Fdd's overnight brief

March 7, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Cease-fire negotiations here have entered their most perilous moment in weeks, all but stalling even as U.S. and Arab mediators rush to reach a deal to pause fighting in Gaza and release some hostages held there ahead of a looming Ramadan deadline. – Wall Street Journal

The United States has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began Oct. 7, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other lethal aid, U.S. officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing – Washington Post

The United Nations will assess on Thursday how it can use an Israeli military road bordering the Gaza Strip to deliver aid to hundreds of thousands of desperate civilians in the north of the Palestinian enclave, a senior U.N. aid official said. – Reuters

Sweden has initiated a meeting with Israel’s foreign ministry and several European Union member states as well as others “to convey the urgent need to improve humanitarian access to Gaza”, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Thursday. – Reuters

South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order additional emergency measures against Israel, which it says is breaching the measures already in place, the U.N.’s top court said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Canada is planning to resume funding to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA weeks after pausing donations over Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s staff were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, CBC News reported late on Tuesday. – Reuters

Britain will warn Israel on Wednesday that its patience is running thin over the “dreadful suffering” in Gaza, where a lack of aid is leading people to die of hunger, foreign minister David Cameron said. – Reuters

The number of humanitarian aid convoys entering Gaza daily must at least double to meet some of the population’s most basic needs, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Families of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip joined a group of bipartisan House lawmakers to call for their release Wednesday, one day before President Biden is set to deliver the State of the Union address. – The Hill

An Israeli soldier was killed and another 13 were wounded on Wednesday during fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, bringing the toll of slain troops in the ground offensive against Hamas since late October to 247. – Times of Israel

A group of 24 Jewish lawmakers condemned the United Nations on Wednesday for its long delay in issuing a report on sexual violence committed by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, even as they described its conclusions as “welcome.” – Jewish Insider

For the first time since the beginning of the war, ISA director Ronen Bar has ordered in-depth operational investigations in the departments and units connected to the October 7th massacre and the events proceeding it. This joins a similar investigation already launched by the IDF. – Arutz Sheva

Hamas’ new demand in the negotiations on a hostage release deal is that Israel will not have the power to veto the terrorist organization’s demand that terrorists who are Israeli citizens and residents of eastern Jerusalem be released as part of the deal, Kan 11 News reported on Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva

The members of the Knesset Subcommittee for Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy were informed that almost all 12 of the UNRWA employees who are known to have participated in the Hamas massacre on October 7 have since died, Reshet Bet radio reported on Wednesday. – Arutz Sheva

Aid funded by the United Arab Emirates will start entering Gaza through the sea starting Sunday, following agreements between Israel and international entities. – Haaretz

David Ignatius writes: Simply put: Biden wants Israel to be a good ally and protect American interests — and the lives of Palestinian civilians — as it seeks an endgame in the terrible war that began with Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 attack. A break in the arms-supply relationship would once have been unthinkable. But as U.S. patience ebbs, it’s something that administration officials seem to have begun considering. – Washington Post

Jason Church writes: The Biden administration’s airstrikes against IRGC targets and Iran-backed militias are a step in the right direction. But we must do more to deter future attacks against our soldiers and partners. Americans must call on their elected officials to stand with our allies in Israel as they lead the fight against Iran’s so-called “Axis of Resistance.” If we fail to support our allies in their time of need, we’re likely to see even more Americans fall victim to Iranian-backed terror. – The Hill

Pesach Wolicki writes: Prime Minister Netanyahu faces a monumental challenge. The stakes are high. To bow to US pressure and alter the course of the war in a way that would benefit our enemies and minimize our chances of victory means nothing less than the prolonging of the exile of the Jewish people, the “subjugation to foreign kings.” Conversely, a choice to act in Israel’s best interests, regardless of pressure from the US, would be a moment of emancipation for our nation as a whole. Prime Minister Netanyahu, the people are behind you. We are ready. Choose redemption. – Jerusalem Post

