The Northern Arena and the Shiite Axis: Bi-Weekly Review of Key Events and Data (April 21-May 5)

April 2024 summary

In April 2024, 236 attacks were carried out on Israel’s northern border, suggesting that the average level of strikes since the conflict began has been maintained.

Hezbollah’s use of its UAV array continues. There has been a definite trend in the intensity of UAV launches over the last three months: this month, there were 42 UAV infiltrations into Israeli territory, nearly twice as much as in March 2024, when there were 24 events, and six times more than in February 2024, when there were seven instances. It should be emphasized that the data relates to the number of events rather than the number of UAVs launched during each incident.

In terms of capabilities and competency, Hezbollah has maintained the intensity of high-trajectory fire, at least 128 occurrences (compared to 133 in March 2024), as well as the intensity of anti-tank missile fire, at least 50 events (compared to 48 in March 2024). This month, Hezbollah demonstrated the use of the Almas-3 missile, which launch at the Meron base and may has a range of up to 16 kilometers.

The Lebanese arena:

War data:

In Israel, the government evacuated 43 communities located up to five kilometers from the Lebanese border. A total of about 61,000 citizens. To them were added several thousand more who decided to evacuate independently.

It should be noted that not all Israeli communities have been totally evacuated, and there is still a civilian presence. This is because these communities rely on tourism and agriculture. Farmers come to work on the land, in the orchards, tending to cow and goat herds. Furthermore, some of the communities’ industrial plants are still operational and employ workers from non-evacuated areas. In addition, some of the evacuees returned independently.

The Israeli government has extended the evacuation period until the summer of 2024 (July/August 2024).

Hezbollah has killed 7 Israeli civilians and 1 agricultural worker with foreign citizenship so far. A total of 8 civilians were killed.

Over the last week, 97 attacks have been carried out on the northern border. Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 77 of these strikes, which used high-trajectory missiles (including Grad, Burkan, and Falaq rockets), anti-tank missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and air defense measures.

The Islamic resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for 4 attacks on Israel’s northern border against military bases in the Golan Heights and a target in Haifa with UAVs and against the port of Haifa with cruise missiles.

Hamas’ military-terrorist wing in Lebanon claimed responsibility for firing a barrage of rockets at a military base near Kiryat Shmona.

Responsibility was not claimed for 16 incidents, including 13 UAV infiltrations, 2 incidents of rocket fire and one incident of isolated launches from Syrian territory.

During the past two weeks, the communities of Metula, Manara, Margaliot, Shomera, Avivim, Meron, Shtula, Dovev, Ramot Naftali, Kfar Giladi, Kfar Yuval and Kiryat Shmona were attacked by anti-tank missiles and rockets (including Grad and Falk).

Prominent launching and shooting incidents against Israel:

(April 21) A surface-to-air missile was fired at an Israeli UAV Hermes-450 that was shot down in Lebanese territory.

(April 23) An attack by several UAVs into the Acre area. According to Hezbollah, the attack was intended for a military base and was carried out in response to the elimination of Hezbollah military operatives in Lebanon.

In the video: Interception of a drone over the skies of Acre (taken from social networks, Credit: Unknown)

(April 25) Anti-tank missiles fired at a military base on Har Dov. The attack killed an Israeli civilian truck driver, Sharif Saw’ad.

(April 27) A combined attack by UAVs and anti-tank missiles on Manara, according to Hezbollah, aimed at a military headquarters established within the community.

In the video: Anti-tank missiles fired at the community of Manara (published by Hezbollah’s combat media arm)

(April 27) Grad rockets were fired at Meron and nearby communities. According to Hezbollah, in response to the IDF attacks in southern Lebanon.

(April 29)  Hamas’ military wing in Lebanon launched a barrage of about 20 rockets at a base near Kiryat Shmona.

In the video: For the first time, Hamas military wing in Lebanon publishes a video of launching rockets at Israel

(April 29-30) Anti-tank missiles fired at the communities of Metula, Dovev and Avivim. According to Hezbollah, in response to IDF attacks in southern Lebanon.

