Fdd's overnight brief

November 3, 2023

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News


Israeli forces pushed across Gaza and in from the Mediterranean coast Thursday, cutting the enclave in two and isolating densely populated urban areas in the north where armored and infantry units were battling Hamas militants, said the Israeli military and the United Nations. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Friday to push the Israeli government to protect civilians during their assault on Gaza, as the Biden administration continues to work for the release of Hamas-held hostages and to enable U.S. citizens trapped inside the narrow territory to escape into Egypt amid growing concerns in Washington that the Israeli strategy may be undermining its own security interests. – Washington Post

Three weeks after the bloody massacre that killed 1,400 people in southern Israel, the cramped yellow building that houses Israel’s government forensic laboratory is still inundated with unidentified remains. The bags line the morgue hallway, on gurneys and the floor, spilling into an outdoor courtyard. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military is flying surveillance drones over the Gaza Strip, according to two Defense Department officials and an analysis by The New York Times. The officials said the drones were being used to aid in hostage recovery efforts, indicating that the U.S. is more involved than previously known. – New York Times

While the world’s attention has fallen on Gaza, violence in the West Bank, a much bigger and more complex Palestinian-majority area, is hitting its highest levels in years. – New York Times

 U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday said the United States would not seek to impose any conditions on the support it gives Israel to defend itself in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks by militant group Hamas. – Reuters

Israel said on Thursday it would proceed with a tax revenue transfer to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the occupied West Bank but would withhold funds bound for Hamas-ruled Gaza, where the PA helps cover public sector wages and pay for electricity. – Reuters

A group of independent United Nations experts called on Thursday for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, saying time was running out for Palestinians there who are at “grave risk of genocide”. – Reuters

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday unveiled a new website documenting the Hamas attacks of October 7 in an effort to tamp down misinformation in some left-wing circles about the extent of the catastrophe and “make sure that the world knows what happened.” – New York Sun

Hamas is ready to have a “complete compromise” in order to carry out a prisoner exchange, according to Hamas official Ghazi Hamad who spoke on Thursday with NBC correspondent Matt Bradley. – Jerusalem Post

The commander of Hamas’s Sabra Tel al-Hawa Battalion was killed in an airstrike Thursday night, the IDF and Israel Security Service (Shin Bet) announced in a joint statement on Friday morning. – Jerusalem Post

The IDF published the names of four soldiers who fell in battle in the northern Gaza Strip on Friday morning, bringing the total of IDF soldiers killed in combat in the ground offensive in Gaza to 23. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: Fact is, Biden’s only saying “pause” because he doesn’t dare say “ceasefire” — yet. He’s too recently on record as explaining (correctly) that any ceasefire is simply a gift to Hamas, allowing it a breather amid the IDF’s assault. Here’s an idea, Mr. President: Give up on your domestic political goals for the duration of this war. – New York Post

Peggy Noonan writes: Even if this person isn’t “much better,” an unknown variable might shake this up in a way that benefits civilization. The U.S. in its support of Israel is tied to this discredited man in a way that doesn’t help. It is a mistake for Israel, for its Knesset, to allow him to continue. – Wall Street Journal

Thomas L. Friedman writes: That’s why today America must help Israel and Ukraine to blunt the Russia-Iran axis in their theaters. But the morning after their wars, Israel and Ukraine are going to have to face some very hard choices. Because while we may write big checks to both, they will not be blank checks. Each will come with an expiry date and require some very painful political decisions very soon — as they should. – New York Times

Marc Champion writes: “Killing and wounding civilians is not only a moral and legal issue. It is a strategic one.’’ It’s a brutal calculation, but the more Palestinian civilians Israel’s bombs kill, the less time the IDF will likely get to finish off Hamas. – Bloomberg

Tom Rogan writes: IDF ground elements will need support from unguided munitions amid civilians (it’s unclear how many guided munitions the IDF retains — it must save some in case the Lebanese Hezbollah joins the war), leading to further international pressure on the Israeli government. They will need to impose and take casualties in door-to-door fighting. They will need to endure. And they will need to do so as international opinion slowly and unfairly shifts in Hamas’s favor – Washington Examiner

Robert Satloff and Dennis Ross write: For the antisemites of this world, none of this will matter. But winning their support is not the goal of Israel’s information battle. The goal is to win the proverbial hearts and minds of millions who need a reason to give Israel the benefit of the doubt. Success in this effort will give Israel the time and space to achieve victory over Hamas. – The Hill

Ben Samuels writes: Signs are heading toward Biden acknowledging the rapidly shrinking runway he has tried to provide Israel following the attack. The question now remains: what will come first — Biden’s acknowledgement of this, or the war spiraling out even further? – Haaretz