John Hannah and Michael Makovsky write: It is impossible to convince Israelis that such a state would not pose a mortal threat to them; they would only feel abandoned by the United States. […]Put all these reasons together—rewarding terror, creating U.S.-Israel tension, abandoning allies, and creating a new, unstable, radical Palestinian government—and the big winner would be Iran. One can be sympathetic to the Palestinians having their own state one day. However, Biden’s approach is reckless and dangerous to U.S. interests. And with a new poll showing people in Michigan support Israel over the Palestinians by a ratio of two to one, Biden might not even have anything to show politically for what would truly be a historic folly. – The National Interest

Iran

The United States called on Iran on Wednesday to dilute all of the uranium it has enriched to up to 60% purity, close to the weapons-grade level of roughly 90%, in a statement denouncing many of Tehran’s recent nuclear moves. – Reuters

Several people were killed in an explosion at Iran’s Bandar Abbas refinery, the official IRNA news agency said on Thursday, adding officials have not yet issued a statement on the matter. – Reuters

Iran’s parliamentary elections on March 1 witnessed a historically low turnout, in a blow to the legitimacy of the clerical establishment. The official turnout of 41 percent was the lowest for legislative elections since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Critics claim the real turnout was likely even lower. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

An Iranian Baloch human rights activist is at risk of being deported from Sweden to Iran, Iranian human rights organizations warned this week. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Hesitance may come to define the Biden foreign policy, even as Iran grows bolder. The IAEA’s Mr. Grossi cited Feb. 12 remarks by Ali Akbar Salehi, the former head of Iran’s nuclear agency, who said Iran has all the components needed to make nuclear weapons, and need only assemble them. Maybe it’s time someone made Iran fear escalation more than Mr. Biden does. – Wall Street Journal

Mike Pompeo writes: Lasting peace will only come when Iran’s influence is diminished and deterred and terrorist groups in the region are rendered impotent. In November, I hope the American people reject these failed policies and elect leaders who will clean up Biden’s mess. – Fox News

Russia & Ukraine

Russia is attacking Ukrainian forces at several points along the 600-mile front line as it seeks to capitalize on its recent capture of the eastern city of Avdiivka, its first major battlefield victory in months. – Wall Street Journal

A deadly Russian missile strike hit the Ukrainian city of Odesa on Wednesday during a visit by President Volodymyr Zelensky and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, exploding a few hundred yards from the delegation, according to an official who was there. – Wall Street Journal

Earlier this year, Daria Chervona, a photo retoucher from Kyiv, was busy trying to raise 78 million Ukrainian hryvnia, about $2 million, for Ukraine’s army, posting daily on social media to urge friends and acquaintances to chip in. That was a high bar, but after a few weeks she announced she had cleared it, reaching her target. – New York Times 

High oil prices, sanctions evasion and state investment are providing Russia with enough resources to fight on in Ukraine at the current intensity for at least two more years, Lithuanian intelligence agencies said in a report on Thursday. – Reuters

The widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Wednesday the scale of public support for him since his death was proof that his cause lived on, and called for a massive election day protest against President Vladimir Putin. – Reuters

The Ukrainian military will stabilize the battlefield situation shortly and aims to form units for counter-offensive actions later this year, a top military commander said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A senior Russian military officer has warned that the conflict in Ukraine could escalate into a full-scale war in Europe and said the probability of Moscow’s forces becoming involved in a new conflict is increasing “significantly.” – Reuters

The Kremlin on Wednesday said that Russia will not meddle in the November U.S. presidential election, and dismissed American findings that Moscow orchestrated campaigns to sway both the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections. – Reuters

Moscow on Wednesday dismissed the issuance of International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against two top Russian commanders as a spurious provocation that had no legal significance for Russia. – Reuters

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday after talks with energy officials over safety at the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine. – Reuters

The Biden administration is weighing whether it can tap around $200 million in US Army funding to provide Ukraine immediate support as a larger aid package remains stalled in Congress, according to people familiar with the matter. – Bloomberg

