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Hezbollah Shows Israel Sites, Israeli Drone Crashes, Iran Simulates Nukes, Khamenei: “Death to Israel”

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Top Headlines: 

  • Hezbollah Publishes Drone Footage of Northern Israeli Sites
  • Israeli Drone Crashes in Quneitra, Southern Syria
  • US, Israel Analyze Iran Nuclear Simulations, UN Reports Concern
  • Iranian Leader Khamenei Chants “Death to Israel” 
  • Paris Police Investigate Gang Rape of Jewish Girl as ‘Antisemitic Incident’

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LEBANON

  1. Hezbollah Publishes Drone Footage of Northern Israeli Sites

Hezbollah released nearly 10 minutes of drone footage showing strategic sites in northern Israel, including the Haifa port, military locations, and residential areas. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reported shooting down three suspected drones over the Western Galilee. Hezbollah claimed the footage captured surveillance over Israeli naval bases and air defense systems. The group has intensified drone operations in recent months. The drones reportedly gathered intelligence by capturing images of strategic locations such as Haifa’s port, airport, military bases, the Rafael weapons factory, the Kiryat Islands, Iron Dome installations, and various residential and commercial areas before returning to Lebanon. The message from Hezbollah is clear: any action by Israel against Lebanon will be met with deadly retaliation, showcasing their aerial, terrestrial, and maritime intelligence capabilities. Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah exudes growing confidence as the confrontation continues.

Israeli analysts noted that such videos, accompanying Hezbollah’s verbal threats, illustrate their growing confidence, particularly under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah.

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Drone Crashes in Quneitra, Southern Syria

The Israeli army reported the crash of its Skyraider drone in Quneitra, southwestern Syria. In a post on “X,” the army stated that there is no concern about information leakage and that the incident is under investigation. The mission of the drone, typically used for intelligence gathering, was not disclosed. The crash’s cause remains unknown, with no parties claiming responsibility.

  1. Netanyahu Announces US Arms Assurance, Israeli Navy Expands Fleet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured him the Biden administration would lift restrictions on arms transfers to Israel. Following Blinken’s pledge, Netanyahu instructed Israeli officials to ensure the restoration of arms transfers during their meetings in Washington. Concurrently, the Israeli Navy received its second new U.S.-built landing craft, the INS Komemiyut, at Haifa Naval Base. The 2,500-ton vessel, funded by U.S. military aid, enhances Israel’s naval capabilities, strengthening the cooperation between the IDF branches and expanding the range of military operations. 

  1. Israeli Negotiator Says Dozens of Gaza Hostages Alive

A senior Israeli negotiator has confirmed that dozens of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are certainly alive and emphasized that Israel cannot accept halting the war until all captives are released. Public pressure in Israel is mounting for early elections and a deal to free the remaining hostages. Meanwhile, a leading Likud MK Nissim Vaturi faced backlash after calling protestors a “branch of Hamas” during a radio interview. Opposition leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid condemned the comments and demanded his removal as deputy Knesset speaker.

  1. IDF Eliminates Islamic Jihad Sniper Commander, Continues Gaza Operations

The IDF has eliminated the commander of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad sniper cell and conducted precision strikes against armed terrorists in Gaza. An IDF fighter jet, directed by ground troops, targeted the sniper commander on Tuesday morning. Ground forces also neutralized a terrorist cell advancing on their position. In the Rafah area, Israeli soldiers engaged in close-quarters combat, killing several terrorists. In Tel al-Sultan, the 401st Brigade’s combat team, with air support, eliminated three armed terrorists. Additional operations resulted in the destruction of rocket and mortar launchers and the discovery of an arsenal of grenades, weapons, and anti-tank missiles.

  1. Paris Police Investigate Gang Rape of Jewish Girl as ‘Antisemitic Incident’

A 12-year-old Jewish girl in Courbevoie, a suburb of Paris, reported being gang-raped by three teenagers aged 12-14. The police are actively investigating the case to determine the full circumstances and motivations behind the attack.

