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Northern Front Secured in July, Nasrallah Relocates, Saudi Battles Captagon

Northern Front Secured in July, Nasrallah Relocates, Saudi Battles Captagon

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Top Headlines: 

  • Israel Considers July Offensive for Northern Security
  • Nasrallah Relocates Following Assassination Threat
  • Saudi Arabia Seizes Over 3 Million Assad’s Captagon Pills
  • Americans Sue Iran, Syria, North Korea for Aiding Hamas
  • Israeli and Palestinian Officials Cooperate in Humanitarian Services

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ISRAEL-HEZBOLLAH CRISIS

  1. Israeli Raids Kill Four, Hezbollah Retaliates with Border Attacks

According to intercepts from regional media outlets, an Israeli raid today resulted in the death of a Lebanese citizen near a mosque between Zaloutiyeh and Al-Bustan in southern Lebanon. Earlier, an Israeli drone targeted Al-Taybeh, hitting the town square, Al-Qantara Road, and an electrical transformer, causing a fire, power outage, and killed three Hezbollah members. Israeli warplanes breached the sound barrier over Nabatieh, Iqlim al-Tuffah, Jezzine, Chouf, and Marjayoun, causing loud noises. In retaliation, Hezbollah announced today that its fighters bombed seven Israeli targets in the Galilee and the occupied hills of Kafr Shuba, including buildings in settlements such as Granot Hagalil and Metulla. They allegedly targeted the al-Samaqa site in the occupied Kfar Shuba hills, causing significant damage. The attacks included artillery shelling of Ma’ayan Baruch kibbutz, causing a fire, and rocket barrages on Israeli military barracks in Kfar Giladi, al-Metula, and Doviv settlements.

  1. Israel’s Contemplation of July Offensive to Ensure Northern Safety

Diplomatic sources informed the German newspaper “Bild” that Israel might launch an attack on Lebanon in the second half of July if Hezbollah’s strikes persist. German Federal Intelligence Service Deputy Director Ole Diehl met with Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem in Beirut to discuss the rising tensions and ways to prevent a full-scale war. Diehl conveyed Israel’s intention to restore safety for northern residents displaced by Hezbollah attacks, indicating readiness for conflict if necessary. Benny Gantz warned European diplomats that Lebanon could face severe repercussions if it fails to control Hezbollah. Deputy Secretary General Qassem reportedly announced plans to continue its attacks on Israel

  1. Israeli GPS Jamming Disrupts Life in Lebanon

GPS jamming by Israel has been causing significant disruption in Lebanon, affecting daily activities and transportation. The Lebanese government has lodged a complaint with the UN, accusing Israel of compromising civil aviation safety. Pilots now rely on ground navigational equipment due to the interference, raising fears of potential accidents. The Israeli military has admitted to disabling GPS for operational needs, further complicating the situation in the region. Uber driver Hussein Khalil described how his navigation app erroneously placed him in Gaza and other locations far from Beirut.

  1. Nasrallah Relocates After Receiving Assassination Warning

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah has reportedly relocated his hiding place from Beirut’s A-Dahiya neighborhood following a warning from Iranian intelligence about an Israeli assassination plot. Nasrallah fears Israel will target Hezbollah’s top command and precision missile reserves at the outset of any future conflict, delivering a significant operational and moral blow to the group. This concern stems from Israel’s history of successfully targeting Hezbollah leaders, including Abbas Mousavi in 1992 and Imad Mughniyeh in 2008. Israeli officials view eliminating Nasrallah as a strategic success, despite Hezbollah’s claims that such reports are part of Israel’s psychological warfare.

  1. Qatar and Saudi Arabia Donate Millions to Lebanese Army

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have both made significant financial contributions to support the Lebanese Army. Qatar has donated $20 million, part of a $60 million aid package announced in 2022, aimed at boosting soldiers’ salaries. Concurrently, Saudi Arabia has provided $10 million through the King Salman Center for Relief. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) will distribute these funds equally among military personnel. Since Lebanon’s economic crisis began in 2019, the value of soldiers’ wages has plummeted to less than $100 per month due to severe currency devaluation and inflation. These donations are part of broader efforts by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to stabilize Lebanon and support its military amid ongoing regional tensions.

