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Military And Security Developments
- The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continues to conduct clearing operations in the al-Shati camp and in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza. The IDF also announced a tactical pause in operations in western Rafah and Tel al-Sultan in southern Gaza.
- A second shooting incident in the West Bank by militants from Hebron prompted the IDF to surround the city and to conduct security checks on people and vehicles passing into and out of the city. The IDF is likely to extend its operations in the West Bank and Hebron over the weekend, elevating security risks therein.
- The IDF is gradually intensifying airstrikes against Lebanese Hizballah and/or Palestinian militants along the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria borders, elevating retaliation risks.
- The IDF continues to secure areas in northern Gaza, with clashes taking place in the al-Shati camp and in Beit Hanoun. Clearing operations continue in northern Gaza, with the IDF reportedly making advances towards western Gaza City. Earlier on 17 November, the IDF announced a temporary tactical suspension of military activities between 1000hrs and 1600hrs (local time) in western Rafah and in Tel al-Sultan (both southern Gaza). The announcement follows unverified reports of an Israeli airstrike against an unspecified target in Rafah. It underscores the persistent security threats in southern Gaza. Further disruption to the delivery of humanitarian aid is also likely.
- Earlier on 17 November, the IDF deployed significant forces and installed checkpoints around Hebron (Hebron governorate) in the West Bank, performing security checks on all movement into and out of the city. This comes after a shooting attack at the Tunnel checkpoint (Bethlehem governorate) on 16 November, as well as a shooting against IDF troops at the Olive intersection checkpoint earlier on 17 November. The militants involved in both attacks reportedly came from the Hebron area and were associated with the al-Qassem Brigades.
- Earlier on 17 November, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) conducted airstrikes in Syria, targeting Hizballah and Iranian-affiliated infrastructure near Damascus International Airport (DAM). The strikes reportedly killed two Iranian-affiliated non-Syrian militants and injured several others. The strikes hit multiple Hizballah and Iranian-affiliated militia posts and command centres close to al-Bahdaliyah and Sayyidah Zaynab (both Rif Dimashq governorate). No material damage has been reported at DAM.
- The IDF continues to escalate its operations gradually against Hizballah and/or Palestinian militants in Israel’s northern border areas. While tit-for-tat clashes and retaliatory strikes have continued largely on-trend, there has been a marked reduction of Hizballah and/or Palestinian militant rockets targeting population centres in northern Israel over the past 24 hours. Nevertheless, Hizballah militants have continued to target IDF positions in northern Israel using anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and mortars. The recent uptick in IDF strikes against Hizballah will increase the likelihood of an uptick in Hizballah strikes against the IDF in the coming days. However, there is a lower likelihood of attacks targeting civilian population centres.
- Amid a communications blackout, humanitarian aid has reportedly stopped passing through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza. At approximately 1500hrs on 16 November, Gaza’s largest telecoms provider, Paltel, announced that all communication services in Gaza were down due to a lack of fuel. On 17 November, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced that without access to telecommunications services and fuel for delivery vehicles, it would be unable to co-ordinate humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza. Nevertheless, reports indicate that at least two fuel trucks carrying supplies for certain humanitarian entities are ready to pass through the crossing. This has likely been facilitated by a pause in IDF operations from 1000hrs to 1600hrs. The Israeli government has also announced plans to authorise the passage of at least two fuel trucks per day into Gaza to service UNRWA needs. Despite these announcements, critical energy insecurity will almost certainly persist over the coming days, underscoring deteriorating socio-economic conditions, including critical food and water insecurity.
- On 16 November, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced Jordan’s intention to withdraw from the Israel-Jordan water and energy agreement. The agreement, which was signed in 2021, facilitated the exchange of solar energy generated in Jordan for water that is desalinated in Israel. This suspension highlights significantly elevated diplomatic tensions between Israel and Jordan, which have maintained broadly cordial relations since 1993. Although tensions will likely remain elevated for the duration of the Israel-Hamas war, the complete suspension of diplomatic and/or trade relations remains unlikely. While the agreement’s suspension is unlikely to impact Israeli energy security significantly, there is a realistic possibility of elevated water insecurity in Jordan in the coming weeks.
- Earlier on 17 November, the French foreign ministry condemned violent clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian populations in the West Bank. A significant uptick in clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinian communities has been observed since 7 October (the UN reported that the number of daily clashes between Israeli and Palestinian civilians in the West Bank has doubled). This uptick highlights elevated ethno-religious tensions and domestic unrest risks. Further clashes are highly likely, sustaining elevated physical security and bystander risks in the vicinity of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
- Earlier on 17 November, Azerbaijan’s security services reportedly detained an Iranian individual who was allegedly planning to attack the Israeli embassy in the capital Baku. The development underscores the elevated risks facing Israeli diplomatic and business assets from Islamist and Iran-backed groups active throughout the region. The ongoing Israel-Hamas war has likely exacerbated the risk of Iran-backed militant activity throughout the region, particularly in Azerbaijan, which maintains close military and trade ties with Israel.
* Israel: Attack underscores elevated threats of militant attacks in West Bank, Jerusalem. At 0905hrs (local time) on 16 November, three gunmen targeted the Tunnels Barrier checkpoint on Highway 60, in the Bethlehem governorate south of Jerusalem, injuring six members of the security forces and two civilians. The attack was almost certainly terror-related, with the vehicle containing weapons that were likely destined for Jerusalem. Security forces killed the gunmen at the scene. An elevated security posture throughout Jerusalem and the West Bank is highly likely, driving disruption to movement. Over the coming 24 hours, the IDF will likely demolish the house of the perpetrators, elevating the likelihood of arrests and clashes in the vicinity of this location. Israeli security forces will likely perform raids in the West Bank, particularly in areas around Bethlehem, intensifying ethno-religious tensions in the area. The attack reflects the elevated threat of militant attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem area, also targeting civilians, particularly around Israeli security personnel, checkpoints, transportation hubs, crowded areas and places of religious worship
* Over the past 24 hours, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops have taken control of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City with minimal resistance; clashes have not been reported within the complex. The IDF has also secured Al-Shati camp, effectively linking their northern and southern advances.
* Gradual escalations in cross-border clashes on the Israel-Lebanon border between the IDF and Lebanese Hizballah and/or affiliated militants has continued. Reciprocal clashes and retaliation will almost certainly continue over the coming days.
* On 15 November, 25,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. The fuel delivery has reportedly been earmarked for humanitarian organisations in need of resupply.
* IDF troops have taken control of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City and secured Al-Shati camp, effectively linking their northern and southern advances. IDF troops reportedly encircled the and took control of the hospital complex, engaging in armed clashes with militants outside the hospital who reportedly deployed improvised explosive devices (IEDs). However, no clashes were reported inside the hospital, although IDF personnel have questioned numerous medical staff within hospital buildings. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced that the operation in the hospital will continue over the coming days, with operations primarily focusing on areas believed to facilitate militant activity. The IDF also claimed to deliver medical supplies, including baby food and incubators to the hospital, though it is unclear how effectively supplies will support the provision of medical care without fuel deliveries.
