current as of 10AM EST, 19OCT23
Egyptian officials agreed to allow a limited number of aid trucks into the Gaza Strip as the humanitarian crisis deepens, and the ongoing conflict continues to stoke growing protests throughout the Middle East. Speaking on his way back from his trip to Israel, President Biden said his Egyptian counterpart President el-Sisi agreed to open the Rafah Crossing into Gaza for humanitarian aid, and up to 20 trucks would be allowed to enter the Strip. Nonetheless, it is not clear how much of an impact the initial delivery will make for civilians in an area where calls for aid are growing increasingly desperate.
- Hospital Strike: U.S officials announced their assessment the strike on the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday was due to an “errant rocket or missile launch conducted by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).”* Israeli officials released audio of what they say are Hamas militants discussing the attack and attributing it to a rocket launched by PIJ. According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, the hospital blast killed at least 500 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.
- International Relations: During bilateral talks today in Cairo, Egyptian and Jordanian officials called for an immediate halt to the conflict, the lifting of the siege, and delivery of humanitarian aid. They also rejected any attempts at forced displacement of Gazans into their respective countries.
- Protests: Following the hospital attack, protests have continued to erupt throughout the Middle East, in countries such as Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, and Turkey. At least 300 protestors were arrested yesterday during protests in the Cannon Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as they demanded a ceasefire in Gaza. Demonstrations continued outside of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon and part of the embassy complex was set on fire.
- Military Operations: Although Israel’s military remains focused on Gaza, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah remain high, and the conflict also appears to be spilling over into the West Bank. Israeli security forces reportedly detained 63 alleged “Hamas terror operatives” in military operations in the West Bank overnight.
Cyber attacks are continuing as hackers sympathetic to Hamas are working to make the conflict the next front of cyberwarfare. Anti-Israel groups now appear to be focusing on the military and government after an initial focus on softer targets such as media websites, which were hit with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to force them offline.
- According to open source reporting, up to 50 groups have claimed approximately 400 attacks against Israeli targets. Attempts against the government and military are also up by more than 50 percent compared to before Hamas’ attack on October 7.
- Pro-Israeli groups have responded with their own hacking campaigns, and more than a dozen groups have targeted Palestinian and Hamas-linked websites with DDoS attacks and attempted hacks.
- The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has teamed with the Israeli National Cyber Directorate to help the Israelis protect their systems and counter “low level cyber attacks” involving DDoS and website defacement activities. According to the U.S. National Security Agency Cyber Security Director Rob Joyce, “we’re not seeing real [nation] state malicious actors,” targeting Israel.
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.
- The attack on the al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City stoked protests Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the Middle East, and in U.S. cities such as Chicago and Washington, D.C.
- Officials are keeping a watchful eye on demonstrations, and the U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for Lebanon to the most severe level, warning Americans not to visit the country and authorizing the departure of family members of U.S. personnel.
- Travelers are most vulnerable in crowded areas, such as outdoor markets, tourist destinations, government buildings, and underground stations. Demonstrations might occur sporadically and law enforcement is likely to become involved.
- 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, 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. Anti-American, anti-Jewish, and anti-Muslim sentiment is rising due to the ongoing crisis.
- 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.
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