Executive Summary: Following President Biden’s visit to Israel and the cancellation of his planned summit with Arab leaders, the military situation in Gaza and Israel is increasingly unstable, with signs pointing to a potential ground invasion of Gaza and a protracted conflict despite international ceasefire efforts. Reports of suffering from both sides underscore the devastating human impact. Iran’s role is becoming more overt, not only in influencing the conflict but also in targeting U.S. forces in Syria through drone strikes. Adding to the complexity, Iranian media falsely accused the U.S. of orchestrating a recent hospital strike in Gaza. The other countries in the region are in a state of upheaval, largely advocating for an immediate ceasefire, humanitarian aid access to Gaza, and a two-state solution. Despite increasing warnings over the past three years about Iran’s intentions toward Israel and U.S. interests, the current situation appears to be the initial consequences of American policy of withdrawal and isolation from the Middle East.
Top 5 Headlines:
- Pro-Iranian Militia Drones Attack Al-Tanf Base on Syrian Border.
- Israeli Defense Minister’s Message to Soldiers: Gaza Soon from Within.
- Iran Accuses U.S. of Orchestrating Fatal Strike on Gaza Hospital.
- Jordan and Egypt Reject Forced Palestinian Displacement and Call for Ceasefire.
- UN Sanctions on Iran’s Missile Program Expire, Raising Global Concerns.
- Biden’s Visit to Israel: Mixed Achievements and Regional Tensions. US President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel aimed to prevent further escalation of the Israel-Hamas conflict. While tensions persist, his visit reinforced US support for Israel and secured humanitarian aid access to Gaza. However, it highlighted challenges in managing regional dynamics, particularly after the Baptist Hospital incident (Al Hurra).
- Arabic Media: Second Resignation at US State Department Over Gaza Policy. Sky News Arabia and other Arabic media outlets report the resignation of Lara Friedman, a US State Department official, in protest against US Gaza war policy. Josh Ball, Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, had previously resigned for similar reasons. Both resignations are linked to objections regarding Washington’s handling of the Gaza situation. Lara Friedman, President of the Middle East Peace Foundation, influences American policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict (Sky News Arabia).
- US Central District Commander General Kurilla Visits Egypt. Lieutenant General Michael Kurilla, Commander of the US Central Command, paid a visit to Egypt and met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. During their meeting, they reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening the strategic partnership between Egypt and the United States, with a focus on military and security cooperation (Sky News Arabia).
- US Informs Turkey of Aircraft Carrier Deployment for Civilian Evacuation Near Israel. US officials have informed Turkish counterparts about the deployment of two aircraft carriers near Israel in the eastern Mediterranean. The purpose of this deployment is for potential civilian evacuation. This move was prompted by a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel. The US clarified that the deployment aims to support non-combat operations and deterrence. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the US for this action, warning it could lead to “serious massacres” in Gaza and disrupt Turkish peacekeeping efforts in the region (:24).
ISRAEL & PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
- Israeli Airstrike Targets Hamas National Security Commander and Family. In a significant development, an Israeli airstrike reportedly killed Hamas’s National Security Commander, Jihad Muhaisen, and his family in their home. This event is part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to target key Hamas figures (Sky News Arabia).
- Israel Responds to Rocket Attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas. Israeli security forces retaliated against rocket attacks from southern Lebanon. Approximately 30 rockets were fired into Israel, resulting in rocket impacts in Kiryat Shmona and two reported injuries. Both Hezbollah and Hamas claimed responsibility for the rocket barrages, escalating tensions in the region (Jerusalem Post).
- Israeli Defense Minister’s Message to Soldiers: Gaza Soon from Within. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant’s remarks to infantry soldiers on the Gaza border suggest an impending ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave. He stated, “You see Gaza now from afar, and soon you will see it from within.” Israel is mobilizing troops and preparing for a large-scale air, land, and sea attack amid escalating tensions in the region (Al Hurra).