* The frequency of clashes in the West Bank remained on trend with previous days, though calls for attacks against IDF and Israelis will elevate risks of clashes and attacks. Armed clashes were predominantly concentrated in the northern West Bank, particularly in Jenin and Tulkarm where IEDs were used against IDF personnel during clashes. On 14 November, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) a West Bank-based militant group, called for Palestinians to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank. While this call is unlikely to result in mass mobilisation, continued efforts to mobilise Palestinians in the West Bank likely reflect efforts from Hamas-aligned groups to draw IDF resources away from operations in Gaza and fix them in the West Bank.
* Moderate escalations in cross-border clashes between the IDF and Lebanese Hizballah and/or affiliated militants continue on the Israel-Lebanon border, sustaining risks to individuals and assets in northern Israel. Over the past 24 hours, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) has reported two drone sightings in the Upper Galilee area, while a ‘suspicious aerial object’ was neutralised in the airspace over Acre (Northern district). Hizballah and/or allied militants in Lebanon have continued firing anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) towards IDF locations in northern Israel, particularly targetting sensor and communication equipment. Amid ongoing cross-border clashes, on 14 November, the IDF shelled at least 12 locations in Lebanon’s South governorate and conducted airstrikes and artillery hits on two locations in the Nabatieh governorate.
* A surface-to-surface missile, likely launched by Houthis, was intercepted by the Arrow air defence system over the Red Sea. Sirens sounded in Eilat (Southern district), though the missile did not enter Israeli airspace. Over the past two weeks, the Yemen-based Iran-backed Houthis have launched several ballistic missiles and drones at Eilat, though all have been intercepted or have missed their target.
* On 15 November, 25,000 litres of fuel entered Gaza through the Rafah border crossing. The fuel delivery, which is the first since 7 October, has reportedly been earmarked for humanitarian organisations including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which announced on 14 November that its operations would cease in Gaza without fuel provision. While this delivery will likely sustain select humanitarian operations in Gaza, including the provision of medical services, energy insecurity will remain critically high. Access to medical services remains extremely limited; of the 35 hospitals located in Gaza approximately 22 are reportedly non-operational at the time of writing. The Rafah border crossing remains open to foreign nationals and critically injured Palestinians and will likely continue facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid over the coming days.
* On 15 November, Gaza’s two largest telecommunications providers announced that due to a lack of fuel, a telecoms blackout is imminent. PalTel and Jawwal announced that insufficient fuel supplies will cause main network elements, including data centres, to go offline over the coming hours. The loss of internet and telecommunications coverage in Gaza will significantly disrupt communication with and between on-the-ground staff as well as news coverage from within Gaza. However, a complete long-term blackout is unlikely, with fuel supplies likely being allocated to both firms to continue basic telecommunication operations. Even so, temporary disruptions to connectivity are highly likely over the coming days.
* On 14 November, the Bank of Israel called on the Ministry of Finance to increase planned spending cuts to finance the Israel-Hamas war. The central bank has called for at least NIS 8 bn (USD 2.12 bn) in additional spending cuts from the 2024 budget in order to offset costs related to the Israel-Hamas war. There is a realistic possibility that the Ministry of Finance will cut spending in line with the central bank’s guidance by reassessing VAT exemptions and cutting discretionary spending, including funding and stipends for private education institutions. Such cuts will likely moderately elevate tensions within the ruling government coalition, through risks to government stability remain low. Continued concerns over the cost of the war will likely sustain elevated investor concerns in the stability of the Israeli economy over the coming weeks.
* On 14 November, US and UK authorities announced a third round of sanctions targeting individuals and entities linked to Hamas. The UK’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron announced sanctions on four senior Hamas figures and two associated financiers, with measures including travel bans and asset freezes. Concurrently, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced additional sanctions on several Hamas and PIJ officials, as well as a financial exchange in Lebanon facilitating transfers to the groups. Over the coming weeks, further rounds of sanctions are highly likely, moderately increasing compliance concerns and due diligence requirements for firms operating in states that house Hamas-related entities, including Qatar.
* Overnight from 13-14 November, an unidentified group of protesters targeted numerous fast food chains in Baghdad, underscoring elevated risks to staff and assets associated with the US and Israel. Demonstrators vandalised Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hardees storefronts in Jadriyah with red paint, due to the restaurant’s connection to the US and their perceived support for Israel. While no further damage has been reported, threatening messages were left near the stores claiming they are now a ‘legitimate’ target. Elevated physical security risks to businesses associated with the US and Israel, as well as states perceived to be supporting Israel, will persist throughout the Israel-Hamas war. Developments in the IDF ground offensive will likely act as flashpoints for further demonstrations, temporarily elevating security and bystander risks.
*Sanctions to disrupt financing channels to Hamas will increase due diligence requirements. On 14 November, the UK and US announced a third round of sanctions since 7 October, targeting individuals and groups affiliated with Hamas. These include political members of Hamas, as well as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) representative to Iran, Nasser Abu Sharif, and the owner of the Lebanese currency exchange company that is accused of serving as a conduit for transferring funds to Hamas. The latest round of sanctions underscores persistent efforts by the UK and US to disrupt financing channels, which the countries claim heavily involve the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to fund the supply of weapons and financial aid to Hamas. As such, further rounds of sanctions are likely, increasing due diligence needs for businesses operating in the region. There is a realistic possibility that disruption to financing channels will also undermine Lebanon-based Hizballah, to which Iran supplies weaponry and finance, challenging the group’s continued force acquisition and activities.
*Israel: Palestinian-aligned actor poses heightened cyber espionage risk to government entities. On 14 November, security firm Proofpoint reported on a cyber espionage campaign by the Palestinian-aligned threat group ‘TA402’ (also known as ‘Gaza Cybergang’ and ‘Molerats’). The campaign targeted organisations linked to the Israeli government and military entities between July and October 2023. The campaign sent phishing emails using a compromised Middle Eastern foreign ministry personnel email address pretending to be official correspondence to deploy malware (‘IronWind’). The malware is capable of installing additional payloads, including remote access trojans (RATs) as part of its intelligence collection operations, highlighting the sophistication of the group and its persistence tactics. TA402 consistently targets Middle Eastern and North African government entities in intelligence collection operations, underscoring the persistent security risks the group poses to the region. Espionage campaigns by TA402 will likely remain heightened amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
* Over the past 24 hours, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) took control of the al-Rantisi hospital; it is also closing in on the al-Shifa and al-Quds hospitals. Fighting is taking place near the latter.
* Clashes between the IDF and Lebanese Hizballah and/or allied militants based in Lebanon have continued at the previously observed uptick over the past 72 hours, elevating security risks in southern Lebanon and northern Israel.
* On 13 November, Chevron Corporation announced that it resumed supplying gas from Tamar’s offshore gas rig, which exports gas to Egypt and Jordan for domestic consumption and supplies around 70% of Israel’s domestic energy needs.
