The Times of Israel liveblogged Sunday’s events as they unfolded.

First 2 suspects in Moscow attack appear in court on terror charges – Russian media

A man suspected of taking part in the attack of a concert hall that killed 137 people is escorted by Russian law enforcement officers prior to his pre-trial detention hearing at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow on March 24, 2024. (Photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP)
A man suspected of taking part in the attack of a concert hall that killed 137 people is escorted by Russian law enforcement officers prior to his pre-trial detention hearing at the Basmanny District Court in Moscow on March 24, 2024. (Photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/AFP)

The first two suspects in the deadly Moscow concert hall attack appeared in a Russian court today to face terrorism charges, state news agencies report.

The TASS news agency cites Moscow’s Basmanny District Court as saying that two of the suspects had been charged with participating in a terrorist attack.

The suspects, identified as Saidakrami Murodalii Rachabalizoda and Dalerdjon Barotovich Mirzoyev, face charges of a “terror attack committed by a group of individuals resulting in a person’s death,” according to TASS.

The court releases a video showing police officers bringing one of the suspects into the courtroom in handcuffs, as well as photographs of the same man sitting in a glass cage for defendants.

Authorities say the suspects were foreign nationals.

According to Russian media and parliament member Alexander Khinstein, some of the suspects are from Tajikistan, a majority-Muslim former Soviet republic that borders Afghanistan.

Friday night’s attack on Crocus City Call outside Moscow that killed 137 people and wounded over 180 was claimed by the Islamic State (IS).

Russian officials have so far not commented on that claim, suggesting instead that the suspects had links to Ukraine.

Kyiv denies any involvement in this attack, the deadliest in Russia since the early 2000s.

France raises terror alert warning to highest level after Moscow attack

A man pays tribute at a makeshift memorial in front of Russia's Embassy in Paris on March 23, 2024, a day after a deadly mass shooting attack outside Moscow. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)
A man pays tribute at a makeshift memorial in front of Russia's Embassy in Paris on March 23, 2024, a day after a deadly mass shooting attack outside Moscow. (Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP)

PARIS — France is raising its terror alert warning to its highest level following the shootings in Moscow, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal says after a meeting with senior security and defense officials with President Emmanuel Macron.

Attal says in a post on X that the decision, which comes months before Paris hosts the Olympic Games, was taken “in light of the Islamic State’s claiming responsibility for the (Moscow) attack and the threats weighing on our country.”

France’s terror alert system has three levels, and the highest level is activated in the wake of an attack in France or abroad or when a threat of one is considered to be imminent.

It allows for exceptional security measures such as stepped-up patrols by armed forces in public places like train stations, airports and religious sites.

Rocket sirens sound in northern town of Netua near Lebanon border

Rocket alert sirens are sounding in the northern community of Netua, close to the Lebanon border.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

Demonstrators wearing Batman masks march for hostages in Central Park

Hundreds of demonstrators wearing Batman masks and black capes gather in New York’s Central Park to call for the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza since October 7.

The costumes are in honor of Ariel Bibas, 4, and his baby brother Kfir, who dressed as Batman for Purim last year before they were kidnapped by terrorists on October 7 along with their parents Shiri and Yarden Bibas.

US ambassador to Iraq: Moscow attack reminds us ‘ISIS is a common terrorist enemy’

BAGHDAD (Reuters) — The Islamic State still poses a threat in Iraq and the US-led military coalition’s work with Iraq to fully defeat the group is not done, United States Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski tells Reuters in an interview.

Senior Iraqi politicians, including Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, have repeatedly said that the group no longer posed a threat in Iraq and the coalition was not needed, even as its affiliates continued to carry out attacks elsewhere.

“We both assess ISIS is still a threat here, much, much diminished, but nevertheless our work is essentially not done and we want to ensure that Iraqi forces can continue the enduring defeat of ISIS,” Romanowski says at the US embassy in Baghdad.

Her comments come after Islamic State’s Afghan branch, ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack at a rock concert near Moscow, in which 137 people were killed.

“As this event reminds us, ISIS is a common terrorist enemy that must be defeated everywhere,” she says in an additional comment after the interview.

“That’s why the United States and Iraq share a commitment to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, including by working together to shape the future of a strong bilateral US-Iraq security partnership.”

Report: Attorney general won’t support Netanyahu’s Haredi draft proposal

Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara has reportedly told Cabinet Secretary Yossi Fuchs that she will not be able to defend the wording of the government’s outline for a Haredi draft law that was circulated earlier today.

Channel 12 cites “significant and essential difficulties” with the proposal, without giving details.

As such, the government will need to amend the draft if it wants the attorney general’s support should the legislation be appealed in the High Court, the report adds.

The High Court struck down legislation allowing for the blanket exemption of Haredi men from military service in 2017 as discriminatory, and gave the government one year to pass new legislation which would boost levels of ultra-Orthodox military enlistment.

It has since given the state innumerable extensions to that deadline due to elections and other reasons.

Pro-Palestinian protesters marching through Amman towards Israeli embassy — reports

Pro-Palestinian protesters are marching through the streets of Amman in the direction of the Israeli embassy, in protest of the war in Gaza, according to unconfirmed reports cited by Hebrew media.

Ynet news and the Maariv newspaper report that police have closed streets in the area of the embassy.

Video footage shared on social media show crowds of men chanting, “All of Jordan is with Hamas.”

The Israeli ambassador to Amman left Jordan due to security precautions when war erupted on October 7, sparked by Hamas’s massacre in southern Israel.

 

Man killed, 3 injured when car flips on Route 40 near Beersheba — MDA

A man in his 30s was killed when his car skidded and overturned on Route 40 near the Gorel intersection near Beersheba, medics say.

Magen David Adom medics pronounce him dead on the scene.

