Fdd's overnight brief

October 12, 2023

In The News


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to form a national unity government that includes members of the opposition and former military leaders, a move aimed at reassuring a country still reeling from the deadly attack by Hamas militants that killed 1,200 Israelis. – Wall Strret Journal 

More than a quarter-million Gazans fled their homes and some tried to escape the strip for Egypt as Israeli forces launched new rounds of airstrikes in the enclave and exchanged fire with militants in Lebanon. – Wall Street Journal 

A scholar committed to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A former intensive-care nurse. A Missouri native who died shielding her teenage son. These are some of the 22 Americans killed in Saturday’s terrorist attacks in Israel. An unknown number of U.S. citizens are also being held hostage by Hamas. It is unclear whether any American citizens have been killed by retaliatory Israeli strikes on Gaza. – Washington Post

Over the past two decades, Israel has tried to assassinate Mohammed Deif several times, maiming him in attacks and killing his wife and baby son. The commander of the armed wing of Hamas on Saturday inflicted in return one of the deadliest-ever Palestinian blows on Israel. – Wall Street Journal 

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Wednesday that the Israel-Gaza war was a potential concern for the global economy and signaled that additional U.S. sanctions could be coming in response to the attack on Israel by Hamas. – New York Times 

Israel said on Thursday there would be no humanitarian break to its siege of the Gaza Strip until all its hostages were freed, after the Red Cross pleaded for fuel to be allowed in to prevent overwhelmed hospitals from “turning into morgues”. – Reuters 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, a Palestinian official said early on Thursday. – Reuters 

The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency said on Wednesday it was seeking $104 million for life-saving aid to Gaza, which has been pounded by Israeli reprisal strikes following attacks by Hamas against Israel. – Reuters 

Berlin will allow Israel to use two Heron drones the German air force has in use in the country, defence minister Boris Pistorius said on Thursday ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels. – Reuters 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over what he described as a lack of preparation for a weekend attack by Palestinian Hamas militants that killed at least 1,200 people in Israel. – Reuters 

A bank account at British bank Barclays linked to fundraising for the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been frozen, Israeli police said. – Reuters

Former Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal called for protests across the Muslim world on Friday in support of the Palestinians and for the peoples of neighboring countries to join the fight against Israel. – Reuters 

Within hours of the horrific attack by Hamas, the U.S. began moving warships and aircraft to the region to be ready to provide Israel with whatever it needs to respond. A second U.S. carrier strike group departs from Norfolk, Virginia, on Friday. Scores of aircraft are heading to U.S. military bases around the Middle East. And special operations forces are now assisting Israel’s military in planning and intelligence. – Associated Press

The US State Department is warning Americans to reconsider travel to Israel in the wake of the weekend’s deadly Hamas attacks. – CNN

Israeli settlers shot and killed three Palestinians on Wednesday after entering a village in the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported. – Haaretz 

Muhammad Nazal, a member of the political bureau of Hamas, told the Arabic media site Al Jazeera: “Hamas avoided participating in the last rounds of combat (Shield and Arrow, Breaking Dawn) in order to preserve its ammunition and capabilities for this operation.” – Jerusalem Post

The IDF is continuing to strike terror targets in the Gaza Strip in recent hours. Palestinian Arab sources reported six dead in an attack in Khan Yunis. Al Jazeera TV reported at least 33 dead within two hours in IDF strikes in the Gaza Strip. – Arutz Sheva

There are significant growing signs of Hamas control over Gaza already starting to falter, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari said on Wednesday, six days into the war started by its invasion of Israel’s South and five days into overwhelming Israeli counter-airstrikes – Jerusalem Post

IDF fighter jets carried out a night of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas’ elite fighting unit Nokhba, which spearheaded the mass infiltration from the Strip on Saturday. – Jerusalem Post

With its ample offshore natural gas resources, Israel has long dreamed of establishing itself as a major energy player in the Eastern Mediterranean, and in its more ambitious moments, even becoming a key supplier to Europe. But as the country reels from a devastating surprise attack by the Islamist militant group Hamas, the prospect of a full-blown war threatens to roil global energy markets, especially impacting the gas supply in the neighborhood—and with it, Israel’s energy ambitions. – Foreign Policy

