Iran Update, June 9, 2024

Israeli War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz resigned from the coalition government on June 9.[1] Gantz said he resigned because of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conduct of the war in the Gaza Strip, which he believes is ”preventing [Israel] from reaching true victory.”[2] Gantz called for Netanyahu to set an election date for Fall 2024.[3] Gantz postponed the announcement, which was originally scheduled for June 8, after Israeli forces rescued four hostages from the Gaza Strip.[4] Gantz’s resignation will not on its own cause the collapse of the Netanyahu government.

The IDF expects to conclude clearing operations in Rafah in the “next few weeks,” according to an Israeli Army Radio correspondent.[5] The correspondent noted that the IDF will fully transfer to a targeted raid approach in the Gaza Strip after concluding the Rafah operation. The IDF transferred to a ”targeted raid” model in the northern Gaza Strip in late December 2023 after withdrawing five brigades and completing large-scale clearing operations in the northern Strip.[6] The IDF has repeatedly relaunched clearing operations into the northern Gaza Strip after transitioning to the raid model to degrade reconstituting Hamas forces.[7] CTP-ISW previously assessed that Hamas and other Palestinian militias would likely try to exploit the Israeli withdrawal to reconstitute militarily and reassert Hamas’ governing authority in Khan Younis.[8] An Israeli transition to targeted raids in Rafah would be similarly exploited by Hamas.

The Guardian Council approved six candidates to participate in the June 28 Iranian presidential elections.[9] CTP-ISW will publish additional analysis on the approval of these candidates on June 10. These candidates include Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, Raisi administration Vice President and Martyrs and Veteran Affairs Foundation Head Amir Hossein Ghazi Zadeh, Supreme National Security Council Supreme Leader Representative Saeed Jalili, Parliamentarian Masoud Pezeshkian, former prosecutor and Interior Minister Mostafa Pourmohammadi, and Tehran Mayor Ali Reza Zakani.

Pezeshkian is the only reformist politician whom the council permitted to run. The Guardian Council notably did not approve prominent moderate politician Ali Larijani–marking Larijani’s second consecutive disqualification–or Vahid Haghanian, a close aide to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[10]

Key Takeaways:

  • Israel: Israeli War Cabinet minister Benny Gantz resigned from the coalition government on June 9. Gantz’s resignation will not on its own cause the collapse of the Netanyahu government.
  • Rafah: The IDF expects to conclude clearing operations in Rafah in the “next few weeks,” according to an Israeli Army Radio correspondent.
  • Iran: Iran’s Guardian Council approved six candidates to participate in the June 28 Iranian presidential elections. The council only approved one reformist politician, and it disqualified prominent moderate politician Ali Larijani for the second consecutive presidential election.
  • Lebanon: Lebanese Hezbollah has conducted at least 10 attacks into northern Israel since CTP-ISW’s last data cutoff on June 8.
  • West Bank: Israeli forces engaged Palestinian fighters in at least three locations across the West Bank since CTP-ISW’s last data cut off on June 8.
  • Yemen: A Houthi attack in the Arabian Sea on June 9 caused two ships to catch fire.

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 Force (IDF) 99th Division continued to operate along the Netzarim Corridor in southern Gaza City on June 9.[11] The IDF struck a mortar position near the Islamic University campus south of Gaza City after Palestinian fighters mortared Israeli forces along the Netzarim corridor.[12] The al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades targeted Israeli forces along the Netzarim corridor with sniper, rocket, and mortar fire.[13]

The IDF 98th Division continued clearing operations in eastern Deir al Balah and eastern Bureij in the central Gaza Strip on June 9. Israeli forces engaged Palestinian fighters and destroyed militia infrastructure in the central Gaza Strip.[14] The IDF Air Force struck Palestinian fighters, including a cell that fired on IDF 98th Division forces. An Israeli Army Radio correspondent said that the IDF 98th Division is “preparing for additional missions.”[15]

Israeli forces expanded clearing operations into northeast Rafah on June 9. Local reports indicated that Israeli armor advanced into Khirbet al Adas and Musabeh, northeast of Rafah.[16] The IDF 162nd Division continued “targeted” operations to locate additional tunnel shafts and weapons caches.[17] The IDF Givati Brigade located rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, explosive charges, ammunition, grenades, and other military equipment during the operation in Rafah.[18] Palestinian militias claimed attacks in several sectors of Rafah, including western Rafah.[19]