* IDF troops are continuing to advance on hospitals in Gaza City. They have reportedly taken over the al-Rantisi hospital and are continuing to fight in the proximity of the al-Shifa and al-Quds hospitals. Fighting has also taken place in the Sheikh Ijlin and Rimal neighbourhoods, wherein the IDF has raided and taken over Hamas’ governing institutions. The IDF claims that it found evidence that hostages were being held at the al-Rantisi hospital; it also claims to have found a tunnel in a house located around 0.12 miles (200m) from the hospital. At the al-Quds hospital, the IDF released footage of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) operative launching an RPG from the vicinity of the facility. Additionally, in the past 48 hours, the IDF and Israel’s Shin Bet reportedly arrested over 20 Hamas members at the al-Shati camp. As of a result of the continued fighting in Gaza, militants within the enclave have continued to prioritise targeting IDF positions within Gaza and in the Gaza envelop over more central Israeli population centres. However, the threat of rocket barrages targeting population centres across Israel remains; elevated security and bystander risks are also likely to persist nationwide in the coming days.
* On 14 November, the UN announced that approximately 200,000 people have been evacuated from northern Gaza via the Salah al-Din road. The IDF continues to establish temporary and time-limited humanitarian corridors leading to the Salah al-Din road between 1000hrs and 16000hrs (local time); the most recent corridors have facilitated the evacuation of citizens from Gaza City and north-western Gaza.
* Clashes in the West Bank have continued in line with trends observed over the past week; IDF operations and raids have continued at a high tempo. Over the past 24 hours, the IDF conducted numerous arrests throughout the West Bank, particularly in Jerusalem and Ramallah, but also in al-Bireh governorate. In Ramallah and al-Bireh, at least 14 individuals were arrested in Beit Rima, Nabi Saleh, Qibya and Silwad. Across the wider West Bank, violent clashes were particularly concentrated in hotspots within Hebron and Tulkarm governorates. On 14 November, during armed clashes between the IDF and Palestinian militants in the al-Ghanum neighbourhood in Tulkarm, the IDF deployed a drone that killed at least six Palestinians and injured 12 others. Additionally, IEDs were used on multiple occasions by unidentified militants; they targeted IDF bulldozers in Tulkarm and IDF personnel at the entrance of the al-Arroub camp (Hebron).
* Over the past 24 hours, at least four projectiles targeted US bases following US airstrikes against facilities associated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and associated armed groups in eastern Syria. Multiple rockets were fired at the US Mission Support Site Euphrates (Deir ez-Zor governorate) while the US bases at Green Village (Deir ez-Zor) and Shadadi (al-Hasakah governorate) were targeted by one-way attack drones, neither of which were successful. Multiple drones also targeted the US-led coalition’s Rumalyn Landing Zone base (al-Hasakah). Although one drone was shot down, another impacted the base, causing minor damage to tented dwellings. No injuries, casualties or significant damage were reported. Since 7 October, US military locations and assets in Iraq and Syria have been targeted with missile and drone attacks at least 52 times.
* Cross-border clashes between the IDF and Lebanese Hizballah and/or allied militants along the Israel-Lebanon border have taken place at the same moderately increased tempo observed since 12 November. In line with the usual pattern of tit-for-tat attacks, Hizballah and allied Lebanon-based militants have continued to fire anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), mortars and rockets at locations along the Israel-Lebanon border, primarily targeting IDF positions, particularly sensory and communication equipment. Rocket launches on 13 November triggered alerts in Acre and Safed (both Northern district), highlighting persistent physical security and bystander risks for civilian population centres in northern Israel.
* While the Rafah border crossing remains partially open to foreign nationals and for humanitarian aid deliveries, extreme energy insecurity persists throughout Gaza. Over the past 24 hours, foreign nationals, including passport holders from Canada, Jordan and Spain, have passed through the border crossing from Gaza to Egypt. Although humanitarian aid deliveries, including food, water and medical supplies, continue to pass into Gaza, the Israeli authorities continue to block fuel deliveries, resulting in severe energy insecurity throughout Gaza. On 14 November, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) announced that if it does not receive a delivery of fuel within the coming 48 hours, it will be unable to continue operating in Gaza. Similar announcements have been made by numerous hospitals and medical centres, which have been relying on fuel-powered generators since electricity generation ceased in Gaza in early October. Consequently, elevated food, water and medical insecurity will almost certainly persist, underscoring significant humanitarian concerns.
* Fuel shortages continue to restrict operations at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, increasing regional tensions. On 14 November, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for the IDF to use greater restraint during operations in Gaza and to ensure additional protection measures for hospitals; this followed reports that vulnerable individuals, including premature babies, are dying in the hospital given the lack of fuel for power generators. The IDF continues to claim that Hamas militants are using the hospital as a command centre, likely in an effort to characterise the building as a legitimate target before attempting to secure it. Continued coverage of conditions inside the hospital and condemnation of the IDF’s attempts to secure this location will almost certainly sustain regional tensions while increasing pressure on Israel’s relations with key allies, including the US.
* On 14 October, the Washington Post released an op-ed authored by an unidentified Israeli security official claiming that a deal to release approximately 70 hostages held by Hamas is likely in the coming days. The deal will reportedly allow the release of between 70 and 120 hostages, primarily women and children, in exchange for a five-day ceasefire in Gaza and the release of numerous Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody. However, it is highly unlikely that the IDF will agree to establish a five-day ceasefire in Gaza, given concerns that Hamas and PIJ militants will capitalise on this time to re-group personnel and resources and/or launch attacks on IDF positions. Nevertheless, ongoing negotiations have increased the likelihood that hostage releases will be agreed in exchange for temporary and limited pauses to IDF operations to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. Any such agreement would be highly fragile and susceptible to spoiler attacks, sustaining existing physical and bystander risks throughout Gaza and the Gaza envelope.
* On 13 November, Israeli finance ministers announced that the government had incurred around ILS 30 bn (USD 7.8 bn) in debt since the beginning of the war with Hamas, of which ILS 16 bn (USD 4.1 bn) is dollar-denominated. Israel recorded a 397.8% increase in its budget deficit from September to the end of October to fund military resources. To date, the conflict with Hamas has cost Israel around ILS 996 m (USD 260 m) per day. Significant disruption to business operations has intensified pressure on the economy, with one in three businesses shuttering since the conflict began. The central bank cut Israel’s economic growth forecast from 3% to 2.3% on 23 October, while credit rating agencies have warned Israel that they will cut its ratings if its debt-to-GDP ratio intensifies through 2024. Persistent fighting will almost certainly worsen economic conditions, with high debt undermining foreign exchange reserves and driving high prices and possible shortages.
* On 13 November, the Chevron Corporation announced that it had resumed operations in Israel’s Tamar offshore gas platform after pausing operations on 7 October. Chevron continues to extract natural gas from the field, which produces approximately 70% of Israel’s domestically used natural gas; it also supplies exports to markets in Egypt and Jordan. The resumption, which was reportedly ordered by the Israeli energy ministry, will likely moderately stabilise internal and external energy markets, lowering concerns about potential increases in energy insecurity. However, continued fighting in Gaza will sustain stability risks for the operating environment in Israel, sustaining business disruption risks at the Tamar platform.
* Over the past 24 hours, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue advancing towards the Al-Shifa Hospital and engaging in heavy fighting with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants in Al-Shati and Jabalia. The IDF have continued to facilitate temporary humanitarian corridors and tactical pauses open, to encourage evacuation of Gaza citizens to southern Gaza.