Mark Toth and Jonathan Sweet writes: We witnessed that in Sarajevo in World War I when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated — and again in Poland when World War II began after the Nazis invaded. Putin’s Odesa missile strike likely came within 200 meters of possibly igniting a third. It is time for Washington to wake up and stop risking a third world war — and put an end to Putin’s machinations in Ukraine by empowering Kyiv to decisively defeat him. – New York Post

Steven Wills writes: Complacency is not the order of the day and given its present procedures and further development of defense drones, the US and its allies can avoid the fate of the Russian Black Sea fleet; it has acted as a lab rat for this developing means of warfare, as has suffered much the same fate. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Kateryna Panasiuk writes: Although it is in direct contradiction to Article 4 of the Geneva Convention, the issuing of Russian passports means Ukrainians in the occupied territories can expect to be mobilized into the Russian Army, as they have been in Donetsk and Luhansk. While the Kremlin carries out war crimes behind what seems to be a near-impenetrable curtain of occupation, the only way out is through Ukraine’s military advance, now hindered by a lack of external support and supplies. – Center for European Policy Analysis

Adrian Karatnycky writes: Occasional lurid headlines notwithstanding, Ukraine has made major progress in tackling grand corruption, reducing the power of oligarchs, and managing a vast increase in defense spending without scandals on a massive scale. That in itself is testament to how much has changed in Ukraine since a decade ago. Shining a light on corruption while being honest about its scale is not merely a matter of accuracy—it is a matter of Ukraine’s survival. – Foreign Policy

Afghanistan

A program that resettles in the United States Afghans who worked with the U.S. government could grind to a halt later this year, stranding tens of thousands at risk of Taliban retribution following the 2021 U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan. – Reuters

“It doesn’t have any old history, but it all played an important role in the victory,” says museum director Abdul Qayum Ansari. “This has exceptional meaning for the people.”Inside the one-room Balkh province museum in northern Mazar-i-Sharif city’s famous Blue Mosque, twin display cases are devoted to mementos from the Taliban’s two-decade insurgency ending in 2021. – Agence France-Presse

An Afghan judge who has been forced to go into hiding from the Taliban was wrongly refused relocation to the UK, the High Court has ruled. – BBC News

Syria

Islamic State militants attacked villagers collecting truffles in eastern Syria on Wednesday, killing at least 18 people and leaving dozens injured and missing, opposition activists and pro-government media said. – Associated Press

It’s been more than a month since Iran-backed militia groups attacked U.S. troops in Iraq, Syria or Jordan. U.S. officials hope it’s a sign that previous airstrikes — and the threat of more — are working. – Politico

The allegations, first reported by The Daily Mail and The Guardian, concern claims the elite soldiers used excessive force when dealing with the suspected militant while deployed inside Syria and should have arrested the man instead. – Sky News

Turkey

The U.S. and Turkey are set to kick off comprehensive talks on Thursday to discuss if the NATO allies can move beyond deep rooted disagreements over issues such as Syria and Ankara’s close ties with Russia. – Reuters

Disunity among Turkey’s opposition parties has boosted President Tayyip Erdogan’s hopes that his AK Party can regain control of Istanbul in this month’s municipal elections, pollsters say, following his victory in last year’s presidential vote. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: Over the last decade, the United States has provided Turkey with more than $100 million annually in aid, not including military assistance that is far higher. Biden may say Erdogan is an ally, but this is simply putting lipstick on a pig. Congress need not go along, especially when the civilian and military assistance the United States provides Turkey worsens rather than enhances regional stability. – Middle East Forum

Lebanon

An Israeli tank crew killed a Reuters reporter in Lebanon in October by firing two shells at a clearly identified group of journalists and then “likely” opened fire on them with a heavy machine gun in an attack that lasted 1 minute and 45 seconds, according to a report into the incident published on Thursday. – Reuters

An escalation of fighting on Lebanon’s southern border would further strain hospitals already struggling with a lack of money in a national financial crisis, the Middle East chief of The International Committee of the Red Cross said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Dramatic video shows Israel’s Iron Dome intercepting more than a dozen Hezbollah missiles fired toward the northern part of the country Tuesday. – New York Post