The United States and rights groups complained on Thursday that it was “insulting” to allow Iran’s envoy to chair a U.N. human rights council meeting in Geneva, citing violations by Iranian authorities, especially those against women. – Reuters

A massive fire at a drug rehabilitation centre in northern Iran has killed at least 32 people and injured 16, Iranian media reported on Friday. […]According to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, Iran has one of the severest addiction problems in the world. – Reuters

Thailand is in touch with Iran and other regional governments that can make contact with Palestinian group Hamas for the safe release of nearly two dozen Thai hostages it is holding, its foreign minister said on Friday. – Reuters

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, tweeted in Hebrew against Israel on Friday, accusing Israel of deceit and threatening Israel. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: A school of conservative isolationist thought is that the U.S. should let powers like Russia and Iran dominate their regions. Withdraw to our shores and those countries will leave us alone. But as we’ve learned in Ukraine and now Israel, those powers aren’t content with the status quo. They want to expand their empires and subjugate (or in the case of Israel exterminate) their neighbors. America’s enemies are working together, and it is strategic folly to think the U.S. can treat them like isolated problems. Letting Russia subjugate Ukraine will give Vladimir Putin an opening to further help Iran against Israel. – Wall Street Journal

Zvi Bar’el writes: Now Iran is directing Nasrallah to inform the public of Tehran’s decision. He doesn’t need a flashlight to find his way through the tangle of Iran’s strategic considerations. He is a full partner in building its regional strategy. It will be fascinating to hear Friday how he maneuvers among them. – Haaretz

Alex Vatanka writes: No one knows how protracted a regional war involving Iran and the United States could be, and such a conflict could last years. Despite Khamenei’s deep commitment to fight both Israel and the United States, he is hardly suicidal. Performing cost-benefit analysis has helped him stay in power for 34 years. For sure, he has made policy blunders over the years but nothing that would equal strategically sleepwalking into war with the United States. He would risk the survival of the Islamic Republic in doing so. – Foreign Policy

Russia & Ukraine

The invasion of Ukraine, launched the following month, bared the stark limits of Russian power in what Moscow considered its own backyard. Spooked by the bloodshed in Ukraine and by the international sanctions imposed on Russia, its neighbors and allies now are busy diversifying their relationships, hedging against Moscow by deepening ties with China and the West. – Wall Street Journal

The commander of Ukraine’s armed forces says the war with Russia is at risk of becoming a stalemate and Kyiv would need a major upgrade in weapons and technological capabilities to regain the initiative. – Wall Street Journal

A false rumor about the resettlement of Israelis in Dagestan that incited a violent mob at its capital airport Sunday was shared online for longer and more widely than previously reported, according to a New York Times analysis of Telegram posts. – New York Times

David Ignatius writes: But the Russians keep coming. And unless the U.S. Congress gets its act together, this will be a very cold and bitter winter in Kyiv. – Washington Post

Lee Hockstader writes: But the Russian dictator is playing the long game, attuned to every fissure in the transatlantic alliance. And the greatest potential crack of all — a potential election victory for Donald Trump, who is no friend of Ukraine’s — looms just 12 months off. That, for Putin, could be game, set and match. – Washington Post


Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary organization, plans to provide an air-defense system to Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, U.S. officials say, citing intelligence. – Wall Street Journal

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah,  will break his silence on the war in Gaza on Friday in a speech that many in the region expect will provide insights into whether the group will escalate its battle with Israel. – New York Times

Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Thursday it mounted multiple strikes on Israeli army positions including its first using explosive drones, and Israel launched air strikes on southern Lebanon in a sharp escalation of violence. – Reuters

France has passed messages to Hezbollah and Israel to not destabilise the United Nations’ Lebanon peacekeeping force UNIFIL and said that any broadening of the Hamas-Israel war to Lebanon would plunge the country “into an abyss”. – Reuters


Turkey is ready to take in cancer patients from Gaza’s Turkish-Palestinian Friendship hospital, which went out of service on Wednesday after running out of fuel, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday. – Reuters

Michael Rubin writes: After Erdogan’s outburst the White House, Pentagon, and State Department should not only publicly take F-16s off the table for Erdogan’s Turkey, but also announce that until further notice, any U.S. assistance to Turkey will be limited to non-lethal goods, like blankets or perhaps medical kits. Turkey may complain, but non-lethal goods will not contribute to widening war in the Eastern Mediterranean, a goal that by Erdogan’s own admission could come at any time. – 19FortyFive

