Fdd's overnight brief

June 6, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

The Israeli military struck what it says was a Hamas facility located in a United Nations school compound in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian officials say dozens of displaced people sheltering there were killed. – Wall Street Journal  

Two top Biden administration officials are in the Middle East to revive long-stalled negotiations over a deal that would impose a cease-fire in the war in Gaza and free Israeli hostages held by Hamas. – Wall Street Journal

Israel will soon decide whether to go on the offensive at the border with Lebanon, top officials said, adding to fears of a wider war as fighting with the Hezbollah militant group has intensified. – Washington Post

The men sat in rows, handcuffed and blindfolded, unable to see the Israeli soldiers who stood watch over them from the other side of a mesh fence. They were barred from talking more loudly than a murmur, and forbidden to stand or sleep except when authorized. – New York Times

Israel organized and paid for an influence campaign last year targeting U.S. lawmakers and the American public with pro-Israel messaging, as it aimed to foster support for its actions in the war with Gaza, according to officials involved in the effort and documents related to the operation. – New York Times

With starvation gripping Gaza, U.S.-led negotiations to reopen the vital Rafah border crossing for aid deliveries face significant obstacles, including the question of who would control the Palestinian side of the border, officials briefed on the discussions said. – New York Times

For weeks after being sanctioned by the United States, Yinon Levi struggled to pay the bills, living at his farming outpost atop a hill in the occupied West Bank. But the Israeli settler’s problems didn’t last. – Associated Press

The leader of Hamas said on Wednesday the group would demand a permanent end to the war in Gaza and Israeli withdrawal as part of a ceasefire plan, dealing an apparent blow to a truce proposal touted last week by U.S. President Joe Biden. – Reuters

Aharon Barak, a former president of Israel’s Supreme Court, has resigned from his role as ad hoc judge on an International Court of Justice panel weighing a genocide allegation filed over the country’s war in Gaza, officials said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Israel reiterated on Wednesday its refusal to halt the Gaza offensive for a resumption of hostage-release talks with Hamas, after mediator Qatar said it had given the Palestinian militants a U.S.-backed truce proposal. – Reuters

An Israeli court on Wednesday upheld a 35-day ban on Al Jazeera operations in Israel imposed by the government on national security grounds and a minister said he hoped to extend the ban for another 45 days when it runs out on Saturday. – Reuters

Colombia’s trade ministry is recommending restrictions on coal sales to Israel, Bloomberg News said on Thursday, citing an internal document and a person with direct knowledge of the matter. – Bloomberg

A bill that would prevent de facto Palestinian embassies from opening in east Jerusalem received preliminary approval from the Knesset plenum on Wednesday. – Jerusalem Post

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the fighting in Gaza as a “total destruction of the civilian population,” while proposing that Moscow can be a helpful mediator in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. – Times of Israel

The marchers waved Israeli flags alongside flags of religious seminaries and banners in support of Donald Trump. Some chanted “Death to Arabs,” while others called for tearing down the Al Aqsa Mosque in the heart of this ancient city and rebuilding an ancient Jewish temple in its place. – Wall Street Journal

The Israel Defense Forces revealed Wednesday that it had recently located and destroyed a major Hamas tunnel in southern Gaza’s Rafah, adjacent to the border crossing with Egypt, allegedly used by the terror group to smuggle weapons into the Strip. – Times of Israel

After formally recognizing a Palestinian state, Spanish diplomats are reportedly balking at the prospect of opening an embassy in the West Bank city of Ramallah due to security and standard-of-living issues, according to a report from a right-wing Spanish newspaper. – Algemeiner

Editorial: Israel must strive for a deal – to bring back the hostages and stop the ongoing killing of IDF soldiers. Such a deal can also prevent a comprehensive war. To make the right step Israel must overcome the agents who want to set the region on fire and drag the state to disaster – Bezalel (“the massacre has nothing to do with me”) Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir. The latter threatened Netanyahu on Wednesday that he would “disrupt his coalition” as long as the prime minister continues to conceal the deal’s details. These people could sentence Israel to a painful, difficult war. – Haaretz

Daniel Henninger writes: The debate over the Israel-Hamas war has fallen deeply into a moral imbalance. The conflict’s grinding status quo—with Palestinians and the Israeli hostages continuing to die—has little hope of changing until the statements of foreign leaders, analysts, the media and not least Mr. Biden and his many translators begin to impose serious political and moral pressure on the man who put this horror in motion: Hamas military commander in chief Yahya Sinwar. Blame him first. – Wall Street Journal

