Hostage Release Fails to Help Netanyahu; Iran Proxies Show New Weapons During Election Campaign

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Top Headlines: 

  • IDF Rescues Four Israeli Hostages in Costly Gaza Raid
  • Gantz Quits Israeli Government, Netanyahu Calls for Unity, Ben Gavir Demands Increased Influence
  • Hezbollah Launches Iranian Missile, Israel Retaliates with Strikes Across Lebanon
  • Houthis Strike Multiple Ships; US Military Downs Drones, Missiles
  • Iran Finalizes Presidential Candidates, Faces Controversy Over Secret Message



  1. Hostage Rescue Report: Four Rescued, Three Claimed Dead by Hamas, Palestinians Claim 274 Gazans Killed

A major Israeli military operation, launched on Saturday in the Nuseirat refugee camp, successfully rescued four hostages: Noa Argamani, 26; Almog Meir Jan, 22; Andrey Kozlov, 27; and Shlomi Ziv, 41. Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, claimed on Sunday that three hostages, including a U.S. citizen, were killed during the Israeli raid in Gaza. This claim was dismissed by Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner as “Hamas propaganda.” The rescue, which involved heavy fighting, resulted in the deaths of at least 274 Palestinians and 700 injured, according to Palestinian sources. International reactions have condemned the high Palestinian toll. The Israeli military praised the operation as a success, despite the high cost. The IDF announced that Commander Arnon Zamora was killed during the raid, receiving posthumous accolades for his heroism. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, declared that Israel cannot impose its will on the movement during the ongoing military operations in Gaza, condemning the operations in Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah. He criticized the global community for recognizing but failing to stop Israel’s campaign in Gaza.  Israeli media reported that Noa Argamani, one of the most famous hostages taken on October 7 due to a video clip showing her on a motorcycle behind a Hamas fighter, survived lynching upon arrival in Gaza. She evaded death three times from Israeli strikes, was moved between several apartments, and was never kept in tunnels. Noa was allowed outside only when disguised as an Arab woman. Freed hostage Andrey Kozlov was reunited with his parents at Sheba Medical Center.

  1. Gantz Quits Government, Netanyahu Calls for Unity, Ben Gavir Demands Increased Influence

National Unity chairman Benny Gantz withdrew his party from Netanyahu’s government, accusing the Prime Minister of hindering Israel’s efforts against Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, stating, “This is not the time for division. Unity is crucial in the face of ongoing challenges.” Despite Gantz’s exit, the coalition still holds a majority. National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir used Gantz’s departure to demand increased influence, insisting that military pressure on Hamas is the only effective strategy. Additionally, Brigadier General Avi Rosenfeld, commander of the Israeli army’s Gaza Division, resigned due to failures in protecting bases and settlements during the October 7 Hamas attack. His resignation follows AMAN head Aharon Haliva in April.



  1. Hezbollah Launches Iranian Missile, Israel Retaliates with Strikes Across Lebanon

Hezbollah launched “Falaq 2” missiles at the Sahel Brigade in Beit Hillel barracks, northern Israel, marking the first use of this advanced Iranian missile. The “Falaq 2,” with an 11-kilometer range and a 120-kilogram warhead, is highly maneuverable and operates with surprise capabilities. An Israeli drone strike in Aitroun, southern Lebanon, killed Ali Khalil Hamad and Mustafa A. Issa, damaging infrastructure. Fires erupted near Lebanese Army and UNIFIL positions in Mays al-Jabal. Israeli artillery struck Hula and Wadi Dalafeh, prompting Hezbollah to launch artillery and drone strikes on Shebaa Farms and Mount Hermon. Israel also hit Marwahin and Khiyam, with phosphorus shell fires reported near Alma al-Shaab. Hezbollah targeted Malka with Katyusha rockets. Israeli forces intercepted drones over the Golan Heights, and multiple rockets from Lebanon struck Israeli territories, causing fires but no injuries. Israeli responses targeted Hezbollah sites in southern Lebanon, escalating the conflict.



  1. Houthis Strike Multiple Ships; US Military Downs Drones, Missiles

The US Central Command said that the Houthis launched several attacks on ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, striking vessels from Antigua and Barbuda, Switzerland, and Germany, damaging two ships in the past 24 hours. The British Ministry of Defense denied Houthi claims of targeting the destroyer HMS Diamond in the Red Sea, calling the allegations false. It is not clear whether the reports from Ambrey and the Maritime Trade Operations Authority refer to the same incident. The US Central Command also reported shooting down a drone and destroying two cruise missiles and a missile launcher in Houthi-controlled areas. Media outlets affiliated with the Iranian-backed Houthi group confirmed that American-British aircraft carried out 3 raids on the Al-Jabanah area, west of Hodeidah.



  1. Iraq Seizes 2.5 Million Captagon Pills in Major Operation

Iraqi authorities seized over 2.5 million Captagon pills in a coordinated operation spanning four governorates. The General Directorate of Narcotics Affairs dismantled a drug trafficking network in Basra, Najaf, Anbar, and Nineveh. This proactive operation involved clashes with traffickers attempting to smuggle the drugs. The authorities did not disclose any links between the network and those in neighboring countries like Syria

  1. Iraqi Factions’ Missile Strikes Lead to Israeli Retaliation Threats

Israel has threatened to launch attacks on Iranian groups in Iraq following intensified missile strikes by Iraqi factions. Israeli sources indicated the military plans to destroy the capabilities of these militias. Recent attacks by Iraqi groups, including the Hezbollah and Al-Nujaba Brigades, have increased in frequency and complexity, involving new weapons such as cruise missiles. These developments come as confrontations continue between Israeli forces and Hamas in Gaza and with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran denies direct involvement, claiming affiliated groups act independently.

