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UN Security Council Approves U.S. Resolution for Gaza Cease Fire, as Hamas Accuses Blinken of Israel Bias

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Top Headlines: 

  • UN Security Council Endorses US-Drafted Ceasefire Resolution as Hamas Criticizes Blinken’s Stance
  • Gallant Votes Against Netanyahu Government in Knesset, Indicating He May Exit Government
  • Biden Administration May Negotiate Separately with Hamas, via Qatar, for American Hostage Release
  • Houthis Claim Arrest of US-Israeli Spy Network Using Aid Agencies
  • Germany Warns of Regional Catastrophe from Assad’s Drug Smuggling

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 

  1. UN Security Council Endorses US-Drafted Ceasefire Resolution as Hamas Criticizes Blinken’s Stance

The United Nations Security Council adopted a US-drafted resolution urging Israel and Hamas to implement a three-phase ceasefire proposal announced by President Biden. With 14 votes in favor and one abstention from Russia, the resolution calls on Hamas to accept the ceasefire to end the eight-month conflict. U.S. officials publicly stated that Israel has already agreed to the cease fire terms, though there has been no formal Israeli government endorsement of the resolution. Hamas leader Sami Abu Zuhri criticized US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statements in Cairo, claiming they favor Israel and block the ceasefire agreement. Abu Zuhri urged the US to pressure Israel to end the conflict, stating Hamas’s readiness to cooperate with initiatives ensuring a ceasefire. Blinken, emphasizing that Hamas is the main obstacle, urged regional leaders to pressure Hamas to accept the proposal during his Middle East visit.

  1. Israeli Defense Minister Gallant Votes Against Government’s Haredi Draft Law, Indicating He May Exit Government

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant defied PM Netanyahu’s governing coalition by voting against the Haredi draft law, which was nonetheless approved by the Knesset with a 63-57 vote. Gallant’s dissent highlighted internal conflicts within the government over the law, which aims to integrate yeshiva students into military service. Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the vote, calling it a betrayal of IDF soldiers. The law proposes raising the draft exemption age for ultra-Orthodox youth and introducing alternative service options, with penalties for non-compliance. Gallant’s vote against his own government’s proposed bill raised speculation he may soon exit Netanyahu’s government, following the exit of war cabinet member Benny Gantz.

  1. Israeli Police Release Video of Gaza Hostage Rescue

The Israel Police released body camera footage showing Yamam operatives rescuing hostages Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, and Almog Meir Jan from Gaza. The video captures Yamam fighters engaging in intense firefights before entering the building and rescuing the hostages. The operation, coordinated with Shin Bet and the IDF, involved simultaneous raids at two locations. Additional footage from the IDF shows the hostages being transported to safety in a helicopter, where soldiers assured them and explained their journey to Sheba Medical Center. 

  1. Israel Says Hamas Has Ordered Hostage Executions if IDF Approaches

Hamas has instructed its operatives to kill hostages if Israeli forces approach, according to Israeli officials cited by The New York Times. Following the rescue of four hostages from Gaza, reports suggest hostages killed during operations might have been executed by their captors. US aircraft have been gathering intelligence on hostages since October 7, supplementing Israeli efforts. The US and UK are involved in extensive intelligence sharing with Israel, focusing on hostage rescue operations and mapping Hamas tunnels. Intelligence indicates some hostages are being used as human shields by Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

  1. Israeli Forces Conduct Deadly Overnight Raids in West Bank

Israeli security forces conducted overnight operations in the West Bank, resulting in the deaths of multiple terrorists and the arrest of 18 suspects. These actions are part of ongoing efforts, with over 4,000 terrorist suspects arrested in the West Bank since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict, including approximately 1,750 associated with Hamas.

  1. IDF Airstrikes Target Hamas Elite Nukhba Force Members

Israeli airstrikes, directed by ground forces, eliminated several terrorists in central Gaza, including members of Hamas’s elite Nukhba force, responsible for the October 7 attack on Israel. The strikes were guided by the 98th Division operating in Deir al-Balah. Concurrently, the 162nd Division targeted terrorist infrastructure in Rafah, southern Gaza, while the 7th Brigade and Yalam unit destroyed tunnel shafts and underground facilities. Female soldiers from the Combat Intelligence Corps identified armed men near an underground shaft, leading to their elimination by air force aircraft. 

