Fdd's overnight brief

April 5, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

A convoy of three vehicles ferried workers with aid group World Central Kitchen along the Gaza Strip’s coastal road on Monday night. In the darkness above, an Israeli military drone scanned for enemy forces. The aircraft’s operators identified the convoy as a hostile target and opened fire. – Wall Street Journal

President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that future U.S. support hinges on protecting civilians and aid workers in Gaza, signaling for the first time that the White House would reassess backing Israel’s war in the enclave. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s military was on high alert Thursday as the country braced for Iran’s promised revenge after an Israeli strike in Damascus this week killed senior Iranian commanders and stirred fears of widening war across a region on edge. – Washington Post

Gaza’s children are going hungry. More than 25 have reportedly died of complications linked to malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization. Hundreds of thousands more face starvation as Israel continues its siege. – Washington Post

Former president Donald Trump sharpened his criticism of Israel over the country’s handling of the war in Gaza on Thursday, expressing concerns about bad optics and questioning Israel’s approach to the conflict. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is facing challenges on multiple fronts, with his domestic support appearing to erode at a time when international fury and frustration over the war in Gaza have reached new heights. – New York Times

Israel agreed to open another crossing for aid to get into Gaza, the Biden administration said late Thursday, a move seemingly aimed at tempering the U.S. president’s growing frustration over the dire humanitarian crisis in the enclave. – New York Times

About 5 p.m. on Monday, Israeli warplanes streaked across the Syrian border, striking an embassy building in Damascus and killing a cadre of senior Iranian military commanders with the kind of pinpoint accuracy that has earned Israel’s military fear and respect across the Middle East. – New York Times

Israel said on Thursday it would adjust tactics in the Gaza war after killing seven aid workers in air strikes its military has acknowledged were a major mistake, and that inquiry findings would be made public soon. – Reuters

International aid groups said on Thursday there is nothing more they can do to protect staff in the Gaza Strip and that it is up to Israel to avoid killing them as the United Nations appealed for direct humanitarian coordination with the Israeli military. – Reuters

Spanish nongovernmental organization (NGO) Open Arms said it and U.S. charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) were suspending attempts to get aid to Gaza via sea after seven WCK workers were killed in an Israeli airstrike on Monday. – Reuters

A senior Hamas leader said on Thursday that Egypt had put forward a ceasefire proposal to end the conflict in Gaza, but that it did not include anything new. – Reuters

The European Union should debate whether to continue its strategic relationship with Israel if the European Commission finds that Israel has breached humanitarian law in its war on Gaza, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Al Jazeera TV. – Reuters

Israel should apologise and pay compensation to the family of a Polish national who was among seven aid workers killed in an airstrike in Gaza, Poland’s prime minister and president said on Thursday. – Reuters

Israel’s explanation for the deaths from an air strike in Gaza of seven aid workers, including Australian woman Zomi Frankcom, was “not good enough”, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday. – Reuters

Dozens of Indian construction workers left for Israel this week to take up jobs there as the nearly six-month war between Israel and Hamas continues to rage in Gaza, officials said Thursday. – Associated Press

The Palestinians want the Security Council to vote later this month on their revived request for full membership in the United Nations, despite the United States reiterating Wednesday that Israel and the Palestinians must first negotiate a peace agreement. – Associated Press

Israel’s economy minister said he doesn’t trust Qatar to act as a mediator with Hamas as cease-fire talks that could also see the release of hostages held in Gaza remain deadlocked. – Bloomberg

Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, called for early elections, ramping up pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is facing growing domestic protests against his government and an international backlash as the conflict in Gaza rages. – Bloomberg

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired numerous rockets at southern Israel on Thursday, appearing to intensify their activities despite hopes among many that the military’s offensive against Hamas punctured their ability to strike the country. – Times of Israel

The Israel Defense Forces has been progressing with its internal investigations into the military’s failures in the lead-up to the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre, with new details revealed Thursday on the subjects and periods each unit is investigating. – Times of Israel