Joel Zivot and Matthew Rabinowitz write: The ICC’s charges reflect a double standard against the Jewish state that is widespread in international organizations. The study illustrates that the case is factually baseless. Israel has taken concrete actions to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid into Gaza in the heat of battle. This should be recognized as a new standard for the world—the furthest thing imaginable from a war crime. – Wall Street Journal

Alon Ben-Meir writes: Israel is not committing genocide against the Palestinians, but unless they embrace humanity and peaceful coexistence, the continuing violent conflict and losses on both sides will be tantamount to nothing less than mutual suicide. – Jerusalem Post

John Podhoretz writes: And Israel’s leadership—in failing to distance itself from an increasingly ruinous friendship—has failed to protect the national interest yet again, as it did when it failed to see Hamas coming. And now there will likely be two wars simultaneously where they might have been a victory in one that would have forestalled the need for the other—or a second conflict following the conclusion of the first that Israel could have fought in less desperate and parlous circumstances. Now it will have to do what it will have to do. – Commentary

Iran

The United Nations atomic agency formally rebuked Iran over advances in its nuclear program and failure to cooperate with the body, a measure that Tehran has threatened to retaliate against. – Wall Street Journal

Iran’s mission to the United Nations said the decision to pass a resolution against Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors was “hasty and unwise,” the Iranian State TV reported on Wednesday. – Reuters

The commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Hossein Salami on Wednesday threatened retaliation after an alleged Israeli strike killed an Iranian adviser in Aleppo, Syria, earlier this week. – Times of Israel

An Iranian dissident granted asylum in Britain was attacked in London by pro-regime thugs so savagely that he may never walk again in a case that has received little attention from the police, the JC can reveal. – The Jewish Chronicle 

Erfan Fard writes: As events continue to unfold in the Middle East, the role of the Quds Force as both a precursor and a creator of geopolitical shifts is increasingly apparent. Understanding these dynamics is essential for regional actors and international stakeholders aiming to influence outcomes in the Middle East. – Jerusalem Post 

David Schenker writes: While a more robust US policy on Iran that raises the cost for Tehran for its efforts to destabilize America’s partners via its proxies might be helpful, this kind of approach is unlikely to be adopted anytime soon. As so often in the past, Jordan will have to rely on its security forces, its reservoir of domestic support, and its nimble maneuvering to weather the storm. Given the acute Iranian threat, ongoing deep but quiet Jordanian-Israeli security cooperation is also likely to play an important part in helping to secure the kingdom. – Washington Institute

Mariam Memarsadeghi writes: Terror that should have been met with global condemnation and solidarity with the Israeli people instead resulted in the proliferation of the hate projected by Iran’s regime. Any policy truly designed to prevent Islamist terror and cultivate peace for the region must begin with a strategy to bring down that regime, but as evidenced by messages of condolences on the passing of the mass executioner Raisi, Western governments remain determined to appease it. – Hoover

Russia & Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin said any deal to free Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich would come only through a mutually beneficial agreement with the U.S., which he said has been pushing hard for the release of the American journalist since he was detained over 14 months ago. – Wall Street Journal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia warned on Wednesday that Western nations supplying Ukraine with long-range missiles and allowing them to be used to attack inside Russia was a “dangerous step” that could prompt Moscow to reciprocate against Western targets. – New York Times

Ukraine has used U.S. weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a U.S. senator and a Western official familiar with the matter. – Associated Press

The Kremlin on Wednesday described comments by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that Washington would not tolerate China increasing its exports of “dual-use” goods to Russia, and would respond with sanctions, as “blackmail”. – Reuters

President Vladimir Putin, asked about the risks of nuclear war over Ukraine, cautioned the West on Wednesday that Russia could use all available means to defend itself if its sovereignty or territorial integrity were threatened. – Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the emir of Qatar on Wednesday discussed ways to end Ukraine’s 27-month-old full-scale conflict with Russia and efforts to keep channels of communication open, the Qatari state news agency QNA reported. – Reuters

The Ukrainian air force shot down 17 out of 18 Shahed-type drones over four regions during Russia’s overnight attack on Thursday, according to the military. – Reuters

The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv is warning dual U.S.-Ukrainian citizens they will no longer be able to depart the war-torn country if they are otherwise eligible for conscription. – The Hill

Hezbollah

Projectiles described by Lebanese Hezbollah as kamikaze drones were launched into northern Israel on Wednesday, wounding at least seven people including one who was in critical condition, medics said. – Reuters