* Clashes between the IDF and Lebanese Hizballah (LH) and/or Palestinian militants in the Israel-Lebanon border have increased in the past 48 hours. The increase in rocket launches and injuries of Israeli civilians is likely to sustain this trend due to likely strong IDF retaliation, representing a moderate escalation. However, a major escalation currently remain unlikely.
* The Rafah Crossing remains open, with at least 830 foreign nationals leaving Gaza on 12 November including nationals from the Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand and Poland. Humanitarian aid continues to enter Gaza, with approximately 80 aid trucks passing through the crossing in the past 24 hours. However, widespread food and water shortages across Gaza and particularly in northern Gaza are likely to continue.
* IDF ground operations in Gaza continued to advance towards Al-Shifa Hospital, engaging in heavy fights in Al-Shati camp on the coast of northern Gaza. The IDF stated that in the past 24 hours it conducted over 4,300 airstrikes against Hamas targets, targeting tunnel shafts and Hamas command and control centres. The IDF continue to establish temporary, time-limited humanitarian corridors leading to Salah al-Din Road between 1000hrs to 16000hrs (local time) to facilitate civilian evacuation. These included also temporary tactical pauses around Al-Shati camp to allow civilians to evacuate. Due to the IDF’s continued advances in Gaza, Palestinian militants within the enclave continue to prioritise targeting IDF positions within Gaza and the Gaza envelope. As a result, recent rocket launches from Gaza into Israeli population centres maintained the lower frequency observed in the past five days.
* Clashes in the West Bank have returned to levels observed over the past four days, following a relative lull from 11-12 November. During overnight operations in the West Bank, the IDF arrested 36 individuals, 14 of whom are allegedly Hamas members. Armed clashes with Israeli security personnel continued on trend, particularly in the northern West Bank. On 12 November, Palestinian militants used improvised explosive devices (IEDs) against IDF troops during raids in Qalqilya (Qalqilya governorate) and in Jenin (Jenin governorate). Also on 12 November, Palestinians reportedly threw stones at Israeli-plated vehicles travelling on the Ramallah-Nablus Road, resulting in minor vehicle damage. These reflect elevated ethno-religious tensions and the potential for attacks and clashes involving Israeli civilians in the West Bank, as well as elevated road safety risks therein.
* At least ten civilians were injured by rocket shrapnel following rockets launched from Lebanon towards Acre and the Krayot areas on 12 November. The launches reflect a gradual uptick in hostilities between the IDF and LH and/or aligned militants in the past 48 hours. Additionally on 12 November, at least seven IDF personnel were injured by mortar fire from Lebanon, hitting Manara (Northern District). The IDF responded with targeted artillery fire towards southern Lebanon, in the Nabatieh and South governorates.
* On 12 November, at least 830 foreign nationals left Gaza via the Rafah border crossing, including nationals from the Czech Republic, Germany, New Zealand and Poland. Humanitarian aid continues to enter Gaza, with approximately 80 aid trucks passing through the crossing on 12 November. Even so, elevated food, water and energy security persist throughout Gaza, with the Red Crescent announcing that the Al-Quds hospital is no longer operational due to a lack of fuel. Approximately 23 of Gaza’s 36 medical centres and hospitals are reportedly no longer operational, underscoring extremely limited access to medical services throughout the enclave.
* Ongoing fuel shortages at Gaza’s largest hospital, the Al-Shifa Hospital, have significantly reduced its operations. On 13 November, the IDF claimed to have left 300 litres of fuel at the hospital, but that Hamas militants had prevented its collection by hospital staff. Regardless of whether fuel supplies were received or not, medical officials in the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claim the hospital needs at least 8,000-10,000 litres of fuel per day, with one surgeon in the hospital claiming that 20,000 litres per day are needed to be fully operational. The IDF has repeatedly claimed that Hamas militants are using Al-Shifa Hospital as a base for operations and have syphoned fuel supplies to power operations. It is highly unlikely that the hospital will receive sufficient fule supplies over the coming days, further limiting available services, amid IDF calls for its evacuation.
* On 13 November, the Israeli government blocked access to the Al Mayadeen news channel, an outlet based in Lebanon and strongly aligned with Iran. Israel’s Security Cabinet has ratified a proposal made by Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi regarding news outlets, which has been deemed as working against to Israel’s wartime efforts. The proposals grant Karhi the powers to take unilateral action against an organisation and order the closure of offices, seizure of equipment and the blocking of broadcasts made via established media infrastructure. The closure of Al Mayadeen operations in Israel reflects the increasing risks to civil liberties and media freedom as hostilities continue. The legislation will also elevate risks for other news and media channels, though risks for global channels, particularly those associated with the West, remain low.
* On 12 November, United Airlines announced it would partially resume fights to Israel, following their suspension on 8 October. Operations will reportedly commence on an unspecified date next week with services gradually reintroduced. More detailed flight schedules are expected to be released in the coming days.
* On 11 November, the emergency meetings of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation and the Arab League concluded with a declaration condemning Israel’s operations in Gaza and calling for member states to end weapons sales to Israel. While the conferences do not represent a significant escalation in regional tensions, there is a realistic possibility that as the IDF ground offensive continues, neighbouring states will adopt increasingly aggressive policy positions in order to increase Israel’s regional isolation. Over the coming weeks, individual state measures including the suspension of diplomatic and economic relations, cannot be ruled out. Following the meeting, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi also called on nations to arm Palestinians, a proposal which in the unlikely case of being accepted, would significantly increase the likelihood of regional conflict spillover.
* Over the weekend of 11-12 November China’s head of West Asian and North African affairs Wang Di visited Iran to discuss a range of topics including the Israel Gaza war. Di reiterated the calls for a ceasefire in the meeting with the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Deputy for Political Affairs, Ali Bagheri. There is a realistic possibility that China’s influence on Iran, given its political and economic isolation, will moderately temper increasing Iranian involvement in the Israel-Hamas war through its wide network of proxies. Even so, Iran is unlikely to fundamentally alter its relations with aligned armed groups based Iraq, Syria and the Palestinian territories, sustaining the likelihood of continued clashes with the IDF and attacks on US assets and bases throughout the region. The China-Iran talks come ahead of talks between President Xi’s and US President Biden on 15 November, in which the Chinese President is expected to again call for de-escalation.
* On 12 October, the European Union issued a statement condemning Hamas for using hospitals, schools and civilian locations as bases for operations. While this is unlikely to result in significant policy changes from the EU vis-à-vis the Israel-Hamas war, the statement moderately supports the IDF’s efforts to characterise hospitals and civilian infrastructure used for militant purposes as legitimate targets during operations in Gaza. There is a realistic possibility that the EU’s support for Israel and condemnation of Hamas on these grounds will continue to drive ethno-religious tensions and pro-Palestine protest activity in member states. These will elevate risks of domestic unrest and protests, particularly in the event of an IDF strike on installations such as hospitals or schools.