(April 30) Anti-tank missiles were fired at Metula, striking at least two civilian houses.

Above: The damage to houses in Metula (photographed from the Lebanon)

(April 30) Anti-tank missiles were fired at a civilian truck carrying poultry, which Hezbollah claimed was a military truck. Two civilians were wounded in the attack.

Above: The civilian truck carrying poultry struck by an anti-tank missiles

(April 5) Hezbollah carried out seven attacks against civilian targets, allegedly in response to an IDF attack that morning in the town of Mis al-Jabal, in which four family members were wounded:

  1. Dozens of Falk and Grad rockets were fired at the city of Kiryat Shmona. About 20 launches struck more than 10 houses, vehicles, an ambulance, damaging infrastructure and injuring 3 civilians.
  2. Dozens of Grad rockets were fired at a military base in the Upper Galilee and the Mevo’ot Hermon.
  3. Firing an anti-tank missile at a building in the community of Avivim.
  4. Firing an anti-tank missile at a building in the community of Shtula.
  5. Rockets fire at the village of Kfar Yuval.
  6. Rockets fire at the village of Kfar Giladi.
  7. Rockets fire at the community of Margaliot.
In the video: A direct hit on a civilian building in Kiryat Shmona

Hezbollah’s response to the attacks on civilians in Miss al-Jabal is highly unusual and is not equivalent to its previous responses in similar cases in which civilians were harmed in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah casualties:

During the past two weeks, Hezbollah has issued announcements regarding 5 of its military operatives who have been killed.

In addition, one Amal military operative, Wassim Musa Musa, and two operatives of Al-Fajr, the military wing of the Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyah organization in Lebanon: Muhammad Sa’id Khalaf and Bilal Muhammad Khalaf.

As of October 8, 2023, a total of 289 Hezbollah operatives have been killed. Most of the operatives killed live south of the Litani River (188 operatives killed, constituting 65% of all the operatives killed). Many Hezbollah operatives and their families live in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel. They operate in southern Lebanon as part of Hezbollah’s geographic units (Nasser/Aziz) and Hezbollah’s designated units (Radwan unit), while assimilating into the civilian population (human shield tactics).

Prominent airstrikes in Lebanon

(April 22) Reports of an Israeli attack around the village of Meidoun, in the southeast of the Bekaa Valley. This attack may be in retaliation to the downing of the Hermes-450 UAV. There are no further indications.

(April 23) An airstrike in southern Lebanon killing Hussein Ali Azkol, a key operative in Hezbollah’s air defense system. Azkol was involved in Hezbollah’s aerial network and took part in planning and executing a variety of terrorist activities.

(April 23) An airstrike in southern Lebanon killing Muhammad Khalil Atiya, a key operative in Hezbollah’s Radwan Force aerial unit. Atiyya was involved in the preparation and execution of terrorist routes into Israeli territory.

Above: Mohammad Khalil Attiyah alongside Qassem Soleimani, commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force who was eliminated in January 2020.

(April 24) An extensive attack on about 40 Hezbollah targets in Ayta ash Shab, using fighter planes and artillery. According to the IDF, some of the targets attacked were storage facilities, weapons, terrorist infrastructure and other targets used by Hezbollah. The attack was carried out as part of an effort to destroy Hezbollah’s infrastructure in the border area.

In the video: IDF strikes on Ayta ash Shab

(May 6) Attack on a Hezbollah military compound in the a-Safri area of Baalbek. According to Lebanese sources, three civilians were wounded in the attack.

Hezbollah – General:

(April 27) Hassan Haballah, Hezbollah’s head of relations with the Palestinians, meet with the leadership of the alliance of Palestinian forces in Lebanon. They discussed the latest developments in the war against Israel. Present at the meeting were: Abu Hani Rumid (Fatah), Ahmed Abd al-Hadi (Hamas), Abu Samer Musa (Islamic Jihad), Shahdi Attiyah (Struggle Front), Ahmed Nassar (Palestine Liberation Front), Abu Ashraf Al-Einein (General Command), Ahmed Abu Al-Sheikh (As-Sa’iqa Organization).