After meeting this week with U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstein, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament claimed that “the resistance [Hezbollah] will stop its activity the moment a cease-fire is declared in Gaza.” – Haaretz

A short time ago, fighter jets attacked a military building belonging to the Hezbollah terrorist organization in the Yaroun region and another Hezbollah military building in the Kafra region Yaroun region and another Hezbollah military building in the Kafra region. – Arutz Sheva

Yemen

A missile launched by Houthi militants in Yemen struck a commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, killing three people and marking the first known fatalities in the group’s months-long campaign of violence against maritime traffic. – Washington Post

The United States on Wednesday issued sanctions targeting two companies and two vessels that the Treasury Department said had facilitated commodities shipments on behalf of a network of an Iranian-backed Houthi financial facilitator. – Reuters

The anchor of a cargo ship that was attacked by Houthi militants was the most likely cause of damage to three telecommunications cables in the Red Sea in late February, according to a subsea cable trade group that includes companies operating in the region. – Bloomberg

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt struck a deal with the International Monetary Fund to extend the country an $8 billion loan, hours after allowing its currency to float freely and raising interest rates in a surprise bid to win back foreign investors as its economy comes under pressure from the war in Gaza. – Wall Street Journal

Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli Middle East expert and Princeton political science student, loved posting on X, formerly Twitter.Her social media posts praised protesters in Syria for their “immense courage,” called out authoritarianism in Russia, and even lauded anti-corruption protesters in her native Israel.- ABC News

Since the October 7 massacre perpetrated by Hamas, Palestinian civilians who wanted to escape Gaza to Egypt have encountered difficulties doing so, as the cost to do so is from 6,000-7,000 dollars per person, according to a Tuesday N12 report. The report claims that getting past the Rafah crossing is a “desire shared by many Gazan families, but for most of them is an unattainable fantasy.” – Jerusalem Post

Secretary of State Tony Blinken feted the Qatari prime minister in Washington on Tuesday, hosting the Gulf leader for a day-long meeting discussing the countries’ close partnership. – Jewish Insider

Moshe Phillips writes: Thus, in the guise of “security forces,” and in blatant violation of the Oslo Accords, a de facto Palestinian army already exists. Now it’s just a question of how much bigger it will get, and what kind of advanced weapons it will import (or smuggle in) next.The recent talk of “demilitarization” is a ruse, a way to lull the Israeli public and world Jewry into accepting a Palestinian state. The PA’s own security forces already represent militarization in practice, and expanding them will only ensure that a future “Palestine” is more deadly. – Jerusalem Post

Korean Peninsula

European routes awarded to South Korea’s second-largest low-cost carrier T’way Air from the merger of Korean Air-Asiana are a golden opportunity to differentiate T’way as a long-haul carrier in Korea’s crowded budget space, senior executives told Reuters. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for greater war fighting capabilities against the United States and South Korea, state media reported Thursday, after his defense ministry vowed to respond to the ongoing South Korean-U.S. military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal. – Associated Press

SK Hynix Inc. is ramping up its spending on advanced chip packaging, in hopes of capturing more of the burgeoning demand for a crucial component in artificial intelligence development: high-bandwidth memory. – Bloomberg

China

Shares of the WuXi family of biotech and research companies fell sharply after a U.S. bill targeting certain Chinese biotechnology providers got the green light to go to the Senate floor, reigniting worries about potential U.S. sanctions. – Wall Street Journal

For American tech companies in China, the writing is on the wall. It’s also on paper, in Document 79. The 2022 Chinese government directive expands a drive that is muscling U.S. technology out of the country—an effort some refer to as “Delete A,” for Delete America. – Wall Street Journal

A large fleet of Chinese ships surrounded the Philippine convoy, drawing so close at times that the crew could see each other’s faces. They wove between the four Philippine vessels, trying to force them apart. – Wall Street Journal

China unleashed the full might of its solar energy industry last year. It installed more solar panels than the United States has in its history. It cut the wholesale price of panels it sells by nearly half. And its exports of fully assembled solar panels climbed 38 percent while its exports of key components almost doubled. – Washington Post 