Editorial: There you have it. Hamas presented the illusion that it cared about Palestinians in order to dupe Israel into putting its guard down. Then it pursued its main ambition, which is to kill as many Jews as possible. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The American clarity here and the concrete steps it has taken to bolster Israel’s position – both by positioning the strike force in the region and by rushing air defense capabilities and munitions to Israel – are welcome and appreciated. After Saturday’s horror, there is some comfort in knowing we do not stand alone. – Jerusalem Post

Editorial: This is a war against a cruel and relentless enemy driven by bloodlust and hate. Hamas cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be contained. It must be resolutely defeated, and that defeat must be crushing and unforgiving. That is Israel’s task in the days and weeks ahead. The world must have Israel’s back – if not for Israel’s sake then for its own. – Jerusalem Post

Walter E. Block and Alan G. Futerman write: Hence, the West needs to understand that to defend human life and dignity, it isn’t enough to claim to side with Israel. It needs to understand what this means: total, unrestrictive support. That is nothing less than allowing this beleaguered country to defend itself fully. To recognize that Hamas needs to be destroyed for the same reason and by the same method that the Nazis were. – Wall Street Journal 

Yuval Noah Harari writes: In this hour of need, we also call upon our friends throughout the world to stand by us. There is much to criticize about Israel’s past behavior. The past cannot be changed, but hopefully once victory over Hamas is secured, Israelis will not only hold our current government to account, but will also abandon populist conspiracies and messianic fantasies — and make an honest effort to realize Israel’s founding ideals of democracy at home and peace abroad. – Washington Post

Marc A. Thiessen writes: Now it’s Biden’s turn to enforce a red line set by his predecessor. Iran has already gotten away with the murder of 22 Americans. We cannot allow even one more to be killed with impunity. – Washington Post 

David Harden writes: The days ahead will be bloody and difficult for Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas may well have set a trap if it induces an Israeli invasion of Gaza. Before Israel makes that call, it needs to have a strategy for exiting Gaza and a plan for the day after. An Israeli miscalculation in Gaza could trigger a crisis in the Middle East that lasts for generations. – New York Times 

Nicholas Kristof writes: The counsel we Americans should offer Israel is threefold and admittedly difficult to follow. First, Israel has right on its side when it goes after its assailants. Second, urban combat has a poor record in achieving its goals — and a considerable history of horrendous casualties. Third, if your moral compass is attuned to the suffering of only one side, your compass is broken, and so is your humanity. – New York Times 

Michael Rubin writes: So it is with Gaza. Self-declared human rights advocates might scream bloody murder, but to allow Hamas to survive is simply to compound the tragedy Palestinians suffer under and due to their rule. It is time to end Hamas as resolutely as Vietnam and Cambodian forces ended the Khmer Rouge. – Washington Examiner 

Calder McHugh writes: The worst case scenario is Iran and Syria get involved more directly, or Hezbollah in the north. That’s what I’m very concerned with. But I think there are possibilities in the next 30, 60, 90 days, where this can be de-escalated. A lot depends on what Iran does. A lot depends on what happens in the north. I think this is likely going to be a protracted conflict over months, not weeks. That’s only my calculus. – Politico 

Elena Grossfeld writes: As Netanyahu shifts toward authoritarian governance while navigating a contentious coalition, consensus-building is far off. It will be hard for any investigation to avoid becoming drawn into political battles that seek to find a scapegoat instead of looking for real answers—and that scapegoat may well be the intelligence community itself. – Foreign Policy

Jon B. Alterman writes: Arab governments may have a role in helping shape a political outcome in Gaza that simultaneously helps advance Palestinian national aspirations while also dealing a blow to Islamist movements and Iranian proxies. – Center for Strategic and International Studies

Emily Harding writes: Israeli leaders have publicly acknowledged that they were surprised by the attack, but they have also brushed away questions about intelligence failures. They rightly point out that they are at war, and that focus must remain on finding the perpetrators of the attack and the hostages they took. When the initial wave of responses abates, the hard work of taking apart the last few months and identifying what went wrong will begin, so this kind of intelligence failure does not happen again. – Center for Strategic and International Studies


Tehran likely knew Hamas was planning operations against Israel but didn’t know the precise timing or scope of the surprise attack the group mounted last week, according to a preliminary unclassified assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies. – Wall Street Journal 

