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Houthis Launch Iranian Missile, Israel-Hezbollah War Ignites, Russia Expands Regionally

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TOP HEADLINES:

  • Houthis Launch Iran’s Fateh-like Missile, Warning Israel, Saudi
  • Israeli Strike on Gaza School: Civilian and Military Casualties Disputed
  • Israeli Airstrikes on Lebanon, Soldier Killed in Hezbollah Attack
  • Russia Expands: Developing Suez Canal, Aiding Africa in Water Monitoring
  • Putin Challenges Erdoğan’s Economic Policies

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★ ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Israeli Strike on Gaza School: Civilian and Military Casualties Disputed

On June 6, 2024, an Israeli airstrike targeted a UNRWA school in Gaza’s Nuseirat camp, resulting in the deaths of at least 40 Palestinians, including 14 children and 9 women. The Gaza government reported 74 injuries, emphasizing the heavy civilian toll. The Israeli military, acknowledging the strike, asserted it aimed at a Hamas and Islamic Jihad compound within the school, where 20-30 terrorists were allegedly gathered, separate from civilian areas. Despite claiming efforts to minimize civilian harm, the strike has intensified scrutiny on Israel’s military actions in Gaza, reflecting the broader humanitarian crisis and ongoing conflict in the region.

  1. Israeli Security Forces Target Hamas After Jordan Valley Bombing

Israeli security forces, including the IDF and Shin Bet, conducted operations in the Jordan Valley following a car bomb explosion, arresting 11 Hamas-affiliated individuals. The operations in Kalkilia and surrounding villages also led to the confiscation of nine weapons, highlighting the ongoing threat from extremist groups. Since the conflict began, around 4,150 wanted persons, mostly tied to Hamas, have been detained. As investigations continue, security forces remain vigilant to prevent further attacks and ensure regional stability​.

  1. Depleted Hamas Adopts Insurgent Tactics in Gaza, Posing Prolonged Challenge

American and Israeli officials revealed that Hamas has lost about half of its fighters in eight months of conflict, now relying on hit-and-run tactics to counter Israeli advances in Gaza. The number of Hamas fighters has dropped to 9,000-12,000 from an estimated 20,000-25,000. Hamas avoids prolonged skirmishes, setting ambushes and using improvised bombs. This shift could sustain their fight for months, supported by smuggled and repurposed weapons. Israeli army spokesman Peter Lerner admitted that completely eliminating Hamas fighters or their tunnels is unrealistic. The conflict, potentially lasting until the end of 2024, sees Hamas leaders hiding in tunnels with hostages.

  1. Gallant: Talks Only Under Fire; Haniyeh: No Hostages Without War’s End

Hamas has given mixed responses to President Biden’s ceasefire proposal, with some reports indicating initial positive signs while others highlight their rejection of Israeli terms. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri praised Biden’s ideas but criticized the lack of long-term commitments and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. An internal memo indicated Hamas’s rejection of the Israeli plan, citing its failure to establish a permanent ceasefire and reliance on a temporary truce.

Conversely, Egyptian and Qatari mediators report positive signs from Hamas, noting that they are seriously considering the proposal. High-level discussions involving Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani and Egyptian Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel with Hamas officials are ongoing, with Hamas expected to respond soon.

On the Israeli side, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant asserted that negotiations with Hamas will continue under active conflict, stating that strikes on Gaza will persist. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces internal coalition pressures, with far-right parties opposing any ceasefire and center-right factions urging progress. Netanyahu’s war cabinet has approved a hostage deal proposal that aligns with Biden’s plan, but he insists on fulfilling Israel’s war aims before any ceasefire.

  1. Congressional Calls for Investigation into The Grayzone’s Foreign Funding

The Grayzone, an anti-Israel news website, has come under scrutiny after revelations of receiving funds from Iran and Russia, raising significant national security concerns. According to The Washington Post, hacked emails and documents from the Iranian government-funded Press TV show payments to a Washington-based editor for Grayzone. Critics argue that Grayzone’s founder, Max Blumenthal, and editor Wyatt Reed have advanced Iranian and Russian agendas without registering as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The involvement of state-owned Iranian and Russian media in funding a U.S.-based outlet highlights the potential for foreign influence operations within American media. Legal experts note that U.S. journalists paid by sanctioned entities could face legal jeopardy without proper waivers from the Treasury Department. Former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy Ellie Cohanim has urged congressional investigation, labeling it a national security threat. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has called for thorough investigations and potential arrests if FARA violations are confirmed.

