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Week #33 | Israel Weekly War Summary | May 19-May 25,2024


Rescue teams are seen near the site of the incident of the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan in northwestern Iran, Sunday, May 19, 2024. | Source: (Azin Haghighi, Moj News Agency via AP)

Overview

  • Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced that they will recognize a Palestinian state, on May 28th.

  • South Africa’s requests for court orders were accepted by the International Court o Justice (ICJ), except for the order to halt the war across the entire Gaza Strip. The court accepted demands to allow investigative committees to examine allegations of genocide by Israel, to open the Rafah crossing, and to provide additional humanitarian aid to the Strip.

  • CNN reported that the ceasefire agreement announced by Hamas earlier this month was not what Qatari and American mediators had delivered to Hamas, butt was secretly altered by Egyptian intelligence without informing either side.

  • The British Daily Mail revealed transcripts of the interrogations of a Hamas father and son duo, who admitted to raping and murdering innocent women and men during the October 7 invasion.

  • A video was released showing 5 female IDF soldiers being captured by Hamas, who appear with blood streaked across their faces and clothes, while Hamas terrorists comment that they would make good “bounty” or sex slaves.

  • National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, arrived in Israel after visiting Saudi Arabia and spoke with each member of the war cabinet separately, discussing plans for a potential Israel-Saudi deal in exchange for Israel agreeing to create a roadmap for a future Palestinian State.

  • According to Minister Dermer who is a member of the war cabinet, there is more water and aid entering Gaza today than before the war. Prices of the goods have dropped, indicating the large amounts of aid that has been getting to Gaza.

  • Israel and the United States condemned the ICC prosecutor’s decision to issue arrest warrants and are attempting to block it, denouncing the comparison or attempt to create symmetry between Israel and Hamas.

  • The International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to stop the operation in Rafah, open the Rafah crossing, and allow a UN team to enter the Gaza Strip to investigate the possibility of genocide. The Hague court did not accept South Africa’s demand for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip or the accusation of genocide.

  • The IDF has continued its operations along the Philadelpi Line, along Egypt’s border, and is now controlling 50%-70% of the border.

  • It is estimated that 950,000 of the 1.4 million civilians have evacuated the Rafah area in just a few days, much more quickly than was anticipated by the US. Eastern Rafah is almost completely empty.

  • In two separate operations the IDF was able to retrieve the bodies of 7 hostages who were killed on October 7. Both operations were in Jabalia in northern Gaza.

  • According to an Israeli media outlet, using open-source intelligence, the Palestinian Authority’s security forces are undergoing military training in Pakistan.

  • The funeral of the Iranian leaders was attended by members of Iran’s proxy groups including Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Naim Qasem of Hezbollah, and Abdul Malik of the Houthis.





Funeral of Raisi and Abdollahian | Source: Iran in Arabic, https://t.me/Iran_Bel_Arabi

International

  • Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced that they will recognize a Palestinian state on May 28th. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed the decision, while Israel and the United States condemned it. President Biden stated that any process for establishing such a state should come only through direct negotiations between the parties.

  • While the US and the UK condemned the ICC prosecutor’s decision, Israel’s European allies who are signatories of the statue have said that they would fulfill the arrest warrant if the court accepts it.

  • South Africa’s requests for court orders were accepted, except for the order to halt the war across the entire Gaza Strip. The court accepted demands to allow investigative committees to examine allegations of genocide by Israel, to open the Rafah crossing, and to provide additional humanitarian aid to the Strip. It is estimated that Israel will not comply with all the ICJ orders, and a government spokesperson told Reuters, “No force on earth will prevent Israel from defending its citizens and pursuing Hamas in Gaza.”

  • EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell stated that recognizing a Palestinian state is not “a gift to Hamas. Quite the opposite.” He added, “The Palestinian Authority is not Hamas; on the contrary, they are in deep conflict.”

  • British Labour Party leader and likely next Prime Minister Keir Starmer said he wants to recognize a Palestinian state if he wins in the upcoming general elections.