(May 1) Students of Hezbollah’s educational unit and students and lecturers at the Lebanese University in Sidon congratulated the students and professors who rose up at European and American universities in support of Gaza and southern Lebanon and their peoples through a mass solidarity stance in the courtyard of the faculty.

(May 2) On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, Hamas held mass activities in Lebanon in honor of the Palestinian workers in the Burj al-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camps, Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, attended by representatives of the Palestinian forces, popular unions, unions, associations, activists, and dozens of workers.

(March 5) A report published by Iran International claimed that Hezbollah was preparing to transfer Hamas leaders to Lebanon after Turkey refused to accept them. The website quoted political correspondent Michel Shamai as saying that the proposal was very reasonable and could limit Hamas’ presence to one of the Palestinian camps, probably Ein al-Hilweh. The report cannot be verified.

Lebanon – General:

(April 21) Najib Mikati met with French President Emmanuel Macron in a meeting that dealt with all the economic, security and political issues delaying Lebanon’s reconstruction and implementation of Resolution 1701, in addition to the presidential crisis. The sources pointed to four main points discussed between Macron and Mikati in the presence of the army’s commander: the situation in southern Lebanon, the Syrian refugees, the presidential crisis, and the implementation of Resolution 1701. Macron reportedly promised to make efforts to implement Resolution 1701 by sending ten thousand troops to work alongside UNIFIL and help finance logistics equipment for them.

(April 28) Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyah held a funeral in the town of Benin in Akar, northern Lebanon. The funeral was held for two military operatives from the Al-Fajr forces (the organization’s military wing), Mus’ab Khalaf and Bilal Khalaf, who were killed in an Israeli attack on their car in the western Bekaa Valley (eastern Lebanon), near the village of Sariri (Meidoun region). Mus’ab operated to execute terrorist activity against Israel and his elimination was essential in order to prevent an attack in the immediate future. The two fatalities were cousins from the village of Banin from the Akar region in northern Lebanon, both operatives in the Al-Fajr military wing in Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyah in Lebanon.

The burial ritual was followed by armed performances and military marches, including firing in the air and the launch of an RPG rocket in Akar’s Abda square. Three people were allegedly injured, including at least one kid, causing indignation in Lebanon and resistance from politicians who criticized the event and even used it to demonstrate their opposition to armed organizations in Lebanon, calling on the army to deal with the situation.

In the video: The launch of an RPG missile by an Al-Fajr operative

(April 30) Lebanese sources published details of villages in southern Lebanon that were attacked more than 100 times in the current war: Ayta ash Shab (339), Hula (311), Naqoura (256), Alma a-Shaab (241), Tir Harfa (215), Mis al-Jabal (172), KafrKila (171), Aitaroun (161), Hiam (146), Marwahin (143), Dhahira (141), Jabein (137), Yaroun (135), Ramia bint Jbeil (119), Blida (114), Kfarchouba (108), and Maroun a-Ras (106).

(April 30) Lebanese students at several universities in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley held protests in support of Gaza and Palestine. During the demonstration shouts were heard: “We are your people, Mohammed Deif,” and “We will not agree with any normalization.” The management of several universities where the demonstrations took place prevented them from taking place on university grounds and forced the protesters to leave the university grounds.

The Syrian arena:

Prominent airstrikes in Syria:

(May 3) An attack around the village of Najha, in the Damascus region, against a military compound. 8 Syrian soldiers were wounded. In our understanding, according to an analysis of the location of the attack, the target of the attack is a headquarters building and warehouses. It was the first attack since the April 1 strike on the building adjacent the Iranian embassy in Damascus.

 (May 6) In response to the firing of two rockets from southern Syria at Israel (the Golan Heights), tanks fired at targets in southern Syria.

