Smoke plumes billow during ongoing battles in the Sultan neighborhood in the northwest of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on June 18, 2024. (Credits: Bashar Taleb/AFP)


Israel 'very close to deciding to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon': Day 256 of the Gaza war

What you need to know

Hezbollah broadcasts drone footage over Haifa harbor.

Washington tries to avoid a bigger war between Israel and Hezbollah, says Hochstein from Beirut.

Hezbollah rejects claims that Israel has forced it to move away from the border.

21:03 Beirut Time

This concludes our live coverage of the Gaza war for today. Be sure to return tomorrow for all of the latest updates.

20:41 Beirut Time

Update on the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border:

- Hezbollah claimed to have attacked the Israeli army site of Manara, opposite the Lebanese village of Houla (Marjayoun district), in response to the Israeli attack on the Lebanese village of Borgholiyeh.

- The Israeli air force targeted Hezbollah squadrons in Lebanon responsible for launching drones toward Israel, according to a report by Haaretz. According to the report, the unit behind these squadrons has sent dozens of drones into Israel for both attack and intelligence purposes.

20:08 Beirut Time

Update on the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border:

- Israeli fighter jets crossed the sound barrier twice over Saida, according to our correspondent in southern Lebanon.

- Israeli warplanes carried out two raids on the village of Aita el-Shaab (Bint Jbeil district) and another on Jibbayn (Sour district).

- Rockets were fired from southern Lebanon at Israeli positions, according to a security source. Haaretz reported alarm sirens sounding in northern Israel.

19:46 Beirut Time

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz has threatened Hezbollah with destruction after an “all-out war”.

"We are very close to the moment when we will decide to change the rules of the game against Hezbollah and Lebanon. In an all-out war, Hezbollah will be destroyed and Lebanon will be hit hard,” Katz said, according to a statement from his office quoted by AFP.

19:05 Beirut Time

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a preliminary assessment highlighting “unprecedented environmental damage in Gaza” due to the ongoing war, resulting in severe soil, water, and air pollution.

The conflict has affected Gaza's environmental management systems, including water desalination, wastewater treatment, solar power and wetland restoration. The war has generated 39 million tonnes of debris, creating health and environmental hazards. Wastewater treatment plants are nonfunctional, contaminating beaches, soil and freshwater.

Munitions containing heavy metals and explosive chemicals have contaminated soil and water, posing long-term health risks. Moreover, Hamas’ tunnels, along with Israeli efforts to destroy them, could cause long-term groundwater contamination.

UNEP plans to conduct a detailed field-based assessment and develop remediation strategies once security conditions allow, and is calling for an “immediate ceasefire to mitigate these effects and protect lives.”

19:04 Beirut Time

Hezbollah claimed to have fired rockets at 5:20 p.m. at the Israeli site of Ramtha, in the occupied Kfar Shuba hills, and at the Zebdine barracks, in the disputed Shebaa farms.

18:29 Beirut Time

An Israeli drone targeted a motorcycle in Borgholiyeh (Sour district), injuring three people, two of whom are in critical condition, a security source and residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent.

Meanwhile, the Amal-affiliated Risala Scout Association announced that its team participated in "rescue and firefighting operations," and that the injuries were transferred to hospitals in the area.

Earlier today, an Israeli drone targeted a car on the road to the same village, injuring one person.

17:18 Beirut Time

- Israeli drones fired a shell at the eastern entrance to the village of Odaisseh (Marjayoun district) according to L’Orient Today’s correspondent.

- An Israeli drone targeted the village of Taybeh (Marjayoun district). Ambulances were dispatched to the scene.

- Hezbollah claimed to have carried out an air strike with a squadron of drones on the Israeli artillery base of the 411th Battalion (part of the 288th Fire Brigade) in Naveh Ziv, in response to the Israeli attack on the village of Shehabieh (Sour district).

It said it had aimed at “Israeli soldiers' assembly points, hitting their targets with precision and causing confirmed injuries.”

An Israeli drone carried out a targeted strike on a car in the vicinity of the village of Shehabieh (Sour district) yesterday, killing Hezbollah member Mohammed Ayoub.

16:26 Beirut Time

Here are the latest developments on the southern border:

- Rockets have been fired from southern Lebanon towards Israeli positions, a security source told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the area. According to Haaretz, several “suspicious air targets” have been intercepted in northern Israel.

- An Israeli drone targeted a car on the road to Borgholiyeh, north of Sour. According to preliminary reports, one person was injured in the attack.

16:23 Beirut Time

⚡Hezbollah has released footage taken of the drone attacks it has conducted in Israel, reaching areas as far as Haifa. It has targeted multiple bases, including residential and military complexes, military infrastructure and the harbor.

14:38 Beirut Time

Here is what has been happening at the Lebanese-Israeli border since noon:

-⁠ ⁠Hezbollah announced that it used a drone to target a Merkava tank inside the Israeli site of Hadab Yarine, opposite the Lebanese village of Yarine, at 12:12 p.m. This is the party's first attack against Israel since last Saturday.