  1. US Opposes Arab League’s Decision on Hezbollah’s Terrorist Classification

The US State Department has strongly opposed the Arab League’s recent decision to cease classifying Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel reaffirmed the US stance, stating there is no justification for removing Hezbollah from the list of terrorist entities. Patel emphasized ongoing efforts to urge governments worldwide to maintain or impose restrictions on Hezbollah, highlighting the organization’s continued threat. The statement comes amidst heightened tensions following the Arab League’s shift, which has sparked debate and concerns over regional stability and counterterrorism efforts.

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ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

  1. Americans Sue Iran, Syria, North Korea for Aiding Hamas

A group of Americans has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleging Iran, Syria, and North Korea provided material support to Hamas for its October 7 attack, which killed nearly 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans, in southern Israel. The Anti-Defamation League and law firm Crowell & Moring LLP claim these nations’ support enabled Hamas’s atrocities. This legal action, under the Terrorism Exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, aims to hold these state sponsors accountable. The U.S. State Department lists Iran, Syria, and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism.

  1. Israeli and Palestinian Officials Cooperate in Humanitarian Services

Israel and Palestinian officials have begun enhancing electric power to a Gaza desalination plant to increase water production in the designated “humanitarian zone,” where most Gazan residents now reside. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has highlighted the project as a critical humanitarian necessity crucial for ongoing operations against Hamas. Despite internal government criticism, particularly from Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, the project aims to alleviate a humanitarian crisis and uphold Israel’s operational legitimacy. The upgraded plant, funded by the UN, will produce 20,000 cubic meters of water daily, a significant increase from the current 1,500 cubic meters limited by power shortages. Additionally, Israel plans to establish “humanitarian enclaves” in Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia in northern Gaza, aiming to create Hamas-free zones where local Palestinians manage aid distribution. This initiative, part of a broader strategy involving the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Arab states, includes training Palestinian security forces in Jordan or the West Bank with US support. Despite past failures, the plan aims to stabilize the region and facilitate Gaza’s reconstruction. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reconsidering his stance on PA involvement in Gaza’s governance post-war, recognizing the necessity of PA-affiliated individuals despite public opposition.

  1. IDF Responds to Rocket Barrage with Targeted Strikes

The IDF conducted targeted operations in Gaza today, following a barrage of 20 rockets fired by the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad from Khan Younis. The Israeli military ordered evacuations in eastern Khan Younis, hinting at a potential ground offensive. In Rafah, the IDF destroyed the largest Islamic Jihad rocket manufacturing site, killing several operatives. In central Gaza, the IDF demolished a kilometer-long tunnel in the Netzarim Corridor and eliminated over 100 terror sites, resulting in numerous militant deaths. An airstrike on a mosque in the area caused secondary explosions, indicating weapon storage. Additionally, Palestinians reported 17 fatalities near the a-Shamaa’ Mosque in Gaza City’s Zeytoun neighborhood. Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the goal to dismantle Hamas’s military capabilities, as 319 IDF troops have been killed and 116 hostages remain held by Hamas, with 42 confirmed dead.

  1. Shooting Attack in West Bank Leaves One Injured

A shooting attack occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Mitzpe Yosef, located in the Har Brakha area of the Samaria Regional Brigade in the West Bank, according to Israeli media. A man sustained a gunshot wound to the torso, with suspicions of sniper fire. Gunshots were heard, prompting security forces to quickly converge on the scene.

  1. TikTok Refuses to Share Pro-Israel Content Amid Israel-Hamas War

Despite the Israeli government’s NIS 27 million investment in pro-Israel social media content during the Israel-Hamas War, TikTok has refused to share content featuring Israeli symbols or the tagline “Together we will win.” Various government ministries have been active in disseminating supportive messages, but TikTok’s non-participation has raised concerns. During a meeting of the Aliyah, Absorption, and Diaspora Committee, Chairman MK Oded Forer criticized the government for not imposing sanctions on platforms that permit antisemitic content. Social network representatives were invited to the meeting but did not attend.

