The Israeli military reportedly entered the Gaza Strip overnight, signaling an expanded ground offensive, while humanitarian groups warned of ongoing concerns for civilians living in the region. Several U.S. and international officials called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza to allow for the delivery of aid, and the U.N. General Assembly on Friday adopted a nonbinding resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” in the territory.
- Humanitarian Crisis: According to aid groups, Gaza faces a “total or near total” internet blackout, which the World Health Organization warns will prevent ambulances from reaching the injured, expressing concern they have lost contact with staff members and colleagues inside of the Strip. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and as of writing, at least 7,300 people have been killed in Gaza. More than 1,400 were killed in Israel, according to Israeli authorities. At least 32 U.S. citizens have been killed.
- U.S. Support: U.S. officials this week reportedly urged Israel to rethink its plans for a major ground offensive and instead urged for a more “surgical” operation using aircraft and special operations forces carrying out precise, targeted raids on Hamas targets and infrastructure.
- Military Operations: Although Israel did not officially announce the start of a ground war, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Friday, the IDF is “operating forcefully” on all fronts and will “continue striking Gaza City,”repeating previous warnings civilians should evacuate. Gaza residents said the most recent airstrikes are the most intense they have experienced since Israel began to retaliate against Hamas’ October 7 terror attack around three weeks ago.
- In a statement on Saturday, the IDF said its planes hit 150 underground targets in northern Gaza overnight, striking what it called terror tunnels and underground combat spaces, killing several Hamas operatives.
- Protests: Expanded Israeli military operations probably will trigger new protests in the coming days. Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protests are planned for this weekend in London, Paris, and New York and will likely attract larger numbers of participants. On Friday evening in New York City, at least 200 protesters demanding a ceasefire in the ongoing conflict were arrested in Grand Central Station.
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 attempting to spread their reach beyond Israel and the Middle East.
- Several hacking groups are starting to target organizations allied with Israel. Anonymous Sudan, a hacking group that has worked against Israel, claims it is now targeting organizations in Kenya due to the Kenyan government’s support for Israel, according to open source reporting.
- Dark Storm Team, a pro-Palestinian hacking group, last week claimed it targeted U.S.-based Snapchat due to its support for Israel.
- In addition, the anti-Israel group Irox Team alleged it is targeting companies in Brazil, to their backing of 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.
- Protests continue throughout the globe as the U.S. State Department (DoS) is urging citizens to remain vigilant and curb travel to several locations, including Lebanon and Iraq. DoS issued a worldwide travel advisory on October 20, noting U.S. citizens should remain alert in locations frequented by tourists due to “increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”
- DoS 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. DoS officials also announced the ordered departure of nonessential American government employees and family members from Iraq, as U.S. officials reportedly fear Iraqi militias supported by Iran will attack the 2,500 U.S. troops stationed in the country and other American institutions.
- 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, 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.
- The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a warning of potential domestic lone actors attacks due to an increase in threats reported against Muslim, Jewish, and Arab communities.
- 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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