The Foreign Ministry decided Thursday in coordination with the Shin Bet to temporarily close several Israeli embassies around the world. This comes following security alerts and fears of retaliatory attacks by Iran after seven of its officers were killed in a strike in Damascus attributed to Israel. – Ynet

A foreign diplomat involved in the talks between Israel and Hamas over a hostage deal has told Haaretz that Hamas’ decision to reject the latest offer was not surprising. – Haaretz

The High Court of Justice held a hearing on Thursday to review a petition filed by human rights organizations which had demanded an expansion of the scope of humanitarian aid delivered to the Gaza Strip. – Haaretz

Ruth Marcus writes: And yet, to be here, to witnesses the effectively zero degrees of separation between the public and the hostages, is to better understand the imperative to do whatever it takes to bring them home now — Achshav! — even if that means inflicting suffering on other innocents. So, I am haunted by that phrase: “existential loneliness.” Few other countries have had to worry, for so long and with such new intensity, about their very survival. Few have felt so isolated in that enterprise. – Washington Post

Adam Taylor writes: Even if that is true, sometimes circumstances call for tough love. “The U.S. must do more to tell Prime Minister Netanyahu this war needs to end now,” WCK’s Andrés said in a Wednesday interview with Reuters, adding that it was hard to understand the U.S. position. “America is going to be sending its Navy and its military to do humanitarian work, but at the same time weapons provided by America … are killing civilians,” Andrés said. – Washington Post

Michael Rubin writes: The White House should thank Israel for removing Zahedi from the battlefield. He posed as great a threat to Americans as to Israelis. The U.S. government should never condemn a liberal democracy for preempting and preventing terrorist attacks by groups sworn to its annihilation who openly embrace genocide. – Washington Examiner

Tom Hart writes: As efforts continue to increase the flow of aid, the last thing that this war needs is more offensive weaponry. The Biden administration has recently expressed confidence in their ability to persuade Israelis to postpone an offensive in Rafah until May—just in time for the new American bombs to arrive. – Newsweek

Yaakov Katz writes: Ending the war now and continuing to carry out pinpointed strikes against Hamas – something Israel will anyhow need to do even after an operation in Rafah – has its merits, as does the launching of an operation to complete the dismantling of Hamas’s remaining battalions in Rafah. And, of course, there are the hostages who get lost deeper and deeper in Hamas tunnels every day they are not brought home. It is time to make some decisions. – Jerusalem Post

Yitz Greenberg: His fake news cancellation of the mission to moderate the Rafah incursion was designed to excite his base that he stands up to the US while turning Biden into a politician protecting his own electoral base and harming Israel. To alienate the Bidens and Schumers of this world – the people in the 99th percentile of supporting Israel – at the very moment that Israel could not fight on successfully without American resupply of munitions and planes will go down in Israel’s history as reckless folly. – Jerusalem Post

Melanie Phillips writes: The Jewish people has been through persecution, enslavement, pogroms, inquisitions and genocide at different times, and at the hands of disparate groups and states. It has suffered from varying mutations of antisemitism—the desire to wipe out the Jews as a religion, a race and a nation. It has, however, never been subjected to a concerted global onslaught like this. – Arutz Sheva

Ron Ben-Yishai writes: Learning Iranian action patterns, it can be inferred there’s a high likelihood they’ll attempt an attack on an Israeli embassy abroad, mainly in Arab countries, or on Israeli tourists during Passover. There is also a reasonable possibility that the Iranians will try to carry out a combined – kinetic- (physical harm) and cyber attack. The conclusion is this: The Israeli public and those abroad primarily need to show vigilance and caution for their personal security and worry less about an all-out attack on Israeli territory. – Ynet

Neomi Neumann writes: The situation is currently unclear, and resolving this difficult problem will likely create some feelings of loss, pain, and failure, partly because of the price Israel may have to pay in releasing prominent Palestinian prisoners. Yet it is quite clear that until the hostages—living and dead—are returned, the Israeli public will not be able to speak of victory, regardless of Israel’s significant military achievements. – Washington Institute