  • Colombia has already announced that it will open an embassy in Ramallah.

  • 6 Arab foreign ministers are now demanding that the United States pressure Israel to accept a roadmap for a Palestinian state within three years. As part of this plan, they are also calling for the deployment of an international Arab force in Judea and Samaria.




Gaza Strip

Diplomatic

Hostage Deal Negotiations

  • On Friday, the CIA Director, the head of Mossad, and the Prime Minister of Qatar met in Paris in an attempt to renew negotiations for a hostage deal. Egyptian representatives did not participate, but the CIA Director updated them on the details, and Egypt is likely to be involved in the next round of negotiations.

  • CNN reported that the ceasefire agreement announced by Hamas earlier this month was not what Qatari and American mediators had delivered to Hamas, but it was secretly altered by Egyptian intelligence without informing either side. This move derailed the deal that Israel had signed, which could have released hostages.

  • Egypt is threatening to withdraw from its role as mediator in the Gaza ceasefire negotiations after the CNN report.

 

Other

  • The British Daily Mail revealed transcripts of the interrogations of a Hamas father and son duo, who admitted to raping and murdering innocent women and men during the October 7 invasion.

  • A video was released showing 5 female IDF soldiers being captured by who appear to have been beaten with blood streaked across their faces and clothes, while Hamas terrorists comment that they would make good “bounty” or sex slaves in accordance with Sharia laws of war.

  • National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, arrived in Israel after visiting Saudi Arabia. He spoke with each member of the war cabinet separately, discussing plans for a potential Israel-Saudi deal in exchange for Israel agreeing to create a roadmap for a future Palestinian State. According to Administration officials who spoke with the WSJ, the deal includes a US security pact with Saudi Arabia, including a greenlight for their civilian nuclear program, the immediate end to the war in Gaza and the creation of a Palestinian State in 3-5 years.

  • According to Minister Dermer who is a member of the war cabinet, there is more water and aid entering Gaza today than before the war. Prices of the goods have dropped indicating the large amount of aid that is entering Gaza.

Sullivan’s separate and discrete conversations with members of the war cabinet could indicate collaboration between political with the Biden administration as apparently occurred by direct correspondence between American officials and figures like Gantz and Gallant.

According to reports, Gallant discussed with Sullivan Israel’s determination in continuing the offensive to Western Rafah with the operation taking place over the next three weeks.

After meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sullivan expressed disappointment with what he heard. “With Netanyahu, there will be no normalization with Saudi Arabia,” he said. Sullivan’s message was conveyed to several Israeli figures who perceived that Biden’s senior advisor “fears that Netanyahu does not grasp the magnitude of the moment.” According to him, “Netanyahu cannot make a historic decision that would change the Middle East and prefers to maintain his coalition with Ben Gvir and Smotrich.”

 

ICC

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Karim Khan, submitted a request for arrest warrants for five individuals. These include Hamas Political Bureau Chief Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Yahya Sinwar, and Hamas military wing commander Mohammed Deif who were charged with crimes against humanity, war crimes, rape and sexual violence, torture, and murder. The prosecutor also submitted requests for arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who he charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, alleging the use of starvation as a weapon of war. Israel and the United States condemned the decision to issue arrest warrants and are attempting to block it, denouncing the comparison or attempt to create symmetry between Israel and Hamas.

Both Israel and the US are not parties of the Rome Statute that created the ICC and do not see the ICC having jurisdiction in Gaza, as it claims to have a jurisdiction based on the State of Palestine which is not recognized.

 

106 Members of the Knesset issued a statement against the prosecutor in The Hague regarding the arrest warrants for the Prime Minister and Defense Minister. “The State of Israel is in the midst of a just war against a heinous terrorist organization,” the statement read. It continues, “The prosecutor’s outrageous comparison between Israeli leaders and Hamas leaders is an indelible historical crime and a clear expression of antisemitism.” This is an unprecedented concuss in the Israeli Parliament.