  1. Israeli Health Minister Evacuated After Receiving Suspicious Powder

Israeli Health Minister Uriel Busso was evacuated from his office after opening an envelope containing a suspicious powder. The incident led to immediate security measures, including closing the minister’s office. The powder was placed in a sealed container and sent to the Israel Institute for Biological Research for analysis. Busso, examined by a Knesset paramedic, showed no symptoms or adverse effects. The office will remain closed until the investigation concludes.

  1. Serbia Increases Arms Supplies to Israel During Gaza Conflict

An investigation by Haaretz, in collaboration with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, revealed a significant rise in Serbian arms exports to Israel during the ongoing Gaza conflict. Despite international appeals to halt weapon sales to Israel, Serbia has supplied arms valued at €16.3 million since October 2023, with most shipments transported via Israeli military aircraft. The Serbian government has kept details of these shipments classified. Experts indicate Israel’s need for various munitions, including aerial bombs and artillery shells.

  1. Intel Halts $15 Billion Expansion of Kiryat Gat Factor

Intel has paused the planned $15 billion expansion of its chip manufacturing plant in Kiryat Gat, southern Israel. The company, which had announced the extension of an ongoing $10 billion project in December, did not specify reasons for halting the next phase and denied any connection to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza. Intel affirmed its commitment to Israel, emphasizing the importance of adapting large-scale projects to changing timelines based on business conditions, market dynamics, and responsible capital management. Israel remains Intel’s third-largest operational base after the US and Ireland.

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LEBANON

  1. Israel Bombs Hezbollah Arms Shipment on Lebanese-Syrian Border; Hezbollah Downs Another Israeli Drone

Israeli warplanes bombed a Hezbollah arms shipment on the Lebanese-Syrian border, targeting the Hosh al-Sayyid Ali area in Hermel with seven raids. The attack resulted in the death of five people, including three Syrians working with Hezbollah and two Lebanese, and the destruction of a building. Hezbollah reported shooting down an Israeli drone over southern Lebanon, confirmed by the Israeli military. Additionally, the Israeli Defense Forces intercepted a suspected drone over the Golan Heights, with no reported injuries or damage.

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SYRIA

  1. Germany Warns of Regional Catastrophe from Assad’s Drug Smuggling

German special envoy to Syria, Stephen Schneck, has warned of a regional catastrophe due to the escalating smuggling, production, and consumption of Captagon from Syria. The illicit drug trade, valued between $5 billion and $10 billion annually, funds militias and terrorist groups, including those supported by Iran, contributing to regional instability. Schneck emphasized the necessity for a comprehensive strategy to combat Captagon, addressing both supply and demand, and called for international coordination and support. He highlighted the urgent need for educational and health initiatives to raise awareness of Captagon’s dangers to individual health and societal safety, stressing the significant threat to regional security.

  1. Assad Security Forces Arrest Merchants Over Use of “Dollar” in WhatsApp Conversations

Assad security forces in Damascus have been arresting merchants for merely mentioning the word “dollar” in their WhatsApp conversations, as part of a crackdown on dollar dealings. Based on malicious reports, these actions are allegedly aimed at profiteering from wealthier citizens. Arrested merchants are often blackmailed into paying large sums of money as “fines” without receiving official receipts. This practice has led to significant financial extortion, with merchants paying exorbitant amounts to secure their release. The crackdown is part of a broader effort to enforce Decree No. 5 of 2024, which prohibits transactions in foreign currencies, contributing to the ongoing economic and social instability in regime-controlled areas.

  1. Saudi Arabia Returns Two Passenger Planes to the Assad  Regime After 13 Years

Saudi Arabia has returned two Boeing 747 passenger planes to the Assad regime after 13 years. This move follows recent diplomatic engagements, including the provision of aircraft spare parts by Saudi Arabia and the resumption of flights to Syria

  1. Turkish Strikes Devastate Autonomous Administration Infrastructure and Budget in Northeast Syria

The Autonomous Administration in northeast Syria, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has announced a budget deficit of $389 million for 2024. The region’s general revenues are estimated at $670 million, while expenditures are projected at $1.59 billion. The economic crisis is exacerbated by Turkish airstrikes targeting key economic centers, severely disrupting the local economy. The strikes have caused over $500 million in direct damages, with further losses expected from halted oil production, which constitutes over 80% of the Administration’s revenues. Syrian sources say this financial strain has forced the Autonomous Administration to seek assistance from the Assad regime to repair essential infrastructure.