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★ LEBANON

  1. Israeli Airstrikes on Lebanon, Soldier Killed in Hezbollah Attack

The National News Agency stated that an Israeli drone struck the town square of Aitaroun, targeting a motorcycle with a guided missile. Additional airstrikes by Israeli warplanes occurred overnight and at dawn, hitting towns including Al-Adisa, Siddiqin, Beit Yahoun, Wadi Gilo, and Adshit, resulting in civilian casualties. Israeli forces also dropped flares over border villages, with reconnaissance aircraft flying over the Tire district and coastal areas. The Israeli army announced that one soldier was killed and 11 others, including 8 soldiers, were wounded in a Hezbollah attack on the northern border with Lebanon. Hezbollah used two drones to target an Israeli position near the village of Hurfeish in the Upper Galilee. The drones exploded in succession, first hitting a group of soldiers and then the rescue teams. Following the killing of an Israeli soldier in the north, Gantz urged local authorities to prepare for more intense fighting. He expressed hope that pressure could prevent a broader conflict with Hezbollah. Senior Israeli officials discussed the northern escalation, emphasizing the need for an agreement with Hamas to refocus efforts. The US warned of an escalation in Lebanon after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu threatened a major military operation. US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller emphasized that further conflict would harm Israel’s security. Netanyahu, visiting the northern border, indicated readiness for intensive operations, but the US prefers a diplomatic solution. Hezbollah is preparing for potential conflict as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu threatens to expand the war to southern Lebanon. Despite the threat, Hezbollah does not seek war but is mobilizing its fighters. Political sources revealed that Iran is pressuring to prevent an escalation, aligning with US efforts. Iran’s acting Foreign Minister, Ali Bagheri Kani, expressed satisfaction with the progress of the Gaza conflict and emphasized Hamas’s retained weaponry. Bagheri’s visit to Beirut reinforces Iran’s support for Lebanese and Palestinian factions.

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★ YEMEN

  1. Houthis Launch Iran’s Fateh-like Missile, Warning Israel, Saudi

The Houthis have unveiled a new solid-fuel missile named “Palestine,” which mirrors many aspects of Iran’s hypersonic missile technology. This development highlights Iran’s strategy of equipping its proxies to enhance regional influence and create multifront threats against adversaries, particularly Israel and Saudi Arabia. The solid-fuel nature of the “Palestine” missile allows for quicker deployment, a critical feature since Houthi launch sites are frequently targeted by US and allied forces. This missile, with a warhead painted like a Palestinian keffiyeh, was launched towards Israel’s southern port city of Eilat but was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow defense system, causing no damage. Despite claims of local production, experts assert that Iran supplied the technology and components, given Yemen’s limited manufacturing capabilities. The “Palestine” missile resembles Iran’s Fattah missile, capable of reaching speeds up to Mach 15 with a range of 1,400 kilometers. The Fattah missile, which features a solid-fuel propulsion system and the ability to maneuver in and out of the Earth’s atmosphere, is nearly impossible to intercept by existing missile defense systems. This connection is further supported by the similarities between the “Palestine” missile and Iran’s Fattah missile, as well as Iran’s ongoing technological and military support to its allies in the region.

  1. U.S. Navy Intercepts Houthi Missiles Aimed at American Ship

On Wednesday, Iranian-backed Houthi militants launched coordinated attacks on three commercial ships: the “Roza,” “Vantage Dream,” and American-flagged “Maersk Seletar.” The attacks, using drones and missiles, occurred in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea, with the Houthis claiming the targets violated a ban on entering Israeli ports. The USS Gravely intercepted and shot down two of the three missiles aimed at the “Maersk Seletar,” while the third missile landed in the water, preventing any damage or injuries. CENTCOM confirmed these details, emphasizing the ongoing threat posed by Houthi militants. 

  1. Houthis Use Truce and Gaza Events for Recruitment Amid Deadly Clashes

The Houthi group in Yemen is exploiting the April 2022 truce and events in Gaza to militarize public life and recruit individuals, including school students, through summer centers disguised as recruitment camps. They claim to have mobilized 200,000 fighters for the “General Mobilization Brigades” while broadcasting military activities and leader visits on Al-Masirah TV. This aggressive recruitment strategy follows significant attrition in their ranks. Recent clashes on the Al-Sharijah front resulted in 18 deaths, including five Yemeni soldiers and a Houthi field commander, highlighting the ongoing violence and instability. Yemeni Minister of Information Muammar Al-Eryani condemned the attack, emphasizing the threat to regional security, including the targeting of Red Sea shipping.

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★ IRAN

  1. Iran Builds Middle East’s Largest Space Center in Chabahar

Iran is constructing the largest space center in the Middle East in Chabahar, announced ICT Minister Issa Zarepoor. The Chabahar Space Center, 56% complete, is set to open in February 2025. The facility will support Iranian satellite launches and foster international cooperation. Iran’s space initiatives include the Imam Khomeini National Space Center, operational since 2017, which supports all mission stages from satellite preparation to launch. The new Chabahar center, designated for non-military launches, aims to deploy Earth observation and communication satellites, enhancing Iran’s space capabilities and international partnerships.

