Northern Arena and the Shiite Axis – Weekly Overview of Key Events and Data (June 24 to June 30)

Summary of June 2024

During the month of June 2024, there were 288 attacks in the northern arena on Israel, averaging 9.6 attacks per day (compared to 320 attacks in May 2024, averaging 10 attacks per day). Midway through the month, it was evident that Hezbollah’s fire intensity was particularly high due to the assassination of the Nasser unit commander on the southern front, Taleb Sami Abdallah (Abu Taleb), on June 11. The retaliatory attacks by Hezbollah lasted three days, during which the number of attacks was exceptionally high. Subsequently, starting June 15, the beginning of Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice), Hezbollah slowed its attacks, maintaining a relatively low intensity compared to the first half of the month.

When comparing the total monthly data (number of attacks and average daily attacks), it is evident that June closely aligns with May 2024, which had been the month with the highest intensity of Hezbollah attacks against Israel since October 2023. June 2024 is actually the third most intense month. December 2023 was the second most intense month (301 attacks with an average of 9.7 per day).

In terms of weaponry, there was a significant decrease in anti-tank missile attacks in June. This month saw a total of 57 attacks using anti-tank missiles compared to 95 in May. Corresponding to the certain decrease in the number of attacks, there was also a slight decrease in the number of UAV launch incidents. However, there was an increase in Hezbollah’s claims of responsibility for suicide drones: a total of 75 UAV launch events in June, of which Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 37 attacks using suicide drones. This is compared to 85 UAV launch events in May, of which Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 25 attacks using suicide drones. The total number of UAV launch incidents includes attacks for which Hezbollah did not take responsibility, such as in cases where the UAV was intercepted or did not hit the target, or involved reconnaissance UAVs or those testing IDF systems.

From the UAV data above, it can be concluded that in June 2024, despite the overall decrease in the number of UAV incidents compared to May (a decrease of 10 incidents), there was an increase in the number of suicide UAVs launched by Hezbollah. This is based on Hezbollah’s claims of responsibility, which it tends to make in cases where the suicide UAVs hit their targets as far as Hezbollah understand.

The weapon with the highest usage this month, as in previous months, was high-trajectory fire. The number of high-trajectory fire events is slightly higher than the previous month – 144 in June 2024 compared to 139 in May 2024. Additionally, this month there were 6 attacks using anti-aircraft weapons (surface-to-air missiles), including an incident in which an Israeli Hermes-900 UAV was shot down on June 10.

As a result of Hezbollah’s attacks in June 2024, one person was killed, and at least 51 others were injured.

Since the war began on October 8, 2023, there have been 2,295 attacks against Israel on the northern border, the vast majority carried out by Hezbollah. 48.8% of all attacks were directed at civilian targets or events with a high potential for harm in civilian areas. For example, on Thursday, June 27, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for launching Grad rockets towards the Biriya Base, and most of the rockets that were not intercepted fell in the village of Biriya, causing damage to civilian homes.

The Lebanese Arena:

War Data:

In Israel, the government evacuated 43 communities located up to five kilometers from the border with Lebanon, totaling approximately 61,000 civilians. Several thousand more decided to evacuate independently.

It should be noted that some Israeli communities were not fully evacuated, and there is still a civilian presence (agriculture and industry).

The Israeli government has extended the evacuation period until the end of summer 2024.

Hezbollah has killed 8 Israeli civilians and a foreign national agricultural worker, totaling 9 civilian casualties.

In the past week, there have been 41 attacks on the northern border, of which Hezbollah claimed responsibility for 39 attacks against Israel using high-trajectory fire (including Grad, Falq, and Burkan rockets), anti-tank missiles, and suicide UAVs.

Hezbollah did not take responsibility for 2 UAV infiltration events (Kfar Blum and Kala).

Since the war began, there have been 2,295 attacks in the northern arena, the vast majority carried out by Hezbollah.

Prominent Launch and Firing Events against Israel:

(June 24) – Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles towards the town of Metula, and the communities of Manara and Yiron.

(June 25) – Hezbollah launched suicide UAVs at a military base in the Dishon area, causing a fire in the area.

(June 25) – Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles towards the communities of Metula, Even Menachem, and Avivim.

A house in Avivim hit by anti-tank missiles.

(June 28) – Hezbollah launched anti-tank missiles and several rockets towards Shlomi in the western Galilee. A direct hit was identified on a house in Shlomi, and a rocket fell in the nearby community of Bezet, hitting an agricultural structure and killing two horses. Additionally, Hezbollah launched suicide UAVs towards the Ga’aton area, also in the western Galilee. Concurrently, Hezbollah launched rockets towards the Beit Hillel area. A total of 25 launches were identified towards the western and the Upper Galilee. Fires broke out in several locations.

(June 30) – Hezbollah launched suicide UAVs towards a military base in the northern Golan area, injuring 18 soldiers.

Hezbollah Casualties:

In the past week, Hezbollah announced the deaths of 9 of its military – terrorist operatives.