 

ICJ

By a majority of 13 judges to 2, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ordered Israel to stop the operation in Rafah, open the Rafah crossing, and allow a UN team to enter the Gaza Strip to investigate the possibility of genocide. A representative from South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that they would bring the decision to the UN Security Council to enforce the immediate end of the operation. Israel is required to present evidence of progress on these three fronts to the UN by June 23rd. The Hague court did not accept South Africa’s demand for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip or the accusation of genocide.

 

Operational

The IDF continued its operations in Rafah and Jabalia and in the central ‘refugee’ camps in Gaza.

Rafah

The IDF continued its operations on the Philadelpi Corridor, along Egypt’s border, and is now controlling 50%-70% of the border. Once the IDF reached the Tel Sultan refugee camp the rest of the progression along the border should be swift as there is less concentrated urban/civilian environment in that last portion of the border.

  • Troops from the Givati brigade found large underground infrastructure that included anti-aircraft weapons which were probably supplied by Iran.

  • In coordination with the Biden administration the fight in the Rafah area has been gradual as more and more civilians have left the area. It is estimated that 950,000 of the 1.4 million civilians have successfully evacuated the Rafah area in just a few days, much more quickly than was anticipated by the US. There are almost no civilians remaining in Eastern Rafah. The operations are focusing on the outskirts of Rafah City like in the Brazil neighborhood in the east and surrounding refugee camps.

  • The fleeing Hamas members could hide with the civilian population in El Mowasi or join the Dir El Balah and Nuseirat battalions which were not completely dismantled in central Gaza and reorganize.

  • Hamas has placed rocket launchers in close proximity to the border with Egypt in order to provoke the IDF to attack them and even damage the border fence. This strategy is meant to create more Egyptian pressure against Israel to stop its Rafah operations.

 

Jabalia

  • IDF ordered civilians to evacuate to the west of the city and from there to go south into the Humanitarian zone.

  • IDF troops from the 98th Division continued their operation in Jabalia, which has been more intense than previous operations in Shati, Zeitoun and Shifa. The troops found Buraq-70 rockets manufactuted by Palestinian Islamic Jihad- the rockets have a range of 70 Km which indicated that the terrorists could have still targeted Tel Aviv, even at this stage of the war.

 

  • The intensity of the fighting demonstrates that Hamas has a very quick rehabilitative ability. The Jabalia Battalion commander was killed last October, yet from the fighting it seems that Hamas managed to recast its command structure with new ranks and recruit new fighters.

 

Bodies of Hostages

In two separate operations the IDF was able to retrieve the bodies of 7 hostages who were killed on October 7    Both operations were in Jabalia in northern Gaza.

In the first occasion IDF troops found the 4 bodies in a tunnel in Jabalia. The troops fought for 3 days in the area in which the tunnel opening was found. The bodies had been booby-trapped with explosives on them, which the Yahalom Unit was able to neutralize.

IDF troops were able to locate underground facilities after fighting Hamas terrorists in which they found the bodies of Michel Nisenbaum, Hanan Yablonka, Orion Hernandez (the latter is not an Israeli but a Mexican French national who was Shani Louk’s boyfriend).



Clockwise from top left, the four hostages whose bodies were recovered by the IDF from the Gaza Strip on May 17, 2024: Ron Benjamin, Shani Louk, Itzhak Gelerenter and Amit Bouskila. (Courtesy)

Hostages Michel Nisenbaum, Orion Hernandez, Hanan Yablonka. Their bodies were recovered from northern Gaza’s Jabaliya in an operation announced May 24, 2024. (Courtesy)

Other

  • The IDF killed the Deputy Commander of the Security Directorate of Hamas, the body which is responsible among other things in using civilians as human shields and charged with preventing them from escaping fighting areas.

