OUTLOOK TENUOUS AS CRISIS UNFOLDS
We anticipate the Israel-Gaza war will intensify and is likely to spread across the region, particularly as Israel considers all military options and neighboring countries determine their level of involvement. Israel almost certainly is calculating a multi-pronged conflict as it monitors Hezbollah’s actions in the north, and closely watches Iranian involvement and support for militant proxies in the region.
- More than 72 hours after Hamas launched a surprise assault against Israel on October 7, Israel’s military says it has retaken control of all communities around Gaza. Over 1,700 people were killed, including at least 11 U.S. citizens. Thousands of Israeli troops are moving across the country as Israel prepares for a possible ground invasion. More than 300,000 troops were called up, the largest mobilization on short notice in Israel’s history.
- The U.S. is unlikely to commit to boots on the ground, but President Biden offered U.S. military and financial support to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday. The U.S. is providing the Israeli military with additional equipment and resources, and moved the USS Gerald Ford Carrier Strike Group to the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Iranian officials have denied involvement in Hamas’ attack against Israel, but welcomed the news of the attack. For years, Iran has fought a shadow war against Israel through groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, and others.
- Since Sunday, several exchanges of fire occurred between Israel and Lebanon, with Iranian-backed Hezbollah claiming responsibility. An Israeli military spokesman urged Hezbollah to stay out of the conflict. Hezbollah claims it has more than 100,000 fighters and a large-scale arsenal of weaponry.
Cyber attacks are likely to escalate and almost certainly will have a lasting impact on communities and businesses across the region, with many attacks aimed at crippling critical infrastructure. Hacking groups are launching attacks from both sides of the Israel-Gaza conflict as entities declare support for one side or another.
- Hacktivist group AnonGhost disrupted the Red Alert app which is used to distribute real-time rocket alerts to Israelis, spamming users and generating false alerts about a nuclear attack. Russian-linked hacktivist group Anonymous Sudan also launched multiple cyberattacks against Israel’s Industrial Control Systems as well as the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s largest English-language newspaper.
- In addition, due to the numbers of young staff at many tech start-ups in Israel, many employees are joining the fight against Hamas, which is likely to stall ongoing technological advancements in the country and beyond. The tech sector accounts for nearly one-fifth of Israel’s economy.
We urge anyone with business interests in these regions to exercise extreme caution while events remain fluid, and to consider postponing any upcoming travel to areas in or around Israel.
- We recommend delaying travel in and around Israel, including to Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other portions of the Gulf as nearby countries almost certainly will be drawn further into the unfolding conflict.
- Over the weekend, a policeman in Egypt killed two Israelis and an Egyptian tour guide in Alexandria.
- Qatar is assisting with the hostage crisis, and Israel also requested Egypt’s help with negotiations for the release of Israelis held by Hamas.
- Many international airlines, including U.S. carriers, have suspended travel to and from Israel. Cruise and yacht operators also announced they would adjust itineraries in the region and would not be making calls to ports near Israel.
- Anyone traveling throughout the Middle East should remain cautious, as sporadic protests are possible, and travel in and out of the region might be significantly delayed or disrupted.
- We urge all Israeli, Jewish, and American travelers to remain particularly vigilant as they might be targeted by anti-Western and anti-Jewish individuals with perceived grievances regarding the current situation.
- Iranian-linked businesses and entities are also likely to be targeted.
- Flights to and from Hamburg Airport in Germany were suspended for over an hour on Monday after authorities received a threat to a plane from Iran.
- Tech companies operating in Israel should fortify security as they could face disruptions and targeting by malicious actors. These steps are likely to cause significant worldwide delays in service, as companies such as IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook have offices in Israel.
- Any companies based in Israel should take steps to protect their businesses and employees. Corporations should also consider evacuating staff from offices inside Israel or ask employees to work from home.
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.