The Gaza Strip
The ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip has seen intensified efforts by the Axis of Resistance, primarily aimed at undermining the Israeli political will and the morale and resources of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Their strategy includes targeting the IDF’s capabilities near Gaza and challenging Israel’s military operations.
Significant developments include the IDF’s advance to the al Shifa Hospital’s vicinity amid concerns over Hamas’ alleged use of the hospital for military purposes. Despite Israeli forces reaching the hospital’s gates, they have not entered the building. Nearby, the al Quds Brigades, linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have engaged in combat with Israeli forces.
Fuel supply issues have further complicated the situation at al Shifa Hospital. Hamas reportedly refused to accept fuel from Israeli forces intended for the hospital. The IDF left fuel nearby, but Hamas allegedly prevented hospital staff from retrieving it. Claims suggest Hamas might be using this fuel for its operations.
Israeli forces have expanded their operations in other parts of Gaza. In the al Nasr neighborhood, they have conducted arrests and raids, targeting Hamas infrastructure embedded within civilian areas. This includes schools and mosques, indicating the challenges of urban warfare in densely populated areas.
Further south, in the al Quds Hospital area, the IDF engaged with Palestinian militia fighters. The IDF has accused Hamas of exploiting sensitive sites, including hospitals, for military purposes. This has been a recurrent theme in Israeli narratives about the conflict.
Indirect fire attacks on IDF positions have been a key tactic of Palestinian militias. Groups like the al-Qassem Brigades and the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades have taken responsibility for these attacks, primarily using mortars and rockets. These attacks are often in response to Israeli military actions in Gaza.
Israeli clearing operations in Beit Hanoun, targeting Palestinian Islamic Jihad members and infrastructure, have led to the discovery of weapons and tunnels. These operations are part of a broader IDF strategy to dismantle Hamas’ military capabilities in the region, which includes targeting its leaders and infrastructure.
Overall, the situation in Gaza remains complex, with both sides engaging in intense military activities amid a challenging urban environment and significant humanitarian concerns.
The West Bank
On November 13, a series of violent confrontations occurred in the West Bank, marked by engagements between Palestinian militants and Israeli forces. These incidents included seven instances of gunfire exchanges and the detonation of five improvised explosive devices (IEDs) aimed at Israeli military personnel. These activities were predominantly concentrated in key urban areas such as Nablus and Jenin. Notably, these violent events coincided with ongoing Israeli security operations in the region, which involved targeted arrest campaigns. During these operations, Israeli forces reported the apprehension of 14 individuals linked to Hamas. The Palestinian groups involved in the attacks have not officially claimed responsibility for these actions. This surge in hostilities seems to align with efforts to draw and retain Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) resources within the West Bank region.
Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon
In a series of coordinated military actions, Iranian-supported forces, including the Lebanese Hezbollah (LH), launched a dozen incursions into Israel’s northern region on November 13. These assaults, which involved a combination of indirect fire and anti-tank guided missile strikes, were aimed at military and civilian targets along the Israel-Lebanon border. Hezbollah has publicly taken responsibility for five of these attacks, all directed at the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Additionally, other unnamed militant groups were involved in seven similar attacks on Israeli towns and IDF positions in the same area.
Also, Israeli authorities reported that the previous day’s attacks by Hezbollah had resulted in both fatalities and injuries, totaling 17 Israeli soldiers and civilians. Meanwhile, Hezbollah disclosed that since October 7, they have lost 73 fighters in conflicts with Israel. Among the incidents was a notable anti-tank missile strike near Netua, along the Israel-Lebanon border, which caused several injuries.
These recent actions seem to be part of a broader strategic plan by the Axis of Resistance, aiming to divert and engage IDF forces in northern Israel, thereby setting the stage for further operations in the region.
Axis of Resistance
In recent developments within the Middle East, there’s been a noticeable increase in hostilities involving Iran and its allied groups, collectively known as the Axis of Resistance. These activities seem part of a broader strategy aimed at showcasing their ability to confront the United States and Israel across various locations simultaneously.
Reports from the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) indicate that around 700 fighters from the Front for the Liberation of the Golan have been active in areas near the Golan Heights as of October 2023. This group, established by the Assad regime in 2006, consists mainly of Syrians and Palestinian refugees and reportedly maintains connections with Lebanese Hezbollah (LH). Their presence in regions such as the Qunaitrah countryside, western Rif Dimashq, and western Daraa has been noted. It’s also reported that LH and other Iranian-backed militias have been moving closer to the Golan Heights border since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began.
On the Iraqi front, a group named the Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for an attack on U.S. forces in Syria on November 12. This organization, having previously targeted U.S. forces at Green Village since October 18, reportedly used a drone in their latest attack. However, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) has not issued any statements regarding this incident, and independent verification remains elusive.
Further incidents on November 13 involved attacks on U.S. forces in Syria. Al Mayadeen, an LH-affiliated news outlet, attributed these attacks to unnamed militants responding to a U.S. airstrike on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) facility. While no group has officially claimed these attacks, their occurrence was noted by various sources.
Additionally, the Iranian-aligned Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) allegedly launched 15 rockets at U.S. forces at the al Omar Oil Field. This claim was sourced to Iranian state media, which also reported Grad missile attacks by unidentified militants against U.S. positions at the Conoco facility. Local Syrian news, including Deir ez Zor 24, indicated that Iranian-backed militias were likely behind these attacks.
The SOHR also reported a drone strike, purportedly by Iranian-backed militants, against U.S. forces at Abu Hajar Airport on the same day. Meanwhile, Iranian state media claimed that three drones targeted U.S. forces at al Shadaddi in Hasakah Province, though these reports are yet to be independently verified.
Iran and Egypt
In recent geopolitical developments, the Iranian government, led by President Ebrahim Raisi, has been actively engaging with Egypt to facilitate the reopening of the Rafah border crossing. This diplomatic push aims to allow humanitarian aid to reach the Gaza Strip. During a meeting in Riyadh, which brought together members of the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, President Raisi and Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held separate discussions with their Egyptian counterparts, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, emphasizing the urgency of this matter.
Additionally, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Ministry, through its spokesperson Nasser Kanani, reinforced this message in a press conference, highlighting the critical need for the Rafah crossing’s reopening for humanitarian purposes.
Complicating matters, Iranian media outlets have reported claims that Israeli authorities are urging Egypt to reject approximately 60 tons of Iranian humanitarian aid intended for Gaza. These reports did not detail the specific reasons behind Israel’s alleged opposition to this aid. Previously, on October 20, the head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, Pir Hossein Kolivand, announced the dispatch of the first batch of Iranian humanitarian aid to Egypt, intended for Gaza.
In a separate but related development, Ahmad Reza Radan, a senior figure in Iran’s Law Enforcement Command (LEC), engaged in high-level discussions with Iraqi officials in Baghdad. His meetings with Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani, Interior Minister Lieutenant General Adel al Khaldi, and National Security Adviser Qassem al Araji revolved around enhancing cooperation in law enforcement and border security. Furthermore, Radan also met with Fali al Fayyadh, the Chairman of the Popular Mobilization Forces, to discuss internal security cooperation.
These discussions come in the wake of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s assertion that Iran and Iraq should join forces to exert political pressure on the United States and Israel. This statement was made during a meeting with Sudani, who had previously talked with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about attacks on US forces by the Axis of Resistance.
Radan, known for his hardline stance within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and his role in quelling political dissent and protests, has a long history of involvement in regional security matters. He started his career as a teenager in the Basij and IRGC during the Iran-Iraq War and later transitioned to the LEC.