26 October 2023

After Hamas Attacks, Terror Threats Are on the Rise

Lynne O’Donnell

In the weeks since the atrocities committed by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7, there’s been an alarming uptick in terrorist activity in Europe, with Western intelligence chiefs warning that Islamist extremists, jihadis, and antisemites, inspired by Hamas’s bold attack, could be looking for new ways to attack Western targets. Groups affiliated with al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and the Taliban, and based across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, will likely try to demonstrate their own capabilities to secure attention in a crowded field. After all, terror groups need the publicity of high-profile attacks to attract recruits, cash, weapons, and protection.

Why Erdogan Is Unlikely to Cut Ties With Hamas

Sinan Ciddi

Since Hamas carried out its barrage of deadly attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, Turkey has come under the spotlight for its relationship with the Islamist militant group. Ankara has been a material supporter and enabler of Hamas since 2011. However, until last week, this was mainly perceived by the United States to be a problem only in that it served as a roadblock in Turkey’s attempts to normalize its relationship with Israel. Now, the United States and Israel will likely increase pressure on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to cut ties with Hamas.

Hamas frees two Israeli women as US advises delaying ground war to allow talks on captives


RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas on Monday released two elderly Israeli women held hostage in Gaza as the United States expressed increasing concern that the escalating Israel-Hamas war will spark a wider conflict in the region, including attacks on American troops.

The death toll in Gaza rose rapidly as Israel ramped up airstrikes that flattened buildings in what it said was preparation for an eventual ground assault. The United States advised Israel to delay the expected invasion to allow time to negotiate the release of more hostages taken by Hamas during its brutal incursion two weeks ago.

A third small aid convoy from Egypt entered Gaza, where the population of 2.3 million has been running out of food, water and medicine under Israel’s sealed border. With Israel still barring entry of fuel, the United Nations said its distribution of aid would grind to a halt within days when it can no longer fuel trucks inside Gaza. Hospitals flooded by a constant stream of wounded are struggling to keep generators running to power lifesaving medical equipment and incubators for premature babies.

The two freed hostages, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper, were taken out of Gaza at the Rafah crossing into Egypt, where they were put into ambulances, according to footage shown on Egyptian TV. The two women, along with their husbands, were snatched from their homes in the kibbutz of Nir Oz near the Gaza border during Hamas’ Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israeli communities. Their husbands, ages 83 and 84, were not released.

What to know about Israel's military strength

Israel has for decades established itself as one of the most formidable and technologically advanced military powers in the Middle East.

Why it matters: With an annual military budget exceeding $20 billion and access to some of the most advanced U.S. military hardware, Israel controls the skies and much of the sea around its territory, and it has superior cyber capabilities.The military arm of Hamas has for more than three decades relied on a guerrilla-warfare-style strategy using rockets, snipers, improvised explosive devices and underground tunnels in attacks against Israel.

The Israeli military has maintained near total control over the borders and movement of people, goods and security in Gaza since 2007.

The big picture

The Israel Defense Forces, founded two weeks after the state of Israel was established in 1948, relies on a tradition of compulsory military service beginning at age 18.There are approximately 169,500 active-duty personnel and roughly 465,000 Israelis in reserve units.

Our Post-Hamas Wreckage

Victor Davis Hanson

As Hamas goes, so with it go many of the following related Western pretensions.

The Passions of 9/11, Redux

It has been 22 years since we saw crowds throughout the Middle East celebrating the murder of 3,000 civilians—and since newspapers had daily “idiot watch” notices of American intellectuals defending radical Islamist mass murderers. And now the madness is back again, and we are witnessing the recrudescence of normalizing radical Islamic terrorists abroad.

I suppose the theory is that no one in America cares much about radical Islamists foaming at the mouth, whether abroad or here. And the result is that they are empowered and their defense of murder is growing—yet its hubris will earn an almost-certain response, an anger slowly but insidiously growing at radical Islam.

A Middle East Policy in Ruins

The current Biden appeasement of Iran and gift of billions of dollars in aggregate to the West Bank and Gaza are now, by bipartisan consensus, unsustainable. The only supporters of that lethal madness left are the embarrassments of BLM, the Squad, the Democratic Socialists of America, and the campus crowd.

'REAL DANGER' Six terrifying steps that could see Gaza crisis spiral into WW3 with Brit & US boots on the ground, warns ex-Navy chief

Iona Cleave

THE Gaza crisis could spiral into an all-out world war in six terrifying steps, an ex-Navy chief has warned.