  1. Iran Condemns IAEA Resolution Against Its Nuclear Program

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Board of Governors’ resolution against Iran, stating it will not affect the country’s nuclear development plans. The ministry’s statement emphasized that Iran remains committed to peaceful nuclear energy under international agreements. It described the resolution as politically motivated and an attempt by some Western countries to target independent nations. Iran reiterated its commitment to technical cooperation within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Safeguards Agreement, and stressed its nuclear program is for civil purposes, with a religious decree banning weapons of mass destruction.

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★ EGYPT & AFRICA

  1. Russia and Egypt Agree to Develop Suez Canal Zone

Russia has reached an agreement with Egypt to economically develop the Suez Canal industrial zone. The announcement followed discussions between Egypt’s Minister of Industry and Trade, Ahmed Samir, and the Russian Export Center’s head, Veronika Nikishina, during the Petersburg International Economic Forum. The talks focused on expanding trade and economic relations, developing the Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and opening a Russian Export Center office in Egypt this year. Key points included strengthening trade relations, financial cooperation to address payment challenges, and prioritizing the industrial zone’s continuous development. Nikishina emphasized the positive impact of this intensified dialogue on industrial, commercial, and economic cooperation. 

  1. Russia to Assist Africa in Water Resource Monitoring

Russia will share its expertise in groundwater monitoring with African nations facing water shortages, announced Evgeny Petrov, head of Russia’s Federal Agency for Mineral Resources, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Highlighting 30 years of groundwater monitoring experience, Petrov emphasized its value to African countries heavily reliant on these resources. Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Patrushev warned that the global gap in clean water supply could reach 40% by 2030. Russia plans to sign water management agreements with Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tunisia, and has already established cooperation with Algeria, Morocco, Zimbabwe, and South Africa.

  1. RSF Attack on Sudanese Village Leaves Up to 100 Dead

An RSF attack on the village of Wad al-Noura in Gezira state, central Sudan, has killed up to 100 people, according to local pro-democracy activists. The Wad Madani Resistance Committees reported that the RSF, in conflict with the regular army for over a year, launched the assault in two waves using heavy artillery. The attack targeted civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, prompting calls for investigation and accountability from the UN and other authorities.

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★ THE GULF

  1. Oil Prices Rise Despite Saudi Arabia’s Price Cuts

Oil prices increased for the second session, with Brent crude nearing $79 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate close to $75. This rise continues despite Saudi Arabia reducing its crude prices due to demand concerns. Saudi Aramco’s price cut for all oil types bound for Asia next month raised worries about demand in the largest crude importing region. US crude inventories rose by 1.23 million barrels last week, leading to expectations of falling prices. Despite this, analyst Charu Chanana noted the market’s resilience and technical buying as factors supporting the current price increase.

  1. The Emir of Qatar Hosts Ukrainian President in Doha

Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Doha on Wednesday. Their discussions focused on the latest developments in Ukraine, international efforts to end the conflict, protect civilians, and promote dialogue. They also discussed bilateral relations. Zelensky acknowledged Qatar’s active role in organizing the upcoming peace summit in Switzerland and emphasized the importance of Qatar’s support for various global issues

  1. Qatar Energy Signs 27-Year LNG Deal with Taiwan’s CPC

Qatar Energy Company has inked two major agreements with Taiwan’s CPC Corporation. The first deal ensures the delivery of four million tons of liquefied natural gas annually from Qatar’s North East Field Expansion Project to CPC for 27 years. The second agreement involves Qatar Energy transferring a 5% stake from the same project to CPC. At a ceremony in Doha, Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad bin Sherida Al-Kaabi emphasized the long-standing partnership with CPC. CPC Chairman Chun-Chen Lee highlighted Qatar Energy’s crucial role in Taiwan’s gas market. This expansion will boost Qatar’s LNG production capacity from 77 million to 142 million tons annually by 2030.

  1. Sinopec Secures $1.1 Billion Gas Pipeline Deal with Aramco

Sinopec Oilfield Services, a unit of the Chinese company Sinopec, has signed a $1.1 billion agreement to extend natural gas pipelines for Saudi Aramco. The deal involves purchasing supplies and constructing parts of the pipeline network under the third phase of Saudi Arabia’s main gas network expansion. Sinopec will build 2,630 km of main lines and 1,340 km of branch lines, enhancing gas distribution across the Kingdom. The construction is set to be completed by May 2027.