China will offer visa-free travel to nationals from Switzerland, Ireland, Hungary, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg from March 14, foreign minister Wang Yi said on Thursday. – Reuters

Three Hong Kong High Court judges on Thursday rejected an appeal by pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi against his conviction and 40 month sentence on charges which included 7 sedition offences. – Reuters

The U.S. is clinging to wrong perceptions of China and has yet to fulfill its “promises” despite some progress since presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping met last November, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday. – Reuters

China is willing to work with Russia to foster new drivers of cooperation and consolidate friendship, foreign minister Wang Yi told a news conference on the sidelines of an annual parliament meeting in Beijing. – Reuters

A senior Tibet official on Wednesday said there were no “mass incidents” last year in the Himalayan region, a euphemism for protests, at a briefing on the sidelines of China’s annual parliamentary sessions. – Reuters

The US is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop maritime capabilities in Southeast Asia as nations face growing pressure from Beijing in the disputed South China Sea, a senior US official said. – Bloomberg

The European Union is moving closer to imposing additional tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles entering the bloc, citing new proof that the government in Beijing is providing illegal financial support for the industry. – Bloomberg

South Asia

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged 44 year ago after being convicted of murder, didn’t get a fair trial. – Reuters

India on Wednesday opened a new naval base on its Indian Ocean island close to the Maldives, as ties with Male remain tense and New Delhi jostles anew with China for influence in the region. – Reuters

Sri Lanka’s president said Wednesday that he is seeking a loan repayment moratorium until 2028 as the debt-ridden county tries to emerge from bankruptcy. – Associated Press

India plans to spend about $3 billion on space-related contract awards over the next few years to reduce its dependence on foreign satellites and bolster its counter-space capabilities, according to the head of the military. – C4ISRNET

Asia

China has stepped up grey-zone warfare against Taiwan, aiming to make the areas around the democratic island “saturated” with balloons, drones and civilian boats, a Taiwan defence ministry report said on Thursday. – Reuters

Australia and Southeast Asian nations ended a three day summit on Wednesday calling for restraint in the contested South China Sea and a lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. – Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday the country was raising ties with Vietnam to the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership, with an annual dialogue on minerals amid a push to diversify supply chains away from China. – Reuters

All countries should refrain from unilateral actions in the South China Sea that endanger the disputed area’s peace, security and stability, Australia and ASEAN said in a joint statement at the conclusion of a three-day summit on Wednesday. – Reuters

Vietnam has listed two political groups operating in the United States as “terrorist organisations”, accusing them of orchestrating attacks and promoting a secessionist agenda, its internal security agency said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the mobilization of “patriots” in Taiwan and abroad to fend off pro-independence efforts on the self-governing island, in a meeting tied to China’s highest profile annual political gathering. – Bloomberg

Europe

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom will travel to Washington on Wednesday, the government said, where they are expected to complete the process of joining NATO. – Reuters

Moldova and France will sign a defence cooperation accord on Thursday as part of the West’s efforts to strengthen the former Soviet state’s capabilities amid what they fear are increasing efforts by Russia to destabilise Moldova. – Reuters

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will travel to Cyprus this week as the bloc explores a possible humanitarian corridor through the Mediterranean island to support the population in Gaza, her spokesperson said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency has lowered the threat level in Northern Ireland from domestic terrorism to “substantial”, meaning an attack is likely, from “severe”, which meant an attack was highly likely. – Reuters

The Czech Parliament’s upper house, the Senate followed the lower house on Wednesday to approve changes in the gun law that tighten requirements for owning a weapon following the worst mass killing in the nation’s history. – Associated Press 

An ex-UK Ministry of Defence official was found guilty of accepting kickbacks in the shape of cash and cars to help secure lucrative contracts in Saudi Arabia by a London jury. – Bloomberg

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has spent months pushing Hungary’s central bank to cut rates more aggressively and lift the country out of recession. The tension is tipping into open conflict. – Bloomberg