  1. Allegations of Soldiers Selling Weapons to Crime Gangs

Israeli police sources allege that soldiers returning from the Gaza war have sold military-grade weapons to organized crime gangs. These weapons, including rockets, explosive devices, and heavy machine guns, are reportedly used in gang wars and extortion operations, worsening violence in Israel’s Arab community. Roy Kahlon, head of the Arab Crime Prevention Council, highlighted these claims as indicative of Israel’s governance issues. Haaretz described the situation as a chaotic threat to national security. Despite proposals to classify illegal weapon possession as a security crime and enhance law enforcement, the government has yet to implement comprehensive policies, with crime reduction budgets frozen by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. 

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YEMEN

  1. US Forces Destroy Houthi Radar, Intercept Multiple Attacks

In the past 24 hours, US Central Command announced the destruction of a Houthi radar site and downed a Houthi drone targeting the destroyers Philippine Sea and Laboon. The Houthis launched multiple ballistic missiles and drones at the Maltese-flagged ship Cyclades, causing no injuries and allowing the ship to continue its voyage. 

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IRAN

  1. Iran’s Strategy for Israel’s Destruction Unveiled

Iran has developed a detailed strategy aimed at the destruction of Israel, involving extensive missile and rocket attacks followed by coordinated ground assaults, according to Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. “The Iranian regime has an orderly plan for the conventional destruction of the State of Israel,” said Smotrich speaking at a conference co-sponsored by the national-religious Makor Rishon newspaper and the Jerusalem College of Technology on Sunday. This plan, which excludes nuclear weapons, focuses on ensuring Iran’s survival through conventional means. The strategy includes launching tens of thousands of missiles and rockets from various Middle Eastern locations where Iran has established military bases, followed by ground attacks from multiple fronts

  1. Iran Defies Sanctions, Sells Crude Oil to 17 Countries

Iranian Oil Minister Jawad Owji announced that despite global sanctions, Iran is selling crude oil to 17 countries, including some in Europe. This defiance comes amidst sanctions aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, support for Russia’s war on Ukraine, and domestic human rights abuses. Although Iran’s oil exports had plummeted to under 300,000 barrels per day by 2019, sales surged to 1.3 million barrels daily in 2023, largely due to Chinese purchases. A clandestine group reportedly offers significant discounts, costing Iran $26 million daily. The U.S. re-imposed sanctions in 2018, severely limiting Iran’s crude buyers primarily to China and Syria.

  1. Iranian Candidates Debate Potential Fuel Price Hikes

In Iran, a heated debate has erupted between supporters of pro-reform candidate Masoud Pezeshkian and ultra-hardliner Saeed Jalili over potential fuel price increases. Jalili’s camp claims Pezeshkian would hike fuel prices significantly if elected, while Pezeshkian denies any such plans. Jalili promotes “The One Plan,” proposing to sell fuel at international rates and distribute subsidies equally. This plan, previously piloted unsuccessfully in Kish Island, faces criticism for potentially increasing fuel consumption and smuggling. Fuel prices remain a contentious issue, sparking past protests and unrest.

The results reflect this, with turnout only reaching 39.9 percent, the lowest in the Islamic Republic’s history. This low participation is seen as a victory for the boycott campaign. The second round will see a contest between an extremist and a reformist, challenging the boycott’s effectiveness.

  1. Iran Faces Critical Firefighting Shortage

Iran faces a severe shortage of fire trucks, with a deficit of 2,000 vehicles, while the country experiences increasing fire incidents. Ghodratollah Mohammadi, Tehran’s Fire Department head, stated that most fire trucks are 30 years old and budgets cover only salaries. He warned of dangerous conditions without national budget allocation. Fires in factories and unsafe buildings, like the 2017 Plasco tragedy, exacerbate the strain. Despite the government’s funding of proxy conflicts, firefighting infrastructure is neglected, fueling domestic unrest.

