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Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet; Houthis Attack Five Ships; U.S. Navy Rescues Crews

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Top Headlines: 

  • Israeli PM Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet After Gantz Resignation
  • Muslim World Celebrates Eid al-Adha, Feast of Sacrifice Ending the Hajj
  • Israel and Jewish Communities Finish Shavuot Holiday, Celebrating the Giving of the Torah and Unity
  • Houthis Attack Five Ships; U.S. Navy Rescues Two Crews
  • Hezbollah Hits Multiple Israeli Military Sites
  • Hakan Fidan to Meet Assad Advisor Ali Mamlouk in Baghdad Soon

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THE GULF

  1. Muslim World Begins Eid al-Adha Holiday as Hajj Ends: Celebrating Unity and Devotion in Islam

Muslim countries and communities worldwide this week are celebrating the Eid al-Adha holiday, marking the end of the Hajj period. Saudi Arabia has integrated artificial intelligence and modern technologies, transforming the 2024 Hajj into a more efficient and accessible experience for over two million pilgrims. Innovations include the Al Haram Flying Taxi, multilingual guidance robots, smart disinfection robots, automated Zamzam water distribution, and the Hajj smart bracelet. Electric vehicles, robotic medical services, and the “Tawakkalna” app further enhance mobility and safety. Vision 2030 has improved services, with upgraded tents, extensive medical and emergency facilities, and efficient crowd management. The “Makkah Road” initiative streamlines procedures for pilgrims from their home countries. Pilgrims, closely monitored by security sectors, performed rituals such as Tawaf al-Ifadah and stoning Jamrat al-Aqaba, benefiting from comprehensive services and volunteer assistance. In a show of continued foreign policy engagement, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in Mina. 

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. PM Netanyahu Dissolves War Cabinet

Israeli officials announced on Monday morning that PM Benjamin Netanyahu has dissolved the six-member War Cabinet after the departure of cabinet member Benny Gantz and observer Gadi Eisenkot. Netanyahu said he will not form a new war cabinet, effectively rebuffing demands from ministers Ben Gvir and Smotrich to join the war cabinet. Instead, Netanyahu will reportedly convene consultative meetings on an ad hoc basis.

  1. Israel and Jewish Communities Finish Shavuot Holiday: Celebrating the Giving of the Torah and Unity

On 11-13 June, Israelis and Jewish communities worldwide celebrated Shavuot, the “Feast of Weeks.” This significant Jewish holiday is celebrated seven weeks after Passover, commemorating the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Coinciding with the early summer grain harvest, it is a time for spiritual reflection and communal bonding. Shavuot and Yom Kippur both involve the sounding of the shofar, symbolizing freedom—Yom Kippur’s shofar marks the end of fasting, while Shavuot’s shofar signifies embracing the Torah’s moral code. Shavuot honors the first fruits, or Bikurim, brought to the Temple in Jerusalem, highlighting the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. The story of Ruth, a Moabite who became Jewish, is also celebrated. Observances include lighting candles, Torah study, decorating homes, attending synagogue services, and reading the Book of Ruth. Shavuot emphasizes unity and the spiritual and cultural heritage of Israel. Meanwhile, Eid al-Adha was marked by sorrow in conflict-ravaged Gaza as residents performed prayers near destroyed buildings

  1. IDF Clarifies Humanitarian Pause Without Policy Change

Israel’s military announced a daily 11-hour humanitarian pause from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. in southern Gaza to facilitate aid deliveries via the Kerem Shalom crossing to Salah al-Din highway. This pause, organized by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), was announced without prior approval from top government officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant were unaware of the plan, leading to Netanyahu deeming it unacceptable upon learning of it from media reports. He said in the government session on Sunday that “Israel is a country that has an army, not the other way around.” The IDF clarified that fighting in Rafah continues with no policy change. Ultra-right minister Bezalel Smotrich criticized the move, arguing it sustains Hamas. The UN welcomed the pause but called for further measures to enhance aid delivery.

  1. Eight Israeli Soldiers Killed in Gaza Explosion

The Israeli army confirmed the deaths of eight soldiers in an explosion in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, including the deputy commander of a company in the 601st Engineering Brigade. The incident involved an anti-tank missile strike on an armored vehicle, which exploded and caught fire. It reportedly took the army two hours to reach the site. Israeli media described the event as a “dangerous and unusual incident.” Additionally, the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, claimed responsibility for targeting a D9 bulldozer with a Yassin 105 shell in the Saudi neighborhood of Rafah.