Spain’s Indra Sistemas SA said it will focus on its defense and aerospace businesses as part of a new 2030 strategy, seeking to become an international player at a time of increased military spending by European NATO members. – Defense News

Dalibor Rohac writes: If anything, it is Russia and China’s economic and demographic declines that are making them both dangerous. If, however, U.S. and Western deterrence fails, Eastern Europe could turn easily into a highly volatile place, in which all manner of opportunistic behavior, including a redrawing of the region’s political map, becomes possible. The odds that Hungary—a nation of less than 10 million people living within “indefensible borders”—lands on the winning end of that scenario are very long indeed. – American Purpose

Africa

A surge of new attacks by an Islamic State-affiliated group in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has left more than 70 children missing, with fears they may have drowned in a river or been kidnapped by militants as thousands of families fled, local authorities and a group of aid agencies said. – Associated Press

A ruinous conflict raging for about a year between rival generals in Sudan risks creating the world’s largest hunger crisis, the top U.N. food official warned Wednesday as global attention has been focused on the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. – Associated Press

Senegalese President Macky Sall has scheduled a delayed presidential election for March 24, the government said on Wednesday after a top court ruled that a proposal to hold the vote after his mandate expires on April 2 was unconstitutional. – Reuters

The United Nations Security Council is considering calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities ahead of Ramadan in the nearly year-long war between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, diplomats said. – Reuters

Suspected Islamist insurgents kidnapped 50 people, mostly women, in northeastern Nigeria this week, local officials and a resident said on Wednesday, the latest mass abduction by fighters who have waged an insurgency for more than a decade. – Reuters

A Kenyan opposition leader said on Wednesday he would launch a fresh court challenge to a plan to send police officers to gang-ravaged Haiti, after the two countries signed a deal last week intended to fast-track the stalled deployment. – Reuters

A fresh attack attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed at least 11 people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said Wednesday.Fighters from the ADF, which is affiliated to the Islamic State group, attacked overnight Monday to Tuesday at Vemba-Kinyamusehe in the Beni territory of North Kivu, as the villagers slept. – Agence France-Presse

The Americas

The United States is urging Haiti’s embattled prime minister to clear the way for the election of a new president, a position vacant since 2021, amid growing pressure from armed rebels at home and governments abroad. – Washington Post

Approval of Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s performance has slipped after his remarks last month likening Israel’s war in Gaza to the Nazi genocide during World War Two, a new Genial/Quaest poll showed on Wednesday. – Reuters

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Brasilia on Wednesday, said he is ready to sign an agreement between South American trade bloc Mercosur and the European Union despite growing opposition from France. – Reuters

Haitian politicians started pursuing new alliances Wednesday, seeking a coalition that could lead the country out of the gang violence that has fueled lawlessness, closed the main airport and prevented embattled Prime Minister Ariel Henry from returning home. – Associated Press

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded the Montreal Holocaust Museum on Monday, preventing access to the building where a group of Israeli army reservists were speaking as part of an advocacy tour – Times of Israel

United States

Disagreements among Indiana lawmakers could stop passage of a bill aiming to address antisemitism on college campuses for the second year in a row, leaving Indiana students and professors uneasy as divisions surrounding the ongoing Israel-Hamas war deepen. – Associated Press

A U.S. judge on Wednesday sentenced four family members to life in prison for convictions stemming from a federal terrorism and kidnapping case that began in 2017 with the search for a toddler who went missing from Georgia and was later found dead when authorities raided a squalid compound in northern New Mexico. – Associated Press

Foreign policy never wins elections, as the old political maxim goes. So eight months out from polling day in America, it’s hardly surprising that domestic reaction to Thursday’s State of the Union speech will be dominated by arguments over the economy, drug prices and the frailty of U.S. President Joe Biden, 82 this November. – Politico

The violent disruption to an Israeli speaker’s appearance on campus last month has triggered negative headlines and a criminal investigation at the University of California, Berkeley. Now, the school is facing a federal discrimination investigation, too. – Jerusalem Post