The IDF Air Force struck and killed a tactical-level Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander in the Gaza Strip on June 9.[20]

Hamas claimed that the IDF operation to rescue four hostages in the central Gaza Strip on June 8 killed three other Israeli hostages.[21] Hamas said that one of the hostages held American citizenship.[22] Hamas did not provide evidence for its claim. Ten Israeli aircraft conducted dozens of strikes on Nuseirat during the June 8 operation, causing significant damage and casualties according to Palestinian health officials.[23] Hamas and its allied militias have repeatedly released false and unsubstantiated claims about the status of the hostages it holds. Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed in November 2023 that a hostage had died, only to release her days later as part of an exchange deal.[24]

US Central Command (CENTCOM) confirmed that the US-constructed temporary pier in Gaza City was not involved in the IDF operation to extract hostages from Nuseirat on June 8. US CENTCOM clarified that Israeli forces used an area south of the pier as part of the operation after footage posted on social media created the impression that the IDF used the pier to conduct military operations. [25] The IDF spokesperson similarly denied that Israeli special operations forces used the US-constructed temporary pier in the operation.[26] Several Palestinian militias claimed that the US participated in and facilitated the hostage rescue operation.[27] The IDF began “reinforcing security” near the US-constructed temporary pier in Gaza City to begin facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid on June 8.[28] US CENTCOM reattached its temporary pier off the coast of the Gaza Strip on June 7 after it suspended operations due to damage sustained at sea.[29] US CENTCOM confirmed that approximately 1.1 million pounds of humanitarian assistance entered the Gaza Strip through the US-constructed temporary pier on June 8.[30]

Hamas Political Bureau Chairman Ismail Haniyeh met with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan in Qatar on June 9.[31] Haniyeh and Fidan discussed political developments in the Gaza Strip, including ceasefire efforts. Haniyeh reiterated Hamas’ maximalist ceasefire demands including a permanent end to the war and a complete IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militias have conducted two indirect fire attacks from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel since CTP-ISW’s data cut off on June 8. Hamas and PIJ launched a combined rocket attack targeting an IDF site near Rafah.[32] Palestinian fighters launched four rockets from the northern Gaza Strip targeting Israeli towns near Sderot.[33]

West Bank

Axis of Resistance objectives:

Establish the West Bank as a viable front against Israel

Israeli forces engaged Palestinian fighters in at least three locations across the West Bank since CTP-ISW’s last data cut off on June 8.[34]

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 10 attacks into northern Israel since CTP-ISW’s last data cutoff on June 8.[35]

Iran and Axis of Resistance

The Houthis conducted a drone and missile attack targeting three commercial ships in the Arabian Sea on June 9. The attack caused two ships to catch fire. Houthi spokesperson Yahya Sarea claimed on June 9 that the Houthis conducted a combined drone and missile attack targeting two vessels, the Antigua and Barbuda-flagged Norderney and the Liberia-flagged MSC Tavivshi, in the Arabian sea.[36] The Houthis said that both ships violated the unofficial Houthi blockade on Israeli ports. British maritime company Ambrey stated that a missile struck the Norderney 83 nautical miles southeast of Aden, Yemen.[37] UKMTO reported that vessel’s mooring station caught fire.[38] UKMTO reported that a second vessel was struck by an unknown projective 70 nautical miles southwest of Aden, resulting in a fire.[39] The unnamed ship proceeded to its next port of call without casualties. UKMTO also reported that a missile struck a third vessel in the Arabian Sea, 89 nautical miles southwest of Aden.[40]

Sarea also claimed on June 9 that the Houthis launched ballistic missiles targeting UK Royal Navy destroyer HMS Diamond in the Red Sea.[41] A spokesperson from the British Ministry of Defense stated that the Houthis’ claim is false.”[42]

Houthi media claimed that the United States and the United Kingdom conducted three airstrikes targeting al Jabaneh, west of Hudaydah, Yemen, on June 9.[43]

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