Fdd's overnight brief

July 2, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Nearly nine months into the war between Israel and Hamas, crime and violence among Gazans is on the rise, from robbery and killings to smuggling and protection rackets. – Wall Street Journal 

Palestinian militants fired one of the largest barrages toward Israel in months on Monday while Israeli forces reengaged with Hamas fighters in a Gaza City neighborhood they had previously invaded, signs the conflict risks becoming a protracted war of attrition as militants regroup and rearm. – Wall Street Journal

Israel’s military has ordered Palestinians to leave parts of Khan Younis, in a move that could signal Israeli troops are preparing for fresh raids on Gaza’s second-largest city. – Washington Post

When Einav Zangauker’s son was dragged into Gaza on Oct. 7, she trusted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would do everything possible to bring him home. – Washington Post

Victims of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel sued Iran, Syria and North Korea on Monday, saying their governments supplied the militants with money, weapons and know-how needed to carry out the assault that precipitated Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza. – Associated Press

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday criticized the decision to release the head of Gaza’s largest hospital from Israel prison as a “grave mistake,” while he sought to deflect blame over the move. – Agence France-Presse

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning to fire Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara in order to preserve the governing coalition, opposition leader MK Yair Lapid claimed on Monday. – Jerusalem Post

An Israeli soldier was killed and another was seriously wounded by a roadside bomb during a counterterrorism raid in the West Bank on Monday morning, the military said. – Times of Israel

Several rockets fired from Lebanon landed in Israel on Monday, setting off sirens in the north of the country and causing damage, but no injuries. – Times of Israel

An Israeli military pilot to create “humanitarian enclaves” for Gazan civilians unaffiliated with Hamas is reportedly set to be rolled out in two northern Gaza cities, though some officials are skeptical the plan will point the way to a new reality in the battered enclave. – Times of Israel

A senior Egyptian official on Monday denied reports in the media on an Egyptian agreement to move the Rafah crossing from its current location or to build a new crossing near Kerem Shalom. – Arutz Sheva

Israel has decided to appoint Prof. Ron Shapira, rector of the Peres Academic Center, to replace Aharon Barak at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. – Arutz Sheva

David M. Litman writes: Both work to leave the audience with the false impression that there is a famine in Gaza. What these CNN journalists are choosing to tell the audience and what to keep to themselves on this subject is revealing, further evidencing the anti-Israel bias that is degrading the network’s credibility. – Algemeiner

Ruthie Blum writes: As an afterthought to that ridiculous claim, the agency agreed to probe its decision. You honestly can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps it’s time for the Saturday-night protesters to aim their anger at the justices whose power they’ve been preserving for being more concerned with the welfare of Hamas terrorists than with the hostages. And while the demonstrators are at it, they might want to demand that Netanyahu fire ISA director Ronen Bar. – Arutz Sheva

Simon Henderson writes: The escalating Hezbollah-Israel conflict is the headline issue of the day, but U.S. diplomacy needs to stick with the type of long-term regional view required for multiyear energy projects. Israel’s announcement welcoming further investment shows that despite rising tensions, there are still attractive development prospects in the area. – Washington Institute 

Neomi Neumann writes: Finally, the United States and Arab states need to persuade Abbas to prepare for the “day after” by establishing a mechanism for the orderly transfer of power, among other steps. This would also help prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank. Without such measures, the current trends may quickly lead to a dramatic reset in the PA and the wider Palestinian arena, and not necessarily a positive one. – Washington Institute 

Iran

Iran’s presidential candidates on Monday accused each other of having no solution for the country’s problems ahead of Friday’s runoff election aimed at choosing a successor for the late President Ebrahim Raisi, who died last month in a helicopter crash. – Associated Press

Multiple current and former leaders believe the United States needs to target Iran to stop the Houthi attacks targeting commercial vessels sailing in the previously highly trafficked waterways off Yemen’s coasts. – Washington Examiner 

Marc Champion writes: In Europe and the US, few today have experienced what it means to live without the protection of democratic institutions and the political moderation they tend to produce. Whether on the left or right, we all should ask ourselves some tough questions about whether those who deal in religious or social absolutes, who play on division, dismiss democratic guardrails such as judicial independence or offer snake-oil solutions to intractable problems can be trusted with protecting our most basic rights. If you aren’t convinced of how much those are worth, ask an Iranian. – Bloomberg

Alan Baker writes: This in itself raises the question whether, after its 80 years of functioning, it is not high time that serious world powers rethink the entire concept of a world organization, in light of the fact that the UN has been utterly hijacked and taken hostage by those bent on destroying the international community rather than enhancing its effectiveness. Is that what the founding fathers of the United Nations intended? – Jerusalem Post