Lebanon’s powerful armed group Hezbollah said on Wednesday it had targeted Israel’s Iron Dome air-defence system in Ramot Naftali with a guided missile. – Reuters

Calls are growing in Israel for a military operation against Lebanon after 11 were injured during a Hezbollah drone attack at northern Israel’s Druze town of Hurfeish. – New York Sun

Middle East & North Africa

Turkey’s foreign minister told Chinese officials during a visit this week that Ankara wanted to narrow its trade deficit with Beijing partly via more agricultural and food exports, a Turkish diplomatic source said on Wednesday. – Reuters

 A Turkish court sentenced a pro-Kurdish party mayor in southeast Turkey to nearly 20 years in prison on Wednesday over links to militants, local media reported. – Reuters

Yemen’s Houthis conducted military operations targeting three vessels in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, the group’s military spokesperson Yahya Saree said on Wednesday. – Reuters

British security firm Ambrey said on Thursday a Greek-owned bulk carrier was allegedly targeted by Yemen’s Houthis while travelling northbound in the Red Sea. – Reuters

The State Department revealed on Wednesday that the shooter accused of opening fire on the US Embassy in Lebanon earlier in the day was wearing what “appeared to be an ISIS insignia”, Fox News reported. – Fox News

Korean Peninsula

An activist group in South Korea said on Thursday it had flown balloons into North Korea carrying leaflets criticising leader Kim Jong Un, just days after Pyongyang sent thousands of balloons carrying trash in the other direction over the border. – Reuters

The US and South Korea conducted joint bombing drills using a type of precision munition for the first time in about seven years, in a show of force after Seoul scrapped a 2018 deal with North Korea to reduce tensions at the border. – Bloomberg

Threatened by Pyongyang’s burgeoning stocks and varieties of ballistic missiles and rockets, South Korea is moving forward with a key class of interceptor weaponry. – Defense News

China

For years, U.S. officials have accused China of stealing American technology to design and build fighter planes. But while China learned how to build advanced fighters, its pilots could not fly them so well. – New York Times

Peru’s President Dina Boluarte will travel to China this month to meet with her Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and leaders from mining, technology and transportation firms after the Andean nation’s Congress on Wednesday granted permission for the trip. – Reuters

Ukraine’s first deputy foreign minister visited China on Wednesday and urged it to send a delegation to a planned summit on Ukraine this month in Switzerland, in the apparent hope it was still possible to persuade China to attend. – Reuters

The Pacific island nation of Palau expects China to attempt to meddle in a national election later this year over its recognition of Taiwan, President Surangel Whipps Jr. said in an interview with Reuters. – Reuters

Turkey’s foreign minister has urged Chinese authorities to protect the cultural rights of minority Muslim Uyghurs in China’s western Xinjiang province and allow them to “live their values,” a Turkish official said Wednesday. – Associated Press

Chinese nation-state hackers spent nearly two years targeting a high-level Southeast Asian government department in search of information about the country’s strategy concerning the hotly contested South China Sea. – The Record

South Asia

Long before shock election results released this week eroded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political mandate, the seeds of discontent were planted in the poor, zigzagging alleys housing Indians at the foot of society – Washington Post 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s National Democratic Alliance (NDA) formally named him on Wednesday to lead a new coalition government for a third straight term, a day after it regained power with a surprisingly slim majority. – Reuters

President Joe Biden on Wednesday congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a call for his election victory, and the two discussed an upcoming visit to New Delhi by U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, the White House said. – Reuters

A spokesperson for Myanmar’s military government denied accusations that army troops and their local allies killed 76 people when they entered a village last week in the western state of Rakhine, state-controlled media reported Wednesday. – Associated Press

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday condemned the public flogging of more than 60 people, including more than a dozen women, by the Taliban in northern Sari Pul province. – Associated Press

Editorial: Elections are vital, but still are only one gear in the larger clockwork of a working democracy. Just as important is what happens in between the elections: the activity of civil society and the rule of law, the building of institutions, and the encouragement of tolerance. It is unclear how Mr. Modi will react to this setback and whether he will continue his firebrand Hindu nationalism. But now, at least, there are others empowered to stand up to his worst excesses, to prevent him from unchallenged domination and to return India to the best kind of democracy — one where competition thrives.- Washington Post

Rana Ayyub writes: It might be too early for Muslims and other minorities in India to foresee a drastically new future. But they know their active participation has made a difference, and now their despair is giving way to a sense of optimism and belonging. – Washington Post

