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Hamas Rejects Biden’s Cease Fire Proposal, Hezbollah Reacts to Leader’s Death, Houthis and Iraqi Resistance Target Haifa

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Top Headlines: 

  • Hamas Alters Gaza Ceasefire Terms; Israeli Hopes for Ceasefire Deal Diminish
  • Israeli Strike Kills Senior Hezbollah Commander, Prompting 215-Rocket Response
  • Houthi Drone Boat Hits U.S. Ship, U.S. Responds
  • Iranian Court “Orders” US to Pay $2.88 Billion for 2018 Ahvaz Terror Attack
  • Explosion of Oil Tanks Triggers Massive Fire Near Erbil

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Hamas Alters Gaza Ceasefire Terms; Israeli Hopes Diminish

Hamas reportedly demanded amendments to US President Joe Biden’s ceasefire proposal for Gaza, seeking to lift the siege and have Israeli forces withdraw from the Philadelphia axis in the initial phase, followed by a comprehensive withdrawal from Gaza and a ceasefire. Hamas rebuffed the proposed prisoner exchange deal, labeling it as one of the most inflexible offers yet. Hamas insisted on UNRWA/UN involvement in the cease fire deal and support from China, Russia, and Turkey. Qatar and Egypt would guarantee the agreement, including Gaza’s reconstruction within 3-5 years. Reacting to Hamas’s demands, Israeli officials expressed pessimism that any ceasefire agreement can be reached at this point.

  1. U.S.-Led Meeting Fosters Israeli-Arab Military Cooperation

Israel’s top general, Gen. Herzi Halevi, convened with counterparts from Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt in Bahrain, facilitated by U.S. Central Command. The discreet gathering aimed to bolster regional security cooperation focused on air and missile defense collaboration, particularly after Israel successfully countered an unprecedented Iranian missile and drone attack on April 13. Israel’s April 13 missile and drone defense was reportedly supported by intelligence shared by Jordan and Saudi Arabia, indicating that regional states perceive a shared threat from Iran’s arsenal.

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LEBANON

  1. Israeli Strike Kills Senior Hezbollah Commander, Prompting 215-Rocket Response

Israel delivered a significant blow to Hezbollah by eliminating senior commander Taleb Sami Abdallah, known as Abu Taleb, in a strike on a house near Tyre, southern Lebanon, on Tuesday. This operation marks the most significant targeting of a Hezbollah leader by Israel since the conflict’s onset. Reports suggest that Abu Taleb’s death, along with three other commanders, occurred during a security meeting. In retaliation, Hezbollah launched a barrage of 215 rockets at northern Israel, triggering widespread rocket alert sirens and starting fires in northern Israel. The conflict escalated further as Israel conducted airstrikes against Hezbollah cells and weapon storage facilities. On Thursday morning, the Israeli military announced that it bombed multiple buildings used by Hezbollah in Aita al-Shaab, southern Lebanon, and targeted other Hezbollah infrastructure in Ainata.  

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SYRIA

  1. UK Says Syrian Regime Still Possesses Chemical Weapons

A UK representative told the UN Security Council this week that the Assad regime still holds a large stock of chemical weapons, with thousands of munitions and tons of chemicals unaccounted for. Analysis from April 2023 indicates the Syrian regime continues to produce chemical weapons, and despite efforts by the OPCW, the Assad regime has not provided a complete stockpile declaration as required by UNSC Resolution 2118. In response, Iranian UN envoy Sattar Ahmadi condemned the “politicization” of Syria’s chemical weapons case and argued that it undermines the Chemical Weapons Convention and OPCW’s credibility. He lauded Assad’s compliance with OPCW obligations, citing the regime’s recent submission of its 126th report and cooperation in technical discussions. 

  1. ISIS Resurgence in Western and Northeastern Syria: 16 Assad Regime Soldiers Killed

ISIS is mounting a resurgence in western and northeastern Syria, with recent operations highlighting their growing strength. In a surprise attack earlier this week, 16 Assad army soldiers were killed after running into a minefield and clashing with ISIS forces in central Syria’s Sukhna desert. Despite its territorial losses in recent years, ISIS remains active, targeting military and civilian targets. In Deir ez-Zor, ISIS operations have intensified, with attacks on SDF military headquarters, vehicles, and checkpoints. 

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YEMEN

  1. Houthi Drone Boat Hits U.S. Ship, U.S. Responds

The US Central Command confirmed that a Houthi-launched drone boat struck the ship “Tutor” in the Red Sea, damaging its engine room. The ship, hit about 68 nautical miles southwest of Hodeidah, was reported to be at risk of sinking. In response, US forces destroyed three anti-ship cruise missile launchers and a drone system in Houthi-controlled Yemen. 

  1. Houthis and Iraqi Militias Target Israel’s Ashdod and Haifa

The Houthi group’s military spokesman, Yahya Saree, announced that the group, in collaboration with the Iraqi Islamic Resistance, executed joint military operations targeting Ashdod and Haifa in Israel. The operations involved missiles hitting a vital target in Ashdod and drones striking an important target in Haifa. Saree claimed that both strikes achieved their objectives, though Israeli sources did not corroborate this claim.

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IRAQ

  1. Explosion of Oil Tanks Triggers Massive Fire Near Erbil

A massive fire broke out at a refinery west of Erbil following the explosion of 12 oil tanks. Video of the fire spread widely on social media. The incident occurred in the town of Al-Kuwair, southwest of Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Despite the efforts of 35 civil defense teams, the fire remained uncontrolled as of early Thursday, with flames spreading to other fuel tanks and causing casualties. Local media reported that the fire originated in crude oil and liquid lime warehouses, and emergency teams are working to contain and prevent further spread.