Three men, all aged 27, are moderately injured in the crash and evacuated to Soroka Medical Center for treatment, MDA adds.

IDF targets Hezbollah observation post, building in southern Lebanon strikes

The IDF says it struck a Hezbollah observation post in Mays al-Jabal and a building used by the terror group in Blida in southern Lebanon a short while ago.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

Macron warns Netanyahu: Forced Rafah population transfer would constitute ‘a war crime’

A Palestinian family breaks their fast amidst the rubble of their home, which was destroyed by an Israeli strike, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Rafah on March 23, 2024. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)
A Palestinian family breaks their fast amidst the rubble of their home, which was destroyed by an Israeli strike, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in Rafah on March 23, 2024. (Photo by SAID KHATIB / AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron warns Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any forced transfer of people from the southern Gaza city of Rafah would constitute “a war crime.”

He also repeats his opposition to any Israel Defense Forces operation to fight Hamas in Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has taken shelter after months of fierce fighting, sparked by Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

In a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron also “strongly condemns” Israel’s announcement Friday of the appropriation of 800 hectares of land in the West Bank for new settlements.

Activists say Israel’s declaration that the land in the northern Jordan Valley is now “state land” is the single largest such seizure in decades.

In the call, Macron tells Netanyahu he intended to bring a draft resolution to the UN Security Council calling for “an immediate and lasting ceasefire.”

He also urges Israel to immediately open all crossing points into Gaza.

The planned Rafah ground offensive has faced intense international pressure, with warnings it would cause mass civilian casualties and worsen the humanitarian crisis. Israel insists it is necessary in its campaign to destroy Hamas.

12 more birds — including endangered vultures — found dead from poisoning in Negev

Griffon vultures at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority's Hai Bar Carmel breeding facility in northern Israel. (Yigal Miller, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)
Griffon vultures at the Israel Nature and Parks Authority's Hai Bar Carmel breeding facility in northern Israel. (Yigal Miller, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Just two weeks after a family of endangered Griffon vultures — two parents and a chick — were found dead after being poisoned in southern Israel, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority reports an additional poisoning incident that claims the lives of eight Griffon vultures, two Egyptian vultures, a kite and a crow, south of Avdat in the Negev Desert.

INPA rangers are checking nests to rescue any chicks as two parents are required for a chick to survive — one to guard, the other to look for food.

The Environmental Protection Ministry releases NIS 15 million (just over $4 million) to help the authority with additional steps to prevent further poisoning.

Vultures play an essential role as nature’s cleaners.

Of the many threats they face, the main one is the illegal contamination of carrion either with veterinary drugs, or with chemicals deliberately left on carcasses to kill wolves, jackals and even feral dogs to protect livestock.

Only 180 Griffon vultures remain in Israel.

TV report: Israel prepared to free close to 800 Palestinian security prisoners for 40 hostages

File: A Palestinian security prisoner gestures among supporters and relatives after being released from Israeli jail in exchange for Israeli hostages released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, in Ramallah in the West Bank on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Fadel SENNA / AFP)
File: A Palestinian security prisoner gestures among supporters and relatives after being released from Israeli jail in exchange for Israeli hostages released by Hamas from the Gaza Strip, in Ramallah in the West Bank on November 26, 2023. (Photo by Fadel SENNA / AFP)

Israel has conveyed a detailed document to Hamas setting out its positions on all three phases of a deal for the release of all hostages, Channel 12 reports, saying that Israel has shown new flexibility in several key areas.

It quotes unnamed sources saying Israel anticipates a response from Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar in the next three days, and considers the prospects for a deal to be 50-50.

Where last month’s Paris framework had provided for the release of 400 Palestinian security prisoners in exchange for 40 hostages — women, children, the sick and elderly — in the first phase of a deal, during a 6-week truce, Israel is now ready to free “almost double that number,” Channel 12 reports, including 100 murderers. Other Hebrew media reports suggest Israel is prepared to release 700 security prisoners in return for the 40.

The TV report adds that for the first time in the negotiations, Israel has said it is willing to discuss allowing Palestinians who evacuated to avoid fighting to return to northern Gaza. Quoting an unnamed senior source close to the talks, Channel 12 says there would be unspecified conditions for civilians returning to the north of the Strip and that men would likely not be permitted to return. Israel has ruled out a full return of Gazans to the north of the Strip as part of the deal, the report stresses.

Crucially, it adds, Israel continues to hold to “red lines” that rule out a complete IDF withdrawal from Gaza, and insists that the campaign to destroy Hamas will resume once the deal is carried out.

Hamas to date has demanded that any further hostage releases be accompanied by an Israeli commitment to end the war — a condition Israel has rejected as “delusional.”

The TV report quotes a senior Israeli source saying the Israeli negotiating team, led by Mossad chief David Barnea, has the “mandate” it needs from the government to advance in the talks.

The source close to the talks also says the government needs to make a decision on sending the IDF into Rafah, since the protracted indecision over whether to start a major ground operation in the final Hamas stronghold is hurting the negotiation efforts.

Netanyahu celebrates Purim with troops: ‘We got Haman and we’ll get Sinwar’; ‘We will enter Rafah’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marks the Jewish holiday of Purim with officers from the Military Police's Erez Battalion, March 24, 2024. (Haim Zach, GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marks the Jewish holiday of Purim with officers from the Military Police's Erez Battalion, March 24, 2024. (Haim Zach, GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marks the Jewish holiday of Purim with officers from the Military Police’s Erez Battalion, telling them, “We will enter Rafah and achieve absolute victory. We eliminated Haman and we will eliminate [Hamas leader in Gaza Yahye] Sinwar.”

His reiteration of the imperative for troops to tackle Hamas in Rafah comes soon after US Vice President Kamala Harris warned against such an operation.