  1. UAE Tops Global Rankings for Air Transport Infrastructure Quality

The UAE has secured the top global position in the “Quality of Air Transport Infrastructure” index within the World Economic Forum’s 2024 Travel and Tourism Development Index. Additionally, it ranks third globally for “Efficiency of Air Transport Services” and “Number of Seats for International Flights Departing Weekly/Kilometers.” In the Middle East and North Africa region, the UAE leads in “Number of Operating Airlines” and “Air Transport Agreements.” Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri highlighted the results as a reflection of the UAE’s strategic vision and commitment to enhancing its aviation sector’s global competitiveness.

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★ IRAQ

  1. Iraqi Militias Accept U.S. Presence, Acknowledge Inability to Counter ISIS

Several Iraqi factions, now holding roles in the House of Representatives and senior government positions, are distancing themselves from military activities against American targets. Former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi noted that these groups no longer seek to weaken relations with the U.S., reflecting their integration into the state apparatus under Muhammad Shia al-Sudani’s government. While initially opposed to the American military presence, they have accepted it since the rise of ISIS necessitated foreign intervention. Political analyst Muhammad Ali al-Hakim emphasized that these factions prioritize stability and support maintaining U.S. presence, unlike groups like the Al-Nujaba Movement, which continue to oppose it.

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★ SYRIA

  1. German Chancellor Backs Deportation of Criminals to Syria or Afghanistan

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz voiced his support for deporting criminals to Syria and Afghanistan, despite existing bans. This statement follows a knife attack by an Afghan national that injured a policeman and others. Scholz emphasized that dangerous criminals and terrorists have no place in Germany, and security interests should take precedence. The Interior Ministry is exploring deportation possibilities with neighboring countries of Afghanistan. However, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock highlighted the security risks of such expulsions.

  1. Six Children Dead in School Bus Tragedy in Idlib, Syria

On Thursday, June 6, the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets) reported six deaths, mostly children, and several injuries after a school bus fell into the Orontes River in the western countryside of Idlib. The bus, carrying a school trip, plunged from a steep cliff near Darkush. Search and rescue operations are ongoing. The bus carried about 20 children and six teachers from a private school for orphans. The Health Minister announced medical personnel mobilization to handle the injuries.

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★ TURKIYE

  1. Putin Challenges Erdoğan’s Economic Policies

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered notable comments regarding Turkey’s economic strategies at the International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in St. Petersburg, issuing a stern warning about the potential consequences of Turkey’s financial alignment with Western institutions. Putin highlighted that the Turkish government’s current economic approach, which heavily relies on securing loans, investments, and grants from Western financial institutions, might lead to adverse outcomes if it results in restricting trade and economic relations with Russia. Putin’s statements reflect his view that his economic acumen surpasses Erdoğan’s, as he offers opposite recommendations to Turkey’s existing strategies. By underscoring these points, Putin conveyed his skepticism about Erdoğan’s economic policies and suggested that he has a deeper grasp of the economic repercussions of Turkey’s current strategies. He stressed that such a scenario would bring more losses than gains for Turkey’s economy, indicating his belief that this strategy is fundamentally flawed. In a pointed critique, Putin suggested that he has a superior understanding of the economic dynamics at play compared to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He implied that Erdoğan’s strategy could be counterproductive and presented an alternative view, emphasizing the risks associated with diminishing economic ties with Russia. Putin observed that Turkey’s recent focus on obtaining financial support from Western institutions could be problematic, warning that this focus, if tied to limiting trade with Russia, would result in significant economic losses for Turkey. He urged the Turkish government to pay closer attention to macroeconomic indicators, hinting that his understanding of these metrics suggests Turkey’s current path is risky. 

  1. Israeli Car Market Hit Hard by Turkish Trade Embargo

The Turkish trade embargo has led to a severe shortage of cars in Israel, making it difficult for importers to meet demand. Turkey halted all commercial transactions with Israel, including the export of popular car models such as the Toyota Corolla and Hyundai i10. No alternative solutions have been found, and the full impact will be seen in upcoming sales figures. The embargo has already disrupted the market, with Hyundai set to lose its top position to Kia. The Israeli Foreign Ministry is urged to act to prevent similar actions by other countries.

  1. Kurdish Mayor Convicted in Erdoğan’s Crackdown on Opposition

A Turkish court sentenced Hakkari Mayor Mehmet Siddiq Akç to 19.5 years on “terrorism” charges, despite protests against his arrest and removal. The Turkish government appointed a trustee to manage the pro-Kurdish “Democracy and Equality for Peoples” party’s municipality. Strict security measures marked Akç’s trial, where he denied wrongdoing. His arrest incited widespread protests, parliamentary clashes, and opposition from the Republican People’s Party. Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtaş condemned the move, while European Parliament rapporteur Nacho Sanchez Amor called it an attack on democracy. Meanwhile, Erdoğan met with former “Good” Party leader Meral Akşener in a surprise political maneuver.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX June 5, 2024

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX June 4, 2024

📰 THE EARLY PHOENIX June 3, 2024

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