Ilan Pomeranc writes: The illusion that the nuclear crisis can be settled with a few signatures on a stack of papers is too strong of an urge for the West to forgo. Iran’s bellicosity worries the West and makes it want a deal as quickly as possible: a quid pro quo in Iran’s favor that the West can live with, but one with which Israel absolutely cannot. – Jerusalem Post

Russia & Ukraine

American defense officials raised the security alert level at military bases in Europe over the weekend in response to vague threats from the Kremlin over Ukraine’s use of long-range weapons on Russian territory, according to U.S. and Western officials. – New York Times

Ukraine’s security service said on Monday that it had foiled yet another Russian plot to stir public unrest and then use the ensuing turmoil to topple the government, outlining a familiar tactic that Kyiv claims has been employed in a string of coup attempts in recent years. – New York Times

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Monday that “the Ukrainian crisis cannot be solved in one day,” when asked about U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s frequent claims that he could end the war within 24 hours if reelected. – Reuters

Explosions reverberated across the pre-dawn sky as Ukrainian air defences fended off a Russian attack on this small city in western Ukraine, home to an important air base and a frequent target of Moscow’s strikes. – Reuters

The Netherlands will supply Ukraine with the first of 24 promised F-16 fighter jets soon, the outgoing Dutch government said on Monday. – Reuters

Ukraine’s Defence Minister Rustem Umerov will hold talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Washington on Tuesday on firming up military cooperation between the two countries, the Pentagon said on Monday. – Reuters

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region said in a statement on Monday that a civilian had been killed in Ukrainian shelling of an agricultural facility. – Reuters

Russia shot down five aerial targets over Crimea on Monday, the Russian-installed governor of the Crimean port of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, said on his Telegram channel. – Reuters

The Kremlin said on Monday that a Belarusian military report that Ukraine had been moving more troops, weapons and military equipment into its northern Zhytomyr region, which borders Belarus, was a cause for concern. – Reuters

At a rural penal colony in southeast Ukraine, several convicts stand assembled under barbed wire to hear an army recruiter offer them a shot at parole. In return, they must join the grueling fight against Russia. – Associated Press

Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria started a joint mine-hunting force in the Black Sea on Monday to increase shipping safety, particularly for Ukrainian grain exports. – Bloomberg

Frustrated as Russia uses retrofitted “dumb bombs” converted to standoff “glide bombs” to reduce Ukrainian cities to rubble, President Volodymyr Zelensky is again appealing to the Biden administration for wider authority to target the planes that launch the weapons from the safety of territory within range, but off limits, to U.S. weapons. – Washington Examiner

Vladimir Putin is setting “no limits” on how much territory he seeks to snatch in his war on Ukraine, defense analysts have warned. – Newsweek

Spencer Faragasso and David Albright write: The use of students from Polytechnic is also exploitive. These young people are subjected to long hours of work and study, many are exposed to toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process, and they all are complicit in war crimes and the violation of sanctions, almost always without being told the nature of the work they would do. The fact that evidence exists that JSC Alabuga and Albatross LLC exploit Polytechnic students and Start recruits, many under the age of 18 and from foreign countries, to produce combat drones should be viewed as a crime. – Institute for Science and International Security

Yemen

Yemen’s Houthis said on Monday that they conducted four military operations targeting four ships in the Red, Arabian and Mediterranean Seas as well as the Indian Ocean “linked to the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel.” – Reuters

More than half of households in Yemen are not eating enough due to poor economic conditions and a months-long pause in food assistance to millions of people in the rebel-held north, the United Nations food agency said Monday. – Associated Press

Keith Johnson and Jack Detsch write: To wrest back that kind of security at sea, as the Europeans have found, requires a sustained investment in naval capacity that simply hasn’t been made in recent decades and can’t be made good anytime soon. Underwriting security, Bruns said, comes at a clear cost in higher defense budgets. So does the alternative, if situations like the monthslong disruption in the Red Sea become the new normal. “We have to ask ourselves: What level of maritime insecurity can we live with, and who is going to pick up the cost?” – Foreign Policy

Middle East & North Africa

Libya’s interior minister in Tripoli said the major border crossing at Ras Ijdir with Tunisia was fully reopened on Monday three months after being shut due to armed clashes. – Reuters

Iraq said on Monday it had arrested three people linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and suspected of planning attacks across the country, including on a key oil export pipeline in the north. – Reuters

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused opposition parties of stoking xenophobia and racism on Monday, a day after residents in a neighborhood in central Turkey set Syrian-owned shops on fire. – Associated Press