Over the coming 24 hours, the IDF ground offensive in Gaza will almost certainly continue, with clashes likely continuing in Beit Hanoun, Gaza City, Jabalia and Al-Shati. Over the coming days, there is a realistic possibility that the IDF will attempt to secure the Al-Shifa Hospital. Operations in proximity to or within the hospital resulting in civilian casualties will almost certainly result in further condemnations of the IDF’s ground offensive, elevating regional and international tensions. Such attacks will also likely drive an increase in domestic unrest and clashes in the West Bank. Continued IDF efforts to open daily humanitarian passages from battle locations to allow civilian evacuation to southern Gaza is likely to mitigate international pressure and civilian casualties. However, risks for non-involved civilians remain severe even during humanitarian pauses, due to the risks of Hamas militants using these pauses to attack IDF troops or conduct false flag operations.
In the West Bank, elevated ethno-religious tensions will likely continue driving instances of domestic unrest and clashes involving Israeli security personnel and/or civilians, sustaining elevated physical security and bystander risks. Continued IDF raids and arrests will almost certainly continue triggering clashes and escalating incidents of violence, particularly in hotspots such as Jenin, Nablus, Qalqilya and Tulkarm. In combination with developments in the IDF ground offensive, elevated tensions will increase the likelihood of violent clashes during protests, elevating physical security and bystander risks in protest hotspots. Moreover, increasing ethno-religious tensions between Palestinians and Israeli civilians residing in the West Bank will sustain the likelihood of small-scale, low-capacity clashes between civilian populations, including acts of vandalism, stoning and arson in and around Israeli population centres in the West Bank.
Over the next 24 Hours, the IDF will likely increase the frequency of strikes into Lebanese territory in response to successful ATGM and mortar attacks in northern Israel. Since Lebanese Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s speech on 11 November, in which he called for an increase in attacks on Israel, an uptick in clashes has increased retaliatory attacks from the IDF in southern Lebanon. This uptick will likely continue over the coming days, elevating risks of miscalculations and incidents resulting in civilian casualties., and while strikes will likely continue primarily targeting IDF locations and their environs, there is a realistic possibility of rockets targeting population centres in northern Israel, including Acre, Haifa and Karmiel, sustaining elevated physical security and bystander risks. There is also a realistic possibility of further rocket launches by militant groups based in Syria, likely triggering IDF strikes on locations, installations and infrastructure associated with armed groups. Despite these escalations, our assessment remains that Lebanese Hizballah and/or allied militant groups based in Lebanon and Syria are unlikely to substantially escalate hostilities or order a full-scale mobilisation; rather, continued moderate escalations will likely continue in an effort to draw IDF resources away from operations in Gaza.
Triggers and indicators for escalation (we will continue to review and update these points):
* A successful terror attack by Lebanese Hizballah and/or Hamas against Israeli/Jewish targets outside Israel
* High-casualty incidents occur in the West Bank due to IDF miscalculation or attacks by Israeli settlers and/or Palestinian militants
* Calls by Hamas to mobilise receive substantial support from Palestinian communities
* Israeli airstrikes in Gaza inflict high casualty numbers, prompting Hizballah and/or West Bank-based militants to retaliate
* An uptick in Israeli airstrikes against Syria to prevent weapons transfers prompts an escalation from Lebanon-based militants
* US support for Israel ramps up beyond the current posturing level
* Israel strikes Hamas leadership within Lebanon
* The ongoing IDF ground operation into Gaza expands beyond the northern area of the enclave
*Syria: US airstrike reflects growing security risks; gradual escalation likely. On the evening of 12 November, US forces in Syria performed two airstrikes against facilities affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The strikes targeted a training facility near Abu Kamal and a safe house near Mayadon, both in Deir ez-Zor governorate, eastern Syria. This is the third time US forces have struck Iranian facilities since 17 October, when Iranian-affiliated militants increased their attacks against US forces in the region. In recent weeks, Iranian proxies – particularly under their Islamic Resistance in Iraq umbrella group – have targeted US forces over 40 times, successfully injuring at least 45 US soldiers. Over the coming days, the US is likely to continue striking facilities affiliated with the IRGC and/or other Iranian-affiliated proxies in response to the likely continued targeting of US forces in the region. These hostilities will continue elevating security risks, particularly in eastern Syria and near US military facilities. (Source: Sibylline)
17 Nov 23. IDF launches raid on West Bank refugee camp.
Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli drone strike in the West Bank’s Jenin, the head of the ambulance service has said.
Overnight, a large deployment of Israeli troops raided the Jenin refugee camp, AFP reporters there said, prompting clashes. Israel’s military did not immediately comment.
It comes amid growing concern about violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians has surged.
In an attack claimed by Hamas, three gunmen on Thursday killed an Israeli soldier and wounded five others at a checkpoint leading into Jerusalem from the West Bank. (Source: Daily Telegraph)
16 Nov 23. Israeli president says ‘strong force’ may need to stay in Gaza, Biden says occupation a ‘big mistake.’
* Israeli president says can’t leave vacuum in post-war Gaza
* President Herzog says may need to leave “very strong force” in Gaza
* Biden says occupation of Gaza “a big mistake”
* Two state solution only way to resolve Israel-Palestinian conflict, says Biden
Israeli President Isaac Herzog said a “very strong force” may need to remain in Gaza for the near future to prevent the Hamas militant group re-emerging after the war, but U.S. President Joe Biden warned that occupying Gaza would be “a big mistake”.
“If we pull back, then who will take over? We can’t leave a vacuum. We have to think about what will be the mechanism; there are many ideas that are thrown in the air,” Herzog said in an interview with the FT published on Thursday.
“But no one will want to turn this place, Gaza, into a terror base again”, he added.
Herzog told FT that Israel’s government was discussing many ideas about how Gaza would be run once the war ends and added that he assumed that the United States and “our neighbours in the region” would have some involvement in the post-conflict order.
Biden said on Wednesday that he had made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a two-state solution was the only way to resolve the Israel-Palestinian conflict and that occupying Gaza would be “a big mistake”.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, says Gaza, where Hamas has ruled since 2007, is an integral part of what it envisions for a future Palestinian state.
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, but has not put forward a plan to determine who would govern Gaza after the war. Netanyahu has said that Israel would have to maintain overall security responsibility in Gaza for an indefinite period.
Israel’s military focus on Thursday remained on Gaza’s biggest hospital Al Shifa where it says Hamas stored weapons and ran a command centre in tunnels beneath the buildings.
Israeli troops forced their way into Al Shifa hospital in the early hours of Wednesday and spent the day deepening their search, the army said. An army video showed automatic weapons, grenades, ammunition and flak jackets it said were recovered from an undisclosed building within the complex.
“The troops continue to search the hospital in a precise, intelligence-based, manner,” army spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said at a press briefing late on Wednesday.
Biden said that Hamas was committing war crimes by having its military headquarters under the hospital. He said Israel had gone into Al Shifa with a limited number of troops with guns.
“They were told…we discussed the need for them to be incredibly careful,” Biden told reporters on Wednesday.
The Israeli military made no mention of finding any tunnel entrances in Al Shifa. It previously said Hamas had built a network of tunnels under the hospital. Hamas has denied it and dismissed the latest army statements.
“The occupation forces are still lying … as they brought some weapons, clothes and tools and placed them in the hospital in a scandalous manner,” Qatar-based Hamas senior member Ezzat El Rashq said. “We have repeatedly called for a committee from the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Red Cross to verify the lies of the occupation.”
