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Week #38 | Israel Weekly War Summary | June 23-June 29,2024


IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in images released on June 29, 2024| Source: IDF Spokesperson

Overview

  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant completed a series of meetings in the US, including with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin where they addressed the situation in Northern Israel.

  • Jerusalem has agreed to delay the preemptive strike in the north to give another chance for a diplomatic agreement with Hezbollah.

  • Hamas is using areas in Gaza with no IDF presence like the Al-Mawasi humanitarian area, where the Israeli Air Force cannot strike and infantry and armor units cannot maneuver, to re-establish workshops for producing weapons and ammunition. In every area where the IDF withdrew, Hamas recruits militants and attempts to rebuild its forces and munitions.

  • Hamas is reorganizing its forces in Khan Yunis after the IDF pulled out, handling policing, food distribution, and elimination of dissenters. This underscores the need for a prolonged IDF presence in Gaza to eradicate terrorism.

  • The IDF returned to the Sajaiya neighborhood in Gaza City for the first time since April. This is the third operation in Sajaiya since the ground campaign began.

  • The IDF estimates that the Rafah Brigade will be defeated within a few days, concluding the intense phase of the Gaza fighting. The IDF is preparing to transition to a defensive position that will include counter-terror raids, creating new areas where the population will be relocated outside of Hamas’ control, while maintaining operational control over two strategic routes.

  • Israel’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a 9-0 decision which concluded that the overarching military exemption for the Ultra-Orthodox community cannot continue and the State must start drafting Ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

  • A new report by the key Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) organization has found that there is conclusively, no famine in Gaza. They stated that assumptions and previous projections that had been made about the amount of food that would enter the territory turned out to be wrong, and that the supply of food to Gaza has increased and did not decrease over the past few months.

International

  • EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said that “the EU has reached a political agreement to continue sanctions against Hamas and violent Israeli settlers.”

  • Russia and Iran are expected to sign a new comprehensive cooperation agreement “very soon,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko told the Russian news agency RIA.

  • German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that the Israeli proposal revealed by US President Joe Biden is “the only realistic way to end the war between Israel and Hamas.” Baerbock met with the Palestinian Prime Minister in Ramallah, stating that “sustainable security requires a strong and stable partner on the Palestinian side. With the necessary reform, the Palestinian Authority can grow into this important role, needing stable structures to build a state.”






Gaza Strip

Diplomatic

US-Israel

  • The Deputy Chief of Staff met with his American counterparts to discuss accelerating the supply of munitions, including heavy bombs that were not delivered due to the operation in Rafah and which Israel will need for the next phase of its war with Hezbollah.

  • Defense Minister Yoav Gallant completed a series of meetings in the US, including with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin where they addressed seemed to have resolved the obstacles to the transfer of munitions Jerusalem has reportedly agreed to delay the initial strike fo the next phase in the north to give another chance for a diplomatic agreement with Hezbollah (the delay in munitions transfer might have been used as leverage to secure this agreement). According to the Washington Post, the US has provided Israel with $6.5 billion in security assistance since the war began, half of which arrived in May. National Security Advisor Andrew Sullivan demanded that Gallant reduce violence in Judea and Samaria and transfer tax funds to the Palestinian Authority. The strategic discussion on Iran, canceled in June after Netanyahu’s video about munitions delays, has been rescheduled for July.

Operational

  • Rockets continue to be launched from Gaza into southern Israel, including towards Sderot and Zikim. Hamas militants have been attacking IDF soldiers along the Nitzarim Corridor.

  • There have been firefights and advances by IDF soldiers in the Nuseirat camp area.

  • Numerous videos posted online show chaos in the Al-Mawasi humanitarian zone, including shootings, fights, stone-throwing, property destruction, and vehicle burnings (including vehicles belonging to Hamas security forces). This violence stems from a combination of extreme crowding, looting of trucks, and conflicts between clans and Hamas members over murders and arrests.

  • Hamas is using areas with no IDF presence like the Al-Mawasi humanitarian area, where the Israeli Air Force cannot strike and infantry and armor units cannot maneuver, to re-establish workshops for producing weapons and ammunition. These are smaller than the manufacturing plants that were destroyed and are scattered everywhere. Hamas is obtaining explosives, partly through the repurposing of unexploded ordnance. Since the beginning of the campaign, at least 50,000 bombs have been dropped in the Gaza Strip, with at least 5% of them not exploding (at least 2,000 of them are reusable, and Hamas is trying to extract explosives from them).