  1. Iran Denies Medical Care to Political Prisoner Jamal Ameli

Jamal Ameli, a political prisoner in Tehran’s Evin Prison, is being denied essential medical care despite his deteriorating health due to an autoimmune disease. The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reports that the lack of access to necessary medications and regular doctor visits has led to severe health issues, including spinal complications and skin wounds. Ameli, convicted of charges related to national security, began his one-year sentence in April. His family’s concerns for his well-being are mounting due to the continued neglect.

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IRAQ

  1. Clarifying Rumors About a Syrian-Turkish Meeting in Baghdad

On July 1, 2024, an official from the Prime Ministry denied reports of an upcoming Turkish-Syrian meeting in Baghdad for mediation purposes. Despite claims, no such meeting is planned. Turkish President Erdogan recently suggested the possibility of re-establishing relations with Syria, potentially through a meeting with President Assad. Syrian sources reported a possible meeting in Baghdad to restore ties. Observers speculate Turkiye aims to conduct military operations in northeastern Syria, similar to its actions in Iraq, targeting Kurdish forces. Iraq might facilitate negotiations, balancing regional control and development interests.

  1. Airstrike Kills Four ISIS Members in Northeastern Iraq

The Joint Operations Command reported that an airstrike by an F-16 killed four ISIS members in the Hawi al-Azim area, north of Diyala, northeastern Iraq. The strike targeted an ISIS site within the Diyala Operations Command sector, successfully eliminating the threat posed by these elements. This operation video link included reflects the ongoing efforts to combat ISIS and maintain security in the region.

  1. Iraq Exports Over 10 Million Barrels of Oil to the US in April

The US Energy Information Administration reported that Iraq exported 10.512 million barrels of crude oil and derivatives to the United States in April. This marks an increase of 3.437 million barrels from March. OPEC’s total exports to the US in April were 40.695 million barrels, with Saudi Arabia leading at 11.275 million barrels. Iraq’s oil exports to the US have risen significantly due to increased production and higher global demand.

  1. $4.5 Billion Basra Oil Refinery to Finish in Two Years

The $4.5 billion oil refinery project in Basra, Iraq, is expected to be completed in two years, according to Japanese Ambassador Futoshi Matsumoto. The project, led by JGC Holding Corporation, involves substantial Japanese loans with favorable terms. Japanese firms, including construction machinery giant Komatsu, are keen to participate in Iraq’s infrastructure and oil sectors. Last August, Japan and Iraq signed a $1.4 billion loan agreement for the refinery’s upgrade, aimed at reducing fuel imports, improving trade, cutting the fiscal deficit, and creating jobs. The project will also modernize Iraq’s energy industry and reduce air pollution.

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SYRIA

  1. Largest Attack on Syrians in Turkiye: Full Story

Syrians in Turkiye face heightened hostility during election campaigns, exemplified by recent attacks in Kayseri. On June 30, Kayseri, Turkiye, saw attacks on Syrian property due to a false rumor about a Syrian refugee assaulting a Turkish girl. The governor clarified that the incident involved a Syrian child. Despite official appeals for calm, shops and vehicles were destroyed, and protests erupted, demanding Syrian refugees leave. Mixed reactions followed, with some politicians demanding deportations and others condemning the violence. On July 1, 2024, widespread protests erupted in northern Syria’s Idlib and Aleppo regions in response to attacks on Syrian refugees in Kayseri, Turkiye. Demonstrators blocked roads, burned tires, and clashed with Turkish forces, targeting Turkish property and vehicles. Several areas, including Afrin, Jarabulus, and Al-Bab, saw violent confrontations. Calls for peaceful protests and restraint were issued by local leaders and organizations. Ras al-Ain, northwest of Hasakah, is experiencing protests in response to attacks on Syrian refugees in Kayseri, Turkiye. Local sources confirmed an internet blackout from the Turkish side and an arrest campaign targeting the protesters, conducted by unidentified military personnel. Turkish forces responded with gunfire to disperse the crowds, resulting in four deaths and 20 injuries. Demonstrators, angered by the attacks on Syrian refugees in Kayseri, clashed with Turkish forces in Afrin and Jarabulus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported large-scale demonstrations along the Turkish-controlled border, marked by violent confrontations. Turkiye closed all border crossings with northwestern Syria, including Bab al-Salama, al-Rai, Jarabulus, and Bab al-Hawa. Turkish officials, including President Erdogan, condemned the violence, attributing it to opposition rhetoric. Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya announced the arrest of 67 attackers and action against inciting social media accounts. Syrian opposition groups and civil organizations called for peaceful protests and restraint, emphasizing the need to protect refugees and maintain security. 