Israeli forces raided the Shifa complex on Wednesday evening “for the second time in 24 hours” WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported. Bulldozers and military vehicles were used, the agency said, citing local sources.
Hamas-affiliated Shehab news agency reported early on Thursday that Israeli tanks raided Al Shifa from the complex’s southern side and that gunfire was heard in the area.
Israel began its campaign against the Islamist group that rules Gaza after militants rampaged through southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and some 240 people taken hostage in the deadliest day of its 75-year-old history.
Biden told reporters he was doing everything in his power to free hostages held by Hamas militants, but that did not mean sending in the U.S. military.
Washington has boosted its military presence in the Middle East, sending two aircraft carriers and support ships to the region, to prevent the conflict spreading and to deter Iran, a long-time backer of Hamas, from getting involved.
Iran’s supreme leader told the head of Hamas when they met in Tehran in early November, according to three senior officials: You gave us no warning of your Oct. 7 attack on Israel and we will not enter the war on your behalf.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Ismail Haniyeh that Iran would continue to lend Hamas political and moral support, but wouldn’t intervene directly, said the Iranian and Hamas officials with knowledge of the discussions who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely. read more
Jordan on Wednesday condemned in the “toughest of terms” Israel’s shelling around the Jordanian field hospital in Gaza which injured seven staff, and said it would await the results of an army investigation before taking legal and political steps to hold Israel accountable for the “crime”.
FIRST FUEL TRUCK ARRIVES IN GAZA
Retaliating against the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, Israel has enforced a strict blockade of Gaza, and conducted an aerial bombardment and armoured ground offensive that Palestinian authorities say has killed around 11,500 people, around 40% of them children, with many more dead buried under the rubble.
Israel has ordered the evacuation of the entire northern half of Gaza, and around two-thirds of its 2.3m residents are now homeless.
The first truck carrying fuel into Gaza since the start of the war crossed from Egypt on Wednesday to deliver diesel to the United Nations, though it will do little to alleviate shortages that have hampered relief operations.
The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday called for urgent and extended humanitarian pauses in fighting for a “sufficient number of days” to allow aid access. It also called, in a resolution, for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by Hamas.
Israel has so far rejected calls for a ceasefire, which it says would benefit Hamas. A pause in fighting has been discussed, however, in negotiations mediated by Qatar. Qatari mediators were seeking a deal that would include a three-day truce, with Hamas releasing 50 of its captives and Israel to release some women and minors from among its security detainees, an official briefed on the negotiations said. (Source: Reuters)
14 Nov 23. Pentagon Official Says Deterrence in Middle East Is Working. Deterrence in the Middle East is working, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said today.
She said the United States wants to see the war between Israel and Hamas contained to Gaza and not expanded to other areas of the region. As of today, “we have not seen this war spill over into other neighboring countries and into the region,” Singh said.
Iranian-backed groups in Syria and Iraq continue attacks on U.S. troops engaged in the defeat-ISIS mission, she said. “Since Oct. 17 through today, we are tracking that there have been 55 attacks on U.S. forces,” Singh said. “There have been 27 attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq and 28 attacks in Syria.”
The Defense Department is tracking that 59 U.S. personnel received injuries in these attacks. “Approximately 27 personnel have been evaluated for TBI and 32 for other injuries,” she said. “As of today, all 59 have returned to duty.”
Last weekend, Houthis affiliated with Iran shot down a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle. “I am not going to broadcast any response or … get ahead of any response that the secretary or the president might want to take,” she said.
U.S. forces responded to the attacks on troops with missions to hit targets in eastern Syria. “We conducted three different strikes,” Singh said. “And again, we will always reserve the right to respond at a time in place of our choosing in the future.”
Singh also addressed fighting in Gaza between Hamas terrorists and Israeli troops. She reiterated that the United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals. “We absolutely believe that hospitals should be places where people seeking medical treatment and attention need to be, and those places should be protected,” she said. “But … we do have information that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad uses some hospitals in the Gaza Strip, including the al-Shifa hospital, as a way to conceal and support their military operations and hold hostages.”
The intelligence reports indicate that Hamas has tunnels underneath hospitals and uses them as command-and-control nodes in Gaza City. “They have weapons stored there and are prepared to respond to an Israeli military operation against the facility,” she said. (Source: U.S. DoD)
14 Nov 23. UK and US hit Hamas leadership with targeted sanctions.
The UK and US have targeted Hamas with a new tranche of sanctions today, restricting the terror group’s ability to operate.
* sanctions on Hamas leadership to include travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes
* package is co-ordinated with US and set to disrupt Hamas operations both in Gaza and wherever their leaders base themselves
* Foreign Secretary declares UK “stands in solidarity” with the Palestinian people caught up in the crisis and calls on all parties to agree to humanitarian pauses to allow lifesaving aid into Gaza
The UK’s sanctions are against 4 Hamas senior leaders and 2 Hamas financiers. The stringent measures have been placed on Hamas’ leadership in an effort to disrupt the group’s acts of terror.
Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ political leader in Gaza, is among individuals from the group’s political and military wings targeted by today’s UK sanctions. He is reported to have been involved in the brutal attacks on Israel last month.
Also designated is Muhammed Deif, commander of the group’s military arm.
The sanctions show that the terror group’s leaders cannot escape the consequences of their actions, even if they are pulling the strings from outside of Gaza. Those covered include a Lebanon-based financier and money launderer in Sudan.
Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “We will continue to use every tool at our disposal to disrupt the abhorrent activity of this terrorist organisation, working with the United States and our other allies, making it harder for them to operate and isolating them on the world stage. The Palestinian people are victims of Hamas too. We stand in solidarity with them and will continue to support humanitarian pauses to allow significantly more lifesaving aid to reach Gaza.”
All those sanctioned by the UK and US were targeted for their leadership or financing roles in the group, which was originally founded in the late 1980s with a commitment to destroy Israel. These designations add to existing UK sanctions against Hamas, including on the organisation itself.
Those now subject to UK travel bans, asset freezes and arms embargoes, which prohibit the sale of weapons and military equipment by a UK person to the designated person, include:
* Yahya Sinwar: Sinwar is a senior leader of Hamas and the group’s political leader in Gaza
* Muhammed Deif: Deif is a senior leader of Hamas and is the commander of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades (IQB), the military arm of Hamas, who announced the October 2023 terrorist attacks
* Marwan Issa: Issa is a senior leader of Hamas and is the deputy commander of the IQB
* Musa Dudin: Dudin is a West Bank-based Hamas official who has procured weaponry for the group, enabling them to commit acts of terrorism
* Abdelbasit Hamza: Hamza is a Sudan-based Hamas financier who owned a network of companies that laundered money and traded in currency in order to finance Hamas
* Nabil Chouman: Chouman has channelled funds to Hamas through his Lebanon-based currency exchange
The UK and the US stand united in their solidarity with Israel in its fight against Hamas. We continue to use our diplomatic efforts to support a two-state solution to provide justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, including through the Prime Minister’s recent visits to the region to speak with their counterparts.
The UK has sent 51 tonnes of lifesaving aid to the region and doubled our funding commitment to the Occupied Palestinian Territories this year.