Asia

Vietnam real estate tycoon Truong My Lan, sentenced to death in the country’s largest-ever financial fraud case, had illegally transferred money abroad, according to police, with state media on Thursday reporting $4.5 billion had been moved. – Reuters

Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said on Wednesday he plans to start working from the new capital city next month amid concerns over the future of the project following resignations of senior executives overseeing the development. – Reuters

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Canberra wanted deeper ties with its Pacific neighbour Solomon Islands and a region where decisions are made “without fear”, as China also sent its envoy to Honiara to meet new Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele. – Reuters

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale to Taiwan of F-16 fighter jet spare and repair parts for an estimated $80 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Europe

Right-wing nationalist parties look set to surge in elections across Europe this week, but the shock wave will travel slowly due to rifts among the political forces. – Wall Street Journal

Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia spoke publicly for the first time since being shot three weeks ago, blaming the opposition in a video released on Wednesday for what he described as a politically motivated assassination attempt. – Washington Post

Europe’s share of the global economy is shrinking, and fears are deepening that the continent can no longer keep up with the United States and China. – New York Times

President Biden will observe the 80th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy on Thursday by asserting that the allied effort to stand up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a direct extension of the battle for freedom that raged across Europe during World War II. – New York Times

Polls opened in the Netherlands on Thursday to kick off four days of voting in European Union parliamentary elections across the 27 member states that are expected to deliver gains for the hard right. – Associated Press

Days after France lifted emergency measures in New Caledonia to quell the worst unrest in decades in its Pacific territory, it is hurrying to ensure that residents of the troubled archipelago can vote in the upcoming European elections. – Associated Press

Denmark, Greece, Pakistan, Panama and Somalia were set to get seats on the U.N. Security Council in a secret ballot Thursday in the General Assembly. – Associated Press

A special commission tasked with investigating Russian and Belarusian influence in Poland was beginning its work on Wednesday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced. – Associated Press

As world leaders gathered to celebrate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the thousands of civilian victims of Allied bombardments on that day and in the months-long Battle of Normandy that followed. – Reuters

Romanian prosecutors said on Wednesday they were investigating an election fraud case, four days before European and local polls, and a far-right party leader said he was the subject of their probe. – Reuters 

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said a controversial plan to divert incoming migrants to Albania would move forward this summer as she defended a project that’s become central to her European election campaign. – Bloomberg

Germany will order an additional 20 Eurofighter aircraft, Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced, as his government pushes ahead with a multi-billion euro program to strengthen the armed forces. – Bloomberg

The 53rd iteration of NATO’s Baltic Operations series of exercises is set to be the alliance’s largest amid the inclusion of new members and security concerns with Russia. – USNI

Poland is going to spend nearly $760 million to strengthen its defenses against ongoing cyberattacks from Russia, according to the country’s digital minister, Krzysztof Gawkowski. – The Record

Caroline de Gruyter writes: Some may balk at the spectacle. But this is what democracy is about: a contest of political views, played out in front of engaged citizens. There is no guarantee that the disagreement and potential turmoil to come will be to our taste. Yet it will, at least, draw citizens closer to the action and infuse the continent with some democratic spirit. Hopefully Europe makes the best of it. – New York Times

Africa

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan and one of the largest cities in Africa, has been reduced to a charred battleground. A feud between two generals fighting for power has dragged the country into civil war and turned the city into ground zero for one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes. – New York Times

At least 16 people were killed by a suspected Islamist rebel group based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, an official from the local administration said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The African National Congress is leaning towards trying to form a government of national unity for South Africa, it said on Wednesday, but the second-largest party said it would not join a government that included some of its smaller rivals. – Reuters

Seven soldiers were killed by attackers suspected of being Islamist militants in northern Benin’s Pendjari National Park, two security sources and two diplomatic sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russia will send additional military supplies and instructors to Burkina Faso to help the west African country boost its defence capabilities and fight terrorism, Russian state media quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday. – Reuters

Robbie Gramer writes: The meeting comes as Russia looks to open a military fueling station on the Red Sea along Sudan’s SAF-controlled coast to expand its toehold in the strategically important waterway. “We will be judged very poorly … if we don’t very, very soon see more significant results in terms of a breakthrough on cease-fire, a breakthrough on aid, and a path forward for Sudan,” Perriello said. – Foreign Policy

Mutasim Ali and Yonah Diamond write: At present, there is scarcely any media coverage of Darfur. The same atrocities that sparked a mass movement just 20 years ago are being completely overlooked today. There is no reason why the same coalition should not come together once again today, in a landscape with greater potential to mobilize broader support through social media. While we fear that the window to intervene for the people of Darfur is closing, we are writing this as an urgent appeal. Let no one say they did not know. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