In a separate incident involving a 32-Year-Old Jewish Woman in the Gennevilliers Incident, a suspect who met the victim through a dating app in 2023 allegedly held her captive in his apartment, subjecting her to assault and threats. Disturbingly, he sent messages to the victim’s mother threatening to “prostitute” her daughter as a form of vengeance related to Palestine. The suspect faces charges including religiously-motivated death threats and drug offenses, with an ongoing investigation into rape allegations. French authorities, aided by geolocating the victim’s phone, rescued her after several days of captivity

  1. Israel Excluded from Eurosatory, Reports Record Weapons Exports

French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision barred Israeli defense companies from attending the Eurosatory defense show in Paris, a prestigious event featuring over 1,700 companies from 62 countries,

citing ongoing military operations in Gaza. The ban, affecting around 70 Israeli firms. Despite the exclusion, Israeli officials reported record-high weapons exports. 

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IRAN

  1. US, Israel Analyze Iran Nuclear Simulations, UN Reports Concern

American and Israeli intelligence agencies are scrutinizing information about Iranian scientists conducting new computer simulations on the use of nuclear weapons, suggesting Iran is close to obtaining a nuclear weapon. A critical meeting at the White House on Thursday will involve senior American and Israeli officials discussing this issue as part of the US-Israeli Strategic Advisory Group. The United Nations has expressed concerns over a “continuity of knowledge” loss regarding Iran’s program, highlighting increased uranium enrichment at the Fordow facility nearing weapons-grade levels. Despite global sanctions and warnings from the G3 (UK, France, and Germany), Iran denies any intention to develop nuclear weapons and remains defiant under international pressure.

  1. Iranian Leader Khamenei Chants “Death to Israel” 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei marked the Hajj pilgrimage on June 15, 2024, with a provocative post on X. Echoing the rhythm of the ritual circumambulation of the Kaaba, he repeated the chant “Death to Israel” seven times. Additionally, Khamenei used targeted hashtags such as #Hajj_Bara’at, symbolizing a rejection of enemies identified in the ceremony of disassociation—a ritual redefined by Iran since the Islamic Revolution to include political dissent against the U.S. and Israel. His post also referenced the stoning ritual of Hajj with the hashtag #Rami_Israel, “Stone Israel,” reinforcing his stance against what Iran terms as “Little Satan,” aligning it with America, the “Great Satan.” Iran’s interim foreign minister Ali Bagheri Kani called upon Muslim nations to impose complete embargo on commercial dealings with Israel to force “the regime to stop its genocidal war.” Meanwhile, Iran foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani slammed Joe Biden’s eid message & called the U.S. an ’empire of lies.’

  1. Iran’s Pharmaceutical Exports Implicate Captagon Supply Chain

Iran’s announcement of exporting pharmaceutical raw materials to 50 countries highlights its important role in the production of Captagon, an illicit drug rampant in the Middle East. The Iran Food and Drug Administration (IFDA) noted that nearly 100 Iranian companies are involved in these exports, which include essential ingredients for Captagon production. Despite sanctions, Iran’s extensive pharmaceutical exports indirectly support the Captagon trade, which is facilitated through networks involving Hezbollah and Syrian militias

  1. Canada Sanctions 31 Iranian Judges Over Human Rights Abuses

On June 18, the Canadian Parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning the death sentence of Iranian rapper Tomaj Salehi and calling for sanctions against 31 judges and prosecutors of Iran’s Revolutionary Courts. The resolution, introduced by Heather McPherson of the New Democratic Party, urges the Canadian government to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations. The resolution also denounces the Islamic Republic’s gender discrimination, civil liberties violations, and violent actions against Iranian citizens, reinforcing Canada’s commitment to global democracy and human rights. This move follows international outcry, including from Amnesty International, demanding the cancellation of Salehi’s death sentence and highlighting his unfair trial and torture in detention.