In the Purim story, the king’s adviser Haman was plotting to kill the Jews of Persia and was ultimately hanged.

“Today we celebrate the holiday of Purim,” the prime minister says after a reading of the Book of Esther. “Over 2,000 years ago in ancient Persia, an antisemitic tyrant, the evil Haman, sought to exterminate the Jews from the face of the earth. The Jews rose up, united, fought and won a complete victory.”

“Today in modern Persia, a new oppressor has arisen — the Iranian regime, which seeks to exterminate the Jewish state. We have already seen what one of the messengers of this tyrant did. On October 7 Hamas committed what President Biden called “an act of sheer evil”.

“Sheer evil cannot be defeated by leaving it alone in Rafah,” he says.

Israel’s planned operation in Rafah, which it says is essential to destroy  the Hamas terror group’s remaining battalions, has drawn international concerns as over a million displaced Palestinians are taking shelter there amid the ongoing war with Hamas.

Lapid slams Netanyahu’s proposal on ultra-Orthodox draft bill as ‘complete fraud’

Opposition leader Yair Lapid makes a video statement about the Haredi draft bill, March 24, 2024. (Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Opposition leader Yair Lapid makes a video statement about the Haredi draft bill, March 24, 2024. (Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Opposition leader Yair Lapid calls Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outline for an update to the current legal framework regulating ultra-Orthodox enlistment “a complete fraud,” and charges that no Haredim will enlist in the Israel Defense Forces under the proposal.

In a video statement, Lapid says the plan would cause “tremendous damage to the economy” and stir up “discrimination between blood and blood.”

“It is an insult to the soldiers, the reservists, the dead and the wounded. This law cannot be passed in the face of opposition from the defense minister and two former IDF chiefs of staff.”

He calls for war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and war cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot — the two former IDF chiefs of staff who have voiced opposition to the proposal — to veto the bill.

Lapid’s statement came as Gantz announced that his National Unity party would leave the coalition if Netanyahu’s bill passes.

Ultra-Orthodox men of military age have been able to avoid the draft for decades by enrolling in yeshivas for Torah study and obtaining repeated one-year service deferrals until they reach the age of military exemption.

Successive Netanyahu governments have struggled to come to a consensus on legislation dealing with the issue since a 2017 High Court decision determined blanket military service exemptions for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students to be discriminatory and unconstitutional, and ordered the state to find a solution to the issue.

WATCH: Dramatic footage of IDF troops fighting Hamas gunmen near Shifa Hospital

The IDF releases dramatic footage showing troops of the Givati Brigade’s Shaked Battalion engaging in close-quarters combat with a Hamas gunman in the area of Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

As the troops searched a four-story building adjacent to Shifa, from which gunfire was previously directed at troops, they encountered a gunman who hurled grenades at them.

The troops are seen returning fire and then disengaging to search the rest of the building. Several minutes later, the gunman hurled additional grenades from the fourth floor, according to the IDF.

While attempting to run down the stairs and reach the soldiers, the gunman was shot dead by the troops, the footage shows.

Gallant heads to DC: Visit will focus on ‘preserving Israel’s qualitative edge’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issues a video statement from Ben Gurion Airport before flying to the US, March 24, 2024. (Screenshot: Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issues a video statement from Ben Gurion Airport before flying to the US, March 24, 2024. (Screenshot: Elad Malka/Defense Ministry)

Before departing to Washington DC, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant says his official visit will focus on “preserving Israel’s qualitative edge and the ways to achieve the common goal: Victory over Hamas and returning the hostages.”

“I am leaving for the United States, at the invitation of the American government for a very important trip, to meet with a series of senior American officials, including the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the national security adviser and the head of the CIA,” Gallant says in a video statement from the tarmac.

“The trip will focus on preserving the qualitative edge of the State of Israel and its ability to obtain air platforms and munitions, but no less than that, the relationship with the United States and the common need to achieve the goals in Gaza, to defeat the Hamas organization, to return the hostages, and to establish what we need for Israel’s security, vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip first, but also vis-à-vis Lebanon,” he says.

“We will also deal with how we will return the residents of the north to their homes, either through military action or through an agreement,” Gallant continues.

“I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, the American government, my friend Lloyd Austin, for the invitation to come to the US at an important time, to preserve the special and important relationship for the two countries,” he adds.

‘Precise intelligence’ shows Hamas using Khan Younis civilian infrastructure for ‘terror activities’ — IDF

The IDF says it has “precise intelligence” indicating that Hamas operatives are using civilian infrastructure in the Al-Amal neighborhood of Khan Younis for “terror activities,” and therefore it launched a new operation in the area.

The military says it “calls on the Hamas terrorists to stop using hospitals and other civilian facilities as a shield for their terror activities which harm innocent civilians.”

“The IDF will continue to operate in accordance with international law and take measures to uphold the safety and well-being of civilians,” the military adds.

Thousands of Christian faithful attend Palm Sunday celebrations in Jerusalem

Christians walk in the Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Christians walk in the Palm Sunday procession on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Thousands of Christian faithful attend Palm Sunday celebrations at Jerusalem’s sacred Mount of Olives, marking the first day of Holy Week as conflict surges across the region.

Pilgrims wave branches and fronds in the air, items that were placed before Jesus’s feet as he was greeted by cheering crowds during his entrance into Jerusalem, according to the Bible.

Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre — revered as the site of Jesus’s crucifixion — also held a service earlier today.

The annual celebration comes as war rages on in Gaza, though it appears to have had little effect on the procession, which swells to a similar size as last year.

“Although there is war, in my impression I don’t feel any kind of tension,” says David Manini, a pilgrim from Italy.

“I’m here because I love Jesus Christ,” says Jennifer Weedon, who traveled from the United States for the occasion.