Sinem Adar and Hamidreza Azizi write: Overall, Iranian and Turkish interests seem to be increasingly aligning, particularly in their united front against Israel’s actions toward Hamas and in opposing the resurgence of a U.S.-led regional order. However, their historical competition for strategic dominance in areas like Iraq and Syria, coupled with the distinct forms of revisionism that the AKP and Iranian leadership champion on the global stage, suggests that any emerging alliance between them might remain tenuous and susceptible to strains in the mid to long term. – Middle East Institute


Israeli natural gas exports to Egypt have resumed after a disruption last weekend but in small volumes, an official in Egypt’s petroleum ministry said on Thursday, without specifying the current flow. – Reuters

Egypt will help evacuate “about 7,000” foreigners and dual nationals from the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, the country’s foreign ministry said, with the Egyptian Health Ministry announcing hundreds of new arrivals were processed Thursday. – Agence France-Presse

Egypt’s central bank kept interest rates unchanged, likely saving its next bout of monetary tightening for another currency devaluation that’s widely expected to follow December’s presidential elections. – Bloomberg

Gulf States

Gulf Arab power the United Arab Emirates warned on Friday that there was a real risk of a regional spillover from the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, adding that it was working “relentlessly” to secure a humanitarian ceasefire. – Reuters

Bahrain said on Thursday that the Gulf state’s ambassador to Israel had returned home and the Israeli ambassador in Manama had left the kingdom “a while ago”, confirming an earlier statement by parliament linked to the Israel-Hamas conflict. – Reuters

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it planned to treat 1,000 Palestinian children from Gaza, without saying how they would leave the Israeli-besieged enclave for the Gulf state. – Reuters

The US targeted several companies based in the United Arab Emirates in the latest round of Russia-related sanctions as it seeks to up the pressure on the Gulf country to curb ties with Moscow. – Bloomberg

Experts told Breaking Defense that Al Nuaimi’s comments likely reflect the apparent view by the Emirates that the economic and security benefits of the Abraham Accords, including those afforded by Israel’s close ally in Washington, will endure the current crisis. The UAE, more so than most any other nation in the region, had embraced warming relations with Israel, including interest in Israeli-made defense systems. – Breaking Defense

Nickolay Mladenov and Narayanappa Janardhan write: Grasping the Middle East’s perception of global affairs, expanding initiatives like the Abraham Accords, endorsing niche collaboration frameworks such as the I2U2 (India, Israel, the UAE and the US), and broadening alliances by incorporating countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Japan could be initial steps in rejuvenating the region’s ties with Washington. As the Gulf nations chart new courses in a shifting geopolitical landscape, it’s imperative for US policymakers to recalibrate their strategies in kind. – Washington Institute

Middle East & North Africa

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is headed to the Middle East for a series of visits aimed at easing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and is expected to raise the issue of a pause in fighting among other measures, U.S. officials said. – Wall Street Journal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his deputies are speaking with their counterparts in Arab states about plans for governing Gaza after Israel finishes its main military operations there, according to people familiar with the early stage conversations. – Wall Street Journal

Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced a government campaign to collect humanitarian aid for Gaza, gathering more than 60,000 donations worth more than $17 million in its first few hours. – New York Times

Since it went to war with Hamas early last month, Israel has stepped up strikes against Iran-backed militias in Syria which have moved close to the Israeli border. The development comes with a key shift in Israeli policy — it no longer always warns Syria’s patron Russia in advance of attacks on Syrian territory. – Bloomberg

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi will tell U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Amman on Saturday that Israel must end its war on Gaza where he said it was committing war crimes by bombing civilians and imposing a siege. – Reuters

Korean Peninsula

North Korea will increase its military deterrent to ensure its security against a U.S. nuclear arsenal aimed at it, its state media reported on Friday, as it criticised the United States for a recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test. – Reuters

North Korea confirmed on Friday it is shutting some embassies in an effort to “rearrange its diplomatic capacity efficiently”, closures that South Korea says indicates the North is struggling under the burden of sanctions. – Reuters

Leader Kim Jong Un is launching his biggest scaling back of North Korea’s embassies, likely betting he can earn a larger payout in arms deals with the Kremlin than through missions suspected of sending him a cut of their alleged crimes. – Bloomberg

After hitting statutory limits on import-export lending, South Korea is gathering local banks to help Poland buy $22 billion worth of weapons in Seoul’s largest arms sale, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

That’s all part of what international authorities say is a growing mountain of evidence that shows Beijing is helping cash-strapped North Korea evade a broad range of international sanctions designed to hamper Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, according to an Associated Press review of United Nations reports, court records and interviews with experts. – Associated Press