- ⁠A fire ignited in an open area near Metulla, in northern Israel, "following a rocket launch from Lebanon," according to Haaretz.

- ⁠Israeli artillery shelling targeted the village of Kfar Shouba (Hasbaya), residents told L'Orient Today's correspondent in the south.

14:02 Beirut Time

The Ministry of Health in Gaza announced on Tuesday a new death toll of 37,372 since Oct. 7, 2023.

At least 25 people have been killed in the past 24 hours, it said in a statement, adding that 85,452 people had been injured in the Palestinian territory.

13:05 Beirut Time

Updates from the Lebanese-Israeli border:

For the first time in two days, sirens were activated due to possible drone infiltration in the northern Israeli settlements of Arab al-Aramshe, Gornot HaGalil, Eilon, Adamit and Ya'ara — opposite Alma Shaab (Sour district) — Haaretz reported. 

12:15 Beirut Time

An Israeli military official, quoted by Saudi TV channel Al Arabiya, said that Hezbollah "was forced to withdraw its forces eight kilometers inside Lebanese territory."

A claim denied by the Hezbollah press office, which asserts that the party continues to carry out some of its operations from positions close to the border.

The Israeli official, who was not identified by the Saudi channel, also assured that Israeli troops had "succeeded in averting the threat of a Hezbollah invasion of large areas of Israel's Galilee region." He also said that "Hezbollah's military capabilities are modest and are not the same as before Oct. 7" and that "the assassination of Hezbollah officials is causing confusion and direct harm to the party".

Hezbollah appears to have suspended its operations since the first day of Adha on Sunday.

10:07 Beirut Time

New update on the situation in southern Lebanon:

- Israeli artillery bombarded the outskirts of the town of Shebaa as well as Rashaya al-Foukhar (Hasbaya). Four shells were fired, according to residents' testimonies.

09:42 Beirut Time

American envoy Amos Hochstein arrived this morning in Beirut, according to several local media. 

09:42 Beirut Time

The Israeli army bombed several areas of southern Lebanon during the night from Monday to Tuesday:

- Around 8 p.m., Israeli artillery targeted the outskirts of Shihine and Zebqin (Sour) as well as Labbouneh, on the edge of Naqoura (Sour). The villages of Blida and Mais al-Jabal (Marjayoun) were also targeted.

- After 10 p.m., Israeli artillery fired three shells at Rab al-Thalathine (Marjayoun), causing a power cut in the village as well as in Taybeh and Deir Sirian, among others.

- Around midnight, Israeli artillery fired four shells at Khiam (Marjayoun), which a drone also flew over. Other artillery fire targeted the outskirts of Kfar Shouba (Hasbaya).

- Finally around 2 a.m., Khiam was again the target of artillery fire.

09:37 Beirut Time

In southern Lebanon, where exchanges of fire have been almost daily since October, attacks by Lebanese Hezbollah have intensified since the death last week of one of its commanders, Taleb Sami Abdallah, in an Israeli strike.

UNIFIL believes that "the risk of miscalculations leading to a sudden and wider conflict is very real," in the words of the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and the head of the Force United Nations Interim Representative in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Aroldo Lazaro.

On Monday, the Israeli army announced that it had killed Mohammad Mustafa Ayoub, another member of Hezbollah, responsible for rocket and missile fire in the Selaa region in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah confirmed the death of this member.

U.S. President Joe Biden's special envoy, Amos Hochstein, who arrived in Jerusalem on Monday to press for de-escalation, is expected in Lebanon in the coming days.

09:36 Beirut Time

In Gaza, the Israeli army announced a break "from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m." until further notice, on a road section of around 10 km going from the Israeli crossing point of Kerem Shalom, to the southern end of the territory, to the European Hospital of Rafah, a little further north.

Kerem Shalom has become the only crossing point for humanitarian aid in the south of the Gaza Strip since the army launched its offensive on Rafah and took control of the border post with Egypt.

The U.N. welcomed the Israeli announcement but asked that this pause "lead to other concrete measures" to facilitate deliveries, and once again called for the removal of "all obstacles" to the delivery of aid to the land where the population does not have the heart for celebrations.

09:33 Beirut Time

Thousands of Israelis demonstrated Monday evening in Jerusalem to demand early elections, criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his management of the war in Gaza and his failure to repatriate "dozens" of hostages still in the hands of Hamas, according to the AFP.

This demonstration comes about a week after the resignation of the war cabinet of centrist leaders Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, two former army chiefs, which led to the dissolution of this body set up after the Oct. 7 attack.

Despite the departure of these two opposition figures, who joined the government as a sign of unity after the Hamas attacks, Netanyahu and his allies retain their majority in the Knesset.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, witnesses reported Israeli strikes overnight in a more calm context owing to the start of a humanitarian pause observed by the army in a sector of the south.

This pause, the announcement of which on Sunday coincided with the first day of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim festival of sacrifice, is in theory intended to facilitate the delivery of aid that Palestinians in Gaza sorely need.

09:15 Beirut Time
09:15 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.