The celebration marks the beginning of the most somber week in the Christian calendar, which marks Jesus’s crucifixion on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter.

Gantz: We’ll leave the coalition if Netanyahu’s Haredi draft bill passes

National Unity party chair Benny Gantz holds a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 13, 2024.(Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
National Unity party chair Benny Gantz holds a press conference at the Knesset in Jerusalem, March 13, 2024.(Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s outline for a Haredi draft law a “red line,” war cabinet Minister Benny Gantz declares that his National Unity party will not be able to remain in the coalition if it is passed into law.

“The people will not be able to put up with it, the Knesset will not be able to vote for it, and my friends and I will not be able to be members of the emergency government if such legislation passes the Knesset and enters the statute book of the State of Israel, in a way that would harm the unity and security of the state in general, during wartime in particular,” Gantz states in a video message.

“I call on the Likud ministers and members of the Knesset, make your voices heard,” he appeals, arguing that such legislation constitutes a “serious failure of values” that would create significant social rifts during wartime, when Israeli society needs to remain united.

“I appeal to the leaders of the ultra-orthodox parties as someone who has no doubts about the importance of studying the Torah and preserving Israel’s heritage and tradition — do not try to pass an incorrect law that the entire nation cannot bear.”

According to the Ynet news outlet, the outline Gantz was referring to does not set a quota of ultra-Orthodox men enlisting per year; sets the age of exemption from service at 35; and ensures that Haredi men who don’t enlist will not face criminal sanctions.

It also includes a plan to set up special ultra-Orthodox battalions in the IDF and add Haredi positions in the country’s emergency services and government offices.

Gantz’s comments come after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced earlier today that he would not support Netanyahu’s proposal and criticized his fellow coalition members for refusing to be “flexible” on the issue of blanket exemptions from the IDF for the ultra-Orthodox community.

Palestinian man, 19, arrested for harassing police’s 100 hotline with false terror threats

Police have arrested a 19-year-old Palestinian man who has been harassing the 100 emergency hotline with false warnings of terror attacks.

The man, a resident of Yatta, near Hebron, called the police hotline multiple times stating that he intended to carry out an attack, police say in a statement.

The case has been transferred to the civil administration for further processing, the police statement adds.

UNRWA chief says Israel refusing to approve food convoys to northern Gaza

The head of UNRWA says Israel has informed the UN that it will no longer approve UNRWA food convoys to the north of Gaza.

“This is outrageous and makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted,” UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini writes on X.

The UN body for Palestinians has been in crisis since Israel provided evidence that 12 UNRWA employees in Gaza participated in the deadly October 7 Hamas attack, in which terrorists murdered some 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 253. It alleges many other staffers are members of terror groups in Gaza.

The allegations prompted UNRWA’s biggest donor, the United States, and some others to pause funding, putting the agency’s future in doubt. Other countries including Canada, Australia and Sweden have since restored funding.

“By preventing UNRWA to fulfill its mandate in Gaza, the clock will tick faster towards famine & many more will die of hunger, dehydration + lack of shelter,” Lazzarini adds.

Last week, Israel denied allegations from UNRWA and Egypt that it had blocked him from entering the Gaza Strip.

IDF: Fighter jets struck Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon

The IDF says fighter jets struck a building used by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon’s Ayta ash-Shab and another infrastructure in Odaisseh earlier today, after surveillance soldiers of the 869th Combat Intelligence Collection Unit spotted operatives at the sites.

The IDF says it also shelled the source of missile fire against the Shtula and Ramim Ridge area, as well as other areas in south Lebanon to “remove threats.”

Hamas source says Doha talks ‘tense’ as Israel brought new conditions to the table — report

Protesters call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terror group, Tel Aviv, March 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
Protesters call for the release of hostages held in the Gaza Strip by the Hamas terror group, Tel Aviv, March 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

A Hamas source claims that talks in Doha to close a hostage release deal came to an impasse because Israel brought new conditions to the table that the terror group has already rejected.

“The scene at the negotiating table has become tense,” the source tells the Saudi Al-Araby al-Jadeed newspaper.

The source is quoted as saying that Israel presented a demand that Hamas release the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, held in Gaza since 2014, during the first six-week pause in fighting.

Hamas has to date conditioned any further hostage releases on an Israeli commitment to a permanent ceasefire, a demand Israel has rejected outright, vowing to resume its military campaign after any hostage-truce deal has been implemented.

“Hamas’s position is firm, and it will not accept surrender towards which Tel Aviv is pushing it by accepting a submission agreement,” the source is quoted as saying.

The source further says that Israel tried “by several means” during the last round of talks in Qatar to get confirmation that Marwan Issa, deputy head of Hamas’s military wing, was killed in a recent IDF strike.

“If, as they say, they know everything that is happening in Gaza, and are certain he was eliminated, and they implicated the US administration in declaring his martyrdom, why are they trying in various ways to obtain information about him?” the source asks.

Last week, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed that Issa had been killed in an Israeli strike, becoming the first official in any government to publicly do so.

CIA director Bill Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea and Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar departed Qatar late last night to brief their teams back home on the latest talks, which aimed to finalize an agreement for a six-week truce in Gaza and the release of some 40 children, women, elderly and sick hostages in the first phase, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and an increase of humanitarian aid to the Strip.

Of 253 hostages abducted by Hamas and other terrorists from Israel on October 7, 2023, some 130 are still held captive in Gaza, though not all are alive.

Hezbollah announces deaths of two operatives in Israeli strikes

The Hezbollah terror group announces the deaths of two members killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

They are named as Hussein Arslan, from the southern Lebanon town of Taybeh, and Ali Faqih from the coastal town of Ansariyeh.

Their deaths bring the terror group’s toll since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip to 246.

The announcement comes following an alleged IDF strike earlier today on a vehicle in the eastern Lebanon town of Souairi, as well as other recent strikes on Hezbollah targets over the past day.