It was a neat encapsulation of how Beijing is trying to promote two key diplomatic aims: Bolstering its status as a champion of developing countries at the same time it is positioning itself as a superpower to rival the United States in a multipolar world, with some notable support. – Washington Post

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will highlight trade as an anchor for stabilising ties when he makes the first visit by an Australian leader to China in seven years, as badly strained relations move back to an even footing, business leaders said. – Reuters

China’s spy agency pledged to help prevent financial sector risks from jeopardizing the country’s national security, as the secretive organization becomes more visible under President Xi Jinping. – Bloomberg

Editorial: It’s understandable that the world is focused on Israel’s war with Hamas. But the U.S. must not lose sight of urgent concerns farther east. Xi is aggressively working to stanch the unparalleled prosperity and order since 1945. The U.S. must do everything possible to ensure that he does not succeed. – Washington Examiner

Karishma Vaswani writes: None of this is easy. Albanese and his formidable foreign minister, Penny Wong, have so far been successful with their diplomatic strategy. What has appeared to work is an understanding that both China and Australia have much to gain from constructive dialogue — and lots to lose from isolation. A new approach, one where tough but fair talk is possible is worthwhile and important. No lasting relationship is possible without reciprocity and respect. – Bloomberg


The United States remains focused on the Indo-Pacific despite other global challenges, top U.S. diplomats said on Thursday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepared to go to Asia after a Middle East trip amid the Israel-Hamas conflict. – Reuters

Chinese and Southeast Asian diplomats renewed a vow to finalize a nonaggression pact for the South China Sea in three years, two regional diplomats said Thursday. The pledge came during a meeting last week in Beijing, where they expressed alarm over recent confrontations in the disputed waters. – Associated Press

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in the Philippines on Friday for a two-day official visit aimed at boosting defence and security ties at a time of heightened tension in Philippines-China relations. – Reuters

China called for a halt to fighting flaring along its border with Myanmar, where a rebel group says it seized several towns, including a trade hub. – Bloomberg

President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday that France and Uzbekistan would develop what he described as a strategic partnership, as the two countries discussed projects in agriculture and uranium. – Reuters

Anna Ohanyan writes: Such conditions are present today in the nexus of interests knotted in Armenia’s south, and the outcome will have global implications for the shape of Eurasia for decades to come. But the opportunity for regional, rules-based integration in the South Caucasus is also real, and it, too, can be realized, if Armenia’s Syunik region is protected. Connectivity on Western terms in Eurasia is now contingent on Armenia’s territorial integrity. – Foreign Policy


As Israeli forces push into the Gaza Strip and the United Nations warns of humanitarian catastrophe for civilians there, some European politicians appear focused on ensuring that those who survive and manage to leave don’t come to Europe. – Washington Post

Germany will from Thursday ban the activities of Hamas, already a designated terrorist organisation in the country, as well as pro-Palestinian group Samidoun, the interior minister announced on Thursday. – Reuters

A top ally of President Vladimir Putin warned Poland on Thursday that the NATO member state was now considered a “dangerous enemy” by Russia and could end up losing its statehood if it continued on its current course. – Reuters

Editorial: Germans understand from their own 20th-century history how dangerous it is to fail to confront hatred for the Jews head-on, even if in recent years they’ve been too slow to do so. Mr. Habeck is doing so now, and his comments offer an example for others. – Wall Street Journal


King Charles and Queen Camilla on Thursday watched UK-trained Kenyan marines stage a mock beach landing on the third day of their official visit to the former British colony. After two days in the capital Nairobi, Charles and Camilla travelled to the port city of Mombasa, the original capital of British East Africa. – Reuters

Africa wants the U.S. Congress to renew its flagship trade programme for the continent for at least 10 years, the African Union’s top trade official said on Thursday, adding that any modifications to the initiative should only be considered later. – Reuters

The US aims to ensure that its preferential trade pact with Africa is replaced without interruption when it expires in two-year’s time, while bringing it up to date. – Bloomberg

Rwanda announced Thursday that it will allow Africans to travel visa-free to the country, becoming the latest nation on the continent to announce such a measure aimed at boosting free movement of people and trade to rival Europe’s Schengen zone. – Associated Press

Security forces and armed groups are committing war crimes against civilians in Africa’s Sahel region, where extremists and rebels are increasingly fighting to exert dominance and control resources in communities, according to new reports from two rights groups. – Associated Press