  1. Israeli Navy Takes Delivery of New US-Built Logistics Vessel

The INS Komemiyut, a 2,500-ton logistics support vessel, arrived in Israeli waters on June 16, 2024, escorted by Israeli Navy vessels in a commemorative formation for fallen soldiers. The vessel, 95 meters long and 20 meters wide, completed its journey from Pascagoula, Mississippi, and docked at the Haifa Navy Base. Israeli Navy Commander VADM David Saar Salama highlighted the vessel’s strategic importance and its role in enhancing IDF operational cooperation and military capabilities. 

  1. Israel Extends Housing Coverage for Citizens Displaced from Gaza Border Area

The Israeli government has extended housing coverage for internal refugees from communities bordering the Gaza strip who were displaced by the October 7 attack by Hamas-led terrorists. About 30,000 residents were evacuated, with 70% now returned. The coverage, managed by Tekuma Authority, will continue until August 15, 2024, financed by the state. The decision, involving multiple government ministries, aims to support the rebuilding and recovery process during ongoing threats from Hamas and allied terrorists in Gaza, who continue sporadic rocket fire despite IDF efforts to curb their activities.

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YEMEN

  1. Houthis Attack Five Ships; U.S. Navy Rescues Two Crews

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command rescued the crew of the M/V Tutor near Hodeidah on June 12 after an attack by Houthi militants left the ship adrift. The Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group airlifted the crew, with one sailor still missing. The Houthi group announced the sinking of the British ship Verbena after an attack southeast of Aden on June 13. The British Maritime Trade Operations Authority confirmed the evacuation and sinking. The cargo ship was hit by Houthi missiles, causing uncontrollable fires. The M/V Anna Mita rescued the crew after a distress call. One sailor was seriously injured and evacuated by American forces, while the nearby Iranian frigate Chamran did not respond. On Monday morning June 17 Sana’a time, the Houthi group announced that they attacked the ships “Captain Paris” and “Happy Condor,” along with an American destroyer. The British Maritime Trade Operations Authority confirmed a new incident near Mokha, Yemen. It remains unclear if any targets were hit. The U.S.-led campaign has turned into the most intense running sea battle the Navy has faced since World War II, U.S. officials and experts told The Associated Press. A new intelligence report revealed a 90% decrease in Red Sea shipping traffic, affecting over 65 countries. The US Navy has so far spent $1 billion on munitions to confront ballistic missiles, anti-ship cruise missiles, and explosive drones in the region.

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LEBANON

  1. Hezbollah Hits Multiple Israeli Military Sites

Hezbollah has escalated its attacks on Israeli positions, targeting the Khirbet Ma’ar base, the headquarters of the Western Brigade’s artillery battalion, with swarms of suicide drones, causing destruction and casualties. Additionally, the group targeted the Israeli air control and operations management unit at the Meron base with guided missiles, damaging equipment and radars. A guided missile also struck an IDF position at the Hadab Yaron site, resulting in further casualties. The Israeli army reported two missiles landing in the Meron area and retaliated by bombing a Hezbollah military building in Kafr Kila. A drone strike on a motorcycle at the Bint Jbeil and Aitaroun intersection killed one person and injured another. The Islamic Jihad movement in Lebanon confirmed the death of one of its members in the Israeli raid. Cautious calm prevailed on the southern front Sunday during Eid al-Adha, with limited Israeli air and artillery strikes and ongoing civil defense efforts in Shebaa.

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SYRIA

  1. Hakan Fidan to Meet Assad Advisor Ali Mamlouk in Baghdad

Turkish Foreign Affairs Minister Hakan Fidan is set to meet Syrian National Security Service head Ali Mamlouk in Baghdad, according to Turkish sources. This meeting marks a significant diplomatic effort to address long-standing issues between Turkiye and Syria, including Kurdish militant activities and the Syrian refugee crisis. Former Military Intelligence chief Ismail Hakki Pekin confirmed the meeting, describing it as the start of a new era in Turkish-Syrian relations, which have been strained since 2011. The discussions will also cover conditions near the Turkish border, particularly in Idlib. This follows their last meeting in Moscow in January 2020.

  1. Islamic State Intensifies Attacks on SDF in Deir Ezzor

Islamic State (IS) cells have intensified attacks on Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor as IS supporters marked the tenth anniversary of the “Islamic State” announced by former IS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2014. In the past 24 hours, IS militants on motorbikes attacked a military vehicle near Al-Sha’afa, injuring an SDF commander and killing two of his companions. Additionally, an SDF member was killed at the Al-Ragheeb checkpoint in Hawayej Zaiban, and two members of the Hajin Military Council were killed in Al-Bahra. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports 132 IS attacks in 2024 thus far, resulting in 72 fatalities.