En route to Middle East to push Gaza aid, German FM calls for Hamas to surrender

FRANKFURT — German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is traveling to the Middle East today because not enough help is getting to Gaza and the Israeli government must open the border crossings to a lot more aid, she says in a statement.

Ahead of her trip to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Baerbock says every aid crate sitting on trucks in front of Gaza’s border fences is one too many.

“Hamas must lay down its arms and never again bring the terror of October 7 to the people of Israel. But this goal cannot be achieved purely militarily,” she says.

Baerbock has visited the region six times since Hamas’s October 7 massacre.

“Airdrops or sea bridges are not a sustainable solution,” the green party politician says, adding that military action has its limits in international humanitarian law.

Baerbock says only an immediate humanitarian ceasefire leading to a permanent cessation of fighting would keep hopes for peace alive and end suffering on all sides.

Only the prospect of a two-state solution with a reformed Palestinian Authority as a first step towards a democratic Palestinian state could offer people a life of security and dignity, she says.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

VP Harris doesn’t rule out consequences for Israel if it goes ahead with Rafah op

US Vice President Kamala Harris appears to not rule out consequences for Israel if it moves forward with a major ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah where over a million Palestinians are sheltering.

Upon first being pressed on ABC’s “This Week” whether there would be consequences from the US if Israel moves into Rafah, Harris responds, “We’re going to take it one step at a time.”

But after the question was raised a second time, she says, “I am ruling out nothing.”

“We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake,” Harris explains.

“I have studied the maps. There’s nowhere for those folks to go. We’re looking at about a million and a half people in Rafah who are there because they were told to go there… so we’ve been very clear that it would be a mistake to move into Rafah with any type of military operation,” the vice president adds.

Commenting on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s recent speech calling for early elections in Israel to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Harris says, “I will not speak for Senator Schumer, but we are very clear that that is on the Israeli people to make a decision about when they will have an election and who of course they elect to lead their government.”

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden referred to an Israeli operation in Rafah as a “red line,” when pushed during an MSNBC interview. He subsequently backtracked and the White House has since maintained that such talk “is not stated as a declaration of our policy.”

Pro-Israel scholar: Netanyahu, Smotrich, Ben Gvir ‘moving headlong’ to making Israel a pariah state

A prominent scholar at a conservative, pro-Israel think tank rips into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “moving headlong to make Israel an international pariah state,” in the latest indication that outrage over the premier has extended across the political spectrum and into a camp of the Jewish state’s longtime supporters.

“More West Bank settlements is a direct F**K You from Netanyahu to Biden and the US,” American Enterprise Institute senior emeritus scholar Norm Ornstein tweets, referring to the Israeli expropriation of nearly 2,000 acres of West Bank land on Friday while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the country.

“I did not want to say this, but I think it’s time to cut off arms. Netanyahu and his thugs like Smotrich and Ben Gvir are moving headlong to make Israel an international pariah state,” Ornstein says.

“I would like to see some evidence that [war cabinet minister] Benny Gantz and other reasonable people who are a part of the war cabinet are making a difference. If not, it’s time to leave and not be tainted by these outrageous acts,” he adds.

Official: Netanyahu likely to appoint Gaza aid czar amid frustration with Israeli effort

An aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid over the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
An aircraft airdrops humanitarian aid over the northern Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is frustrated with Israel’s handling of humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official tells The Times of Israel.

He will likely appoint a senior official to oversee the effort, amid growing criticism from world bodies and Israel’s allies.

The UN has repeatedly warned of famine in the densely populated Palestinian enclave, particularly in the north, which has been largely cut off from aid deliveries since war erupted on October 7.

Israel blames the ailing humanitarian situation on aid agencies’ failure to distribute supplies, and on Hamas and armed groups who have looted trucks entering the Gaza.

Report: At least 100 Gaza terror suspects yet to be processed due to overflowing prisons

At least 100 terror suspects detained during the war against Hamas in Gaza in recent months are still being held in interrogation facilities due to lack of space in prisons, according to a Hebrew media report.

About 4,000 terror suspects have arrested since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, the majority in Gaza.

According to the Channel 12 report, the Israel Prison Service has room for 14,500 prisoners, while the current need is for almost 22,000 prisoners.

The report adds that while the IDF has arrested nearly 800 terror suspects during its ongoing operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, some are still being held in temporary detention as the interrogation facilities are also at full capacity.

Earlier in March, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered government ministries to prepare prisons for an influx of thousands of inmates.

Channel 12 reports that National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, whose ministry is responsible for the IPS, blames Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for holding up a budget transfer of NIS 400 million ($109 million) required to resolve the space shortages.

Smotrich reportedly strikes back at the claim, accusing Ben Gvir of shirking his responsibilities.

“In the two budgets that have been passed [since war broke out on October 7] the national security minister has been allocated billions of shekels to deal with additional wartime needs… blaming the Finance Ministry isn’t an option.”

Several anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon at north; none hurt — local authorities

Several anti-tank missiles are fired from Lebanon at the Galilee Panhandle, local authorities say.

The Upper Galilee Regional Council says there are no reported injuries in the strikes in the northern part of the Ramim Ridge.

Man killed in alleged IDF airstrike near Syrian border – Lebanese security source

Lebanese medics arrive at the site of an alleged Israeli drone attack targeting a vehicle in the town of Souairi, in western Bekaa Valley in central Lebanon on March 24, 2024. (Hassan Jarrah/AFP)
Lebanese medics arrive at the site of an alleged Israeli drone attack targeting a vehicle in the town of Souairi, in western Bekaa Valley in central Lebanon on March 24, 2024. (Hassan Jarrah/AFP)

An alleged Israeli strike on a car near the Syrian border killed a man earlier today, a Lebanese security source says, after overnight fire wounded four people in Lebanon’s east, according to an AFP correspondent.