If things “go really wrong”, Admiral Lord West predicted the UK and US could see boots on the ground in Israel – and Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Russia might be drawn into the fight.

8The Israel-Hamas conflict risks spiralling into an all-out war


8Israel is waiting to unleash the full force of its military might on the Gaza Strip

The US and Israel Weigh a Future for Gaza Without Hamas

Peter Martin and Jennifer Jacobs

U.S. and Israeli officials looking to the future of the Gaza Strip after dislodging Hamas have begun discussing possibilities, including potentially installing an interim government backed by the United Nations and with the involvement of Arab governments, people familiar with US government deliberations said.

The discussions are still at an early stage and hinge on developments yet to unfold, not least of which would be success in an Israeli ground assault, according to the people, who asked not to be identified detailing private deliberations. And any such possibility would need buy-in from Arab nations around the region, which is by no means certain.

Israeli officials have said repeatedly that they don’t intend to occupy Gaza, but they’ve also said that continued rule by Hamas is unacceptable after the Oct. 7 attack in which the group killed 1,400 Israelis and took 200 people hostage.

The challenge of achieving both of those objectives has helped fuel US worries that Israel hasn’t given sufficient thought to what comes after a ground assault. The US is also worried that a Gaza attack with no clear objective beyond ousting Hamas could fan the conflict into a regional war.

President Joe Biden has urged Israel to formulate a long-term plan and expressed concern that it will make similar mistakes to the US after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Following those, America invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. While it achieved some of its aims, including weakening Al Qaeda, it got bogged down for years and lost thousands of troops.

Eying Gaza mediator role, Turkey cools Hamas ties, Erdogan restrains rhetoric

Fehim Tastekin

Ankara has politely shown the door to Hamas leaders staying in Turkey, according to two sources, as it walks a diplomatic tightrope, careful not to jeopardize its recent thaw with Israel while maintaining support for the Palestinian cause.

Turkey has been trying to carefully calibrate its stance in the face of the war that Hamas launched against Israel on Oct. 7, maintaining its advocacy of the Palestinian cause while cooling ties with Hamas and seeking to avoid a fresh fallout with Israel.

The crisis hit at a time when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing normalization with regional powers including Israel. After years of bilateral spats, Erdogan met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York last month and invited him to visit Ankara.

At first glance, one could suggest that the Erdogan government’s close relations with Hamas have now driven it into a corner. Moreover, one could expect growing US pressure on Ankara to sever ties with Hamas after the dust settles.

Nevertheless, for the West, Turkey at present represents a partner who can talk to Hamas, and this serves as a sort of lightning rod for Erdogan’s government. The calls made to Ankara requesting its mediation for the release of foreign hostages held by Hamas have given Erdogan the opportunity to play the role he was hoping for.

Why Egypt Leaves Palestinians in Gaza to Die


Viewed from Washington, Hamas’ barbaric attack on Israel must have seemed a gift to the Egyptian regime. Shunned by Washington due to its dismal human rights record, and confronting a serious economic crisis, Egypt’s fortunes were running downhill fast even before federal prosecutors indicted U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez on charges of conspiring to act as a foreign agent for Egypt, putting the prospect of a continuation of the U.S. annual aid to the country in question. With Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians, and the certainty of a massive Israeli ground invasion to follow, it seemed like Cairo would once again become a desired partner to bring stability and peace to the region—in return for much-needed financial assistance of course.

Instead, with many innocent Palestinian lives at stake, Egypt has strongly and consistently rejected the opportunity to play a constructive role in a major regional crisis. Not only has Egypt refused to open the Rafah crossing to allow the evacuation of Americans from Gaza, but it has insisted that under no circumstances would it allow Palestinian civilians to flee to Sinai. U.S. Secretary of State Blinken was also on the receiving end of a bizarre tirade by Egypt’s dictator, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who insisted that Jews had never been oppressed in the Middle East. Coming in the aftermath of his humiliation in Saudi Arabia, Secretary Blinken’s ordeal at el-Sissi’s hands must have seemed a good metaphor for the Biden administration’s failure in the Middle East.

Developing World Sees Double Standard in West’s Actions in Gaza and Ukraine

Neil MacFarquhar

Damage from Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip last week. While Washington has vehemently criticized Russia for attacks on civilians in Ukraine, critics say it has expressed little about similar suffering in Gaza.