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SYRIA

  1. 11 Dead, 60 Missing After Migrant Ships Sink Off Italy

Eleven migrants, including Syrians, have died, and 60 others, including 26 children, are missing after two migrant ships sank off southern Italy. The German rescue organization Rescue Ship, which operates the “Nadir,” reported recovering 51 people from a sinking wooden boat and finding 10 bodies on board. Survivors were handed over to the Italian Coast Guard. The UN reported the first boat left Libya with migrants from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The second incident, involving a fire on a boat from Turkiye, occurred 200 kilometers east of Calabria, leaving 64 missing and 11 rescued. The central Mediterranean remains the deadliest migrant route.

  1. International Coalition Deploys Long-Range Missiles to Syrian Base

The international coalition against ISIS has delivered long-range missiles to its base in Al-Shaddadi, Hasakah countryside, northeastern Syria. The reinforcements included 40 trucks carrying long-range missiles, armored vehicles, ammunition, fuel tanks, advanced communications devices, and mine detection equipment. These supplies were transferred from the Kharab al-Jir base in Rmelan to Al-Shaddadi. 

  1. Iraqi Resistance Targets Israeli Military in Golan Heights

Iraq’s Islamic Resistance announced it had attacked an Israeli military target in the Golan Heights using kamikaze drones. The group pledged ongoing attacks, with recent claims of hitting strategic Israeli positions.

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YEMEN

  1. US and Allies Escalate Actions Against Houthi Threats

US and British forces recently launched airstrikes on Houthi targets in Hodeidah and Kamaran Island, Yemen, destroying radars, drones, and boats following a Houthi attack on a Greek-owned ship. The Houthis also claimed attacks on two ships and a US destroyer, though the impact remains unclear. In response to the surge in Houthi attacks on commercial vessels, the US is reassessing its strategy to emphasize regional cooperation and reduce costs while protecting international navigation. Additionally, the US imposed sanctions on individuals and entities aiding Houthi weapon acquisitions. These measures aim to curb the flow of military resources to the Houthis, whose persistent attacks have disrupted commercial shipping routes and heightened regional instability.

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IRAQ

  1. Turkish Airstrikes Hit Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk Regions

The American CPT organization reported that Turkish warplanes conducted three airstrikes on June 18, 2024, targeting areas in Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk. The first strike at 2:50 pm hit the Chalkyan Pass near Aindzi village at the foot of Mount Qandil, causing fires in bushes and orchards but no casualties. At 3:10 pm, Turkish aircraft bombed the heights of Kanyan village in the Derluk district following clashes between Kurdistan Workers’ Party fighters and Turkish soldiers in Jabal Matin.

  1. Iraq Seizes Over 3.5 Million Narcotic Pills Hidden in Apple Boxes

The Iraqi General Authority of Customs announced the seizure of over 3.5 million narcotic pills hidden in apple boxes. Hassan Al-Ugaili, head of the authority, highlighted that this operation is among dozens carried out involving illegal goods and medicines. The Anti-Smuggling Department has conducted more than 7,500 investigations across all ports. Al-Ugaili noted that the seized Captagon pills were detected at one of the outlets and will be examined by relevant authorities before being referred to the judiciary or the Narcotics Control Office.

  1. US Adds Iraqi Faction and Leader to Terrorist List

The US State Department has designated the Iraqi “Loyal Ansar Allah” movement and its leader, Haider Al-Gharawi, as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” under Executive Order No. 13224. This Iranian-allied militia has been involved in attacks on US bases in Iraq and Syria, and Israeli targets, particularly since the Gaza conflict last year. US Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, highlighted this move as part of America’s efforts to counter Iran’s influence. The designation aims to isolate the group by blocking access to the US financial system and prohibiting transactions with US persons, supporting broader enforcement actions. The “Loyal Ansar Allah” faction responded by framing the designation as recognition of their struggle, asserting that it strengthens their resolve to continue their fight against perceived injustice and tyranny.