- Explosion in Tulkarm Injures 10 Israeli Soldiers; Al-Quds Brigades Claim Responsibility. An explosion in Tulkarm left 10 Israeli soldiers injured, with one in serious condition. The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for ambushing the soldiers. Israeli forces declared the Nour Shams camp in Tulkarm a closed military zone. Over the past 24 hours, confrontations in the West Bank led to the death of 6 Palestinians, while in Tulkarm, a young man died after Israeli forces prevented his father from treating him, resulting in his father also being wounded (Al Hadath).
- British PM Sunak Stands by Israel’s Right to Defend Amid Gaza Conflict. In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Netanyahu calls for global unity to combat Hamas, vowing unwavering resolve. Sunak backs Israel’s right to self-defense, emphasizing cooperation for humanitarian aid and hostages’ release in Gaza, while acknowledging Palestinian civilian suffering due to Hamas actions (:24).
- Hamas Accused of Using North Korean Weapons in Attack. A report by the Associated Press suggests that Hamas utilized North Korean weaponry in its October attack on Israel, despite North Korea’s denial of involvement. Evidence includes video footage and captured arms analyzed by experts, revealing the use of North Korean F-7 rocket shells. The findings raise concerns about illicit arms shipments and North Korea’s support for Palestinian militant groups. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the use of F-7 shells by Hamas, challenging North Korea’s denial (Sharq Awsat).
- Families’ Heartbreak: Kidnapped Children in Gaza. In a deeply emotional press conference held in Israel, families of children kidnapped by Hamas during the recent attack on October 7th shared their heart-wrenching stories. As they grapple with the absence of their loved ones, including young children, the families express their profound fear and anguish. Over 203 individuals, including soldiers, women, children, and the elderly, remain hostage in Gaza, intensifying the desperate need for their safe return. The situation continues to be fraught with tension, underscoring the urgency for a resolution (Al Hurra).
- Gaza Children Write Names for Identification Amid Israeli Strikes. Arabic media reports that children who have been displaced in Gaza due to the ongoing Israeli airstrikes are adopting a practice of writing their names on their hands as a precaution for potential identification in case of fatalities (Al Jazeera).
- IDF Presents Evidence of Islamic Jihad’s Role in Gaza Hospital Explosion. IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagari presented comprehensive intelligence, including audio recordings and videos, to demonstrate that an Islamic Jihad rocket caused the damage to a Gaza hospital. The evidence showed the trajectory of the rocket and its impact on the hospital. The IDF’s goal was to clarify the incident for the global audience and underline Israel’s commitment to transparency in the ongoing conflict. Hamas was found to have inflated casualties, and there was no IDF involvement in the hospital strike (Jerusalem Post).
- President Biden wraps up his visit to wartime Israel with a warning against being ‘consumed’ by rage. President Biden’s visit to wartime Israel resulted in vocal support and a humanitarian aid deal for Gaza. He likened the recent Hamas attack to 9/11, understanding the call for justice but cautioning against being consumed by rage, drawing a parallel with the U.S. response to 9/11 (AP).
- Iran Accuses U.S. of Orchestrating Fatal Strike on Gaza Hospital. Iranian media outlet Tasnim claims that U.S. officials masterminded a deadly strike on Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza, aiming to deter an Israeli ground offensive. The report suggests that both American and Israeli leaders were taken aback by Hamas’ recent operation outside Gaza. The U.S. has allegedly warned Israel of the high costs of a ground assault. At least 500 casualties are reported in the hospital strike (Tasnim Agency).
- UN Sanctions on Iran’s Missile Program Expire, Raising Global Concerns. UN sanctions aimed at constraining Iran’s missile and drone programs have expired, allowing Iran to sell these technologies and buy related components. While the E3 European parties maintain their sanctions, the U.S. and E3 have not reinstated UN sanctions. The U.S. imposed new sanctions and issued advisories to limit Iran’s programs. The lapse could embolden Iran and its allies, including Russia, in global conflicts (Iran International).
- Iran Urges OIC Team to Assess Gaza Crisis, Calls for Sanctions on Israel. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, called for an urgent deployment of an Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) delegation to Gaza to assess the humanitarian situation and document Israeli war crimes. He also urged OIC member states to impose sanctions on Israel and establish a tribunal for prosecuting Israeli leaders for their actions in Gaza. Amirabdollahian criticized Israeli military allegations and highlighted the need for humanitarian aid and international condemnation of Israel’s actions in Gaza (Tasnim News).
