Current as of 11AM EST, 2JAN24
Over the past week, Israel faced internal strife as its Supreme Court struck down a proposed law by Prime Minister Netanyahu to limit the Supreme Court’s powers. This move comes as the country prepares for a prolonged war with Hamas while managing conflicts on multiple fronts. In addition, the Biden administration bypassed Congress to approve an emergency weapons sale to Israel and the deputy head of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, were killed in an explosion in Lebanon on January 2 (details below).
- Humanitarian Crisis: Half of Gaza’s population are at risk of starvation, United Nations’ officials said in a recent report. Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, said the territory meets the first criteria of a famine, with 20 percent of the population facing an extreme lack of food. On December 29, South Africa asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to declare Israel in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. An Israeli spokesperson said Israel will appear before the ICJ to contest the accusations.
- U.S. Support: The U.S. sanctioned one individual and three currency exchange houses accused of facilitating the flow of Iranian financial assistance to the Yemeni movement. In addition, the Biden administration approved an emergency weapons sale to Israel, including fuses, charges and primers for 155 mm shells, for the second time this month, according to AP News.
- Israel’s Government: Israel’s Supreme Court struck down a law limiting its powers on January 1, a momentous step in the crisis that gripped the country before the war with Hamas, and pitted the court against Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing government. The bill would have stripped the Supreme Court of the power to declare government decisions unreasonable. If Netanyahu attempts to push ahead with the controversial change, it could reignite opposition that impacted Israel’s security establishment last year, when thousands of Israeli army reservists–the backbone of the Israeli military–threatened to stop volunteering, according to CNN.
- Military Operations: Israel is preparing for prolonged, lower-intensity fighting in the Gaza Strip by adjusting its ground-force composition in the territory, with plans to rotate five brigades—estimated to be thousands of troops—out of the Strip this week, some of which might be replaced, according to The Wall Street Journal. Israel’s Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi stated the war would go on “for many months.” Israeli offensives are crowding most of Gaza’s population into Deir al-Balah and Rafah, as well as a tiny rural area by the southern coastline, according to AP News.
- Regional Relations: Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said the country is “in a multifront war” and “coming under attack from seven theaters,” naming Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran, according to New York Times reporting. The Israeli military said fighter jets struck targets belonging to Hezbollah in the area of Yaroun in southern Lebanon on January 2. In addition, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated Israel must take full control of the Gaza Strip border corridor with Egypt to ensure a “demilitarization” of the area, according to Reuters, as Israel’s military pushed deeper into central and southern Gaza.
- Iran accused Israel of killing Brigadier General Sayyed Razi Mousavi, a senior adviser to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in a missile strike in Syria. Iran also dispatched a warship to the Red Sea after the U.S. Navy destroyed three Houthi boats. The move could be seen as a challenge to the U.S.-led maritime task force established to halt attacks on ships by the Tehran-backed Houthi rebels, according to Bloomberg. This news comes as several members of the task force, such as Italy and Spain, issued statements appearing to distance themselves from the coalition.
- The deputy head of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, and two leaders of its armed wing were killed in an explosion in Lebanon on January 2, according to the New York Times. Though Israel has not publicly commented on the alleged strike, Iran condemned the event as an assassination.
Protests: Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly blocked entrance roads to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Los Angeles International Airport on December 27, forcing some travelers to travel on foot to bypass the jammed roadway. Similarly, hundreds gathered December 31 in a pro-Palestine protest in downtown Chicago, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and temporarily shutting down I-90 and I-94.
We continue to urge anyone with business interests in Israel and the surrounding regions to exercise extreme caution, and to consider postponing any upcoming travel. We also encourage travelers to avoid all demonstrations and maintain awareness of their surroundings in areas with protest activity. Travelers and businesses should also consider:
- Watching for updated U.S. Department of State worldwide travel advisories.
- Avoiding areas in and around Israel, Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other portions of the Gulf.
- Reaching out to Concentric’s experts for support. Concentric can provide:
- Emergency evacuation and secure transportation, and support from local partners;
- Active monitoring and intelligence support, including tailored risk and travel assessments;
- Tailored security consulting and executive protection agents;
- Cybersecurity and digital privacy protection.
If you are interested in a briefing with Concentric’s Chief Executive Officer Mike LeFever or a member of Concentric’s team on any of these topics, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Feature image source.