  • The United States Central Command announced that between May 17th and May 22nd, it transferred 820 tons of food to the Gaza Strip through the new floating pier and port, with 506 tons of that food being trasnfered to warehouses in the center of the strip. There is an ongoing discussion on how to secure the distribution of the food. Politico reported that, according to four senior Biden administration officials, the administration is considering appointing a supervisor to be stationed in Sinai or Jordan to oversee the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a new civil order. The administration is trying to enlist Egypt, the UAE, and Morocco to send troops as a peacekeeping force in the strip, which would consist of up to 3,000 foreign soldiers and police officers (the Palestinian Authority is also supposed to take part in this process). The United States wants to be involved in the day after in the Gaza Strip and build a new civil order but will only do so after a hostage deal and a ceasefire.

  • According to a report in Politico, American intelligence estimates that between 30% and 35% of all Hamas militants have been eliminated, while 65% of the tunnels remain undamaged and usable for terrorist activities. Additionally, during the war, the terrorist organization recruited thousands of militants from the population, indicating that Hamas retains the capability to continue fighting Israel even after the fall of the Rafah area.

  • The IDF directed an airstrike on an UNRWA school housing Hamas militants, anti-tank operatives, and Nukhba fighters, along with a large cache of weapons. These individuals were eliminated, and secondary explosions indicated the presence of weapons in the school compound.

  • In Khan Yunis, the Air Force killed a militant responsible for organizing numerous anti-tank attacks against the troops, along with two other militants. The activity in Khan Yunis suggests that with the evacuation of the population from Rafah (at least 350,000 of whom relocated to the Khan Yunis area), many terrorists were among them.

 

Domestic Arena

As a reaction to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s statements last week criticizing the Prime Minister’s alleged lack of “day after” plans for Gaza and the need to install an armed Palestinian local force, a masked soldier declared in a viral video that the IDF troops won’t obey orders to allow for a Palestinian armed force.




Lebanon

Operational

  • Hezbollah fired rockets at the Galilee hitting civilian infrastructure in Metula, Manara, Zarit, Misgav Am, and Kiryat Shmona.

 

Iraq and Syria

  • Arab media outlets report that an Israeli strike hit 2 vehicles and a truck near Aleppo in Syria that were on their way to an airbase. In the incident, 2 Hezbollah operatives were killed.

  • A Syrian General in the Syrian Army with a rank of Colonel was killed in a car explosion. According to Syrian opposition sources the General was affiliated with Hezbollah.

  • Houthi leader Abdul-Malik spoke by phone with Kataib Hezbollah’s Iraqi Secretary-General Hamidouni. They discussed expanding their partnership to isolate Israel and impose a naval blockade. Representatives of the two organizations recently met in Tehran, alongside Raisi’s funeral, to coordinate actions of what is known as the Resistance Axis. They committed to increase the rate of attacks of cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and UAVs towards strategic assets in Israel (such as gas rigs or refineries in Haifa) and to prevent ships from docking in Israel.

  • The IDF announced that on Thursday-Friday night, four UAVs coming from the east were intercepted, two of which were on their way to northern Israel. Kataib Hezbollah claimed responsibility for firing two of them, while the other two were launched either by the Houthis or by the Al-Ashtar Brigades (a Shia militia loyal to Iran in Bahrain).




Judea and Samaria

According to an Israeli media outlet, using open-source intelligence, the Palestinian Authority’s security forces are undergoing military training in Pakistan. The training includes commando operations, as well as the use of anti-tank weapons, paratrooper training, and conventional military exercises. The PA’s forces are becoming a standing army with training by Jordanian and Pakistani troops.

This standing army presents a threat to Israel as there have been not only statements from Palestinian security forces, such as bragging that they killed more Jews in Judea and Samaria than Hamas since the war started, but also terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinian security forces against Israeli civilians. Given the support for the October 7th attacks among Palestinian society and Palestinian security forces, Israel must be prepared for the possibility of a similar attack by a standing Palestinian army.

  • Hussein Al-Sheikh, Secretary of the PLO Executive Committee, and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa met with U.S. National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan to discuss the implications of the war in Gaza.

  • The central unit of the Jerusalem District Police thwarted planned attacks that were to use pipe bombs against vehicles and security forces in East Jerusalem.