U.S. agents Wednesday began turning back migrants along the border with Mexico under President Biden’s new asylum restrictions, while administration officials sought to tamp down expectations for a sudden drop in illegal crossings. – Washington Post 

Mexico and the United States are nearing an agreement for non-Mexican migrants to be deported directly to their home countries rather than Mexico, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Wednesday. – Reuters

The U.S. has been tracking Russian warships and aircraft that are expected to arrive in the Caribbean for a military exercise in the coming weeks, in a Russian show of force as tensions rise over Western military support for Ukraine, U.S. officials said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The U.N.’s migration and refugee agencies expressed concern over Biden administration plans for new asylum restrictions in the United States and said the right to asylum is fundamental. – Associated Press

United States

When U.S. President Joe Biden publicly aired a Gaza ceasefire proposal developed by Israel and the United States and sent to Hamas, he made the announcement without seeking agreement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said three U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. – Reuters

After scaling the 30-foot border wall south of San Diego during the early morning hours on Wednesday, 42-year-old Santiago Montenegro arrived at an open-air detention site cold, hungry and exhausted from the long journey he’d been on since leaving his native Colombia. – Bloomberg

US Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), along with Senators Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Rick Scott (R-Florida), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), on Wednesday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland to urge him to investigate International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan. – Arutz Sheva

The US Congress is preparing to take action against the Maldives over its recent decision to ban Israeli citizens from entering the country. – Algemeiner

The House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee proposed funding increases for cooperative U.S.-Israel anti-tunneling and anti-drone and missile programs in its 2025 funding bill released on Tuesday. The defense bill also seeks to force frozen Israeli weapons transfers to proceed. – Jewish Insider

Andrea R. Flores writes: But in the meantime, it’s critical that the president takes seriously the urgency of protecting longtime undocumented people in the United States and continues to build political momentum for sensible immigration laws. Mr. Biden can and should lead his party back to a time when fighting for the undocumented was a major policy priority alongside border security. It worked for him before, and it can work for him again. But to do so, he must act now. – New York Times

Gabby Deutch writes: When Biden delivered a White House address last Friday announcing a cease-fire deal approved by Israel, the contours of the deal he laid out did not describe a full defeat of Hamas or removal of the terrorist group from power. When asked directly by reporters in recent days whether the goal is still for Hamas to be removed from power, White House officials have demurred. “They’re not the drivers of events, they’re reacting to events,” said Katulis. “So they’re just getting whipsawed by what is a very complicated war.” – Jewish Insider

Cybersecurity

Federal regulators have reached a deal that allows them to proceed with antitrust investigations into the dominant roles that Microsoft, OpenAI and Nvidia play in the artificial intelligence industry, in the strongest sign of how regulatory scrutiny into the powerful technology has escalated. – New York Times

Several major hospitals in London have been crippled by a cyberattack, Britain’s National Health Service said, causing surgical procedures to be canceled, disrupting blood transfusions and forcing patients to be diverted. – New York Times

Congressional action is needed to streamline the cybersecurity regulatory landscape, a White House official said Wednesday during a hearing that saw lawmakers and witnesses rail against what they say is an overly complicated patchwork of cyber rules that hinders the private sector’s ability to fight off threats. – Cyberscoop

Aday in the life of the Treasury Department’s top cybersecurity official is an unrelenting game of Whac-a-Mole that has only grown more intense in the age of artificial intelligence and the corresponding rise of inexperienced-yet-prolific attackers. – Cyberscoop

Defense

As more governments and commercial companies look to proliferated satellite constellations for increased capacity, some defense experts are concerned that these large fleets could be providing cover for space weapons or spy satellites. – Defense News

U.S. adversaries around the world are deploying “formidable” electronic warfare tools, and the Pentagon must either find ways to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum or prepare its forces to operate in contested or even denied environments, officials said at the C4ISRNET Conference. – Defense News

The House defense spending panel on Wednesday advanced the first draft of its annual Pentagon funding bill over objections from Democrats, who cited a provision that would block the president’s authority to withhold arms transfers to Israel and a lack of security assistance for Ukraine, among other partisan provisions. – Defense News

Kevin Chilton writes: The threats are very real and extremely serious. Our adversaries have interests and values fundamentally opposed to our own. Hoping that they will miraculously seek peace is unrealistic. We need to ensure our national leaders are empowered with credible, reliable military options to manage these threats. That begins with an effective, modern nuclear triad. We must stay the course. – Defense News