“Israeli fighter jets targeted a vehicle in the eastern Bekaa area of Souairi, killing its Syrian driver,” the security source tells AFP, requesting anonymity for security concerns.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in seven civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Hezbollah has named 244 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 42 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 50 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Islamic State posts video of Moscow terror attack on social media

Emergency services vehicles are seen outside the burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the shooting incident in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024. (Stringer/AFP)
Emergency services vehicles are seen outside the burning Crocus City Hall concert hall following the shooting incident in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow, on March 22, 2024. (Stringer/AFP)

A video apparently shot by gunmen who carried out the deadly attack on a Moscow concert hall was posted on social media accounts typically used by the jihadist group Islamic State, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

The video, which lasts a minute and a half, shows several individuals with blurred faces and garbled voices, armed with assault rifles and knives.

They appear to be in the lobby of the Crocus City Hall concert venue in Krasnogorsk, northwest of the Russian capital.

The attackers fire several bursts of gunfire, numerous inert bodies are strewn about and a fire can be seen starting in the background.

The video appeared on a Telegram account considered, according to the SITE monitoring group, to belong to Amaq, the news arm of ISIS.

The attack, for which ISIS claimed responsibility on Friday evening, killed at least 133 people.

It was the deadliest attack claimed by the jihadist group on European soil.

Purim in Gaza: IDF soldiers read the Book of Esther inside Shifa Hospital

IDF troops operating inside Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital read the Book of Esther to mark the Jewish holiday of Purim amid the ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In video footage circulating online, a soldier reads the Jewish text, known colloquially as the Megillah, while others stand around him in full combat gear.

One soldier appears to be wearing a foam clown nose — a nod to the Purim tradition of dressing up in costumes.

Visiting Egypt, UN chief Guterres says ground deliveries are the only way to stave off Gaza famine

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, right, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talk during their meeting at the foreign ministry headquarters in the Egypt's New Administrative Capital, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, right, and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres talk during their meeting at the foreign ministry headquarters in the Egypt's New Administrative Capital, Sunday, March 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says in Cairo that delivering the necessary aid to famine-threatened Gaza “requires Israel removing the remaining obstacles and chokepoints to relief.”

He reiterates his conviction that the only effective and efficient way to deliver heavy goods to meet Gaza’s humanitarian needs is by road and includes an exponential increase in commercial deliveries.

Israel has blamed the United Nations for not delivering aid fast enough inside the Gaza Strip, while the UN has charged Israel with unnecessarily delaying the trucks of aid from entering the Strip.

Israel has also long said that Hamas stockpiled supplies and kept them from increasingly desperate civilians, and footage from Gaza has shown gunmen, believed to be members of the terror group, stealing trucks delivering humanitarian aid from Egypt.

Following a visit to the gates of the war-torn Palestinian territory at the Rafah border crossing Saturday, Guterres repeats his call for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to alleviate “the plight of Palestinian children, women and men struggling to survive the nightmare in Gaza.”

In recent weeks, the US has begun airdropping meals into north Gaza, in coordination with Egypt and Jordan, and is in the process of preparing a landing jetty inside the enclave that would facilitate aid to Gaza by sea.

High Court orders state to pay environmental group NIS 20,000 in legal costs over Planning Administration suit

The High Court accepts a petition submitted by the environmental advocacy organization Adam Teva V’Din charging that a search committee set up to recommend a director general for the fast-track Planning Administration did not have any representatives with the appropriate professional background in planning to properly assess candidates’ skills.

Adam Teva V’Din’s CEO Amit Bracha says his organization will continue to “stand guard” so that appointments that have significant implications for the environment meet the full requirements of the law.

Rafi Elmaliach, who worked for years at the Israel Land Authority, most recently as senior director of planning and projects, was chosen for the post and took office in August 2022 for five years.

Justice Isaac Amit rules that a new search committee should be established and that the appointment be reviewed within six months.

He does not relate to Adam Teva V’Din’s assertion that Elmaliach faces a potential conflict of interest because of his long tenure at the ILA, with which the Planning Administration works closely.

Nor does he propose sacking Elmaliach, noting his “extensive experience in the field.”

He orders the state to pay Adam Teva V’Din’s court costs of NIS 20,000.

Lebanese media reports alleged Israeli strike on vehicle in Souairi, east Lebanon

Lebanese media reports an alleged Israeli strike on a vehicle near the eastern town of Souairi, in the Beqaa Governorate.

Images said to be from the scene show the targeted car.

No further details are immediately available.

CIA chief Bill Burns departs Qatar after holding talks on Gaza truce deal – report

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to examine worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in March 8, 2023. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/AP)
Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to examine worldwide threats on Capitol Hill in March 8, 2023. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/AP)

CIA director Bill Burns departed Qatar late last night following talks on a temporary truce in Gaza and the release of the 134 hostages still held by Hamas, a source briefed on the talks tells AFP.

Mossad chief David Barnea departed Qatar last night, along with Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar, an Israeli official confirmed to the Times of Israel.

The CIA and Mossad chiefs “departed Doha to brief their respective teams back home on the latest round” of talks, the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions, adding negotiations had “focused on details and a ratio for the exchange of hostages and prisoners.”

IDF, Shin Bet say military launched new offensive in Khan Younis’s Al-Amal neighborhood

The IDF and Shin Bet say the military launched a new offensive against Hamas in the Al-Amal neighborhood of southern Gaza’s Khan Younis overnight.

The raid, led by the 98th Division, is aimed at “continuing dismantling the terror infrastructure and eliminating terrorists in the area,” the IDF says.