  • IDF is conducting raids to arrest terrorist operatives. In one of the raids, 14 suspects were apprehended with weapons, hundreds of thousands of NIS in terrorist funds were confiscated as well as incitement material which included Hitler’s Mein Kampf in Arabic.

  • In Jenin, led by the IDF and the Shin Bet, a large-scale operation has been launched to thwart the terrorism efforts of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants attempting to regroup. There are numerous exchanges of fire, with several militants being hit. The fighting is also taking place where the terrorists are seeking refuge, in the vicinity of the hospital.

  • The Central Command Major General, following a decision by Defense Minister Gallant, signed an order canceling the disengagement in northern Samaria. Currently, the area has been declared a closed military zone to prevent Jewish settlement until security arrangements are completed. This decision was made in light of the entrenchment of terrorism in the area and the need to establish Jewish settlements to enhance security and strengthening of the Israeli presence in the region.

  “The Palestinian Authority is now at the closest point to total economic collapse,” says a senior Palestinian official. According to him, Arab countries are not willing to provide economic assistance, except for Algeria, which agreed to transfer $55 million to the Palestinians, which will cover only a small portion of the salaries of Palestinian officials and police officers.

  The UAE blocked a clause that was supposed to fund the Palestinian Authority with $100 million per month, and Saudi Arabia has already announced that it will not transfer money to the Palestinian Authority except within the framework of a comprehensive political settlement, according to the Palestinian source.

A close associate of Abu Mazen says that the Palestinian Monetary Authority is trying to develop plans in response to the Israeli threat and is considering relying on the Jordanian dinar. However, the Palestinian economy is too reliant on the Israeli Shekel to make such a move.




Egypt

After Egypt refused to pass aid through the Rafah Crossing and the Israeli Kerem Shalom Crossing attesting the IDF operations in the Rafah area, Biden spoke to President El- Sisi and convinced him to allow aid to pass from Egypt to Gaza. Egypt has used aid as a means to pressure Israel in the war while facing no international backlash for using the Gaza civilians as pawns to acheive its political objectives.

 

Iran

Iran’s President, Ebrahim Raisi, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, were killed in a helicopter crash together with other officials when returning from a visit to neighboring Azerbaijan. The accident occurred close to the border as a result of a bad weather with strong winds and low visibility.

Interestingly, conspiracy theories with regard to the death of the officials started popping up on social media immediately after the accident. Some Jewish X users made a joke that the helicopter carrying the president and the foreign affairs minister was downed because of the pilot who was a Mossad agent named “Eli Copter” (changing “helicopter” into an Israeli sounding name). This joke quickly was taken seriously and propagated on Iranian and Arab media as an established fact. This “stunt” only indicates the lack of serious journalistic integrity in Arab media and the ease with which it is willing to report conspiracies surrounding Israel without checking for factual sources.



Members of the Axis of Resistance meeting after Raisi’s funeral in Iran | Source: Abu Ali Express on Telegram, https://t.me/abualiexpress
  • The funeral of the Iranian leaders was attended by members of Iran’s proxy groups including Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Naim Qasem of Hezbollah, and Abdul Malik of the Houthis.

  • Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, visited Tehran following President Raisi’s funeral, marking the first visit by a senior Egyptian official to Iran since 1980.

  • Iranian media reported that two meetings took place between senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards and representatives of the Houthis, along with senior leaders of three terrorist organizations (Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front). They discussed “continuing jihad and the struggle until the victory of the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip.”

  • The Iranian media portrays the events surrounding Raisi’s death as a diplomatic victory, asserting that Iran is not isolated but rather accepted by the world’s nations. For instance, the Russian Duma chairman, senior officials from China, and other global dignitaries attended the funeral and paid their respects to the Iranian leaders.


Fallen Israeli Soldiers


Four Israeli soldiers fell in Gaza this week: Staff Sergeant Eliyahau Haim Emsallem, Chief Sergeant First Class Gideon Chay DeRowe, Captain Israel Yudkin, and Major Gal Shabbat Of Blessed Memory

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