For 20 months, the Biden administration has attempted to stake out the moral high ground against Russia, condemning its brutal war on Ukraine for indiscriminately killing civilians.

The argument resonated in much of the West, but less so in other parts of the world, which viewed the war as more of a great-power conflict and declined to participate in sanctions or otherwise isolate Russia.

Now, as Israel bombards the Gaza Strip, killing more than 4,300 people since Oct. 7, the Biden administration’s unwavering support risks creating new headwinds in its efforts to win over global public opinion.

War Has Smashed Assumptions About Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Steven Erlanger

Some paradigms taken for granted about Israel and the Palestinians, both in Gaza and the West Bank, have been broken. So has the idea that Washington can ignore the Middle East.

A member of the Israeli special forces training in a mock Palestinian village outside Tse’elim, Israel, on Friday.Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The sudden and unexpected terror attack by Hamas into Israel has been a crushing blow to a host of assumptions that have defined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for years.

Israelis compare the invasion and deaths of some 1,400 Israelis, most of them civilians, to the toll of Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States. And they compare the shocking surprise of the Hamas attack both to Sept. 11 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, when Israeli forces were unprepared for an Arab attack led by Egypt and Syria that also exploded widely held assumptions.

Here are four paradigms now in shatters:

Hamas could be contained and the conflict managed.

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor: An Alternative To The Congested Suez Canal

Amitendu Palit

The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) was announced at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi on 9 and 10 September 2023. It includes eight G20 members – the European Union (EU), France, Germany, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States (US).

The IMEC has drawn significant attention for its geopolitical significance. It has been described as a strategic alternative proposed by the US and its allies to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It has also been noted as a reflection of India’s deeper strategic engagement with the Middle East, Europe and the US, specifically the I2U2 initiative, comprising India, Israel, the UAE and the US. The geopolitical focus has deflected attention from its economic prospects. These pertain to the IMEC being a cost-efficient alternative option for moving goods from India to Europe.

The IMEC has an eastern and a northern corridor. The former will connect India and the Middle East through the Arabian Gulf. The latter will connect the Arabian Gulf to Europe. Both corridors will be maritime stretches. The UAE and Saudi Arabia will have designated ports connecting to Indian ports through the eastern corridor.

Based on the pattern of the current maritime traffic flows between India and the Middle East, Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali ports from the UAE, along with King Abdul Aziz (Dammam) port in Saudi Arabia, are expected to be key ports from the Middle East in the IMEC, while Mumbai and Mundra ports are likely to be so from India’s west coast.

China’s special envoy is on a Middle East mission. Peace is just part of the picture

Nectar Gan and Simone McCarthy

Days after the United States’ shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East, which culminated in President Joe Biden’s historic wartime visit to Israel, China has started its own diplomatic hustling in a region teetering on the brink of a wider conflict.

Zhai Jun, Beijing’s special envoy to the Middle East, has embarked on a whirlwind tour of the region aimed at promoting peace talks between Israel and Hamas – even though Beijing still refuses to condemn or even name the Palestinian militant group in any of its statements.

Zhai has traveled to Qatar and attended a peace summit in Egypt, calling for a ceasefire, humanitarian access to Gaza and reiterating China’s support for a two-state solution. It is unclear if he will visit Israel, as Beijing has provided no details of the trip.

But brokering peace is a tall order, especially for a country with little experience or expertise in mediating such a long-running, intractable conflict – in a deeply divided region where it lacks a meaningful political and security presence.

Few experts in or familiar with the Middle East expect Zhai’s trip will lead to any concrete deliverables in peacemaking.

Ukraine fears drone shortages due to China restrictions

Vitaly Shevchenko

Drones have had a profound effect on the war in Ukraine, used in great quantities by both sides. China's move to place restrictions on exports, however, has led to concerns that there could be a problem with supplies.

Many of them are commercially made in China and bought off the shelf, and new supplies are vital because of the large numbers lost in the fighting.

But there are indications of a reduction in the number of Chinese drones and parts available to both Ukraine and Russia.

According to the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), a London-based think tank, Ukraine is losing about 10,000 drones a month.

Numerous volunteer groups have been instrumental in using donated funds to help the Ukrainian army restock its supplies.

Commercial drones are used alongside purpose-made military designs, such as Turkish Bayraktar drones used by Ukraine and Iranian Shaheds used by Russia.