Even as administration members acknowledge that Tehran backs Hamas, they issue lawyerly statements that seem designed to exonerate the Islamic Republic. That soon may have to change. – New York Sun

President Biden issued a cryptic warning to Iran Wednesday to “be careful” despite his administration painstakingly denying any links between the country and the brutal attacks by Hamas that butchered more than 1,200 people in Israel. – Fox News 

While revealing new details about one of the most famed CIA operations of all times — the spiriting out of six American diplomats who escaped the 1979 U.S. Embassy seizure in Iran — the intelligence agency for the first time has acknowledged something else as well. – Associated Press

Lawrence Kudlow writes: In effect, Mr. Trump was surrounding Iran with all these Abraham Accord peace deals. The entire political dynamic of the region was changed. During Mr. Trump’s tenure, there was no massive Hamas-Iranian invasion of Israel. Why can’t the Bidens learn these lessons? There is a difference between strength and weakness. – New York Sun

US Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Mitch McConnel (R-KY) on Wednesday announced that they would introduce legislation to formally freeze $6 billion in Iranian funds released to the regime in Tehran in a recent prisoner exchange deal amid reports of Iran’s involvement in Hamas’ terrorist assault against Israel over the weekend. – The Algemeiner

US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that his administration has warned Iran not to escalate the conflict between Tehran’s proxy Hamas and Israel. – Times of Israel 

Editorial: President Biden now faces a similar reckoning with Iran. For three years he has tried to appease Tehran into taming its revolutionary ambitions. That hope has exploded with the Iran-backed slaughter of more than 1,000 Israelis and Americans. Can Mr. Biden make a Carter-like pivot back to reality? His legacy may depend on it. – Wall Street Journal

Editorial: Obama’s vision for a rebalanced Middle East built around a civilized and responsible Iranian regime was vaporous wish fulfillment. The nuclear deal was a terrible mistake. Biden’s decision to relax oil sanctions to revive it was bone-headed. Biden’s decision to unfreeze $6 billion compounded the litany of errors. All these huge blunders contributed to the war now unleashed on Israel. Biden can begin to undo the damage he and Obama did to the region by refreezing the $6 billion. It won’t make everything right, but it would be a start. – Washington Examiner 

Ilan I. Berman writes: All of this has been a boon for Tehran. It has allowed the current Iranian regime to depict itself as durable, consolidated, and in control—and to empower sympathetic experts in the West to spread that same message. Now that this influence campaign has been exposed, it should lead us to question whether that is the case. – American Foreign Policy Council

Russia & Ukraine

Belgium is creating a $1.8 billion fund for Ukraine using tax revenue from profit generated by seized Russian central bank assets, its prime minister said on Wednesday. – Wall Street Journal 

On Wednesday, Ukraine’s security service identified the two brothers as suspected informants who helped Russia carry out a missile strike that killed more than 50 at a funeral here last week. – Wall Street Journal 

While big, complex maneuvers unfold in Ukraine’s southern counteroffensive, and long-range artillery duels thunder along the front lines, such small-team tactics are less visible. But these stealthy assaults of a handful of soldiers storming enemy positions have been quietly instrumental in recent gains in the eastern Donetsk region outside Bakhmut, Ukrainian fighters and commanders said. – Washington Post

Ukraine thwarted an attempt overnight by a Russian saboteur group to cross its northeastern border in the Sumy region, the commander of the Joint Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday. – Reuters

Germany will send about €1 billion (U.S. $1.1 billion) worth of air defense systems to Ukraine as part of a second “winter package” for the embattled country, the German Defence Ministry said in a statement Tuesday. – Defense News

Adam Taylor writes: Russia’s relations with Israel are a relatively recent concept. During the Cold War, Moscow armed the Arab states that antagonized Israel, leading the Soviet Union to break off diplomatic relations after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Ukraine may well hope they can be fully broken again: Axios reported Wednesday that Zelensky had officially requested a visit to Israel, a potential show of solidarity that could cement a closer relationship. – Washington Post