Daniel Byman writes: The country sees itself as fighting an existential fight in Gaza, and its prime minister is locked in a struggle for political survival, so it is unlikely to accommodate itself to Washington. But even though the United States’ influence is limited, it does exist. After half a year of nearly steadfast support, it’s time for the Biden administration to firmly push Israel in the direction it should go anyway. Honesty is what friends owe friends. – Foreign Affairs

Dalia Dassa Kaye writes: Those assumptions were flawed even before October 7. But in the midst of a sustained assault on Gaza and the killing of Palestinian civilians at a previously unimaginable scale, Israel is playing with fire. The risk is that, at some point, Israel will pay a higher price for its attacks than it anticipated. And in that scenario, it is likely that the United States will pay as well. – Foreign Affairs

Alex Vatanka writes: Until the Iranian leadership begins to see its rivalry with Israel as a geopolitical contest that can be settled and not as a sacrosanct religious mission, then Tehran cannot realistically be part of any Israeli-Palestinian political process. And whether it can be a spoiler in such a process very much depends on the strength of the Israeli and Palestinian/Arab commitment to a two-state solution. – Middle East Institute

Iran

Iran — already notorious for its high rate of executions — has ramped up its use of the death penalty, according to an Amnesty International report published Thursday. Amnesty found that Iran executed 853 people in 2023, the highest number recorded since 2015, and that more than half of those executions were carried out for offenses related to Iran’s renewed war on drugs. – Washington Post

Iranian security forces battled simultaneous terrorist attacks by a militant separatist group in a southeast province that raged for nearly 17 hours, with intense gunfights in the streets of two cities that resulted in the deaths of 10 security officers and 18 militants, according to the Ministry of Interior on Thursday. – New York Times

The United States on Thursday imposed new Iran-related counterterrorism sanctions against Oceanlink Maritime DMCC and its vessels, citing its role in shipping commodities on behalf of the Iranian military. – Reuters

Shortly after an airstrike widely attributed to Israel destroyed an Iranian consulate building in Syria, the United States had an urgent message for Iran: We had nothing to do with it. – Associated News

US President Joe Biden’s balancing act with Israel became increasingly difficult this week with the country’s deadly attack on an aid convoy in Gaza and an airstrike on Iran’s embassy compound in Damascus. – Bloomberg

The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday prolonged by a year an independent international fact-finding mission investigating Iran’s deadly crackdown on protests that erupted in 2022. – Times of Israel

With the Middle East still on edge over a suspected Israeli attack against Iran’s embassy in Syria, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian took the opportunity on the eve of a day marking regionwide support for Palestinians to present Tehran’s plan for a democratic solution to the decades-long conflict. – Newsweek

Imprisoned Islamic scholar and civil rights activist Sedigheh Vasmaghi has been transferred from Tehran’s notorious Evin prison to a hospital after reports surfaced that authorities were preventing the move, despite doctors’ advice. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

The main Palestinian faction in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday accused Iran of trying to spread chaos in its territory and said it would oppose operations from outside that had nothing to do with the Palestinian cause. – Asharq Al-Awsat

Russia & Ukraine

Ukraine on Thursday supported NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg’s idea of the alliance providing long-term support to Kyiv, but said the measure would have “zero chance” without obligatory contributions, the European Pravda outlet reported. – Reuters

NATO alliance members agreed on Thursday to scour their arsenals for more air defence systems to protect Ukraine from Russian ballistic missile attacks, as the alliance marked a 75th anniversary overshadowed by the war on its borders. – Reuters

Russia has detained three more people suspected of involvement in last month’s mass shooting at a concert hall near Moscow, the FSB security service was quoted as saying on Thursday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s air force shot down all 13 drones used in Russia’s overnight attack on southern regions, the Ukrainian military said on Friday. – Reuters

China has proposed the most reasonable peace plan so far for resolving the Ukraine conflict, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying on Thursday. – Reuters