German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Deputy Director Ole Diehl met with Hezbollah’s second-in-command, Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem, on Saturday evening, the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese news organization Al Akhkbar reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. – Jerusalem Post

Ruwayda Mustafah writes: Therefore, both collaboration with Kurdish authorities and holding them accountable for counterproductive policies are essential, especially when it comes to addressing the conditions that are increasingly compelling their citizens to seek opportunities elsewhere. Only by working to change these internal issues can the KRI hope to stem the tide of both irregular migration and the loss of its most valuable human capital. – Washington Institute

Amir al-Kaabi writes: Second, they presume that the critique of Zaidan must be political and on behalf of a third party—in this case, the Kurds—because, again, such practices are common in today’s Iraq. The notion that an American legislator might adopt a policy stance based on evidence and a principled position would simply not occur to the muqawama because it is so alien to their experience of democracy. – Washington Institute

Korean Peninsula

North Korea has switched the transmission of state TV broadcasts to a Russian satellite from a Chinese one, South Korea’s unification ministry said on Monday, making the monitoring of such broadcasts a challenge for the South’s government agencies and media. – Reuters

For the first time, North Korean officials have been seen wearing lapel pins with the image of leader Kim Jong Un, another sign the North is boosting his personality cult to the level bestowed on his late dictator father and grandfather. – Associated Press

A driver whose car struck pedestrians waiting at a crowded intersection in South Korea’s capital, killing nine people, will be investigated on allegations of accidental homicide, police said Tuesday. – Associated Press

Leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea’s economy is on a “clear upturn” as his state claimed a successful test of a new tactical ballistic missile that could be sent to Russia in exchange for aid to help his regime. – Bloomberg

Ri Jong Ho and Hyun Seung Lee write: So, what should the international community do about Putin and Kim Jong-un, who are committing mass murder in Ukraine and endangering global peace? If these dictators, who see war as a means of maintaining power, start another one, what measures could stop them? Is calling for the removal of these dictators an act of interference or a necessary move to prevent further sacrifices and safeguard peace? One thing is clear: without action by the international community to defeat the strategy of these dictators, peace will never come. – The National Interest

China

U.S. targeting of certain investments in artificial intelligence in China is not helpful to the “healthy development” of AI technology and will be divisive when it comes to global governance, China’s U.N. envoy said on Monday. – Reuters

Foreigners who are permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau and are looking to visit mainland China can apply for multiple-entry travel visas with validity of five years, China’s National Immigration Administration said on Monday. – Reuters

The resignations of two British judges from China-ruled Hong Kong’s highest court not only raise concerns about the rule of law, some lawyers and experts say, but will further undermine confidence in the city’s broader commercial legal sector. – Reuters

China called on the Philippines to catch and severely punish the murderers of a Chinese citizen in a kidnapping case that prompted Beijing’s diplomatic intervention. – Bloomberg

Peter Suciu writes: It is unclear how long the Type 002 Shandong will remain in the South China Sea or if it will head towards the Pacific, but it could portent a looming conflict in the Indo-Pacific. It may be worth noting that if a war comes, the United States is part of a coalition with many now preparing in the ongoing RIMPAC exercises, while it appears Beijing may be ready to go it alone. – The National Interest

Karishma Vaswani writes: Informal talks could see the two cooperate on how to manage China, and how to balance allies like the US and Japan in the First Island Chain. Beijing is only likely to get bolder in both the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, binding Manila and Taipei’s fates together through a common threat. They are both democracies, and Chinese targets. Sharing experiences makes sense. – Bloomberg 

South Asia

A United Nations human rights working group on Monday called for the immediate release of Pakistan’s imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying he had been detained “arbitrarily in violation of international laws.” – Associated Press

A United Nations-led meeting held in Qatar with the Taliban on increasing engagement with Afghanistan does not translate into a recognition of their government, a U.N. official said Monday. – Associated Press

A roadside bomb exploded in Pakistan’s volatile Baluchistan province on Monday, killing a woman and two children, officials said. Four people were walking through an area in Baluchistan’s Turbat district when the bomb planted by “terrorists” went off, said local police chief Dad Bakhsh said. – Associated Press

A controversial spiritual leader in Nepal known as “Buddha Boy” has been sentenced to a 10-year prison term Monday for sexually assaulting a minor, court officials said. – Associated Press

Worried by deepening China-Russia relations, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is heading to Moscow next week for talks with President Vladimir Putin, his first visit to the country since the Kremlin’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. – Bloomberg