  1. United States Increases Oil Imports From Iraq Significantly Since 2020

The United States has significantly increased its oil imports from Iraq since 2020. According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq exported approximately 5.8 million barrels of crude oil to the US in May 2023. This averages to a daily shipment of 187,000 barrels, placing Iraq as the fourth-largest oil exporter to the United States during that month. Despite fluctuations in monthly exports, the overall trend shows a steady increase in oil imports from Iraq. In 2023, the US imported an average of 316,000 barrels of petroleum per day from Iraq. 



  1. Turkiye and Russia Conduct Covert Operations in Niger Using Syria Mercenaries 

A Syrian mercenary revealed that Turkish authorities recruited him to fight in Niger, collaborating with Russian forces. Three to four months ago, he and his friends registered with the Sultan Murad Division for deployment to Niger. Friends who previously went have not returned. The source reported being forced to be trained by Russian trainers and fighting under their command. The mercenary noted a media blackout maintaining the secrecy of these operations. They fought Boko Haram in Niger, losing 13 fighters in one mission. Many mercenaries were unaware of Russian involvement until arrival. He also highlighted Syria’s dire economic situation, with 90% of youth having left, leaving behind mostly the disabled or injured. With no jobs and low wages, many are driven to seek mercenary work abroad.

  1. Russia Announces 13 Strikes Targeting Militants from Al-Tanf

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced airstrikes on 13 militant locations in Deir ez-Zor and Homs, claiming the militants came from the US-controlled Al-Tanf area. Deputy Head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, Major General Yuri Popov, said the strikes targeted militants hiding in the Al-Amur mountain ranges. This operation coincided with joint Russian-Syrian military exercises in Tartous, involving anti-aircraft systems and simulated drone attacks, enhancing the operational readiness of Assad’s forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense also reported joint patrols and coordinated strikes in Syrian airspace, involving Su-35 and Su-34 fighters and Su-24 bombers. General Popov previously announced strikes on three militant bases, suggesting a continued focus on neutralizing threats linked to Al-Tanf. 

  1. Ground Operation Kills Two Pro-Iranian Fighters, Injures Several Others

A car bomb detonated in Deir Ezzor, Syria, killing two pro-Iran fighters and injuring several others. The explosion occurred near an Iranian cultural center and involved an SUV belonging to Iran-backed militias. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the vehicle was packed with explosives. Following the blast, Syrian government forces and Iran-backed groups quickly established a security cordon around the impacted site. Deir Ezzor hosts numerous Iranian and proxy forces and institutions, highlighting Iran’s deep-rooted presence in the region.

  1. Ex-Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh Investigated for Syrian War Crimes

The French National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office has appealed to the Paris Judicial Court after charges against Adib Mayaleh, former Governor of the Central Bank of Syria, were initially dropped. Mayaleh, holding French and Syrian citizenship, is implicated in financing the Assad regime, accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. Residing in France under the name André Mayard, Mayaleh faces charges of complicity, money laundering, and conspiracy, and is under judicial supervision. Preliminary investigations began in December 2016. Born in Daraa in 1955, Mayaleh, a doctorate holder in economics from the University of Aix-en-Provence, controlled Syria’s banking sector for 11 years. He allegedly provided substantial financial support to the regime, facilitating economic operations that bolstered its capabilities. Subject to American sanctions, Mayaleh founded a financial consultancy firm in Damascus in 2020. The company deals in administrative and financial systems, economic consultations, and represents various companies in government-permitted activities.



  1. Iran Finalizes Presidential Candidates, Faces Controversy Over Secret Message

Iran’s Guardian Council has released the final list of six candidates for the June 28 presidential election, following the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash on May 19. The approved candidates are Saeed Jalili, Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Masoud Pezeshkian, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Amir-Hossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, and Alireza Zakani. Disqualified were notable figures like ex-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani. The election has already sparked controversy with a leaked message from ministers to the Guardian Council, pushing for the candidacy of Culture Minister Mohamed Mehdi Ismaili. The leaked document, confirmed by official sources, has stirred public debate and allegations of pressure and manipulation. The Council’s selection process and the overall low expectations for voter turnout reflect ongoing dissatisfaction with the political landscape and skepticism towards the electoral process.



  1. Egypt Hosts Blinken to Push Gaza Truce and Reopen Rafah Crossing

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken began his Middle East tour in Egypt on Monday, aiming to advance a ceasefire proposal between Israel and Hamas. Starting in Cairo, Blinken held talks with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to discuss solutions for reopening the Rafah crossing, a critical gateway for humanitarian aid to Gaza, closed for a month. 



  1. Turkish FM Meets Hamas Leader, Qatar Rejects Hamas Expulsion Demand

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh in Doha following the Israeli attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp. The meeting occurred during the sixth Türkiye-Gulf Cooperation Council high-level strategic dialogue. Turkiye condemned the attack and called on international institutions, including the UN Security Council, to act against Israel’s actions in Gaza. Meanwhile, Qatari Defense Minister Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah said Qatar has no plans to expel Hamas’ political headquarters from Doha, emphasizing Qatar’s strategy of facilitating dialogue through Hamas’ presence and urging the international community to pursue a two-state solution.

  1. Turkiye Signs Gold Mining Deal with Venezuela

Turkiye has signed an agreement with Venezuela to develop gold mining in the Mining Arc of Orinoco, a region plagued by illegal mining. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated that the investment aims to promote ecological development while enhancing productivity. The area is rich in gold, iron, coltan, and other minerals, but has suffered environmental damage due to illicit mining activities, including deforestation, river contamination, and harm to Indigenous communities. Additionally, Maduro signed agreements with Turkiye for an ammonia refinery and gas reserves exploitation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to visit Venezuela this year to further solidify bilateral relations.


📌 In case you missed it,

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX June 7, 2024


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