We assess the Israeli military is poised for a ground assault against Gaza in the coming days, putting additional pressure on neighboring countries to allow domestic and foreign civilians in the Gaza Strip to quickly depart border crossings. The Israeli military continued airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, as well as strikes against Hezbollah military targets in Lebanon over the weekend.
- According to open source reporting, the Israeli military is preparing to launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip “soon,” with orders to capture Gaza City and destroy Hamas’ current leadership. President Biden warned Israel against occupying Gaza long term, and Israeli officials publicly announced they have “no desire to occupy or reoccupy Gaza.”
- As of writing, and since October 7, the Israeli government said more than 1,300 people were killed during Hamas’ attacks, and according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 2,700 people have been killed in Gaza. At least 30 U.S. citizens were killed in the crisis and at least 13 are unaccounted for, some likely are hostages of Hamas. Israel confirmed 199 people are being held as hostages.
- The war continues to impact countries in the region, as U.S. and U.N. officials request regional countries’ assistance. Half a million people left northern Gaza for the south, following Israel’s evacuation notice on Friday. International officials are urging the Egyptians to open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and the U.S. Embassy in Israel warned residents today they might receive “very little notice” if the outlet opens. The Egyptian Foreign Minister announced today Israel is not allowing progress to reopen the border crossing. Israeli officials said they resumed water supply to the Gaza Strip.
- Tensions are also rising between Israel and Hezbollah as Israel ordered the evacuation of 28 villages in northern Israel within two kilometers of Lebanon’s border. Hezbollah officials claimed today they started destroying surveillance cameras on several Israeli outposts to prevent the Israeli military from monitoring their movements.
- Iran warned Israel on Sunday of regional escalation if the Israeli military enters Gaza for a ground invasion. Saudi Arabia reportedly put its normalization talks with Israel on hold, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman held talks with the Iranian president regarding the crisis on Thursday.
Cyber attacks are continuing as hackers sympathetic to Hamas are working to make the conflict the next front of cyberwarfare. Over the past week hacking groups with links to Iran and Russia have launched a series of cyber attacks and online campaigns aimed at crippling critical infrastructure and disrupting businesses.
- Anonymous Sudan launched a distributed denial of service attack and reportedly discussed ways to compromise Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system on their Telegram channel. The Russia-aligned Killnet also claimed they took down websites of the Israeli Policy Forum think tank and the country’s finance ministry. There is no independent confirmation of the attacks available, and by Friday morning all sites were running.
- The Jerusalem Post also acknowledged hackers took down their site temporarily.
- Israel’s internet services remain stable, and most tech companies based in Israel have continued to work. One tech executive noted “our workforce in Israel is very accustomed to working remotely and in pressure situations. We have a plan in place to help ensure our business moves forward.”
We continue to urge anyone with business interests in Israel and the surrounding regions to exercise extreme caution while events remain fluid, and to consider postponing any upcoming travel. We also urge travelers worldwide to avoid all demonstrations and maintain awareness of their surroundings, particularly in areas with protest activity.
- Hamas’ calls for protests on Friday led to worldwide rallies, including in the U.S., and international destinations such as London, Paris, Tokyo, and in cities across the Middle East.
- France raised its terrorism alert to the highest level and French officials are investigating an attack by a man of Chechen origin who reportedly stabbed a teacher to death and wounded three other people. The attacker appears to be known to security services for his involvement with Islamic extremism.
- Due to the unfolding events in Israel and the Gaza Strip, continued demonstrations are likely. Travelers are most vulnerable in crowded areas, such as outdoor markets, tourist destinations, government buildings, and underground stations.
- In the event of a terrorist attack or no-notice event, we advise travelers to listen to emergency officials for instructions and report anything out of the ordinary.
- We continue to 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. Travel in and out of the region almost certainly will be significantly delayed or disrupted.
- 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.
- We urge all travelers to remain vigilant as they might be targeted by individuals with perceived grievances regarding the current situation.
- A landlord in Chicago was charged with murder and two accounts of a hate crime on Sunday after he stabbed a six-year old Palestinian-American boy to death and seriously wounded the boy’s mother.
- We encourage all businesses–particularly tech companies, those with oil interests, and others in other energy related sectors–to keep a watchful eye on the unfolding crisis. Oil prices could surge to above $100 a barrel if the Israel-Hamas crisis widens.
- We recommend companies based in Israel to continue taking steps to protect their businesses and employees. Corporations should consider evacuating staff from offices inside Israel or ask employees to work from home.
CONCENTRIC CAN HELP
- 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.
Feature image source.