Syria – General:

(April 21) President Assad’s statement about the war between Russia and Ukraine, according to which the fighting of the Syrian regime and the fighting of Russia in Ukraine are the same, because both regimes are fighting against the same terrorist enemy.

(April 23) A joint Syrian-Russian demonstration of anti-UAV defense capabilities was held at one of the naval bases in the Tartus region.

(April 24) Syria reported a night attack on a building used by the Syrian Army around the town of Rawadi near Quneitra, with no casualties reported. It was also reported that after the attack, planes dropped leaflets in Quneitra threatening and warning regime soldiers against collaboration with foreign and illegal military forces:

 “To the commanders of the Syrian army and its soldiers!

The military structure in the Quneitra area was attacked because you did not comply with the agreements on the disbandment of forces.

As we warned you before, we do not allow in any way the presence of military forces contrary to the agreements.

Our activity is a response to your illegal presence in the buffer zone.”

(April 25) According to local accounts, IRGC forces are adding officers to convoys and busses bringing operatives from Iraq into Syria. This is done to prevent undesired elements from accessing and approaching the convoys and minimize intelligence observation of them.

(May 3) A Syrian general delegation visits Tehran to discuss the necessity to open branches of Iranian banks in Syria and vice versa, as well as the establishment of regular transportation lines between the countries.

(May 3) 13 Syrian soldiers were reported killed in an ISIS attack against 3 positions of the Syrian Army Radyifa Force (reserves) east of Homs. In response, the Syrian-Russian Air Force carried out a joint airstrike against ISIS positions.

(May 5) According to Syrian sources, Iyad al-Saleh, allegedly a senior Hezbollah operative responsible for recruiting volunteers for the fighting around Al-Hasakah, northeastern Syria, was killed when an IED planted in his car exploded. The vehicle exploded on Al-Qachaa Street in the city of Hasakah inside a security compound controlled by Assad’s forces.

Shiite Axis – General:

(April 22) An American base in northeastern Syria was attacked with at least 5 rockets. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

The most recent attack on US bases in Iraq and Syria, officially reported by US Central Command, took place on February 20. According to various reports, the attacks on the American bases stopped due to direct Iranian instructions to the Shiite militias, against the background of secret agreements between Iran and the United States. It should be noted that at this stage it is unclear whether a decision has been made by the Shiite axis to renew the attacks.

(April 21) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for attacking a target in the Golan Heights with UAVs. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(April 26) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a “vital target” in Haifa with UAVs. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 1) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a “vital target” in the Golan Heights with UAVs. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 2) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a target in Eilat with UAVs. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 2) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a vital target in Beersheba with advanced cruise missiles. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 2) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking two vital targets in Tel Aviv with advanced cruise missiles. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 2) The Islamic resistance in Bahrain claims responsibility for the first time for launching a UAV toward the Trucknet offices in Eilat on April 27, 2024. The shooting apparently was not carried out from Bahrain if it was carried out at all. No further indication of an attack was reported.

According to Dr. Yossi Mansharof, a researcher of Iran and Shiite militias, this is the Saraya al-Ashtar militia, the main proxy through which Iran works to destabilize Bahrain (established in 2013). The militia leader, Murtada al-Sandi, who has been in Iran since 2011, openly calls for a violent revolution to overthrow the Sunni monarchical regime, al-Khalifa. Some of its senior activists, such as Ahmad Hassan Yusuf, operate from Iran to evade sentences issued against them by the Bahraini authorities. According to the Bahraini authorities, another expression of the militia’s direct ties to Iran and Hezbollah was a visit by senior militia officials to Iran in 2011 to plan terrorist attacks, and in a meeting, they held with Nasrallah and his deputy Naim Qassem in Beirut in 2012. At the meeting, they received $20,000 from Nasrallah to continue carrying out terrorist attacks in the Kingdom of Bahrain, along with another visit to Iran and Beirut conducted by a militia delegation in 2015 for identical purposes.