In every area where the IDF withdrew, Hamas recruits militants and attempts to rebuild its forces. Hamas’s military wing has been rebuildig its strength, as seen in Khan Yunis two and a half months after Division 98’s withdrawal, with the re-establishment of a Hamas police force and control over humanitarian shipments, resuming civil services. Hamas is currently producing ammunition and weapons in preparation for the stage of rebellion and guerrilla warfare during the expected military occupation.  This underscores the need for a prolonged military presence in Gaza to eradicate terrorism.

  • A UN official told AP that trucks cannot be safely brought into Gaza, as drivers are beaten or robbed at gunpoint by civilians and gangs looting the trucks’ contents in search of food and cigarettes. These groups also attack UN workers who are there to help them.

  • The Lebanese newspaper “Al-Akhbar,” affiliated with Hezbollah, reported that Egypt rejected an Israeli proposal allowing the evacuation of wounded Palestinians from Gaza via the Rafah crossing. Egyptian sources told “Al-Akhbar” that the rejection was based on Cairo’s position that the crossing should be managed by the Palestinians.

  • A new report by the key Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) organization found that there is conclusively no famine in Gaza. They stated that assumptions and previous projections that had been made about the amount of food that would enter the territory turned out to be wrong, and that the supply of food to Gaza has increased and did not decrease over the past few months.


Residents of Gaza City’s Shejaiya neighborhood evacuating following the IDF’s operation| Source: “Jihad Land” on Telegram, https://web.telegram.org/k/#@eretzh

Sajaiya Neighborhood Raid

The IDF returned to the Sajaiya neighborhood in Gaza City for the first time since April. This is the third operation in Sajaiya since the ground operation began, aimed at dismantling any attempted reorganization of Hamas.

IDF spokespeople in Arabic called on the residents of the Sajaiya, Tuffah, and Terkman neighborhoods to flee south to the humanitarian zone. As part of Division 98, the 7th Armored Brigade and the Paratroopers Brigade are the forces carrying out the operation which started on Thursday.

A significant weapons cache has been located, and local reports claim that bodies are being removed from a local cemetery (likely in search of kidnapped victims’ bodies). An estimated 100 were killed or injured in airstrikes during the operation that began with extensive aerial bombardments, hitting dozens of terror infrastructures and eliminating numerous militants. The terrorists are fighting the advancing forces using explosives and anti-tank fire. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claims to have hit a military vehicle with an RPG, and Hamas militants claim to have damaged an APC.

Rafah

According to satellite images, Division 162 soldiers have reached the outskirts of the humanitarian area northeast of Tel Sultan.

Givati and Nahal soldiers have eliminated many militants in the Rafah area and destroyed terror infrastructures, including tunnel shafts. Nahal soldiers found weapons in residents’ homes, such as grenades, explosives, remote detonation devices, magazines, and more. In one house, they found a children’s board game that glorifies attacks on Israel, showing, for example, rocket fire at the power station in Hadera, the desalination facility, or the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa.

Soldiers are advancing north towards Tel Sultan camp and the Swedish neighborhood, which has been turned into a staging area for tanks and APCs.

The Institute or the Study of War claims that contrary to IDF assessments, the Tel Sultan battalion is far from being defeated and is using explosives and tunnel networks to continue fighting.


IDF Deputy Chief of the General Staff MG Amir Baram visited the United States as a guest of colleagues from the U.S. military earlier this week. MG Baram met with senior commanders in CENTCOM, U.S. NORTHCON, the Navy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DOD| Source: IDF Spokesperson

IDF Preparing for the Day After

Senior Hamas official Khaled Mashaal declared that they are not waiting for the end of the war to implement their post-war plans and intend to remain in power. He delivered a speech underlining his 7 points. The speech showed that Hamas believes that it is in a better strategic position and that Israel’s days are numbered. This is yet another indication that Hamas’ truly believes that it will survive the war which explains its reluctance to negotiate a hostage deal or end the war on Israel’s terms.

The IDF and the political leadership of Israel are on the verge  of deciding on the next phase of the war as it takes over the rest of Gaza and are in negotiations with other Arab countries in the region for a shared governance of post war Gaza.

Jordan’s Foreign Minister declared that they would not participate in a peacekeeping force in Gaza. Recently, National Security Advisor Eyal Hulata spoke about cooperation between Arab states, the US, and the EU for managing Gaza after the conflict. Jordan fears appearing to be supporting a military occupation.

The IDF estimates that the Rafah Brigade will be defeated within a few days, concluding the intense phase of the Gaza fighting. The IDF is preparing to transition to a defensive position that will include counter-terror  raids, creating new areas where the population will be relocated outside of Hamas’ control, maintaining operational control over two strategic routes. Currently, the IDF has established the “David Route,” running parallel to the Philadelphi Corridor, and a few hundreds of meters to the north of it, from the Kerem Shalom crossing to the “Swedish” neighborhood by the sea. This creates a larger buffer area to protect from potential smuggling tunnels that still exist by the Philadelphi Corridor.