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YEMEN

  1. Houthis Claim Arrest of US-Israeli Spy Network Using Aid Agencies

Yemen’s Houthi rebels announced the arrest of a “spy network” allegedly linked to the CIA and operating under the guise of humanitarian organizations. This follows a recent crackdown that saw over 50 UN employees and NGO workers detained. Critics argue the arrests aim to distract from internal issues and pressure organizations not to move from Sanaa to Aden. 

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IRAQ

  1. UN Warns Iraq Faces Complete Drought Due to Iran, Turkey Water Cuts

A new report by the United Nations Development Program has warned that Iraq is at risk of complete drought due to Iran cutting off water supplies and Turkey reducing the flow of Iraq’s major rivers, exacerbated by severe climate change. The UNDP report highlights that Iraq’s vulnerability to drought has intensified over the past decades, posing serious health, economic, and environmental risks. 

  1. US Embassy in Baghdad Warns Against Security Risks in Digital Transformation

The US Embassy in Baghdad has warned about the dangers of leaking or stealing Iraqi national security information and citizens’ private data during the country’s ongoing digital transformation. Chargé d’Affaires David Borger emphasized at the Iraqi Communications Summit that while some countries and companies offer inexpensive solutions, they may compromise Iraq’s national security by exposing sensitive information. Borger highlighted the importance of secure and reliable communications networks in harnessing the benefits of emerging technologies and safeguarding critical infrastructure, including transportation, electrical networks, and healthcare facilities.

  1. Regional Experts Warn of Potential Major Regional War Involving Iraq

Citing regional experts, Newsweek has warned of a potential larger conflict in the region involving multiple countries, including Iraq, if the Gaza ceasefire fails. Former Israeli officials and experts cited in the report highlighted the risk of a devastating war with Hezbollah, which has significantly enhanced its arsenal since the 2006 war. The conflict could escalate to include other Iranian-backed factions in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The report emphasized that neither side can easily claim victory due to the balance of destructive capabilities. US efforts to mediate a ceasefire and prevent further escalation continue amid increasing regional tensions.

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IRAN

  1. Leaked Documents Show Russia Sold Looted Ukrainian Grain to Iran

Recently disclosed hacked documents reveal Iran among the customers of grain looted by Russia from occupied areas of Ukraine. The documents implicate companies linked to Vladimir Putin’s circle in facilitating this illicit trade. Investigative journalists highlight the involvement of Russian firms in exporting grain illegally, exploiting laws enacted after the military occupation. The revelation underscores concerns over Russia’s unlawful economic activities and its impact on global trade dynamics.

  1. Iranian Regime Uses AI to Tighten Grip on Women’s Freedoms

Iran’s utilization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is amplifying its repression, particularly targeting women’s freedoms. The regime’s integration of AI technologies, spanning facial recognition, CCTV surveillance, and internet monitoring, facilitates a comprehensive crackdown on dissent, notably focusing on women violating hijab regulations. 

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★ THE GULF

  1. Biden Administration May Negotiate Separately with Hamas, via Qatar, for American Hostage Release

Reports from NBC News suggest that the Biden administration is considering negotiating with Hamas, mediated by Qatar, to secure the release of American prisoners in Gaza. If current ceasefire talks fail, discussions may proceed without Israeli involvement, focusing solely on the release of American captives through Qatari intermediaries. 

  1. Iranian Journalists Deported from Saudi Arabia Due to Misunderstanding, Says Iranian Official

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani disclosed that several journalists were deported from Saudi Arabia to Iran following a misunderstanding. Kanaani stated during a press conference that Iranian authorities, in coordination with the Iranian embassy in Riyadh, actively pursued the matter upon learning of the journalists’ arrest by Saudi authorities.

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EGYPT

  1. Egypt’s Year-on-Year Inflation Falls Below 30% for First Time Since January

Egypt’s year-on-year inflation rate dropped to 28.15% in May, the lowest since January, continuing a four-month downward trend from 32.54% in April. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) attributed this decline to reduced prices in food items, including bread, cereals, poultry, and oils. Urban inflation also fell to 28.1%. Amidst its worst economic crisis in over 50 years, Egypt has implemented significant reforms, supported by an expanded IMF package and substantial foreign investments. Goldman Sachs forecasts further inflation reduction, potentially reaching 10% by June 2025, as economic conditions improve.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 10, 2024

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