Sumit Ganguly and Dinsha Mistree write: Consequently, the failure to move forward on specific issues will not sandbag a burgeoning and multifaceted strategic partnership. Despite India’s many idiosyncratic features, the United States—as well as other Western powers—wants to partner with the country now more than ever. It is far too consequential a market, too crucial to breaking supply chain bottlenecks, and too important a player in perhaps the world’s most strategically fraught neighborhood. – Foreign Policy

Asia

With Myanmar’s currency plunging and inflation soaring, the owner of three cellphone shops in Mandalay announced he was giving his employees a raise. Word of his generosity quickly spread on Facebook, and his workers cheered the news. – New York Times

The Chinese Coast Guard’s actions against Philippine vessels carrying out a routine resupply mission to a contested shoal in the South China Sea last month were the “most aggressive” in recent history, a senior Philippine navy official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Philippines has welcomed Vietnam’s recognition of Manila’s U.N. filing to secure its rights on an extended continental shelf in the South China Sea, its foreign ministry said, adding it was ready to hold talks with Hanoi to resolve any issues. – Reuters

Mongolia’s ruling party won a much smaller majority in a parliamentary election than it had held previously, according to official results released on Monday, raising the possibility of a return to a coalition government for the first time in eight years. – Associated Press

Europe

NATO will station a senior civilian official in Kyiv, among a raft of new measures designed to shore up long-term support for Ukraine that are expected to be announced at a summit in Washington next week, U.S. and alliance officials say. – Wall Street Journal 

Deep divisions in France over antisemitism and the Gaza war have left Marine Le Pen’s opponents at odds on whether to band together to stop her party from winning a majority of seats in the final round of parliamentary elections. – Wall Street Journal 

Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday upheld arrest warrants for Catalonia’s former leader and others charged with embezzlement over the region’s failed secession bid, as it ruled that a recent amnesty law does not apply to them. – Reuters

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk meet in Warsaw on Tuesday, as nations with a difficult shared history seek to reinforce cooperation in the face of security challenges and political turbulence in Europe. – Reuters

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev on Monday tapped the largest group in parliament, the center-right GERB-UDF coalition, to form the country’s new government. – Associated Press

A high-profile politician in the far-right Alternative for Germany party was convicted for the second time Monday of knowingly using a Nazi slogan at a political event. – Associated Press

Editorial: On its face, Britain’s election looks far less disruptive and more predictable than some others this year. But the future shape of the long-successful Conservative Party is up for grabs, while Nigel Farage’s Reform UK party has demonstrated a lingering appetite for populist ideas, no matter how outlandish. Should Labour fail to use its mandate wisely, UK politics could be in for a much rockier time ahead. – Bloomberg

Editorial: The potential impact on France’s Jewish community and its relationship with Israel must be a critical consideration as Macron and his party strategize for the upcoming elections. This delicate balancing act will require a nuanced approach that upholds centrist values while effectively addressing the electorate’s concerns and safeguarding France’s international relationships. – Jerusalem Post

Lee Hockstader writes: Always a singular figure, Macron is now a solitary one. And he might soon become a tragic one, if French voters hand a parliamentary majority to the extreme right, empowering it to form a government. That would leave Macron in office but no longer possessed of much power — unheeded, unheralded and unloved. – Washington Post

Philippe Marlière writes: That’s for the future. Right now, France is on the brink. It is a deeply torn and anxious nation approaching an epochal vote. For all the problems of a hung parliament, it is essential to deny National Rally a passage to power. Either France rejects the far right to remain an outward-looking country, true to the liberal values of the French Revolution, or it succumbs to xenophobia and bitter nationalism. The stakes have never been so high. – New York Times

Africa

A woman held a baby as she detonated a bomb over the weekend in northern Nigeria, killing them both and at least half a dozen others, the local authorities said, putting an abrupt end to a rare lull in the violence that has plagued the region for over a decade. – New York Times

After South Africa’s president announced the largest administration in the nation’s democratic history on Sunday, some critics were questioning whether the attempt to pacify diverse political interests would complicate efforts to tackle the country’s myriad economic and social problems. – New York Times

Turkey has begun mediating talks between Somalia and Ethiopia over a port deal Addis Ababa signed with the breakaway region of Somaliland earlier this year, Ankara and four officials familiar with the matter said. – Reuters

Riot police patrolled Kenya’s capital Nairobi on Tuesday morning as young activists called for more protests following last week’s deadly clashes. – Reuters

Anti-government protests in Kenya over the past two weeks left 39 people dead and hundreds more injured, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said. – Bloomberg

The Americas

Panama’s new president, Jose Raul Mulino, took office on Monday vowing to curb illegal immigration, with his government quickly signing an agreement with the United States to crack down on migration through the treacherous Darien Gap jungle passage. – Reuters