These targeted raids in the areas the IDF holds would need 2 divisions and the reinforcement of forces near the border fence as well as  major new routes in Gaza. The process of the systematic destruction of underground terror infrastructures and tunnels through limited operations and raids is expected to last many more months.

Currently, Division 99 secures the Beeri route, Division 162 the Philadelphi route, and Division 98 is responsible for raids and dismantling Hamas’s attempted reorganization. It appears that the IDF is evacuating the population from the northern Gaza Strip to dismantle the organizations and ensure the return of only those residents who denounced Hamas rule.

Israel will be able to build an alternative administration led by selected clans, which it will have to protect. The return of residents will only be possible after the systematic destruction of all tunnel networks and terror infrastructures, preventing Hamas’s plan for the day after (which can be summarized as preserving its power and transitioning to guerrilla warfare). The return of the population to the north is not only a way to build an alternative administration but also one of the few cards Israel has for a hostage exchange and their release.

Hamas fearing local cooperation with the IDF has reportedly executed two clan leaders, one in Deir al-Balah and the other in Rafah, due to their cooperation with Israel in creating the new administration. This was reported by Gazan Journalist Younis Tirawi on X. Hamas has not claimed responsibility for the killings at the time of writing. Hamas similarly killed the head of a local clan in Gaza City in March 2024, after which the clans signed a letter refusing to coordinate with Israel.


The Chief of the General Staff, LTG Herzi Halevi, visited the brigade-level exercise of the 55th Reserve Brigade along the northern border| Source: IDF Spokesperson

Netanyahu’s Interview to the Israeli Press

Netanyahu was interviewed on one of the most popular news show in Israel “The Patriots” on the pro-Netanyahu, Channel 14, for the first time since the war broke out. He explained that the intense phase of the war is about to end and that the IDF will remain in Gaza after the war to destroy Hamas and build an alternative local administration with the help of external countries (probably referring to select Arab countries like the UAE). This new administration will initially distribute humanitarian aid in designated areas until it is responsible for the full civilian sector.

The IDF will stay in Gaza until all hostages are fully released. Netanyahu opposes a hostage deal (later clarified by his office that Hamas opposes the deal) and insists on the IDF’s presence to maintain Israel’s security and build the new administration, firmly opposing the entry of the Palestinian Authority into Gaza. Simultaneously, Netanyahu opposed any renewed Jewish settlement in Gaza, calling it unrealistic.

Domestic Arena

IDF Manpower Shortage and the Supreme Court Decision

The IDF is making significant efforts to increase manpower, including lowering the ‘medical profile’ requirement for some combat roles, planning to recruit a combat brigade of 3,000 Ultra Orthodox soldiers, establishing a new reserve division (Division 96) for recently exempted reservists, extending emergency service to 36 months for men, re-enlisting recently released reservists and fighters, establishing a new reserve brigade named “The Guard” for defense missions, creating a new regular border defense battalion (the 6th), and increasing the number of recruits for regular infantry brigades in upcoming cycles.

This urgency makes Ultra-Orthodox recruitment a crucial operational issue, and is no longer viewed in terms of an equality issue centered around the need to distribute the burden of military service across the entire Jewish Israeli population. The Attorney General instructed the immediate conscription of 3,000 soldiers from the ultra-orthodox community, after Israel’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a 9-0 decision which concluded that the overarching exemption for the ultra-orthodox community cannot continue and the State must start drafting Ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

This decision could cause trouble for the current government as the Ultra-Orthodox parties could threaten to break up the coalition if there is no immediate legal remedy that could be found to extend the draft. The current bill that is being advanced by the government (which started in the previous government) aims to increase the burden on already serving reservists because of Israel’s increased security demands while providing a path for the ultra-orthodox to receive an exemption at a younger age.

Other members from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party, like MK Yuli Edlestein who serves as the chair on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, have publicly said that they would not support a draft bill that would have “wide agreement,” signaling some potential turbulence.




Lebanon

Operational

  • Alongside the 55th Brigade, the Golani Brigade completed an exercise simulating fighting in Lebanon, practicing combat in the Mount Dov and Hermon areas in complex terrains alongside armor, artillery, and other infantry units.

  • Reports indicate that the IDF is transferring forces from Gaza to northern Israel in preparation for its initial strike in the next phase of the war with Hezbollah. The Air Force commander held a situation assessment with brigade commanders in the Northern Command in preparation for such a strike.