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IRAN

  1. Iranian Court “Orders” U.S. to Pay $2.88 Billion for 2018 Ahvaz Terror Attack

An Iranian court has ordered the US government to pay $2.88 billion in damages for the 2018 terror attack in Ahvaz, which left 25 dead and over 70 wounded. The lawsuit, filed by families of the victims, claims the US established and supported terror groups like ISIS and Al-Ahwaz, who claimed responsibility for the attack. Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei condemned the attackers as hypocritical mercenaries who target innocent people while professing to uphold human rights.

  1. French Citizen Louis Arnaud Released from Iranian Imprisonment

French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday night the release of Louis Arnaud, a French citizen detained in Iran. Macron expressed gratitude to Oman for its mediation and called for the unconditional release of three other French detainees in Iran:  Cecile Kohler, Jacques Paris, and Olivier. Arnaud, arrested in 2022 during nationwide protests and sentenced to five years for “propaganda against the government,” reportedly will return to France on Thursday. 

  1. Saudi and Iranian Foreign Ministers Meet Briefly at BRICS Summit

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, and Iran’s Caretaker Foreign Minister, Ali Baqeri, met briefly on the sidelines of the BRICS ministerial meeting in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Bin Farhan reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to regional stability and security, expressing satisfaction with Iranian pilgrims’ participation in Hajj. Baqeri emphasized Iran’s desire to strengthen comprehensive relations with Saudi Arabia, claiming that such cooperation would benefit regional security. 

  1. Tehran’s Wage Struggles Worsen Under Persistent Economic Crisis

In Tehran, workers face severe economic challenges, with annual inflation exceeding 40% for five years and minimal wage increases. According to Fararu, job listings for average workers offer salaries ranging from $116 to $300 for 12-hour workdays, reflecting the harsh conditions amidst Iran’s broader economic crisis. The minimum wage, increased by 35% to $186 with benefits, remains insufficient, covering barely half of the monthly $400 needed for basic necessities. Inflation rates around 50% and a 15-fold devaluation of the rial since 2018 exacerbate the situation, pushing many to the brink of poverty. 

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THE GULF

  1. Saudi Crown Prince and Zelensky Discuss Ukraine Crisis Developments

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met in Jeddah to discuss bilateral relations and the Ukrainian-Russian crisis. Prince Mohammed bin Salman emphasized Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting international efforts to resolve the crisis and mitigate its humanitarian impact. President Zelensky, visiting Saudi Arabia for the third time, expressed gratitude for Riyadh’s support and discussed preparations for an upcoming global summit on Ukraine in Switzerland. 

  1. Fire in Kuwait Kills Over 35 Migrant Workers, Injures Dozens

A devastating fire broke out early on Wednesday morning in a building housing nearly 200 foreign workers in Kuwait City’s Mangaf area, a community heavily populated by migrant laborers. The blaze resulted in the deaths of over 35 people and injured 43 more, with most victims suffering suffocation from smoke inhalation. Forensic teams are currently working on-site. The building owner has been detained for potential negligence, with the Interior Minister warning that properties violating safety regulations will be evacuated immediately. 

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 TURKIYE

  1. Putin Approves International Lunar Science Station Project Including Turkey

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved an agreement with China to establish the International Lunar Science Station, marking a significant step in joint lunar exploration efforts. The project, involving the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the China National Space Administration (CNSA), aims to build the station between 2027 and 2032 with the support of the Russian State Nuclear Authority, Rosatom. The initiative also includes participation from 12 other countries, notably Turkey, Pakistan, the UAE, Belarus, and South Africa. 

  1. Erdogan and King Felipe VI Discuss Gaza, Bilateral Relations in Spain

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Spain to participate in the eighth Türkiye-Spain intergovernmental summit. He was welcomed at Madrid Torrejon Airport by Spanish and Turkish officials. Erdogan held a private meeting with Spain’s King Felipe VI at the Royal Palace of Zarzuela, focusing on bilateral relations, the situation in Gaza, and broader regional and global issues. Erdogan praised Spain’s support for Palestine and emphasized the importance of international pressure on Israel for lasting peace. The summit, chaired by Erdogan and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, aims to further deepen relations and expand cooperation between the two nations.

  1. Turkish Naval Vessel Makes Port Visit to Tokyo

The Turkish corvette TCG Kinaliada docked in Tokyo to mark 100 years of Turkish-Japanese diplomatic relations and the 134th anniversary of the Ertugrul frigate’s voyage. Turkish Ambassador Korkut Gungen and Japanese Vice Admiral Itou Hiroshi highlighted mutual commitment to maritime security. Turkish Commander Serkan Dogan emphasized the visit’s significance for naval collaboration. The ship will be open to the public on June 14-15 before heading to Hiroshima, having visited 24 ports in 20 countries since April 9.

  1. Turkish Defense and Foreign Ministers Attend Key International Meetings

Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan are representing Türkiye in crucial international summits this week. Guler has arrived in Brussels to participate in a NATO meeting chaired by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday and Friday, focusing on defense and security issues within the alliance. Meanwhile, Fidan will represent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) Summit in Skopje, North Macedonia. He will first attend the SEECP Foreign Ministers Meeting before joining the summit of Heads of State and Government. Fidan is expected to highlight Türkiye’s priorities in maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans and underscore Ankara’s active role in regional cooperation through initiatives like NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) and EUFOR.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 12, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 11, 2024

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 10, 2024

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