The Prime Minister has called on all parties to allow the humanitarian pauses necessary to allow more aid to enter Gaza and been clear that Israel’s forces must act within international law and stop extremist violence in the West Bank. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
14 Nov 23. Israel: Conflict will sustain economic challenges, undermining prospects for economic growth. On 13 November, Israeli finance ministers announced that the government had incurred around ILS 30bn (USD 7.8bn) in debt since the beginning of the war with Hamas; ILS 16bn (USD 4.1bn) of this is dollar denominated. Israel recorded a 397.8% increase in its budget deficit from September to the end of October to fund military resources. To date, the conflict with Hamas has cost Israel around ILS 996m (USD 260m) per day. Significant disruption to business operations has intensified pressure on the economy, with one in three businesses shuttering since the conflict began. The central bank cut Israel’s economic growth forecast from 3% to 2.3% on 23 October, while credit rating agencies have warned Israel that they will cut its ratings if its debt-to-GDP ratio intensifies through 2024. Persistent fighting will almost certainly worsen economic conditions, with high debt undermining foreign exchange reserves and driving high prices and possible shortages. (Source: Sibylline)
15 Nov 23. UK military aircraft have provided “surveillance support” to Israel. Missions have prevented “transfer of weapons to terrorist groups” according to official UK Government responses to Parliament.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has stated that UK military aircraft have provided surveillance support to Israel, following the deployment of assets to the eastern Mediterranean amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
In written parliamentary responses confirming the deployments on 13 November, MoD officials stated the UK had deployed “P-8 and other surveillance assets to improve our situational awareness in the region and provide assurance to our partners”.
Israel has been embroiled in an ongoing war with Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and which conducted a bloody incursion into Israel on 7 October resulting in the deaths of some 1,200 Israeli’s, with over 200 kidnapped. The military response from Israel into Gaza has caused over 10,000 civilian deaths, according to Hamas-run Gazan authorities.
On 13 October, the UK confirmed it would be sending aircraft to the region to “support Israel and reinforce regional stability”.
A second UK parliamentary response stated that flights to improve situational awareness included the prevention of “transfer of weapons to terrorist groups”, and to “wider” regional security, in addition to the delivery of humanitarian aid into Egypt.
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) operates a fleet of P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft but also has a range of other airborne platforms that could perform surveillance functions, such as the MQ-9B Reaper drones or Rivet Joint RC-135 electronic surveillance aircraft. It is not known what specific platforms were referred to in the MoD’s “other surveillance assets” comment.
A total of 12 UK military aircraft had deployed to the region, MoD officials confirmed, with some flights having conducted “surveillance support to Israel”.
These aircraft could utilise the UK’s two main airbases located inside the Sovereign Base Areas on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, although MoD officials did not specify basing sites. The UK’s main airbase on Cyprus, RAF Akrotiri, is home to the RAF’s 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, comprised of Typhoon FGR4 multirole fighters, A330 MRTT tankers, and A400M Atlas transporters.
Monitoring of flight transponder data on open-source tracker Flightradar24 on the evening of 14 November showed an RAF A330 MRTT air-to-air refuelling tanker flying in close proximity to a Typhoon fighter over international waters near the coasts of Egypt, Gaza, and Israel. The flight path of the MRTT aircraft indicated a route from Jordan, across Egypt and over the Mediterranean, seeming to land at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus.
The RAF Typhoon’s flight path began around 40km north of the Egyptian coast and around 80km west of Gaza, indicating that it was flying with its transponder turned off prior to that point. A transit north across the Mediterranean saw the Typhoon disappear off flight tracking radar, some 30km southwest of RAF Akrotiri.
Subsequent monitoring of flight data saw an MRTT aircraft operating south of Cyprus during the afternoon of 15 November, as well as an RAF Typhoon fighter in proximity.
The RAF’s Typhoon FGR4 fleet can be equipped with the Litening targeting and surveillance pod, with the latest variant – Litening V – offering multiple infrared search and tracking capabilities. Manufactured by Israeli prime Rafael, the system can perform Non-Traditional Surveillance Intelligence Reconnaissance (NTISR), among other capabilities, according to company information.
UK naval task force arrives in eastern Mediterranean
In addition, the planned UK amphibious task force has arrived in the eastern Mediterranean region on 8 November, including the Bay-class landing ship dock RFA Lyme Bay and RFA Argus.
The Bay-class are workhorses of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, able to perform a wide-range of roles and act as a mothership for a deployed force. One vessel is permanently stationed in the Middle East, usually leaving one vessel available for European/Atlantic operations, with the other in refit or maintenance.
RFA Argus serves as the UK’s Primary Casualty Receiving Ship with a 100-bed hospital in times of conflict, with secondary roles as a training vessel for helicopter training. In addition, the auxiliary deploys on counter-narcotics and humanitarian aid/disaster relief duties and can support amphibious operations. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
13 Nov 23. Peace activist friend of First Lady killed by Hamas. An Israeli-Canadian peace activist who was friends with Israel’s first lady has been confirmed as killed by Hamas. Vivian Silver, 74, who was previously thought to have been taken hostage, but was murdered by the terror organisation in Kibbutz Beeri, an Israeli diplomat in Canada said.
Ms Silver was friends with Michal Herzog, the wife of the Israeli president Isaac Herzog.
“Tragic news: Vivian Silver, the Canadian-Israeli peace activist previously thought to be taken hostage, has been confirmed dead, murdered by Hamas in Kibbutz Beeri,” Idit Shamir the Israeli Consul General wrote on X.
“Canada mourns her loss,” Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly wrote on X, describing Silver as “a proud Israeli-Canadian and lifelong advocate for peace.” (Source: Daily Telegraph)
12 Nov 23. Hezbollah says it’s using new weapons in battles with Israeli troops. The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said Saturday his fighters have introduced new weapons, including a missile with a heavy warhead in the ongoing fighting along the Lebanon-Israel border, adding that they will keep using the tense frontier to pressure Israel.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also blasted the U.S. over the Israel-Hamas war, saying it is the only country that can stop Israel’s wide offensive on the Gaza Strip but doesn’t do so. He said attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, that Washington says have reached more than 40 rockets and suicide drone attacks, will continue until the war in Gaza comes to an end.
Nasrallah’s comments came as the situation along Lebanon’s southern border continues to escalate. Hezbollah on Friday attacked northern Israel with three suicide drones after an Israeli strike in central Syria killed seven Hezbollah fighters.
Nasrallah did not claim responsibility for a suicide drone attack that hit the Israeli Red Sea town of Eilat on Thursday but called it “a great achievement.”
Hezbollah and Israeli troops have been exchanging fire along the Lebanon-Israel border since Oct. 8, a day after Hamas’ deadly assault in southern Israel that left at least 1,200 Israeli civilians and troops dead and more than 200 taken hostages.
Hezbollah officials say that by attacking Israeli posts along the border, the Iran-backed group is keeping three Israeli army divisions busy at a time when Israeli troops are pushing into the Gaza Strip where more than 11,000 people have been killed over the past five weeks, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
“The side that can stop this aggression, is the side that is managing this aggression. It is America,” Nasrallah said, referring to the United States, a main supporter of Israel.