As the operation began, Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes against some 40 Hamas targets in the area, including buildings used by the terror group, tunnels, and additional infrastructure, according to the IDF.

The IDF says the division’s Commando Brigade, Givati Infantry Brigade, and 7th Armored Brigade then encircled Al-Amal, where they are currently battling Hamas gunmen.

The IDF previously operated in the al-Amal area last month.

IDF says troops in south Gaza’s al-Qarara destroyed weapons caches, killed numerous gunmen

IDF troops operate in southern Gaza's al-Qarara, in a handout image published March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF troops operate in southern Gaza's al-Qarara, in a handout image published March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF provides updates on its ongoing operation against Hamas in southern Gaza’s al-Qarara, close to Khan Younis, where troops have targeted sites belonging to the terror group near Israel’s border.

The raid is being led by the 7th Armored Brigade, alongside troops of the Kfir Infantry Brigade in advanced stages of training.

The IDF says the troops located and destroyed caches of weapons and several sites belonging to Hamas, killed numerous gunmen with tank shelling, and “neutralized the threat adjacent to the [border] fence.”

During the raid, a Hamas weapons depot with a tunnel shaft beneath it was targeted in a helicopter strike, the IDF says.

Ahead of the operation, the IDF says the Air Force struck several sites and Hamas operatives who were gathered at hideout apartments and near troops in the al-Qarara area.

Gallant says he won’t back Haredi draft proposal being submitted this week, asks coalition partners to be ‘flexible’

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at a memorial ceremony for Israel's fallen soldiers whose final resting place is unknown, at Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 17, 2024 (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at a memorial ceremony for Israel's fallen soldiers whose final resting place is unknown, at Mount Herzl Military cemetery in Jerusalem on March 17, 2024 (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant criticizes his fellow coalition members for refusing to be “flexible” on the issue of blanket exemptions from the IDF for the ultra-Orthodox community as the deadline to present new legislation draws closer.

Speaking ahead of his departure for Washington where he will meet with his US counterpart, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Gallant says that reaching an agreement on the issue is “essential for the existence and success of the IDF,” and appeals for a compromise to be found.

“This coming Tuesday, a proposal for a decision on the recruitment issue will be brought to the government by the prime minister, on his initiative,” he continues. “My position has not changed. I will not be a party to any proposal that isn’t agreed upon by all coalition factions — and under my leadership, the security system will not submit it for legislation.”

“There is still time to come together and form a joint proposal,” Gallant adds. “I again call on the prime minister and minister Benny Gantz to take advantage of the time that remains and forge a broad consensus on the issue of the conscription law, for the benefit of the IDF and the benefit of the State of Israel.”

Hamas-run health ministry says 32,226 killed and 74,518 wounded in Gaza war

At least 32,226 Palestinians have been killed and 74,518 have been wounded in Gaza since October 7, the Hamas-run health ministry in the enclave says.

The terror group’s figures are unverified, don’t differentiate between civilians and combatants, and list all the fatalities as caused by Israel — even those believed to have been caused by hundreds of misfired rockets or otherwise by Palestinian fire.

Israel has said it killed some 13,000 Hamas members in Gaza fighting, in addition to some 1,000 killed inside Israel in the aftermath of the terror group’s October 7 invasion and onslaught.

Suspected drone infiltration sirens were false alarms, IDF says

Suspected drone infiltration sirens that sounded in the southern part of the Golan Heights a short while ago were false alarms, the IDF says.

IDF says more than half of the 800 suspects detained at Shifa Hospital are Hamas, Islamic Jihad members

IDF soldiers are seen operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
IDF soldiers are seen operating in the Gaza Strip in an undated handout photo released on March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF’s nearly weeklong operation continues at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, with the military saying that among some 800 suspects detained by troops, 480 of them have been confirmed to be members of the Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.

Troops also located infrastructure belonging to terror groups and caches of weapons over the past, the IDF says.

Meanwhile, Israeli Air Force fighter jets struck some 65 targets in northern and central Gaza over the past day, which the IDF says was part of support for maneuvering ground forces. The targets, according to the IDF, included an attack tunnel, buildings used by Hamas where terror operatives were gathered, and other infrastructure.

IDF troops raid a drone manufacturing lab in central Gaza, in a handout image published by the military on March 24, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

In a strike in southern Gaza’s Khan Younis, the IDF says, it targeted a site used as a staging ground where several operatives were gathered.

One building in northern Gaza’s Beit Hanoun, which the military says was a threat to troops, was targeted by another aircraft.

In central Gaza, the IDF says troops of the Nahal Brigade killed several Hamas gunmen over the past day, including with sniper fire.

Nahal troops also raided a drone manufacturing lab in central Gaza, where the IDF says soldiers killed several gunmen.

In southern Gaza, the IDF says the 7th Armored Brigade killed several gunmen with sniper fire, combat engineers destroyed a rocket launcher, and an aircraft struck infrastructure belonging to a terror group.

Hostile aircraft sirens activated in Golan Heights

Hostile aircraft sirens are activated in multiple locations across northern Israel.

The sirens can be heard across the southern Golan Heights area including in Kfar Haruv, Bnei Yehuda and Mevo Hama.

Putin gives first public comments on Moscow terror attack as country observes day of mourning

A message reading "We Mourn 03.22.2024" is displayed on a billboard in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 23, 2024, following an attack Friday, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A message reading "We Mourn 03.22.2024" is displayed on a billboard in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, March 23, 2024, following an attack Friday, for which the Islamic State group claimed responsibility. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russia lowers flags to half-mast for a day of mourning after scores of people were gunned down with automatic weapons at a rock concert outside Moscow in the deadliest attack inside Russia for two decades.

President Vladimir Putin declared a national day of mourning after pledging to track down and punish all those behind the attack, which left 133 people dead, including three children, and more than 150 injured.