A Russian drone attack struck residential buildings in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and an energy facility in the surrounding region on Thursday, killing four people and severing power for 350,000 residents, officials said. – Reuters

Russia and NATO are now in “direct confrontation”, the Kremlin said as the U.S.-led alliance marked its 75th anniversary on Thursday. – Reuters

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a rare phone talk with his French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu on the war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed the U.S. commitment for Ukraine to eventually join NATO but held back commitments ahead of the alliance’s annual summit, which will take place in Washington in July. – The Hill

Turkey

Turkey suspended an arms treaty that imposed limits on conventional military equipment in Europe, joining NATO allies who did the same after Russia withdrew from the agreement last year. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is withholding billions of dollars of municipal funds that are crucial for investment in cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, according to the head of the main opposition party. – Bloomberg

Turkey’s trade with Russia is stuttering because of Western sanctions, hitting a key supply line for Moscow and one the US and European Union say fuels its war in Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

As the clock struck noon on Thursday, the doors to dozens of polling stations across Kuwait opened and voters rushed in to elect one of the Middle East’s most robust parliaments. – New York Times

A leading Iraqi jihadist leader in Syria’s rebel-held northwest who founded a former al Qaeda affiliate was killed on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up in his guest house, jihadist sources said. – Reuters

Two anti-graft groups have filed a complaint in France against Lebanon’s billionaire caretaker premier Najib Mikati and his relatives, seeking an investigation into alleged financial crimes including money laundering, according to a document seen by Reuters. – Reuters

U.S. CIA Director Bill Burns is expected to travel to Cairo this weekend to meet with his Egyptian and Israeli counterparts and the Qatari prime minister to try to reach a breakthrough in talks on releasing hostages held in Gaza by Hamas, Axios reporter Barak Ravid posted on social media site X on Thursday, citing two sources. – Reuters

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed Al Thani on Wednesday said the fate of the region cannot be left in the hands of politicians willing to endanger it for their personal benefit. – Ynet

Some 424 U.S. and British airstrikes on targets in Yemen have killed 37 people and wounded 30, Abdul Malik al-Houthi, leader of Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement, said on Thursday. – Reuters

Emma Salisbury writes: Both the White House and the Defense Department had the ability to access research and planning from a wide range of government and academic sources, some of it very specifically focused on how to replicate the successes of the German case. However, once the Department of Defense was given responsibility for de-Baathification, there was no attempt to take a data-driven approach to the design or enactment of the program, nor to learn the lessons of previous U.S. interventions. Garner was not given access to this research nor to experienced non-department staff who could have helped him to implement it — Bremer, on the other hand, actively chose to ignore it. – War on the Rocks

Arman Mahmoudian writes: However, one might argue that while Tehran appears to adhere to its strategy of strategic patience, the revolutionary government has another concern: securing its domestic credibility, which the increasing number of Israeli attacks could erode. In this context, Iran may employ indirect retaliatory measures by having its proxies target Israeli embassies and personnel across the world, conducting cyber-attacks, attacking Israeli commercial ships in the Red Sea, and so forth. However, in choosing any of these options, Tehran must carefully consider Israel’s response and how to respond, presenting a dilemma whose outcome will only be revealed in time. – The National Interest

Omar Dhabian writes: As such, the Sunni component’s reaction to political tensions and violations, compounded by the American withdrawal, should be a primary concern. The withdrawal of foreign forces now would end the efforts to ensure the organization’s lasting military defeat, reintroduce the risks of its resurgence, and potentially lead to further turmoil, including possible American economic sanctions due to unhealthy relations with neighboring countries. – Washington Institute

China

Online actors linked to the Chinese government are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence to target voters in the U.S., Taiwan and elsewhere with disinformation, according to new cybersecurity research and U.S. officials. – Wall Street Journal

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrived in China’s southern factory hub of Guangzhou on Thursday with a tough message to Chinese officials: you’re producing too much of everything, especially clean energy goods, and the world can’t absorb it. – Reuters