  • Countries like Canada, Germany, France, and others have called on their citizens to leave Lebanon.

  • Nasrallah has threatened Israel, stating they have a target bank and will strike anywhere in the country.

  • Reports indicate that Hezbollah is concentrating advanced weaponry at Beirut International Airport, including ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets up to 1,000 km away. The storage at the airport is meant to prevent IAF attacks, and with full escalation, to launch these missiles towards Israeli cities.

Diplomatic

  • President Biden’s envoy, Amos Hochstein, conveyed to Hezbollah through the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, who visited the US, that if it continues its attacks on Israel, Washington will no longer be able to prevent Jerusalem from launching its initial strike in the next phase of the war.

  • The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Charles Brown, stated to the media that the US would not be able to assist Israel in a northern war as it did in defending against Iran in April. The danger of direct Iranian involvement increases if it feels its Shiite terror organization, Hezbollah, is at risk.




Judea and Samaria

Diplomatic

  • Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich declared that five outposts would soon have their zoning approved and will become legal settlements, and sanctions will be imposed on the Palestinian Authority. At the same time, the Authority’s tax funds are expected to be unfrozen to prevent its collapse. The EU harshly condemned Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s announcement.

  • Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammad Mustafa held meetings in Ramallah with Norway’s envoy to the Middle East peace process, Hilde Haraldstad, and Switzerland’s envoy to the Middle East and North Africa, Wolfgang Amadeus Brulhart. Mustafa emphasized the need to continue international pressure on Israel and noted that the Palestinian Authority’s government is the only entity capable of managing the Gaza Strip.

Operational

  • In Jenin, a now-routine anti-terror operation was conducted, marking the 25th brigade-level operation there since the war began. An IDF bulldozer cleared the routes before the forces’ entry. While most IEDs are typically buried a few dozen centimeters below the road, this time several were buried about 1.5 meters deep, and were therefore not destroyed. A Panther vehicle carrying the medical team hit one of the IEDs and was damaged, injuring several soldiers. Another team arriving to assist was hit by a second IED. The threat of IEDs to the forces is constant and evolving, with Iranian smuggled explosives or expertise acquired by Arab militants in the Judea and Samaria.

  • Jordanian security forces conducted arrests and raids on apartments where explosives and devices were being manufactured under Iranian direction. Iran continues to smuggle weapons through Syria to Jordan and from there to Judea and Samaria, while also trying to bolster Muslim Brotherhood elements in the Hashemite Kingdom to destabilize it and topple the monarchy, aiming to turn it into a terror hub on Israel’s longest border.

  • There was shooting towards the Israeli town of Bat Hefer (within the Green Line) from the Tulkarm area, followed by two explosive devices detonating near the barrier separating the towns. An IDF spokesperson said that an explosive device detonated on the Palestinian side intending to draw security forces to the area. Israeli communities near the security barrier, inside the green line have suffered increased threats from Palestinian villages near the barrier.



Global Jihad

ISIS’s media arm, Al-Azaim, released a poster showing a hooded activist watching American and Israeli flags burn. The text on the poster reads: “Set the Crusader and Jewish cities ablaze, turning them into fiery cities.”

A media outlet linked to ISIS’s Khorasan province published a poster with a Hadith fragment stating that fighters bearing the black flag of monotheism will emerge from the Khorasan region and that “no one can stop them until they raise their flags in Jerusalem.”


Iraq and Syria

  • The American Al-Tanf base in Syria was attacked by drones, and Shia militias have declared their readiness to resume attacks on American bases in Syria and Iraq


Iran

  • Following reports that Hamas leaders plan to leave Qatar and move the organization’s political leadership to Iraq, under pressure from Qatar and the US to be flexible on the hostage deal, Iran will be responsible for protecting Hamas leaders and their offices in Baghdad, according to “The National.”

  • Iranian Ground Forces Commander Kiumars Heydari warned that the “resistance” will not remain silent and will respond harshly if Israel starts a war in Lebanon. He noted that the Iranian attack on Israel on April 13-14 changed the conditions in the region and led to a new situation. Iran’s UN delegation posted on X (formerly Twitter), threatening that if Israel launches a widespread war in Lebanon, a “war of annihilation” will ensue and that “All options, including the full involvement of all resistance fronts, are on the table”.


Fallen Soldiers


Sergeant first class (res.) Yakir Shmuel Tatelbaum

Sergeant Eyal Shynes

Sergeant major Mhamad El Atrash (IDF allowed to publish that he fell on October 7th and his body is held by Hamas)

Staff sergeant Yair Avitan

Captain Alon Scagio

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