 Beirut Time

“I urge all parties to reach an immediate agreement to achieve a cease-fire and release the hostages. There is no alternative: Delay is costing lives every day,” said UN Middle East envoy Tor Wennesland on Tuesday, on his return from a visit to Gaza, where he said he had seen ‘the devastating impact’ of the war.

10:08 Beirut Time

Hamas, which has yet to give its definitive response, said it considered the planpositively” while reiterating its demands for a permanent cease-fire and total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza before any agreement is reached. Israel has so far refused these demands.

10:07 Beirut Time

A truce plan announced on Friday evening by US President Joe Biden – a roadmap proposed by Israel, according to him – provides for a six-week ceasefire in the first phase, accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from densely populated areas of Gaza, the release of certain hostages – women and the sick – and Palestinian prisoners. But Israel deemed the proposal “incomplete,” according to government spokesman David Mencer. “Allegations that we have accepted a cease-fire without our conditions being met are incorrect,” said Netanyahu. Israel keeps repeating these conditions: the “destruction” of Hamas and the release of “all hostages.”

10:05 Beirut Time

On Palestine Street in Baghdad, men attacked two restaurants associated with the United States, a KFC and a Chili House, against a backdrop of calls to boycott American brands in the midst of the war in Gaza.

10:05 Beirut Time

In the ruins of Khan Younis, fate is taking its toll on the displaced, who have found themselves submerged in sewage. Using small containers or plastic bottles, they try to evacuate the foul-smelling water from their tents after a pipe burst. “This is no way to live,” says Abdallah Barbakh, one of the residents. “There's no drinking water. There aren't even any water vendors on the streets. There's not even seawater,” says another, Said Ashour.

10:04 Beirut Time

Amiram Cooper, 84, Yoram Metzger, 80, and Chaïm Peri, 80, were originally from the Nir Oz kibbutz, where they had been abducted. Nadav Popplewell, an Israeli-British citizen, had been abducted from the Nir Oz kibbutz. “I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Nadav Popplewell ... With a new deal on the table, we reiterate our demand that Hamas release the hostages,” British diplomatic chief David Cameron reacted on X.

“They should have returned alive to their country and to their families,” said the Hostage Families Forum, as pressure intensifies on Benjamin Netanyahu's government to reach an agreement for their release.

10:03 Beirut Time

In a statement yesterday, the Israeli army said it had “informed the families of Chaim Peri, Yoram Metzger, Amiram Cooper and Nadav Popplewell” of the deaths of four hostages kidnapped during the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and taken to the neighboring Gaza Strip. Their bodies are still in the hands of Hamas, she added, according to AFP. “We estimate that the four [hostages] were killed while they were together in an area of Khan Younis, during our operation there against Hamas,” said army spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari.

09:57 Beirut Time

In northern Israel, firefighters and the army were trying to bring forest fires under control after rockets were fired from neighboring Lebanon, the Lebanese-Israeli border being the scene of almost daily firefights since the start of the war in Gaza.

Similar fires broke out in southern Lebanon during the day yesterday and overnight, after Israeli artillery fire.

Read all about the fires on both sides of the Blue Line here.

09:53 Beirut Time

In the besieged Palestinian territory devastated by nearly eight months of war, Israeli bombardments continued in the early hours of the morning, particularly in al-Bureij, where local hospital sources reported several deaths.

09:01 Beirut Time

Be sure to read the Morning Brief so you are caught up on what has been happening. 

Morning Brief

Panic in southern Lebanon and port blast protest: Everything you need to know to start your Tuesday

09:00 Beirut Time

Good morning!

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