U.S. officials on Thursday raised commercial and market access issues impacting American companies in a meeting with Chinese officials on Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department said, with cross-border data flows and regulatory transparency among topics discussed. – Reuters

South Asia

The United States has not asked India to cut Russian oil imports as the goal of sanctions and the G7-imposed $60 per barrel price cap is to have stable global oil supplies while hitting Moscow’s revenue, an American treasury official said on Thursday. – Reuters

Sri Lanka does not see any need to re-open talks on a contentious island ceded to it by New Delhi 50 years ago, the foreign minister has said, after the low-key territorial squabble turned into a hot-button election issue in India. – Reuters

Rohan Mukherjee writes: India’s political leadership will therefore have to work carefully to ensure that its nationalist diplomacy does not undermine national objectives. At the same time, India’s friends and partners will have to adjust to its assertive demeanor—in part, by making room for the country as it ascends in the international order. – Foreign Affairs

Derek Grossman writes: While it is likely that the U.S.-India relationship will continue to improve, there are many potential challenges that the two countries will have to either address or agree to ignore. Whether Washington and New Delhi can maintain and build on their tenuous partnership will shape geopolitics for the rest of the 21st century. – Foreign Policy

Asia

A trilateral summit between the leaders of the United States, Japan, and the Philippines will include a discussion of recent incidents in the South China Sea, Manila’s foreign ministry said on Friday. – Reuters

Taiwan on Thursday condemned China as “shameless” after Beijing’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations thanked the world for its concern about a strong earthquake on the island. – Reuters

New Zealand is committed to working more closely with NATO partners to support collective security and expects to conclude talks on its partnership agreement with the alliance in the “coming months,” Foreign Minister Winston Peters said on Friday. – Reuters

Myanmar’s main pro-democracy resistance group said Thursday its armed wing launched drone attacks on the airport and a military headquarters in the capital, Naypyitaw, but the country’s ruling military said it destroyed or seized more than a dozen drones used in the attacks. – Associated Press

Taiwan officials said aid is flowing to hundreds of people on the island’s eastern side who are still stranded by road closures and debris following the island’s worst earthquake since 1999. – Bloomberg

Korea is in talks with China and Japan to host a three-way summit in May, Japanese and South Korean media reported, restoring a process that has been on hold since 2019 due to the pandemic and political tensions. – Bloomberg

Richard L. Armitage and Joseph S. Nye Jr. write: The strategic environment that the United States and Japan face today, and the urgency of action needed to address it, demands an even stronger call to action. This sixth report in the series urges movement toward a more integrated alliance across the economic and security realms to uphold a free and open international order. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Parker Miller writes: In preparation for an invasion that Beijing assures the world is inevitable, the coalition has been improving Taiwanese capabilities. American special forces trainers have been sent to teach Taiwanese front-line troops. Japan plans to construct bomb shelters on islands between Taiwan and itself for their mutual protection. – Washington Examiner

Europe

The British government is coming under escalating pressure to suspend arms sales to Israel after the strike on a convoy in Gaza that killed seven aid workers, including three Britons. More than 600 lawyers and retired judges sent a letter to the government, arguing that the sales violated international law. – New York Times

Finland will indefinitely extend the closure of land border crossings with Russia and add several ports to a list where travel from its eastern neighbour is prohibited, the government said on Thursday. – Reuters

Germany’s top corporate brass will join Chancellor Olaf Scholz when he visits China later this month, reflecting an ongoing dependence on the world’s second-biggest economy despite efforts to spread exposure more evenly across the globe. – Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that he had no doubt Russia would malevolently target the Paris Olympics this summer, in comments that underline the fraught geopolitical backdrop to the games. – Reuters

The European Union on Thursday criticised the Georgian government for resurrecting a bill on “foreign agents” that it abandoned amid protests last year, while the Kremlin defended the legislation. – Reuters