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IRAQ

  1. Turkish Army Conducts Over 800 Attacks on Kurdistan Region in 2024

The American NGO Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) said that the Turkish army has launched 833 attacks on the Kurdistan region since the start of 2024, resulting in the deaths of eight civilians. Kamiran Othman, a member of CPT’s Iraq team, said the Turkish bombings were distributed across the governorates: 365 in Dohuk, 356 in Erbil, 102 in Sulaymaniyah, and 10 in Sinjar, Nineveh. Notably, in the past two days, the Turkish military bombed the Mateen mountain range 27 times, targeting various areas including Rashafa village, Mount Sawin, and others. In 2023, Turkish forces reportedly conducted 1,548 attacks in the region, involving warplanes, drones, artillery, gunfire, and land mines. These attacks took place as part of Turkey’s conflict with the Iraq-based People’s Protection Units (PKK), a Kurdish militant group that has conducted a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish government.

  1. Iraq Ranks First in Journalists Killed with 470 Deaths

Iraq leads globally in journalist fatalities, with 470 deaths reported, according to Fadhil al-Gharawi, head of the Strategic Center for Human Rights in Iraq. The country has seen numerous violations against journalists, including expulsion, interrogation, intimidation, and equipment destruction. Iraq ranked 169th out of 180 countries in press freedom in 2024, dropping from 167th the previous year. Gharawi urged the federal government to enhance press freedom and protect journalists. Despite Iraq’s constitutional guarantees, journalists face arrests, disappearances, killings, and media outlet attacks since 2003.

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 TURKIYE

  1. Türkiye Aims to Transport 236.6M Air Passengers This Year

Türkiye plans to transport approximately 236.6 million air passengers in 2024, a 10.4% increase from last year’s 214.23 million, according to the General Directorate of State Airports Authority. The number of international passengers is expected to rise by 9.1% to 134.22 million, while domestic passengers are projected to increase by 11.9% to 101.88 million. Aircraft movements are anticipated to grow to 2.33 million from last year’s 2.17 million, with cargo movement expected to reach 4.92 million tons, up from 4.44 million tons in 2023. By 2025, passenger numbers are forecasted to hit 249.26 million.

  1. Türkiye’s Alpar Unmanned Military Ground Vehicle to Debut Internationally

Türkiye’s first heavy-class unmanned ground vehicle, Alpar, will be showcased abroad for the first time at Eurosatory in Paris, Europe’s largest defense industry fair. Produced by Otokar, Alpar features a maximum load capacity of 15 tons and operates with a silent serial hybrid electric drive system. Since its introduction last year, Alpar has undergone extensive tests and now includes autonomous patrol capabilities, 2D and 3D mapping, and vehicle tracking. The vehicle excels in urban surveillance, obstacle detection, and integrating UAVs/UGVs for diverse operations, providing fire support, neutralizing threats, and performing autonomous missions.

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 EGYPT & AFRICA

  1. Sacrificial Animals Create Chaos in Egypt: Bull Attacks Worshipers, Another Flees to Sea

In Egypt, Eid al-Adha has brought a series of amusing and chaotic scenes as sacrificial animals escape from their owners. One bull caused a commotion by charging into a prayer area, frightening worshipers, while another made a dash into the sea in Ismailia, leading locals on a wild chase into the water. On the ring road, a runaway bull caused a traffic accident, injuring several people. In Cairo’s Fifth Settlement area, another bull disrupted traffic and damaged cars as residents tried unsuccessfully to capture it. This year, the cost of sacrificial animals in Egypt has surged with bulls priced over $3,000 and sheep around $500 due to a 20% increase in the dollar’s value.

  1. Sudanese Face Eid al-Adha Hardships During Ongoing Conflict

Millions of Sudanese face hardships as the war between the army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, drags on. Over 10 million people are now internally displaced, and economic challenges have prevented many from participating in Eid al-Adha traditions. The United Nations and other agencies have struggled to deliver aid, and a recent U.S. emergency aid package of $315 million aims to address the looming famine. 

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IRAN

  1. Khamenei Pardons Over 2,500 Inmates for Islamic Holidays

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved the pardon and reduction of sentences for more than 2,500 prisoners on the occasion of Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Ghadir, according to state media. This gesture aligns with Iran’s tradition of granting pardons during national and religious holidays. The head of Iran’s judiciary, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, requested the amnesty for 2,654 inmates, including 182 women, 30 foreign nationals, and six minors. Despite these pardons, Iran faces significant criticism for human rights abuses in its prisons, with Amnesty International reporting 853 executions in 2023, marking a 48 percent increase from the previous year.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 14, 2024

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