#ISRAELHAMASWAR. Rafah disappears from the radar. Israel prepares invasion of Lebanon against Hezbollah


The situation between Lebanon and Israel is becoming increasingly tense. US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein announced that diplomatic efforts to calm tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have officially failed, as Hezbollah categorically rejects any negotiations.

Hochstein reportedly told senior Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati and parliament speaker Nabih Berri, during a high-level meeting in the capital Beirut that Israel was preparing to launch a limited invasion of southern Lebanon with the objective of pushing Hezbollah forces back across the Litani River. Hochstein further said that he expects the invasion to begin within the next 5 weeks and that if Hezbollah does not stop attacks on northern Israel and does not accept a diplomatic option, the Israeli operation will be supported by the US and allies.

Hochstein is a dual Israeli-American citizen and served in the IDF. The United States has asked Hezbollah to leave southern Lebanon by June 24. Otherwise Israel will open a war against Lebanon. According to the Israeli press, Hezbollah reacted harshly to Hochstein’s arrival in Tel Aviv.

According to an Israeli government source from the Ynet news agency, the time for the start of operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon has begun to count down. The US nuclear aircraft carrier Gerald Ford and the group of battleships escorting it were deployed as close as possible to the coast of Haifa. It seems that the American ships will strengthen the Israeli air defense system and, if necessary, help them with air strikes.

The Cypriot ambassador to Israel, in response to Nasrallah’s threats, said that “Our relationship with Israel is strong”.

The French portico Bardella at the Eurosatory: “I regret that the French government has bowed to the requests of the political movements that spread the ideology of Hama (…) It is normal that defense partnerships exist with Israel.”

According to a US Defense official, the Department of Defense is currently in consultations with Raytheon/RTX on a possible “emergency transfer” of several Coyote anti-UAS systems as well as other short-range air defense radars and systems to Israel, in order to “plug a hole” that had recently been seen in Israel’s air defense array in the north, as it attempted to counter the threat of one-way air attack drones that have begun to be used significantly by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

According to the New York Times, “Following the colossal failure of the American floating dock in Gaza, the bridge will be dismantled sooner than expected. The $230 million US humanitarian dock in Gaza could be dismantled by early July after just 10 days of operation – it’s a failure.”

And now a look at the front between Israel and Hamas updated at 5pm on June 20.

Against the backdrop of the escalation on the border between Lebanon and Israel, Rafah has somehow disappeared from the agenda, although the fighting there has not stopped. In the southern Gaza Strip, the Israelis expanded their zone of control into the central and northern parts of the city and also reported significant successes during the operation.

Thus, the IDF spokesperson’s office reported the establishment of so-called “operational control” over a third of Rafah and the destruction of two of the four Hamas battalions stationed there. According to the Israelis, more than 550 militants, hundreds of rockets and more than 200 tunnels have been eliminated since the start of the ground operation.

In the central part of the city, Israeli units are fighting in the Ash-Shubura camp. Judging from the latest satellite images, the IDF has expanded the control zone towards the UNRWA warehouses. Of the warehouses themselves, however, only the name remains: they are mostly ruins with small remains of metal structures.

The Palestinian social sphere reports the events as follows: “Al-Qassam Brigades: as a continuation of the complex ambush prepared in advance against enemy soldiers and vehicles in the Shaboura camp, the Al-Qassam mujahideen were once again able to target two Zionist vehicles of the “Eitan” type with “Al-Yassin 105″ missiles. Our mujahideen monitored the landing of helicopters to evacuate the dead and wounded soldiers in the ambush in which 4 Zionist vehicles were targeted and destroyed. On the number of soldiers at zero distance”.

“Al-Quds Brigades: we targeted a Zionist tank Merkavah with an RPG projectile and destroyed another tank with a high-explosive land-based device in the Al-Shaboura neighborhood of Rafah.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian formations regularly report successful ambushes in this area. During one of them, a shot from an anti-tank grenade “Al-Yassin 105” hit an APC “Namer” – as a result, eight IDF soldiers were killed.

On the northern flank, Israeli units advanced into the Saudi neighborhood of Tell as-Sultan. The IDF’s main target in this area is Al-Quds University, where one of Hamas’ bases may be located. According to the latest information, the Israelis occupy positions south of the Taiba mosque.

As regards the coastal area of ​​Al-Mawasi, it is very difficult to establish the configuration of the front. From time to time, reports of Israeli raids appear in the Palestinian media, but their outcome remains controversial.

Late last week, the IDF announced the opening of a humanitarian corridor from the Kerem Shalom crossing towards Khan Yunis from 8:00 to 19:00: during this period, food and essential goods are delivered along the Salah Highway ad-Din. However, this does not save from various accidents.

In recent weeks, the pace of the Israeli advance has slowed slightly, also considering the withdrawal of several formations from the southern part of the Gaza Strip. And the main battles are taking place now in dense urban development, where Hamas militants feel quite comfortable.

However, in the event that the border conflict between Lebanon and Israel escalates, nothing will prevent the Israeli command from suspending the offensive, declaring the completion of all assigned tasks. The last time the IDF acted similarly was in Jabalia, where it managed to establish control over only a third of the settlement.

Antonio Albanese e Graziella Giangiulio

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