Germany’s defense minister on Thursday announced a plan to streamline and reorganize the country’s military command as part of efforts to make the armed forces of NATO’s most populous European member “war-capable.” – Associated Press

Latvia’s foreign minister says a proposal to create a 100 billion euro ($107 billion), five-year fund for Ukraine would improve coordination among NATO members on providing military aid and send a signal to Moscow that those in the alliance are providing the aid together. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on April 4 discussed bilateral cooperation in a number of areas with top officials of Bosnia-Herzegovina as Hungary prepares to take its turn as president of the European Union later this year. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

The United States and Finland have agreed to cooperate in “countering foreign state information manipulation,” the U.S. State Department announced on April 4. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Finnish Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen signed the memorandum in Brussels at a summit of NATO foreign ministers. – Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty

Editorial: Washington needs to make its own overdue adjustments in how it buys weapons, such as investing more in uncrewed ships and aircraft, modernizing its shipyards, and buying inexpensive drones and drone countermeasures like those in action over Ukraine. The good news is that, after years of dismissing the problem, Europe is now beginning to tackle its military to-do list. Alliances work best when all parties make the most of their strengths — and act together to address their shared weaknesses. – Washington Post

Célia Belin writes: But it is precisely because Ukraine is struggling on the battlefield—and because U.S. support is wavering—that Europeans need to step up. If Donald Trump returns to the White House in 2025 and reneges on the United States’ commitment to Ukraine, France might find itself leading Europe in advancing a collective response. With its new status as a champion of Ukraine, France stands a better chance than ever of making the case for European unity and power. – Foreign Affairs

Africa

Support is building among Africa and Caribbean nations for the creation of an international tribunal on atrocities dating to the transatlantic trade of enslaved people, with the United States backing a U.N. panel at the heart of the effort. – Reuters

Somalia said on Thursday it was expelling Ethiopia’s ambassador, closing two Ethiopian consulates and recalling its own ambassador to Addis Ababa amid a dispute over Ethiopia’s plan to build a naval base in the breakaway region of Somaliland. – Reuters

Senegal’s newly elected President Bassirou Diomaye Faye on Wednesday said his government would conduct an audit of the West African nation’s oil, gas and mining sectors. – Reuters

Former President Clinton will lead a U.S. delegation to Rwanda this weekend to mark 30 years since a genocide ravaged the country, the White House announced Thursday. – The Hill

Justice Malala writes: Expect Faye to bat for these countries — all assisted by Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group — to be treated with leniency by the Economic Community of West African States, opening the door for warmer relations with Moscow as France’s influence is curtailed. These changes are not just in the offing in Senegal, but in jurisdictions across the continent where leaders like Faye are set to ascend. Many may not like it, but everyone must prepare for this new dawn. – Bloomberg

Jonathan Campbell-James writes: As neighbors and major regional actors, they can lend potent emphasis to two important diplomatic points amid the settlement talks: that neither Burhan nor the RSF command popular support, and that only a return to some form of civilian rule would likely provide stability and security in the long term. Without these measures to encourage a settlement and curtail outside interference, Sudan “could once again become an ideal environment for terrorist and criminal networks,” as the U.S. Annual Threat Assessment noted. – Washington Institute

The Americas

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Thursday his communist-run government has secured supply of key subsidized food rations as he moved to defuse tensions just two weeks after protesters took to the streets over widespread shortages. – Reuters

Ecuador’s government declared Mexico’s ambassador to the country unwelcome on Thursday, citing “unfortunate” comments from the Mexican president about Ecuador’s violence-plagued elections last year. – Reuters

With no sign yet of a long-promised transitional council to usher in the deployment of international troops and restore order, Haitians who can are trying to flee the country. – Reuters

Venezuela said it will begin talks with international electoral observation missions next week as Nicolás Maduro faces criticism of unfairness ahead of a July 28 presidential vote. – Bloomberg