Thomas Gift writes: The Israel-Palestine conflict is politically delicate, and the White House continues to navigate a maze of on-the-ground policy challenges in Gaza. Even in a tight election, the war is unlikely to be the pivotal difference for Biden at the ballot box. Still, the trajectory of the conflict and America’s role within it remain a political flashpoint. – The Hill

Cybersecurity

A federal grand jury charged a former Google engineer with stealing artificial intelligence-related trade secrets with the intent of providing them to China. – Washington Examiner

France’s defense-procurement agency said it awarded contracts to five domestic computer-research startups to develop technology that will allow the country to have two universal quantum computer prototypes by 2032, with the goal of developing quantum systems usable for defense requirements. – Defense News

As critical infrastructure organizations become increasingly digitized, homogeneous and connected, the risk of cyberattacks from both nation-backed and criminal hackers will increase, Robert M. Lee, CEO and founder of the industrial cybersecurity firm Dragos, warned in remarks on Wednesday. – CyberScoop

More than $12.5 billion was lost in 2023 to online fraud in cases reported by the American public, according to the FBI’s annual Internet Crime Report — a 22% increase on the year before. – The Record

Moldova’s national intelligence agency warned Tuesday that it believes Russia plans to launch hybrid attacks against the country ahead of its upcoming elections, which will include a referendum on joining the European Union. – The Record

The European Council and negotiators from the European Parliament reached on Tuesday night a provisional agreement on the proposed Cyber Solidarity Act, which aims to strengthen member states’ resilience in the face of increasing digital threats. – The Record

The city of Hamilton, Canada, is still recovering from a ransomware attack that has affected nearly every facet of government functions. City officials have worked around the clock since the ransomware attack was discovered on February 25. As of Wednesday, foundational services like water and wastewater treatment, waste collection and transit are operational. – The Record

Several of the law enforcement agencies involved in the takedown of one of the most prolific ransomware groups denied involvement in a new notice posted to the gang’s leak site — adding weight behind rumors from experts and cybercriminals that the group was attempting to carry out an elaborate exit scam. – The Record

Defense

The US government is poised to invest $3.5 billion in Intel Corp. so the chipmaker can produce advanced semiconductors for military and intelligence programs, according to congressional aides. – Bloomberg

The Biden administration will request a 1% increase in defense spending, to $849.8 billion, for fiscal year 2025, officials familiar with the matter said, scaling back plans for a bigger boost as it grapples with caps imposed by last year’s debt-limit deal. – Bloomberg

The Air Force Research Laboratory hopes a common car manufacturing technique might unlock the solution for building affordable autonomous drones that can be fielded in large numbers. – Defense News

The U.S. Army selected Palantir Technologies to develop the Tactical Intelligence Targeting Access Node — a next-generation, software-centric ground system. – Defense News

Sophisticated networking and communications capabilities derived from the U.S. Navy’s hush-hush Project Overmatch are deployed on at least three carrier strike groups, according to the commander of the Third Fleet. – Defense News

After four years of growth amid a steadily rising operational tempo, Space Force leaders say it’s time to improve on what they’ve built.The Space Force is the Pentagon’s hub for organizing, training and equipping the units that provide satellite communications to the joint force, track missile launches, catalog debris that could damage spacecraft, take images of troop movements and wildfires from orbit, and more. – C4ISRNET

Long War

Junta-led Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have agreed to set up a joint force to tackle security threats across their territories, Niger’s armed forces chief Moussa Salaou Barmou said on Wednesday after a meeting with his counterparts. – Reuters

Shamima Begum, now 24 and living in a refugee camp in northern Syria, lost an appeal last month against the decision to remove her British citizenship. A group of five UN special rapporteurs voiced deep concern at the February 23 ruling, and urged Britain to provide Begum with protection — including repatriation — and review the decision to revoke her citizenship. – Agence France-Presse

The sixth U.S.-Qatar strategic dialogue held Tuesday in Washington was overshadowed by Qatar’s role in financing Hamas terrorism, and its state-owned Al Jazeera network’s promotion of the movement’s war against Israel. – i24 News