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 EGYPT

  1. EU Guarantees Boost Egypt’s Foreign Investments by €11 Billion

Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, and Geert Koopmann from the European Commission, announced a €1.8 billion investment guarantee by the EU to attract €11 billion in foreign investments to Egypt. The initiative, part of a €7.4 billion financing package, aims to enhance sectors such as energy, climate action, water, food security, and human capital. Development partners and international institutions praised the collaboration, emphasizing the strategic partnership’s role in economic stability and development in Egypt.

  1. Egypt Pays $1.3 Billion in Dues to Foreign Oil Companies

Egypt has paid $1.3 billion to foreign oil and gas companies operating in the country as of the end of June, with total dues amounting to $4.5 billion. A government official indicated that settling the full amount by year-end is challenging. In March, Egypt paid $1.5 billion, or 20% of its dues, following increased IMF loans and agreements for regional development. These payments aim to boost natural gas production, which has fallen short of meeting domestic demand, forcing Egypt to re-enter the liquefied natural gas import market.

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 THE GULF

  1. Saudi Arabia Seizes Over 3 Million Assad’s Captagon Pills

Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority at Jeddah Islamic Port intercepted a shipment of 3,633,978 Captagon pills, concealed within “iron equipment.” Utilizing advanced security techniques, the pills were discovered during customs inspection. Following the seizure, two individuals were arrested in coordination with the General Directorate of Narcotics Control. The Authority emphasized its commitment to tightening customs controls to safeguard the Kingdom’s security and society. They urged the public to assist in combating smuggling by reporting suspicious activities, with the promise of confidentiality and potential financial rewards for accurate information.

  1. Oil and Gas Discoveries in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province and Empty Quarter

Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman announced significant discoveries by Aramco, including two unconventional oil fields, an Arab Light oil reservoir, two natural gas fields, and two natural gas reservoirs in the Eastern Province and the Empty Quarter. These discoveries are part of Saudi Arabia’s goal to increase gas production by 63% to 21.3 billion cubic feet per day by 2030. The new fields, such as “Al-Ladam” and “Al-Farouk,” highlight Aramco’s efforts to boost gas production, replace oil in electricity generation, and enhance export capacity.

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 TURKIYE

  1. Saudi Defense Minister Meets Erdogan to Strengthen Defense Cooperation

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman in Ankara on Tuesday to enhance defense cooperation. Prince Khalid, leading a Saudi delegation, emphasized the importance of bolstering bilateral relations and addressing regional and international issues. The meeting included Turkish Defense Minister Yasar Guler and focused on reviewing and advancing defense ties. Recent agreements between Saudi and Turkish defense companies aim to localize drone manufacturing and technology transfer within Saudi Arabia. This visit builds on the cooperation agreement signed last year between Baykar and the Saudi Ministry of Defense, highlighting the growing partnership and collaborative efforts for regional stability and security.

  1. Erdogan Makes First Post-Election Government Amendment

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed Murat Kurum as Minister of Environment and Kemal Memişoğlu as Minister of Health, following the resignations of Fahrettin Koca and Mehmet Ozhaseki. This marks the first cabinet reshuffle since the AKP lost local elections in March, with the CHP making significant gains. Ozhaseki cited health reasons for his departure, while Koca’s dismissal had been speculated in Ankara. The appointments were confirmed by the Official Gazette on Monday.

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📌 In case you missed it,

📰  THE EARLY PHOENIX July 1, 2024

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