Ryan C. Berg and Alexandra Winkler write: U.S. policymakers have responded with various permutations of “alarm,” “concern,” “deep concern,” and “condemnation,” for Maduro’s actions. As Venezuela’s future enters a critical phase, the time to turn these words into action is now—starting with the critical decision regarding sanctions snapback on April 18. The time has come for the Biden administration to support Machado and trusted members of the Unitary Platform by returning to a policy aimed at political change as opposed to accommodation and election-year political exigencies. After all, the efforts of Machado and the Unitary Platform may be the country’s last shot to restore democracy. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

Democrats in Congress, increasingly concerned about how Israel is waging war in Gaza, are weighing whether to use their leverage over weapons sales to register objections to the civilian death toll and ratchet up pressure on President Biden to place conditions on American backing for the military offensive. – New York Times

President Joe Biden’s administration plans to press the Netherlands next week to stop its top chipmaking equipment maker ASML from servicing some tools in China, two people familiar with the matter said, as the U.S. leans on allies in its bid to hobble Beijing’s tech sector. – Reuters

A group of House Democrats is marking the 60th anniversary of Brazil’s 1964 military coup by calling on President Biden to declassify U.S. government documents detailing atrocities and human rights abuses during the nation’s more than two-decade military dictatorship.  – The Hill

A group of Senate Democrats is calling on President Biden to take more action to address the humanitarian issues in the Gaza Strip, arguing the U.S. has the resources to provide more aid and prevent “further suffering” of civilians. – The Hill

Editorial: But in the wake of this tragic Israeli mistake, and while Israel goes on high alert for an Iranian attack, he threatens to reverse even that support. If he does so, he will send the wrong message to our friends and especially our enemies in the Middle East. He may also pay a bigger political price at home than he realizes. – Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity

Hacking groups linked to the Chinese government are increasingly turning to deepfakes and other forms of AI-generated content when seeking to interfere in foreign elections, according to new research from Microsoft published Thursday. – CyberScoop

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an emergency directive this week to address the impact on federal agencies from a breach of Microsoft carried out by a hacking unit linked to Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, according to three government officials familiar with the matter. – CyberScoop

The Ukrainian state security service (SBU) has announced that it’s building a case to prosecute Russian hackers who attacked Ukraine’s biggest telecom operator, Kyivstar, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. “War criminals should be tried at the international level,” said Illia Vitiyuk, the head of the department’s cyber unit, in a recent interview with the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform. – The Record

A group of hacktivists going by the name RGB-TEAM claimed responsibility for hacking into the website of Russia’s prosecutor general, exposing data on criminal offenses committed in Russia over the past 30 years. – The Record

Defense

All eyes were on a set of monitors in a crowded conference room as a half-dozen briefers summed up the action from the night before. Several Marine Corps battalions had gotten into pitched battle with an adversary force that had maneuvered its way into Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center’s Range 220, a combat town that served as a key city in a wargame scenario last month. – USNI News

Israel must roll out a plan in the “coming hours and days” to better protect aid workers and civilians trapped inside Gaza, or the United States may alter its policy of unfettered support, the White House said today, in the clearest sign of growing frustrations in Washington over Israel’s military activities six months into the war. – Breaking Defense

Plans drawn up by US and Japanese officials to work closer on joint development defense programs, set to be announced during a state visit to Washington by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida next week, could lead to co-production of new military technologies by the two allies, according to a senior US State Department official. – Breaking Defense

Gen. William Shelton (ret.) and Yoni Tobin writes: Consistent with the U.S. national space policy, the United States should “employ all elements of national power to deter and, if necessary, prevail over hostile activities in, from, and through space.” The United States must convey a strong message to Iran that its current space activity is unacceptable and, if continued, will have further consequences. – Defense News

Long War

James Stavridis writes: Heightened awareness of a still-existent threat; better cooperation with allies, partners, friends and even adversaries; tightened interagency vigilance; and more effective strategic communication and cyber-defenses will all be key to defeating a resurgent Islamic State. Let’s get all this in place before the juiciest target of all — the Paris Olympics — begin in July. – Bloomberg