Gonzalo Vázquez writes: Aside from potential attacks against land targets, Russian efforts in the region are focused on critical undersea infrastructure, such as oil and gas platforms in the North Sea and the extensive network of submarine cables. Facing this will require NATO allies to strengthen their submarine deployments around the Norwegian/Barents seas, as well as their maritime surveillance capabilities. – Center for European Policy Analysis


Lebanon’s Hezbollah has moved carefully since Hamas and Israel went to war, keeping Israeli troops busy with attacks at the Lebanese border but not opening a big front, sources familiar with its thinking say. The Iran-backed group is on a war footing, deploying special forces and priming its rockets in preparation for the possibility of war. Tensions are higher than at any point since it fought a 2006 conflict with Israel, the sources said. Three Hezbollah fighters have already been killed. – Reuters

Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns on Wednesday in response to a fresh rocket attack by powerful armed group Hezbollah, as cross-border violence extended into a fourth day. – Reuters 

Air-raid sirens sounded in northern Israel and local residents were told to go to bomb shelters, but authorities later said reports of an “airspace intrusion” from Lebanon were a false alarm. – Bloomberg


Turkey, which has historically had contacts with Hamas, is carrying out negotiations aimed at securing the release of civilians held by the militant Palestinian group, a senior Turkish official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

A top official within Turkey’s Ministry of National Education has posted a message on X telling Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “One day they will shoot you too” and “You will die.” – Fox News

Turkey, Romania, and Bulgaria will work together against the threat of floating mines in the Black Sea due to war between Russia and Ukraine, the Turkish Defence Ministry said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Middle East & North Africa

The European Investment Bank said on Wednesday it will lend Morocco 1 billion euros ($1.06 billion) over the next three years to support the north African country’s reconstruction efforts after a September earthquake. – Reuters

Egypt has discussed plans with the United States and others to provide humanitarian aid through its border with Gaza Strip but rejects any move to set up safe corridors for refugees fleeing the enclave, Egyptian security sources said on Wednesday. – Reuters 

Andrew Tabler writes: To constrain Iran’s options and keep the Hamas-Israel crisis from spreading, Washington should directly warn President Bashar al-Assad not to enter the war and restrain Iran-backed militias along the Golan frontier, echoing previous warnings reportedly conveyed by the United Arab Emirates at Washington’s behest. At the same time, U.S. officials should closely watch the new regime escalation in Idlib. – Washington Institute 

Tom Rogan writes: Were the 26th MEU ordered to the Mediterranean, however, it would be a notable development. It would signal escalated U.S. contingency staging for a possible evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and/or ground combat operations along the Israel-Lebanon border. And while the White House might be reluctant to deploy the 26th MEU for fear of fueling an escalation dynamic, U.S. Central Command is already engaged in updated contingency planning. – Washington Examiner 

Haid Haid writes: Despite Jordan’s success in intercepting 11 drones this year, insights from well-informed sources strongly suggest that numerous others have managed to evade detection and reach their intended targets. Furthermore, it is reasonable to anticipate that smugglers’ tactics and capabilities will continue to evolve as this method of illicit transport becomes more refined. Consequently, the United States and its key allies must consider bolstering Jordan’s technical capacities and enhancing its intelligence gathering capabilities to effectively counter the multifaceted threats posed by these drones to its national security. – Middle East Institute


China has cast itself as a neutral geopolitical player in the Middle East.  […] Yet China’s stakes in the Middle East are high, particularly if the war now being fought in Israel and Gaza were to broaden through the region. One big reason: oil. – New York Times 

The U.S. says it has accepted an invitation to attend China’s top annual security forum in late October, the latest sign of potentially warming ties between the two countries’ militaries. – New York Times 

The European Union’s top diplomat has waited all year for the right moment to visit China. Now, he’s finally arriving with the differences between Brussels and Beijing looking larger than ever. Josep Borrell’s three-day visit starting Thursday comes as the EU navigates a delicate task: pushing back against Chinese subsidies it says disadvantage European companies, while trying to prevent the $900 billion relationship from imploding into a trade war. – Bloomberg

Hackers linked to the Chinese government are exploiting a recently-discovered vulnerability affecting an Atlassian product, according to Microsoft. – The Record

South Asia

Sri Lanka has reached an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China to cover about $4.2 billion of the island nation’s outstanding debt, its finance ministry said in a statement on Thursday. – Reuters 

