Conflict In The Middle East Report | November 20, 2023

Middle East Nov 20 2023
November 20, 2023

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current as of 10AM EST, 20NOV23

MAP: ISRAEL’S ADVANCES & CONFIRMED HAMAS AMBUSHES IN NORTHERN GAZA

RECENT UPDATES

The Israeli military began to raid al-Shifa Hospital on November 15, claiming Hamas is using it as a base of operations in the area. The loss of internet and telephone services in Gaza likely represents the start of a long-term communication blackout, which will hinder emergency and humanitarian services. The Washington Post reports Israel and Hamas are close to agreement on a U.S.-brokered deal that would free hostages in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.

  • Humanitarian Crisis: Paltel, the Palestinian telecom company, reported internet and telephone services collapsed throughout the Gaza Strip due to a lack of fuel. United Nations’ (U.N.) World Food Program officials also warned of “the immediate possibility of starvation” due to the broken food supply. The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution, with the abstention of the U.S., Britain, and Russia, calling for urgent days-long pauses in the war to allow for “full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.”
  • U.S. Support: White House officials said they have information supporting Israeli claims Hamas used hospitals, including Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital, to direct operations. In response, Hamas alleged President Biden is “wholly responsible” for Israel’s resulting assault on al-Shifa hospital, according to reporting from AlJazeera. President Biden stated a two-state solution is the only answer to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and occupying Gaza would be “a big mistake.” The Washington Post reports Israel and Hamas are close to agreement on a U.S.-brokered deal that would free hostages in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting. 
  • Military Operations: Israel Defense Forces (IDF) began raiding al-Shifa Hospital on November 15. The IDF allegedly encountered explosives and an underground Hamas tunnel. A shell struck the second floor of the Indonesian Hospital on November 20, killing at least 12 people, according to AP News. Hezbollah and Israel traded rocket and missile fire near the Lebanese-Israeli border on November 18. Yemen’s Houthi rebels have similarly launched ballistic missiles at various Israeli cities and taken control of a cargo ship in the Red Sea. Though they claim it is an Israeli ship, Israel described it as a British-owned and Japanese-operated cargo vessel. 
  • Regional Relations: Iran’s nuclear weapons program continues to be of concern. According to one of the two confidential reports released by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Reuters, Iran now has enough uranium enriched up to 60 percent purity; weapons-grade uranium is around 90 percent purity. U.S. and Iran-backed groups also continue to clash in Syria, while the the U.S. Treasury Department, in conjunction with the United Kingdom, imposed a third round of sanctions on a group of Hamas financial officials with ties to Iran.
  • Protests: There is an increasing risk of violence as protests continue due to the presence of counter-protests and far-right actors. Over 100 protestors and police officers were injured during clashes outside the Democratic National Committee Washington D.C. headquarters on November 15, leaving several House Democrats trapped within. Additionally, the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC) reported London police are on the lookout for 11 men suspected of displaying signs or wearing clothing in support of Hamas at pro-Palestine marches.

CYBER IMPLICATIONS

Cyber attacks are continuing as state-sponsored hackers and those sympathetic to Hamas are working to make the conflict the next front of cyberwarfare, including targeting private industry and influence operations. 

  • A pro-Palestinian cyber espionage group, TA402, is using complex infection chains and malware to target Middle East and North Africa government entities, according to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint. The group seeks to gather sensitive information and documents from high value targets to support Palestinian state objectives. 
  • CrowdStrike Intelligence analysts alleged Imperial Kitten, a cyber threat actor linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, conducted cyberattacks against various Israeli sectors, including defense, technology, telecommunications, maritime, energy, and consulting and professional services.

CONCENTRIC’S RECOMMENDATIONS

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 travel to Lebanon and delaying travel in and around Israel, 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;
    • 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.

CONCENTRIC CAN HELP

If you or your business needs help in or around Israel, please reach out to Concentric’s experts for support. Concentric can provide:

  • Emergency evacuation and secure transportation.
  • Support from local and regional partners.
  • Active monitoring and intelligence support, including tailored reports and briefings.
  • Travel and risk assessments. 
  • Tailored security consulting.
  • Executive protection agents.
  • Cybersecurity and digital privacy protection. 

If anyone is 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.

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