Since October 8, 2023, 358 Hezbollah operatives have been killed. Most of the killed operatives originated from south of the Litani River (241 killed operatives, constituting 67% of all killed operatives). Many Hezbollah operatives and their families live in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel. They operate in southern Lebanon within the framework of Hezbollah’s geographical units (Nasser/Aziz) and specialized units (Radwan Unit), blending into the civilian population (human shield tactic).

According to reports in Lebanon, since the war began, 50 military – terrorist operatives from other organizations in Lebanon have been killed, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Amal Movement, and the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Far). This week, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad announced that one of its operatives was killed in the village of Kala.

Elimination of senior Hezbollah members

Since October 8, 2023, 31 senior Hezbollah operatives have been eliminated. 38.7% of them (a total of 12) were from the geographical units (Southern Front), with an emphasis on the Nasser unit, including the unit commander – Haj Abu Taleb. About 32.3% (a total of 10) were from the Radwan Unit, including the de facto unit commander, Wissam Al Tawil. The focus on the Radwan unit and the geographical units was on eliminating sector commanders (equivalent to brigade commanders) and commanders in professional arrays (rockets/anti-tank, etc.). Additionally, 3 senior operatives from the air unit and 2 more from Hezbollah’s air defense array were assassinated. 12.9% of the assassinated (a total of 4) were knowledge hubs in research/development/production of weaponry and combat-support technology.

The assassination effort is important and necessary, but Hezbollah maintains functional and command continuity. The assassination effort cannot be the main effort but a parallel and supportive effort to the primary effort, which is significant damage to Hezbollah’s tactical fire arrays, military infrastructure on the southern front, and damage to Hezbollah’s strategic fire arrays and infrastructure in-depth.

Prominent Strikes in Lebanon:

(June 24) – A strike in the village of Masa in the Bekaa Valley near the border with Syria struck targets related to Hezbollah’s air defense array. Hezbollah’s so-called heavy air defense array (radars/fixed and mobile launch platforms/control/missiles) is, according to our assessment, based on two main sources: Russian and Iranian (Hezbollah also has shoulder-fired missiles of various types, including American). The Russian weapons came directly from the Syrian army and are based on batteries like the Osa (SA-8) and the Pantsir (SA-22). The Iranian weapons arrived through the Iranian corridor and include, with certainty (according to findings from the current fighting), the 358 missile and the Sayyad-2 missile (which have several options for launch, tracking, and control systems). At this stage, we have no information about other Iranian air defense systems in use by Hezbollah. Given the diverse Iranian arsenal, it can be assumed that Hezbollah has additional Iranian systems. Hezbollah’s heavy air defense array is deployed, according to our understanding, in at least three central areas: the Bekaa, southern Lebanon (Nabatieh plateau), and the coastal area (Sidon). The lighter array (shoulder-fired missiles) is possessed by all of Hezbollah’s operational units across Lebanon.

(June 27) – In an airstrike in the Sahmar area, Ali Ahmad Alaa Eldin, born in 1985 in the village of Sahmar in southern Bekaa (south of Lake Qaraoun), was killed. Eldin was a central operative in Hezbollah’s air unit (Unit 127) and in operating UAVs against Israel.

Hezbollah – General:

(June 28) – Hassan Nasrallah met with the head of the Jam’a al-Islamiya (Islamic Group), Muhammad Taqoush, in the presence of Hezbollah’s political council member Abd-al Majid Ammar. The Islamic Group, which has a military arm called Al-Fajr, operates under Hamas-Lebanon and is involved in fighting alongside Hezbollah against Israel.

(June 29) – Following his visit to Beirut, Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Hossam Zaki announced that the Arab League decided to remove Hezbollah from its list of terrorist organizations on behalf of Lebanon’s future. This is after Hezbollah was designated as a terrorist organization by the Arab League in March 2016 (with Iraqi and Lebanese reservations). He noted that the member states agreed not to describe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization to allow engagement with it. Zaki stressed that the League does not have formal terror lists and does not engage in classifying entities as terrorist organizations.

In this context, the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar  revealed on Friday that during Zaki’s visit to Beirut, he met with Muhammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc (the Resistance Bloc) in the Lebanese parliament. This is the first meeting of its kind in over ten years. Additionally, during his visit, Zaki met with senior Lebanese officials, including Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Army Commander Brigadier General Joseph Aoun. The talks focused on preventing escalation in southern Lebanon with Israel and ending the more than 19-month presidential vacuum in Lebanon.

Lebanon – General:

(June 25) – Following a report in the British newspaper The Telegraph that revealed how Hezbollah is storing missiles inside Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, Transport and Public Works Minister Ali Hamieh, a Hezbollah member of parliament, invited the media and ambassadors for a tour of all airport facilities. This was to refute the claims made by the newspaper. During the tour, journalists were prevented from entering the airport’s cargo center, and Hamieh continued the tour with the ambassadors only.

See our July 2023 article on Hezbollah’s takeover of Beirut International Airport.