Above: The claim of responsibility by the Islamic Resistance in Bahrain.
In the video: Documentation of the UAV launch released by the Islamic Resistance in Bahrain

(May 3) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a vital target in the Dead Sea with “appropriate weapons.” No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 5) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claims responsibility for attacking a target in Haifa port with cruise missiles. No further indication of an attack was reported.

(May 6) The Islamic resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for two attacks against Israel, which included launching two UAVs at Israel, one at Eilat and one at a “target in Israel.” At least one of the UAVs was intercepted by Israeli Air Force planes.

Yemen – Houthi-land:

Over the past two weeks, coalition forces managed to hit two unmanned explosive boats and four UAVs ready for launch.

(April 25) Houthi spokesman Yahya Saria claims responsibility for three attacks:

  1. launching missiles toward the American ship MAERSK YORKTOWN in the Gulf of Aden ay using anti-ship ballistic missiles. The missile was intercepted, and no casualties or damage was reported.
  2. UAV attack on Israeli ship as they claimed- MSC VERACRUZ in the Indian Ocean. American forces intercepted four UAVs. No other indications of an attack were reported.
  3. UAV attack at American destroyer. No other indications of an attack were reported.

(April 26) Houthi spokesman Yahya Saria claims responsibility for two attacks:

  1. Attack on the British oil tanker ANDROMEDA STAR in the Red Sea, several coast-to-sea missiles hit the ship directly, he said. On April 26, it was reported that the Houthis fired three anti-ship ballistic missiles at two cargo ships. One of them (ANDROMEDA STAR) sustained minor damages continuing the way. The other was not damaged.
  2. Interception of an American MQ9 UAV over the Saada province.
In the video: The downing of the American MQ9 drone (documentation published by the Houthis)

(April 30) Houthi spokesman Yahya Saria claims responsibility for three attacks:

  1. UAV attack on two American ships in the Red Sea. The UAV was intercepted and there was no casualties or damage.
  2. Attack on the ship CYCLADES in the Red Sea using appropriate missiles and UAVs that the Houthis claimed were sailing to the port of Eilat. On April 29, it was reported that three ballistic missiles had been fired at the Malta-flagged cargo ship CYCLADES, no casualties or damage.
  3. Attack on the ship (MSC ORION) In the Indian Ocean. The Houthis claimed the ship is linked to Israeli ownership. According to a report on April 28, US forces intercepted five UAVs launched by the Houthis at sea targets, with no casualties or damage. No other indications of an attack were reported.
Documentation of the attack on the CYCLADES (Published by Houthis)

(May 2) Houthi leader Abd al-Malik Badruddin al-Houthi’s speech:

This week we carried out 8 airstrikes in the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and southern Israel with 33 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs. Six of the targets were American ships or linked to Israel (a total of 107 ships are claimed to have hit to date).

A total of 156 operations carried out since October at sea and in southern Israel. To date, 606 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs have been used in anti-ship attacks. The targets in Israel were attacked with 111 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and UAVs.

The withdrawal of 10 American warships and 8 European warships from the Red Sea is the result of their sense of despair and failure to prevent or limit our actions.

If the negotiations in Gaza succeed and there is quiet, it will not mean the end of the battle and the confrontation with the enemy, but rather the completion of a round of escalation.

(May 3) The Houthi forces announced the beginning of the “fourth phase” of escalation: any ship anchored in an Israeli port would be targeted and attacked even if it was not on its way to an Israeli port at the time. They also said that if an operation is launched in Rafah, any shipping company involved in supplying and entering Israeli ports, of any nationality, will become a target.

Since October 2023, there have been 139 Houthi shooting incidents.

Is there a connection between the departure of the Iranian ship Behshad from the Gulf of Aden – the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the general decline in Houthi attacks against ships off the coast of Yemen? What was its role and what was the operational importance of the Behshad in the context of Houthi attacks? For further information link to the article

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Alma Research

Alma Research

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