- Pro-Iranian Militia Drones Attack Al-Tanf Base on Syrian Border. Pro-Iranian militias launched a SECOND drone attack on the Al-Tanf base, located on the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border, affiliated with the international coalition forces. Three Iranian militia drones targeted the base, leading to the downing of two drones and causing material damage. Another report mentioned Iraqi Hezbollah Brigades launching drones at the base and firing missiles at an American military facility in the Conoco oil region near Deir ez-Zor (Sky News Arabia).
- Israeli Warplanes Strike Syrian Army Position in Quneitra. Israeli air force conducted a dawn raid on a Syrian army site in Quneitra, causing material damage but no immediate reports of casualties. This follows a recent Israeli airstrike on Aleppo’s airport, which left five wounded. The strikes coincide with heightened Israeli military activity in southern Lebanon (France 24).
- France Issues International Arrest Warrants for Former Syrian Army Officials. French judicial authorities have issued international arrest warrants for four former senior officials in the Syrian army, suspected of involvement in a 2017 bombing in Daraa that resulted in the death of a French-Syrian civilian. Among those targeted is former Defense Minister Fahd Jassim Al-Freij, accused of complicity in an attack against the civilian population, considered a war crime. France has taken steps to hold perpetrators of violations in Syria accountable, including referring documents related to the “Al-Tadamon neighborhood massacre” to the National Anti-Terrorism Prosecutor’s Office for investigation (Al Hurra).
- Turkish Defense Minister Discusses Regional Developments with Iranian Chief of Staff. According to a statement from the Turkish Ministry of Defense, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar held a phone call with Iranian Chief of Staff General Mohammad Bagher on Thursday. During the call, they discussed the latest regional developments, as well as issues related to security, defense, and regional matters (Anadolu Agency).
- UK Foreign Secretary Visits Turkiye, Egypt, and Qatar to Address Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly plans to visit Turkiye, Egypt, and Qatar to discuss the implications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the region. During his three-day tour, Cleverly will explore ways to prevent the escalation of the conflict into the broader region and seek a peaceful resolution. The visit aims to maintain regional stability, secure the release of hostages, and facilitate humanitarian aid access to Gaza (Anadolu Agency).
- Turkish Manufacturers Secure $211 Million Armored Vehicle Deal with Estonia. Turkiye’s Otokar and Nurol Makina have signed a contract with Estonia to supply 230 armored vehicles worth approximately $211 million. The contract includes 4X4 and 6X6 vehicles for Estonian security forces, as well as four-wheeled armored vehicles for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Centre of the Estonian Rescue Board. The deal strengthens defense ties between Turkiye and Estonia, with both countries emphasizing the importance of cooperation in the defense industry. The vehicles supplied will enhance the Estonian army’s capabilities and regional security (Daily Sabah).
- Iraqi Parliament Receives Request to Expel American Ambassador Over Gaza Crisis. Representative Alaa Al-Rikabi, supported by House of Representatives members, has submitted a parliamentary request for the expulsion of the American ambassador from Iraq. The move is in protest against perceived “heinous crimes” by the Zionist entity in Gaza. The request labels the ambassador as “unwelcome” (Iraqi News).
- Al-Sadr Warns Against Transferring Palestinians to Anbar. Muqtada al-Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, cautioned against what he referred to as a “malicious idea” of relocating Gazans to Iraq, particularly Anbar Governorate. He rejected any support for this idea and emphasized that neither the U.S. nor Israel could determine the fate of Anbar or other regions. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa Al-Sudani renewed Iraq’s support for Palestinian rights and called for a unified mechanism to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, stressing the need to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the region (Sharq Awsat).
THE GULF REGION & YEMEN
- Gulf Stock Markets Decline Amid Israel-Gaza Conflict. Gulf stock markets faced early trading losses due to ongoing unrest resulting from the Israel-Gaza conflict. The Saudi index dropped by 0.4%, impacted by declines in Elm Digital Solutions Company and the National Bank of Saudi Arabia shares. Meanwhile, the Dubai index fell by 0.7%, primarily due to drops in Emaar Properties and Salik shares. Qatar’s index also decreased by 0.8%, with Qatar National Bank shares falling (SBI).