The Americas

Manuel Barrios joined the battle against Russian forces in Ukraine because a bank threatened to repossess his home in Colombia. Luis Alejandro Herrera returned to the front to recover the savings he lost in a failed attempt to enter the United States through Mexico. Jhoan Cerón fought to provide for his toddler. All three died in a war that their relatives said they knew or cared little about. – New York Times

The U.N. General Assembly called for the 31st time on the United States to end its decades-long trade embargo against Cuba as the communist-run island suffers its worst economic crisis in decades, with shortages of food, fuel and medicine. – Reuters

President Joe Biden is trying to increase trade with Latin America, meeting on Thursday with the heads of the Dominican Republic and Chile as part of a broader effort to disrupt China’s dominance in global manufacturing. – Associated Press

President Joe Biden is gathering leaders from countries across the Americas on Friday in the U.S. capital to discuss the tightening of supply chains and addressing migration issues. – Associated Press

Antonio De La Cruz writes: Nevertheless, Maduro leans heavily on China’s new emperor, hoping to retain China’s diplomatic support amid Western isolation. He hopes to replicate his 2018 election victory despite the fact that countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and those part of the European Union do not recognize him as the legitimately elected president. Maduro also counts on Chevron to continue providing legal foreign exchange until Chinese corporations’ resume investing RMB in Venezuela. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

United States

The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican plan to provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel and cut funding of the Internal Revenue Service, despite Democrats’ insistence it has no future in the Senate and the White House’s promise of a veto. – Reuters

Garry Kasparov writes: Whether fighting anti-Semitism at home or standing up to terror and invasion abroad, America’s leaders and the American people must realize their way of life is under attack. You can lose a war you refuse to acknowledge exists. In fact, you are sure to. – Wall Street Journal

Lorenzo Vidino writes: While some of what Hamas does on American soil is constitutionally protected, it is all in the service of its morally repugnant agenda. If, as President Biden said, “Hamas is ISIS,” there should be no space in politics, academia or the media for those who spin the terrorists’ talking points. – Wall Street Journal


The Israel-Gaza war has again placed TikTok at the center of a heated argument over the globally dominant social media app’s risks and power, with critics saying the popularity of pro-Palestinian videos on the app is more evidence that it should be banned across the United States. – Washington Post

The U.S. government is prepping for a potential onslaught of Iranian cyberattacks in retaliation for support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas. – Politico

More than 300 of the world’s most respected cybersecurity experts have written to European Union lawmakers to warn that a proposed legal reform that may soon become law could fundamentally undermine security online. – The Record

Hackers linked to North Korea are targeting blockchain engineers’ Apple devices with new, advanced malware, researchers have found. – The Record

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it will update security protections for signing keys after coming under criticism from policymakers that deficient security controls allowed Chinese hackers to steal an encryption key, an incident that facilitated an espionage campaign targeting senior U.S. officials. – CyberScoop


The U.S. Department of Defense released a new strategy on its use of data analytics and artificial intelligence as it pushes for additional investment in AI, advanced pattern recognition and autonomous technologies including drones. – Defense News

Boeing expects to deliver the U.S. Air Force’s next F-15EX Eagle II fighter by the end of November, nearly a year after the company originally planned and four months behind its revised estimate. – Defense News

The US Army is on the hunt for an already-in-production armor busting missile that it can quickly field to infantry soldiers on the move in smaller, lighter vehicles, according to a new notice. – Breaking Defense

Long War

Here we go again. From London to Berlin, Rome to Paris, security agencies are on edge, warning Europe’s governments to get ready for a resurgence of Islamist terrorism. Turmoil in the Middle East routinely heralds a jump in extremist activity across the Continent, and counterterrorism bosses are busy ramping up surveillance and increasing precautionary measures as fears of a possible wave of future attacks start to rise. – Politico

Cole Bunzel writes: Although ISIS would be happy to see terrorism against Jewish targets, it supports only what it deems “pure” jihad in the Palestinian territories, meaning jihad by those who adhere to its ideology. Unless al Qaeda or ISIS somehow establishes a foothold in the Palestinian theater, it is difficult to see the crisis in Gaza reviving the fortunes of either group. – Foreign Affairs

Leo Blanken, Ian Rice, and Craig Whiteside write: Israel is not the only state to be surprised by violent non-state special operations. The 2007 Karbala raid, for example, executed by Asaib al-Haq militia members disguised as U.S special forces, succeeded in taking hostages at a U.S. military base in Iraq. As these examples proliferate, it is becoming increasingly clear that states’ monopoly over special operations is over. The growing proliferation of military technologies, coupled with the consistent underestimation of militant groups, is allowing non-state actors to take on states and demonstrate the power to hurt. – War on the Rocks