Operation Iron Swords Update 6/20

The North

  • Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah delivered a public address yesterday in which he again threatened Israel. He noted that Hezbollah’s plans for invading the Galilee are “still on the table.” He also warned, “There is not a place in Israel that is beyond the range of Hezbollah’s rockets.”
  • Israeli officials responded that Nasrallah is under pressure following warnings he received from visiting US envoy Amos Hochstein and from Israel's comments about the increasing probability of a ground campaign in Lebanon. 
  • According to Israeli media reports, Hochstein told Lebanese officials that if Hezbollah doesn’t cease its near-daily attacks on northern Israel, it could find itself the target of a limited Israeli operation that would have the backing of the US.
  • 80,000 residents of the north remain evacuated from the area; they are living in temporary accommodations across the country. Close to 30% of the residences in the northernmost city of Metulla have now been destroyed by rockets and anti-tank missiles. In nearby Kibbutz Manara, two-thirds of the homes have been destroyed.
  • Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Ha-Levy conducted a situational assessment at the IDF’s Northern Command headquarters yesterday. Gallant stated that Israel is completing its preparations both on the ground and in the air for an incursion. He said that “it is incumbent upon us to change the situation in the north," referring to the tens of thousands of Israelis still unable to return to their homes. An unnamed, high-ranking Israeli official told Israeli media that the countdown toward a powerful Israeli response to Hezbollah’s attacks has begun. 
  • Read more here about the escalation in the drone war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Gaza Fighting

  • On Monday, the IDF announced that during the past month and a half of fighting in Rafah, it has so far dismantled two of the four remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah, killing at least 550 terrorists. 
  • According to one IDF official, “There is no home in Rafah that doesn’t have a tunnel running below.”
  • The IDF also said that it took control last month of the entire Egypt-Gaza border, known as the Philadelphi Corridor; this is the main avenue for smuggling munitions into Gaza from Iran and other sources, including weapons that were used on October 7th to murder Israelis.  The IDF has located hundreds of rockets and more than 200 tunnel shafts along the border with Egypt, as well as at least 25 “long” tunnels that reach the border.
  • The IDF has so far evacuated approximately 70-80% of the 1.4 million civilians who were sheltering in Rafah to the humanitarian zone of al-Muwasi along the coast of Gaza. There is concern that a large number of terrorists fled with the civilians.
  • Read this Wall Street Journal article on Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar’s brutal strategy to maximize civilian death of the Gazan population. 

Hostages

  • According to US officials, only around 50 of the 120 remaining hostages being held by Hamas are still alive. See more here.
  • At this point, negotiations on a hostage deal are in limbo. The US and Israel have both stated that Hamas’s inflexibility is the reason for the lack of progress.

Humanitarian Aid

  • Israel has announced that there will be a halt in all fighting and attacks during daylight hours along a major thoroughfare in Gaza. This will allow for greater humanitarian aid flows. Despite the move, see today’s New York Times story about how anarchy in Gaza has hindered aid distribution.
  • The US military’s floating pier off the coast of Gaza, designed to allow greater flows of aid, continues to have technical difficulties. Israeli media has reported that the Administration is considering shuttering the facility permanently.

See the latest figures on humanitarian aid here.

International

  • In Israel, a number of members of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud-led coalition have expressed some measures of dissent in recent days, mainly over issues of religion and state. Most significantly, Minister of Econony Nir Barkat said yesterday that he, and some other members of Likud, would not be able to support legislation that formalized IDF draft exemptions for young ultra-Orthodox men. 
  • Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu released a video statement where he criticized the US Administration for withholding weapons shipments from Israel (a fact that the White House denied). In response, Washington initially canceled a scheduled meeting in DC for today between Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, National Security Advisor Tzahi Ha-Negbi, and top Administration officials. Later, however, it was announced that National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan would meet the visiting Israeli leaders. 

In France, hundreds took part in demonstrations against antisemitism in Paris and Lyon, following yesterday’s indictment of two teenage boys for gang-raping a 12-year-old Jewish girl while using antisemitic slurs.

 

Stories of Heartbreak, Heroism, and Hope

  • Listen to this Fox News interview with released hostage Moran Stella Yanai about her brutal captivity and her journey of recovery. 
  • Read the story of 80-year-old Silvia Mirensky, who immigrated to Israel from Argentina in 1973 to follow her Zionist dream. Silvia lived on Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, where she enjoyed being close to nature and going on long walks with her children and grandchildren.  She loved preparing the favorite dishes of each of her grandchildren. A woman who was full of life, she could often be found reading, listening to music, playing sports, and creating artwork. On October 7 Hamas terrorists burned her home and she suffocated to death.

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