Bolivia’s government has summoned the Argentine ambassador following comments by the office of Argentina’s President Javier Milei which repudiated claims of an attempted coup last week in La Paz as “fraudulent.” – Reuters

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday that he has accepted a proposal to restart direct talks with the United States. – Reuters

Argentine President Javier Milei will travel this weekend to Brazil for the first time since taking office, his spokesman said on Monday, but plans to meet with the neighboring nation’s former right-wing leader instead of the current president. – Reuters

Gang violence in Haiti has displaced more than 300,000 children since March, the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday as the Caribbean country struggles to curb killings and kidnappings. – Associated Press

Richard M. Sanders writes: But if Petro presses for a new constitution without congressional authorization, he will put stress on Colombia’s always-fragile cohesion. And such action on his part, even as we have already seen authoritarians on the left such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and on the right such as El Salvador’s Nayib Bukele display utter indifference to basic democratic norms, would be a real step backwards for Latin America. – The Hill

Ryan C. Berg and Rubi Bledsoe write: Combining the multifaceted approach presented here—strengthening intelligence institutions, reforming the judicial system, addressing money laundering, and enhancing prison infrastructure—with international cooperation lays a strong foundation for progress. The road ahead will be challenging, but with resilience and strategic partnerships, Ecuador could once again revert to being the region’s “island of peace.” – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Donald Trump cannot be prosecuted for actions that were within his constitutional powers as president in a landmark decision recognizing for the first time any form of presidential immunity from prosecution. – Reuters

The United States is going to pay for flights and offer other help to Panama to remove migrants under an agreement signed Monday, as the Central American country’s new president has vowed to shut down the treacherous Darien Gap used by people traveling north to the United States. – Associated Press

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced Monday that Puerto Rico’s political status will be on the ballot in the general elections this November, and for the first time the island’s current status as a U.S. territory will not be an option in the non-binding plebiscite. – Associated Press

The US sees “momentum” toward war between Israel and Hezbollah despite efforts to head off a conflict, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at an event that was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: But the Court is doing its job of protecting the constitutional order. If they’d take a breath, Democrats would notice that the Justices made it more difficult for Mr. Trump to prosecute Mr. Biden. The immunity ruling underscores the mistake Democrats have made in using lawfare to disqualify a presidential candidate. They should have put more trust in the voters. – Wall Street Journal

Cybersecurity

European Union regulators say Meta violated the bloc’s new competition law in requiring Instagram and Facebook users to pay if they don’t want their personal data used to generate targeted ads. – Washington Post

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a China-led resolution meant to help poor nations benefit from artificial intelligence, the latest in a tug of war between Beijing and Washington for AI supremacy on the global stage. – Bloomberg

The group behind the Predator spyware has become far less visible in its operations in recent months, a development that researchers say likely indicates that sanctions and exposure have dented the firm’s operations. – CyberScoop

A newly identified zero-day vulnerability affecting a popular line of Cisco devices was used in an April attack by state-backed hackers from China. – The Record

Software company TeamViewer says that a compromised employee account is what enabled hackers to breach its internal corporate IT environment and steal encrypted passwords in an incident attributed to the Russian government. – The Record

Polish prosecutors are investigating a suspected Russian cyberattack on the country’s state news agency. – The Record

Noah Feldman writes: We will be hearing more about free speech and social media in the future. Barrett’s concurrence devoted a paragraph to raising questions about the federal government’s TikTok ban, which is likely to reach the Supreme Court in 2025. But those future cases will be decided against the backdrop of the NetChoice decision, which is going to be a free-speech landmark for at least a generation. – Bloomberg

Defense

The U.S. Air Force has not abandoned its program to build an advanced next-generation fighter, but it does need a redesign to get costs under control and better integrate its planned drone wingmen, the service’s secretary told Defense News in an exclusive interview. – Defense News

A Marine helicopter crew sank a moving training vessel near Okinawa, Japan, using a newly acquired “fire and forget” missile for the first time in the Indo-Pacific region. – Defense News

The Coast Guard is slated to continue solidifying its Pacific footprint with new funds from Congress as the service plays an increasingly prominent role in Washington’s regional strategy. – Military.com

The Space Development Agency is seeking industry feedback on its third layer of missile warning and missile-tracking satellites that will be used to keep eyes on advanced threats such as hypersonic missiles. – DefenseScoop

Mackenzie Eaglen writes: It requires substantial, real growth in funding and reliable and predictable investment. As Congress finalizes next year’s defense bills, it should follow the lead of Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) in boosting the military’s topline to begin to reverse the acquisition “doom loop” and buy a whole lot more needed equipment much faster. – National Security Journal