Nasrallah said that the fighting along Lebanon’s southern border has witnessed changes in recent days, including the weapons used and the depth of the strikes inside Israel. He said that Hezbollah has been sending unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance drones into northern Israel some of which were shot down while others returned to base with information.
On Saturday Hezbollah said its fighters attacked at least three Israeli posts as well as an infantry unit on the Israeli side of the border, claiming to have scored direct hits.
An Israeli drone strike killed a fighter and wounded two others who are members of the Shiite Muslim Amal group of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, according to a statement released by the group that is allied with Hezbollah. Ali Daoud became the first Amal fighter to be killed in action since the fighting began, while Hezbollah has lost nearly 70 fighters during the past five weeks.
Nasrallah said the group on Saturday used one Burkan rocket against an Israeli military post along the border. He said the rocket can carry a warhead the weights between 300 kilograms (661 pounds) and 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).
“You can imagine (what happens) when half a ton of explosives fall on Israeli posts,” Nasrallah said.
The Israeli military said its aircraft struck a series of Hezbollah targets in response to attacks from Lebanon. The military said the targets include infrastructure, military posts, weapons depots and intelligence infrastructure.
On Friday, Israel’s air force attacked a truck in the coastal town of Zahrani, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the border, the deepest strike so far since the latest round of fighting began, according to Lebanese media outlets.
Speaking about the Muslim and Arab summit hosted by Saudi Arabia with the aim of devising their own cohesive strategy on Gaza, Nasrallah said the leaders of 57 countries “should stand united and scream in the face of Americans and ask them to stop this aggression, war and crimes” in Gaza. (Source: C4ISR & Networks)
13 Nov 23. Gaza’s largest hospital ‘not functioning’ amid Israeli assault.
- Indonesian president says world seems “helpless” in face of Palestinian suffering
- President Joko Widodo calls for ceasefire ahead of meeting Biden
The largest hospital in Gaza has ceased to function and fatalities among patients are rising, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday, as a fierce Israeli assault continues in the Hamas-controlled strip.
Hospitals in the north of the Palestinian enclave, including the al-Shifa complex, are blockaded by Israeli forces and barely able to care for those inside, with three newborns dead and more at risk from power outages amid intense fighting nearby, according to medical staff.
Israel says it is homing in on Palestinian Hamas militants who launched deadly attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, and says the group has command centers under and near the hospitals.
The WHO managed to speak to health professionals at al-Shifa, who described a “dire and perilous” situation with constant gunfire and bombing exacerbating the already critical situation, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“Tragically, the number of patient fatalities has increased significantly,” he said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, adding that al-Shifa was “not functioning as a hospital anymore”.
Tedros joined other top United Nations officials in calling for an immediate ceasefire.
“The world cannot stand silent while hospitals, which should be safe havens, are transformed into scenes of death, devastation, and despair,” he said.
The president of Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, also called for a ceasefire ahead of meeting U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington on Monday.
“A ceasefire must be implemented soon, we also must accelerate and increase the amount of humanitarian aid, and we must begin peace negotiations,” President Joko Widodo said in a video recorded after he took part in an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Riyadh.
He said the world seemed “helpless” in the face of the suffering of the Palestinians. The extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit also urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing” in the Palestinian territories.
Israel says it is trying to free the more than 200 hostages taken by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 and says the hospitals should be evacuated.
The European Union condemned Hamas for using “hospitals and civilians as human shields” in Gaza, while also urging Israel to show “maximum restraint” to protect civilians.
“These hostilities are severely impacting hospitals and taking a horrific toll on civilians and medical staff,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Sunday in a statement issued on behalf of the 27-nation bloc.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Hamas was using hospitals and other civilian facilities to house fighters and weapons, which he said was a violation of the laws of war.
“The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire and we’ve had active consultations with the Israeli Defense Forces on this,” Sullivan told CBS News.
Israel declared war on Hamas more than a month ago after militants rampaged through southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Palestinian officials said on Friday that 11,078 Gaza residents had been killed in air and artillery strikes since then, around 40% of them children.
The Israeli military response has also prompted outrage in several cities across the world, where hundreds of thousands of people held protests demanding a ceasefire.
Israel’s supporters, including in Washington, say a ceasefire would allow Hamas to prepare for more attacks, but the Biden administration has pushed Israel to allow pauses in the fighting for civilians to flee and for aid to enter.
Biden, who spoke on Sunday with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani about developments in Gaza, agreed that all hostages held by Hamas must be released “without further delay”, the White House said in a statement.
The conflict has raised fears of a broader conflagration. Lebanon-based Hezbollah, which like Hamas is backed by Iran, has traded missile attacks with Israel, and other Iran-backed groups in Iraq and Syria have launched at least 40 separate drone and rocket attacks on U.S. forces.
The United States carried out two air strikes in Syria against Iran-aligned groups on Sunday, a U.S. defense official told Reuters, in what appeared to be the latest response to the attacks.
BABIES AT RISK
Israel’s military said it had offered to evacuate newborn babies and had placed 300 liters of fuel at al-Shifa’s entrance on Saturday night, but both gestures had been blocked by Hamas.
Hamas denied that it refused the fuel and said the hospital was under the authority of Gaza’s Health Ministry, adding that the amount of fuel Israel said it offered was “not enough to operate the (hospital’s) generators for more than half an hour”.
Ashraf Al-Qidra, spokesperson for the Health Ministry, said that of 45 babies in incubators at al-Shifa, three had already died.
A plastic surgeon in al-Shifa said bombing of the building housing incubators had forced staff to line up premature babies on ordinary beds, using the little power available to run the air conditioning to warm.
“We are expecting to lose more of them day by day,” said Dr Ahmed El Mokhallalati.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said the strip’s second largest hospital, Al-Quds, was also out of service, with staff struggling to care for those already there with little medicine, food and water.
“Al Quds hospital has been cut off from the world in the last six to seven days. No way in, no way out,” said Tommaso Della Longa, spokesperson for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (Source: Reuters)
06 Nov 23. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed His Majesty King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to NATO Headquarters on Monday (6 November 2023) for talks on the Alliance’s partnership with Amman and regional security challenges. His Majesty participated in a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, addressing security challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa, including the conflict in Gaza.
The Secretary General praised Jordan’s role in promoting regional security and said that the visit highlights the deepening partnership between NATO and Jordan. Mr Stoltenberg welcomed that NATO Allies are continuing to implement the defence capacity-building package for Jordan, including support for counter-terrorism, cyber security and crisis management.
“NATO is monitoring the situation in the Middle East very closely. We are deeply concerned about the situation in and around Gaza. Israel has the right to defend itself, at the same time, the protection of civilians is essential and I welcome efforts to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches Gaza,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “Iran and Hezbollah should not take advantage of the conflict. It is important that this situation does not escalate further,” he added.
Jordan joined NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue partnership forum in 1995 and is one of NATO’s closest partners in the region. “NATO greatly values its partnership with Jordan and I thank King Abdullah for his personal leadership at this critical moment. Today we need dialogue more than ever. NATO is fully committed to supporting our partners in the region, including through the Mediterranean Dialogue, to contribute to stability and security in the Middle East and North Africa,” Mr Stoltenberg said.
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