“I express my deep, sincere condolences to all those who lost their loved ones,” Putin says in an address to the nation on Saturday, his first public comments on the attack. “The whole country and our entire people are grieving with you.”

Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, but Putin has not publicly mentioned the terrorist group in connection with the attackers, who he claimed had been trying to escape to Ukraine. He asserted that some on “the Ukrainian side” had prepared to spirit them across the border.

Ukraine has repeatedly denied any role in the attack, which Putin also blamed on “international terrorism.”

Woman killed in Ashdod shooting, two others lightly to moderately injured

The 40-year-old woman who was critically injured in a shooting in Ashdod a short while ago has died of her injuries, Hebrew media reports.

Two other injured people have been taken to Assuta Medical Center for treatment, the reports add.

Three injured, one critically, in shooting in Ashdod

A 40-year-old woman was critically injured in a shooting in the southern Israel city of Ashdod.

A man in his late 30s was also moderately injured in the violent incident, and a 20-year-old woman was lightly wounded, Magen David Adom says.

“When we arrived at the scene, we saw the woman lying unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse,” a MDA paramedic says. “We immediately began performing CPR while taking her to the hospital.”

The police say they are searching for the suspected shooter and are treating the incident as “criminal,” indicating they aren’t suspecting a terror motive.

IDF: Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv killed in Shifa Hospital op, raising troop death count to 252

Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv. (IDF)
Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv. (IDF)

The IDF announces the death of Sgt. First Class Lior Raviv, who was killed yesterday during Israel’s ongoing operation targeting Hamas terrorists in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

The 21-year-old was from Rishon Lezion and was a fighter in the 932nd Battalion of the Nahal Brigade.

He is the 252nd soldier to lose his life fighting in the IDF’s war in Gaza against the Hamas terror group.

US forces engage six Houthi unmanned aerial vehicles over southern Red Sea

US forces engaged six Houthi unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) over the southern Red Sea, the US Central Command says, adding that five of the UAVs crashed into the Red Sea, and one flew inland into Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen.

‘ISIS solely responsible’: White House denies Putin claim that Ukraine involved in Moscow attack

This video grab taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Investigative Committee on March 23, 2024 shows a law enforcement officer standing inside the Crocus City Hall, a day after a gun attack in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow. (Handout / RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE / AFP)
This video grab taken from a handout footage released by the Russian Investigative Committee on March 23, 2024 shows a law enforcement officer standing inside the Crocus City Hall, a day after a gun attack in Krasnogorsk, outside Moscow. (Handout / RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE / AFP)

The White House denies Russian claims that Ukraine was involved in an ISIS terror attack on a concert hall in Moscow in which over 130 people were killed.

“ISIS bears sole responsibility for this attack. There was no Ukrainian involvement whatsoever,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson says in a statement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin initially claimed after the attack that the assailants tried to escape in the direction of Ukraine and that Kyiv prepared an escape “window” for them. Ukraine has flatly denied these claims as well.

Watson confirms that the United States “shared information with Russia about a planned terrorist attack in Moscow.”

Sirens triggered in Kibbutz Nir Oz after nearly a week of no rocket fire at Gaza periphery

Rocket sirens were triggered earlier tonight in Kibbutz Nir Oz after nearly a week of no rocket fire at Gaza border towns.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages.

Three said wounded after one of IDF airstrikes in north Lebanon hits two-story building

A building hit by an Israeli airstrike in Baalbek, Lebanon on March 24, 2024. (Screen capture/X)
A building hit by an Israeli airstrike in Baalbek, Lebanon on March 24, 2024. (Screen capture/X)

Three people were wounded by Israeli air strikes on Lebanon’s eastern city of Baalbek overnight, one of which hit a two-story building, an AFP correspondent says

The city is a stronghold of the Hamas ally Hezbollah, and it is the third time the area has been hit in more than five months of fighting between Israel and the Iran-backed Lebanese terror group.

The AFP correspondent says the Israeli strikes targeted a Hezbollah site that had been deserted for some time, wounding three residents in nearby buildings.

“The Israeli air force fired five missiles at a two-story inhabited building in al-Osseira, on the outskirts of Baalbeck,” he says.

Governor Bashir Khodr says on social media platform X that three people had been wounded.

The strike at al-Osseira, some 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Israeli-Lebanese border, ends a period of relative calm that had lasted around 10 days.

IDF confirms northern Lebanon strike, saying jets struck Hezbollah weapons manufacturing plant

The IDF confirms reports of an airstrike in the northern Lebanese city of Baalbek earlier tonight, saying its warplanes targeted a Hezbollah weapons manufacturing plant.

It also confirms Hezbollah’s claim to have fired a retaliatory barrage of rockets at northern Israel, but says it only detected 50 launches into Israeli territory. Hezbollah claimed to have fired 60 rockets.

The IDF says several of the Hezbollah rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system, while the rest landed in open areas. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

In response, the IDF said its forces immediately targeted some of the rocket launchers used in the attack on Israel.

Hezbollah says it launched 60 rockets at northern Israel in response to IDF strike in northern Lebanon

Hezbollah says in a statement that in response to the “bombing of a place in the [northern Lebanese] city of Baalbek” earlier tonight it targeted an Israeli missile and artillery base in Yoav and the Kaila barracks with more than 60 Katyusha rockets.

Reports of IDF airstrike in northeast Lebanon after repeated Hezbollah fire at Israel

Lebanese media outlets are reporting an Israeli airstrike in northeastern Lebanon’s Baalbek.

The strike comes following several Hezbollah missile, rocket, and drone attacks on northern Israel over the weekend.

Baalbek, an area identified in the past as a Hezbollah stronghold, is nearly 100 kilometers from the Israeli border.

It would make the fourth time amid the war that Israel is striking Hezbollah positions in the Baalbek area.

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