China and India held the 20th round of military chief-level talks on Oct.9-10, the Chinese defence ministry said on Thursday. The two sides had “active, in-depth and constructive” communications on resolving the remaining issues in the western section of the China-India border in an “early and acceptable manner”, the ministry said. – Reuters 

A pair of gunmen walked into a mosque in eastern Pakistan on Wednesday and opened fire at the worshippers, killing a member of an outlawed anti-India militant group and another man before fleeing the scene, authorities said. – Associated Press


Israel’s ambassador to Japan said on Thursday that his host country should be “vigilant” and look at what Hamas was doing with the aid it extends to Palestinians.- Reuters

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un exchanged letters with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, vowing to advance their ties and wishing him victory over what he called hegemony and pressure from imperialists, Pyongyang’s state media KCNA said. – Reuters 

Taiwan has set up a task force to draw lessons from the surprise attack by Hamas on Israel, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday, saying intelligence is key to preventing a war as the island works to counter China’s military threats. – Reuters 

A military tribunal in strife-torn Myanmar has sentenced two high-ranking generals to life imprisonment after they were found guilty of high treason, accepting bribes, illegal possession of foreign currency and violating military discipline, state-run media reported Wednesday. – Associated Press

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Thursday credited improved relations with China for the return home this week of an Australian journalist whose three-year detention in China in a murky espionage case had strained ties. – Associated Press


NATO will discuss damage to a gas pipeline and data cable running between member states Finland and Estonia, and will mount a “determined” response if a deliberate attack is proven, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Israel is hoping the European Union can put pressure on the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon’s purse strings in an effort to keep Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah out of the war. – Foreign Policy

MEP Joachim Kuhs writes: The EU must suspend all funding to “Palestine” until the recipients agree to condemn all forms of terrorism and sit down at the negotiating table with Israel. And Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff must resign or be recalled immediately. – Arutz Sheva

Ruth Wasserman Lande writes: The recent events have crossed many red lines, bringing to the surface that which Israelis have known and lived with for decades. These cruel leaderships are not ones with which Israel can move forward with a rational peace agreement. Feeding and nourishing these regimes with European taxpayers’ well-earned money will not in any way be helpful to the civilian Palestinian population. On the very contrary. It will only serve to enhance the decay, incitement, hatred, and horrifying acts of terrorism on Israelis to which the entire world was exposed in the last several days. – Jerusalem Post


Niger’s junta has demanded that the top United Nations official there leave the country within 72 hours over accusations that Niger was excluded from the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders in New York last month. – Reuters 

Many poor countries in Africa face the harshest effects of climate change: severe droughts, vicious heat and dry land, but also unpredictable rain and devastating flooding. The shocks worsen conflict and upend livelihoods because many people are farmers — work that is increasingly vulnerable in a warming world. – Associated Press

French troops have started leaving Niger more than two months after mutinous soldiers toppled the African country’s democratically elected president, the military said Wednesday. – Associated Press

The Americas

The Dominican Republic partially reopened its border with Haiti on Wednesday to limited commercial activity nearly a month after shuttering the frontier in a continuing spat over construction of a canal targeting water from a shared river. – Associated Press

Holders of defaulted debt issued by Venezuela and its state oil company said they made two filings in New York on Wednesday to validate an August agreement designed to “toll”, or pause, the statute of limitations on claims.- Reuters

Barbados is hoping to execute a “debt-for-climate” swap early next year to secure savings of around $300 million over a 15 year period to fund clean water supplies, the island state’s finance minister told Reuters on Tuesday. –Reuters


Boeing has flown a new version of the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter with upgraded capabilities, the company announced Oct. 11 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. – Defense News

The Space Force is taking applications from companies and universities for the first round of space domain awareness projects at its Colorado Springs, Colorado-based technology hub, Project Apollo. – Defense News

Some members of Congress on Wednesday left open the possibility of deeper U.S. military involvement in the unfolding war between Israel and Hamas as Americans were killed and taken hostage, and others were struggling to leave a country at war. – Milatary.com

The secretary of defense said Wednesday that the Pentagon is able to continue providing aid to Ukraine in its war against Russian invasion and also support Israel after a Hamas attack Saturday sparked a new and bloody war there. – Military.com