  1. Biden’s Nominee for Ambassador Highlights Kurdistan Partnership

Tracy Jacobson, President Biden’s nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq, emphasized the importance of the partnership with the Kurdistan Region during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. Jacobson outlined plans to counter Iran’s influence, support Iraqi stability, and enhance US-Iraq relations. She highlighted the ongoing threat from ISIS and the need for a new phase in US military support. Jacobson committed to strengthening Iraq’s energy independence, modernizing its financial system, and promoting economic growth. She also pledged to protect the rights of minorities and enhance democratic governance, reaffirming that the Kurdistan partnership remains central to US-Iraq relations.

  1. Iraq’s Oil Exports to the US Hit 2024 Low

Iraqi oil exports to the United States have dropped in the first third of 2024, averaging 170,000 barrels per day compared to 250,000 barrels per day in the same period in 2023, according to economist Manar Al-Obaidi. Total exports reached 20.5 million barrels worth $1.6 billion, down from 29.35 million barrels worth $2.18 billion in 2023. This marks a 30% decline in quantity and a 26.3% decrease in value. Iraq is now the eighth-largest oil exporter to the US, comprising 2.66% of its crude oil imports, down from 3.9% last year.

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 THE GULF

  1. Saudi, Emirati Leaders Meet; Speculation of Rift Continues

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Emirati President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed met at Al-Aziziyah Palace in Saudi Arabia, dispelling rumors of a growing rift between their nations. The meeting, marked by a photo shared by Bader Al-Asaker, head of the Saudi crown prince’s office, featured both leaders smiling, emphasizing unity. Despite this, some observers note ongoing differences over regional issues and competition for business influence. Emirati and Saudi officials highlighted the importance of cooperation for regional stability, while insiders acknowledged disagreements but downplayed the likelihood of open conflict.

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 EGYPT

  1. Egypt Intensifies Search for Missing Pilgrims in Coordination with Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with Saudi authorities, has ramped up efforts to locate Egyptian citizens missing during the Hajj pilgrimage. The Egyptian embassy in Riyadh dispatched a consular mission to Mecca and the Holy Sites to assist in the search and visit hospitals and medical centers to check on Egyptian pilgrims’ well-being. The mission also handles the repatriation of deceased pilgrims. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has instructed Egypt’s diplomatic and consular missions in Saudi Arabia to work closely with local authorities to follow up on missing citizens and reported deaths during this Hajj season.

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TURKIYE

  1. Turkish Defense Firm Havelsan Expands Global Presence

Havelsan, a Turkish Armed Forces Foundation company, is making strides in the global defense and civil sectors with its advanced software solutions. At Eurosatory 2024 in Paris, Vice President for International Business Development Sevket Unalice highlighted Havelsan’s expertise in command and control systems for air, land, and naval forces. Operating in 25 countries across five continents, Havelsan is known for its advanced simulators for helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. The company is also focusing on innovation in autonomous systems and AI, integrating these technologies into their simulators and combat management systems. Their solutions are widely used, including in Türkiye’s next-generation fighter aircraft, the Kaan.

  1. Turkish Intel Foils Planned ISIL-K Attack in Russia

Turkish intelligence has thwarted a planned ISIL-K attack in Russia, following the group’s deadly assault on a Moscow concert hall in March that killed 139 people, according to daily Hürriyet. ISIL-K, known for its extreme brutality since emerging in eastern Afghanistan in 2014, had planned a second attack targeting a busy shopping center in Moscow. Information gathered during the investigation of a January attack in Istanbul led to the prevention of this assault. Turkish authorities noted that ISIL-K, defeated in Syria and Iraq, has shifted operations to Afghanistan and Tajikistan, exploiting Tajik nationals for recruitment.

  1. President Erdogan Predicts Inflation Drop in Türkiye Next Month

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that inflation in Türkiye is expected to start decreasing next month, with more positive economic news anticipated in the second half of the year. He emphasized that Türkiye will see encouraging developments regarding inflation soon. Türkiye has faced economic challenges with high inflation recently, and the government’s economic team is working on policies to curb this rise and achieve stability.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX June 17, 2024

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