EGYPT & NORTH AFRICA
- Cairo Summit Urges Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza, Rejects Forced Displacement. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Jordanian King Abdullah II, in a joint statement, called for an immediate end to the Gaza war and condemned the policy of collective punishment against the Gaza Strip. They warned of a potential regional catastrophe if the conflict escalates further and rejected any attempts at forced displacement of Gaza’s residents to Jordan or Egypt. The leaders emphasized the need to protect civilians, lift the siege, and provide humanitarian aid to Gaza (Sharq Awsat).
- UN Chief in Cairo for Gaza De-escalation Talks, Aid Ready at Rafah Crossing. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is in Cairo discussing efforts to reduce the military escalation in Gaza. The World Health Organization has five trucks loaded with medical supplies ready at the Gaza-Egypt border. Egypt and the United States are working to deliver aid to Gaza, with plans to enter up to 20 trucks through the Rafah crossing in the near future (Al Hadath).
- Egypt and China Sign Debt Swap Memorandum for Development Projects. Egypt and China have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to exchange debts to support development projects. The MoU was signed during an official visit to Beijing by Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly. This agreement aims to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the field of debt exchange to implement development projects and promote sustainable development. Egypt has previously engaged in similar debt-swap programs with Italy and Germany, fostering comprehensive development initiatives in partnership with these countries. This agreement strengthens the strategic partnership between Egypt and China (Sky News Arabia).
- Jordan and Egypt Reject Forced Palestinian Displacement and Call for Ceasefire. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi have reiterated their unified stance against collective punishment, siege, starvation, or displacement of Palestinians in Gaza. They condemned any attempts at forced displacement to Jordan or Egypt. Both leaders called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, protection of civilians, lifting of the blockade, and humanitarian aid delivery. They warned that the ongoing conflict’s escalation and expansion could lead to a dangerous regional crisis. The two leaders emphasized their unwavering support for Palestinian rights and the establishment of an independent state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital (Al Nahar).
- Egypt’s President Sisi Discusses Gaza Developments with US Central Command Chief. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and US Central Command chief General Michael Kurilla met to address the developments in Gaza. They stressed the need for de-escalation between Israelis and Palestinians, emphasizing the potential regional security risks if the conflict expands. They also highlighted the importance of providing sustainable humanitarian aid to Gaza, given the severe humanitarian conditions in the area. General Kurilla commended Egypt’s significant role in maintaining regional security and stability (Sharq Awsat).
- Libya Ready to Support Gaza, Rejects Calls for Displacement. The Libyan representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation affirmed Libya’s support for the Palestinian cause and its readiness to provide assistance, including military support, to Gaza. The organization rejected calls for Gaza’s displacement and emphasized the centrality of the Palestinian issue, self-determination, and the right of return for refugees (Roya News).
- Morocco Thwarts ISIS Attack Plans, Arrests Suspects. Moroccan authorities arrested four individuals aged 25 to 32 for suspected involvement in plotting terrorist attacks aimed at destabilizing the kingdom. The arrests followed escalating threats from ISIS and other terrorist groups. Authorities found electronic equipment, bladed weapons, ISIS-related documents, and instructions for joining the organization’s camps. The suspects possessed images of terrorist attacks and calls for recruitment, along with a guide on secret operations used by terrorist organizations (Asharq).
- Escalating Clashes in Southern Lebanon Prompt International Evacuations. Tensions rise as Israel and Hezbollah exchange fire near the Lebanese-Israeli border. Both sides report casualties and infrastructure damage. Amid growing international concern, several countries, including the U.S., urge their citizens to leave Lebanon. Israel also begins evacuating northern border towns. The clashes are the most severe in years, intensifying since the Hamas attack on Israel earlier this month (Al Hurra).
- U.S. Privately Urges Israel to Avoid War with Hezbollah Amid Gaza Crisis. The Biden administration has privately advised Israel against initiating a military campaign against Hezbollah to prevent the ongoing Gaza conflict from spreading. Washington expressed concern and urged caution in responding to Hezbollah’s actions, stating that the U.S. would protect its interests if necessary (Times of Israel).