The latest restrictions imposed by the Chinese government came into force on 1 September. They apply to longer-range drones weighing more than 4kg, as well as drone-related equipment such as some cameras and radio modules.

China stealing technology secrets -- from AI to computing and biology, "Five Eyes" intelligence leaders warn

War in the Middle East has the FBI tracking more potential threats of terrorism in the United States. Tonight, the bureau's director, Christopher Wray, tells us his main concern is not an organized attack but lone actors inspired by the violence. We met Wray, Wednesday, for an unprecedented interview that included him and the intelligence directors of our english-speaking allies. Together, they know more about the threats in the world than perhaps anyone. They're known as the Five Eyes and they have never appeared in an interview together. They're doing it now because they're alarmed by China which they say is the greatest espionage threat democracy has ever faced. But given the war, we'll begin with FBI Director Wray on the threat of terror at home.

Christopher Wray: We have seen an increase in reported threats but vigilance is heightened right now just because of the fluid and volatile environment in the Middle East and the ways in which that could spin out in the U.S.

By the time we had gathered for our interview, it had already 'spun out in the United States.' In Illinois, a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death by a man enraged by the attack on Israel.

Scott Pelley: How do you stop that kind of thing?

China deploys six warships to Middle East over fears Israel crisis could spark WW3


China has deployed six warships to the Middle East as the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalates, according to reports.

The 44th naval escort task force - from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theatre - has been involved in routine operations in the region and spent several days in Oman last week.

The Chinese warships left Muscat for an unspecified location on Saturday after participating in an exercise with the Omani navy.

The task force includes the Zibo, a guided missile destroyer, the frigate Jingzhou, and the supply ship Qiandaohu - all of which will be stationed in the Middle East as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza.

During the visit to Oman, Chinese commanders met with Omani military officials and visited military institutions, while sailors from both countries toured shops and even organized a basketball game, according to a state news agency.

Ike carrier strike group headed to the Middle East

Geoff Ziezulewicz

The Navy destroyer Carney fires missiles to counter drone and missile fire by Houthi rebels in Yemen on Thursday in the Red Sea. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aaron Lau/Navy)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has directed the Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to steam to the Middle Eastern waters of U.S. Central Command as part of an effort to counter “recent escalations” by Iran and its proxy forces in the region, according to a statement released Saturday by the Pentagon.

The move will be the first time a carrier has operated in CENTCOM waters since the end of the Afghanistan war in August 2021.

Austin’s order follows the Navy destroyer Carney’s Thursday interception of cruise missiles and drones launched by Iran-allied Houthi rebel forces in Yemen and drone attacks against U.S. troops elsewhere in the region.

Carney’s intercepts of the ordnance, which Pentagon officials believe were heading toward Israel, potentially represents the first shots by the U.S. military in the defense of Israel during this conflict, which erupted after the Palestinian militant group Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,300 Israeli civilians and at least 31 American citizens.

US Mediterranean aircraft carrier deployments highlight enduring relevance

Nick Childs

New technologies are challenging the utility and survivability of aircraft carriers perhaps as never before. But in a crisis, they remain the go-to option.

In response to the latest eruption of violent confrontation in the Middle East, which followed the deadly attacks by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel, the United States resorted to its classic crisis playbook: it rushed aircraft carriers to the region. But it is not just the US that is betting big on carriers. Other countries have been pouring huge sums of money into the capability and a top European Union politician recently refloated the idea that the bloc should consider developing an EU carrier.

Send a carrier

It has become almost a cliché that one of the first questions a US president asks when an international crisis erupts is, ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?’. So one of President Joe Biden’s first moves after the 7 October attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel, which threatens to spur wider regional conflict, was to dispatch the USS Gerald R. Ford, plus its accompanying strike group of escorts, to the eastern Mediterranean.

The Ford is the first of a new carrier design and the world’s largest warship and was already in European waters. Washington, soon after, also ordered the Nimitz-class vessel USS Dwight D. Eisenhower to the region. Washington said it took the action ‘to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war’ – in other words, a message to Iran and its allied Hizbullah movement in Lebanon. Washington announced other force adjustments to strengthen its presence in the region, but none grabbed as much attention as the carriers.

