Iran Update, March 31, 2024

Key Takeaways:

  • Northern Gaza Strip: The IDF continued to conduct clearing operations in and around al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
  • Central Gaza Strip: The IDF said that its Air Force conducted a drone strike targeting a PIJ command-and-control center in the al Aqsa Hospital complex in Deir al Balah.
  • Southern Gaza Strip: Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in Khan Younis.
  • Political Negotiations: Egyptian state media reported, citing an unspecified security source, that Israel and Hamas have resumed ceasefire negotiations.
  • West Bank: Israeli forces engaged Palestinian fighters in at least seven locations in the West Bank.
  • Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights: Lebanese Hezbollah conducted at least seven attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel.
  • Iraq: The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—claimed that it launched a drone targeting an unspecified target in Eilabun, Israel.

Gaza Strip

Axis of Resistance objectives:

Erode the will of the Israeli political establishment and public to sustain clearing operations in the Gaza Strip
Reestablish Hamas as the governing authority in the Gaza Strip
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued to conduct clearing operations in and around al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on March 31.[i] These operations hit their two-week mark, as Israeli forces returned to re-clear the area on March 18. Israeli forces killed Palestinian fighters, who had barricaded themselves inside the hospital. The IDF Nahal Brigade (162nd Division) is operating in the maternity complex, where it has engaged Palestinian fighters and located weapons.[ii] The IDF 215th Artillery Brigade and IDF Air Force struck several buildings in the vicinity of al Shifa Hospital that Palestinian fighters recently used to fire anti-tank munitions and small arms targeting Israeli forces.[iii] Four Palestinian militias launched mortars and rockets targeting Israeli forces near al Shifa Hospital on March 31.[iv] Hamas fighters separately targeted an Israeli soldier with sniper fire near al Shifa Hospital.[v]

Hamas reported that its fighters fired an anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade targeting Israeli armor west of Tal al Hawa in southwestern Gaza City.[vi]

The IDF Nahal Brigade (162 Division) continued to conduct clearing operations in the central Gaza Strip on March 31.[vii] Israeli forces directed an airstrike targeting a Palestinian fighter squad that emerged from a tunnel shaft in the area.[viii] Israeli snipers separately destroyed a Palestinian fighter squad moving toward Israeli infantry.

The IDF said on March 31 that its Air Force conducted a drone strike targeting a PIJ command-and-control center in the al Aqsa Hospital complex in Deir al Balah.[ix] PIJ fighters were present at the center, according to the IDF.[x] A spokesperson for the hospital said that the drone strike killed at least two people and wounded over a dozen.[xi] The IDF said that the hospital is still functioning and that the drone strike hit the area precisely to reduce harm to civilians.[xii] The al Aqsa Hospital is the last functioning hospital in Deir al Balah.

Israeli forces continued to conduct clearing operations in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on March 31.[xiii] The IDF 89th Commando Brigade (98th Division) and Givati Brigade (162nd Division) are operating in al Amal neighborhood in western Khan Younis.[xiv] A Palestinian journalist reported that Israeli forces advanced to southwestern Deir al Balah and toward the Khan Younis port.[xv] Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) reported that its fighters engaged Israeli special operations forces with small arms south of Deir al Balah.[xvi]

Egyptian state media reported on March 31, citing an unspecified security source, that Israel and Hamas have resumed ceasefire negotiations.[xvii] Hamas rejected the most recent US proposal for a ceasefire on March 26, after which several people familiar with negotiations noted that the talks had reached another stalemate.[xviii] Hamas’ representative to Lebanon said during an interview on March 31 that Israel is not interested in reaching a deal.[xix]

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that senior Hamas operatives described Hamas as “collapsing from within” during questioning.[xx] Gallant made the comment at the IDF 98th Division headquarters on March 31. Israeli forces have detained hundreds of Palestinian fighters in recent weeks who have helped the IDF kill those who were involved in the October 7 attack.

Palestinian militias did not conduct any indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel on March 31.

West Bank

Axis of Resistance objectives:

Establish the West Bank as a viable front against Israel

Israeli forces have engaged Palestinian fighters in at least seven locations in the West Bank since CTP-ISW’s last data cutoff on March 30.[xxi]

This map is not an exhaustive depiction of clashes and demonstrations in the West Bank.

Southern Lebanon and Golan Heights

Axis of Resistance objectives:

Deter Israel from conducting a ground operation into Lebanon
Prepare for an expanded and protracted conflict with Israel in the near term
Expel the United States from Syria

Lebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least seven attacks from southern Lebanon into northern Israel since CTP-ISW’s last data cutoff on March 30.[xxii]

Recorded reports of attacks; CTP-ISW cannot independently verify impact.

Iran and Axis of Resistance

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq—a coalition of Iranian-backed Iraqi militias—claimed that it launched a drone targeting an unspecified target in Eilabun, Israel, on March 30.[xxiii] The IDF Air Force intercepted a drone entering Israel from Syria on March 30.[xxiv] This drone was presumably the same one that the Islamic Resistance in Iraq launched.

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