(June 27) – In an interview with MTV, Baalbek-Hermel Governor Bashir Khader revealed that the number of Syrians in Lebanon has reached 94,000 displaced persons, while the Syrian population of Arsal is 40,000. The Syrian refugee problem concerns Lebanese citizens and Hezbollah as well. As a result, there is significant tension between Lebanese citizens and Syrian refugees, which sometimes escalates to physical violence.

(June 30) During the past week, several countries warned their citizens against traveling to Lebanon: the USA, Russia, Britain and Kuwait, and some even called on their citizens to leave Lebanon: Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and North Macedonia.

A photo from Beirut, showing Hezbollah flags and a sign: “We are with Palestine and we will not give it up”.

The Syrian Arena:

Prominent Strikes in Syria:

(June 24) – According to local reports, after a strike in the Al-Hamidiyah area, leaflets were distributed in the Quneitra area warning Syrian army soldiers at the Hamidiyah post against cooperating with Hezbollah, including aerial photos of them: “To the commanders and soldiers of the Syrian army: We attacked the Al-Hamidiyah area. We do not accept a military presence that violates existing agreements! We will not accept any violation in any form.”

(June 26) – According to local reports, an airstrike was carried out at night on a target in the Sayyidah Zaynab area, south of Damascus. To our understanding, a compound located about 800 meters northwest of the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque was attacked. It appears to be a closed compound with buildings, containers, and sheds. Vehicles and various types of tractors are parked at the site. The Sayyidah Zaynab area is a very important geographical anchor for the radical Shiite axis led by Iran in Syria. In practice, it is Syrian territory controlled by the radical Shiite axis elements. The axis’s presence in the Sayyidah Zaynab area is manifested in migration and demography, land and real estate takeover for military purposes, the establishment of religious centers, social associations, and religious tourism. This presence serves as a logistical anchor and a transit station for transferring weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The establishment and maintenance of the infrastructures are carried out by the Iranian Jihad al-Bana organization, directly linked to the Revolutionary Guards. It is possible that the attacked compound belongs to them and serves as a cover for weapons transfers. According to reports, there were several casualties, but their identities are unclear at this stage.

(June 26) – It should be noted that in parallel with the strike in Sayyidah Zaynab, reports were published about another strike on a site used by the Syrian air defense array in Tal al-Sahm in southern Syria.

Syria – General:

(June 26) – Iranian militias in Syria are opening a training base near the Imam Ali base south of Albu Kamal. According to the report, about 50 operatives from the Tribal Army militia, who recently joined the Iranian militias in Syria, will be trained at the base. The training will include instruction on using machine guns, grenades, and rockets, with the aim of sending some elements to areas east of the Euphrates to carry out terrorist activities. The report also states that Haj Askar, the commander of the Iranian militias in Albu Kamal, directly supervised the course, alongside Iraqi leaders from the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces militia.

(June 26) – The Jordanian army announced the foiling of another large drug smuggling attempt from Syria. One smuggler was killed, and the others were injured and retreated back to Syria.

In a report published in May 2024, it was revealed that in March 2024, 45 Houthi operatives specializing in UAV and surface-to-surface missile operations arrived at Al-Thala airport, west of Sweida. According to the report, this is not the first group to arrive at this location; previous groups arrived in November 2013 and March 2022. We cannot verify this report, and its reliability is unclear.

The Shiite Axis – General:

The last strike on American bases in Iraq and Syria by Shiite militias, officially reported by the US Central Command, occurred on February 20. According to various reports, the attacks on American bases ceased due to a direct Iranian directive to the Shiite militias, against the backdrop of secret agreements between Iran and the US.

Since then, according to several local indications, there have been a few attacks by Shiite militias on American bases in northeastern Syria. Although we believe there were indeed attacks, the US Central Command did not confirm them publicly as they did before February 20. From February 20 until today there have been 6 attacks against American bases for which no responsibility was taken and the Americans did not announce them.

(June 25) – The head of the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades issued a threat stating that if Israel attacks in Lebanon, the geographical limitation currently imposed on the resistance in Iraq, which attacks from a distance of 800 km, will be lifted, and the fighting will be from point blank range, with all types of weapons available to the resistance in Iraq.

We assess that if a full-scale war breaks out between Hezbollah and Israel, Hezbollah will not want the physical arrival of Shiite militia operatives to Lebanon (see article on the subject).

During the last week (June 24 to June 30), the Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility for 4 attacks against Israel. Three of the attacks were carried out “in cooperation” with Houthi forces. Apart from an incident on June 26, when a UAV fell in the maritime area in Eilat, no additional indications were reported.

Yemen – Houthi-Land:

During the last week, coalition forces managed to hit 7 UAVs, one unmanned aerial system (UAS), and one ground control station vehicle under Houthi control in Yemen, which posed an immediate threat to freedom of navigation in international waters.

It appears that the Houthis have begun to increase their use of explosive boats against merchant ships.

Documentation was published by the Houthis of the attack on the ship TRANSWORLD NAVIGATOR on June 23, 2024.

Since October 2023, there have been 182 Houthi attacks against Israel, the US, and other targets.

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