Putin Is Not “Protecting” Ethnic Russians in Ukraine or Elsewhere

Dr. Philip Dandolov

In the build-up to and after the start of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Putin regime, in addition to referring to the alleged threat of NATO encroachment, has also attempted to justify the “military solution” it engaged in by explicitly mentioning the purported threats posed to ethnic Russians in Ukraine, even going as far as to accuse the Ukrainian authorities of committing genocide against the Russian-speaking population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In addition to the expert community soundly refuting the claim that the Russian minority in Ukraine has had its language and cultural rights significantly curtailed and was in any way a potential target for ethnic cleansing, with the arguments advanced by Russia characterized as an abuse of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, an examination of the Putin government’s past record when it comes to protecting ethnic Russians abroad reveals that it has been underwhelming, with its policies lacking consistency in this realm.

As a general rule, the Russian establishment has viewed the presence of ethnic Russians in the Central Asian states as helpful in terms of being able to exert additional influence in these countries. Even though Putin has often identified the readiness to offer support for Russians abroad as a national goal of crucial importance, in practice his policies with regard to safeguarding the rights of ethnic Russians in former USSR countries have not necessarily been overly assertive, with ethnic-based considerations frequently taking a back seat to other concerns, such as ones that are purely economic in nature.


Karolina Hird, Christina Harward, Angelica Evans, Nicole Wolkov, and Mason Clark

Russia's domestic production of artillery shells, supplemented by increased ammunition imports from North Korea, will likely allow Russian forces to sustain sufficient rates of artillery fire in Ukraine in 2024, albeit at a relatively lower level than during 2022. Estonian Defense Forces Intelligence Center Head Colonel Ants Kiviselg stated on October 20 that Russia still has around four million artillery shells remaining, which Russian forces can use for "low intensity" warfare for an additional year.[1] Kiviselg noted that there are reports that North Korea has shipped up to 1,000 containers of ammunition to Russia, each containing between 300-500 pieces of artillery ammunition.[2] Kiviselg estimated that North Korea may have therefore provided between 300,000-500,000 pieces of ammunition to Russia, which can last up to one month at the current daily rate of consumption of around 10,000 shells a day.[3] Ukrainian military analyst Colonel Petro Chernyk reported on October 23 that Russian forces are currently firing between 10,000-15,000 shells a day, significantly lower than rates of fire in summer 2022 of 45,000-80,000 shells per day.[4] However, Western sources and satellite imagery have confirmed that North Korean deliveries, likely mostly comprised of artillery shells, have drastically increased since Russian and North Korean authorities likely began more official military-technical cooperation in September, as ISW previously reported, and North Korea is likely to provide further deliveries.[5] Based on Western estimates of Russian artillery production capacity and continued North Korean artillery exports, Russia will likely be able to maintain generally sufficient rates of fire in the foreseeable future. While an overall decrease in Russian fire rates could impede the ability of Russian forces to conduct large scale offensive operations, Russian forces are unlikely to face widespread shortages which would chronically undermine defensive operations, and the drop in the rate of fire will not inherently provide Ukrainian forces an advantage. The degree to which Ukraine’s international partners sustain Ukraine’s ability to sustain an effective weight of fire relative to Russian forces will be a key determiner of respective capabilities in 2024.

Russian forces conducted another series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of October 22 to 23. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched 13 Shahed-131/136 drones, one unspecified drone, and one Kh-59 cruise missile and that Ukrainian forces destroyed all targets.[6]

A price cap on Russian oil aims to starve Putin of cash. But it's largely been untested. Until now


FILE - An oil tanker is moored at the Sheskharis complex, part of Chernomortransneft JSC, a subsidiary of Transneft PJSC, in Novorossiysk, Russia, on Oct. 11, 2022, one of the largest facilities for oil and petroleum products in southern Russia. For months after Ukraine's Western allies limited sales of Russian oil to $60 per barrel, the price cap was still largely symbolic. Most of Moscow's crude — its main moneymaker — cost less than that.

Uncredited - stringer, ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILE - Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures while speaking at a news conference following a meeting of the State Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on Dec. 22, 2022. Prices for Russian oil have risen well above a price cap imposed by Western allies as part of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.
Sergey Guneyev - pool, ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILE - An oil tanker is moored at the Sheskharis complex, part of Chernomortransneft JSC, a subsidiary of Transneft PJSC, in Novorossiysk, Russia, on Oct. 11, 2022. Prices for Russian oil have risen well above a price cap imposed by Western allies as part of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

Missiles and Momentum in Ukraine


Two Ukrainian soldiers walk at dawn through a forest clouded by smoke after artillery fire during combat maneuvers on September 24, 2023 near Kreminna, Luhansk, Ukraine. (Photo by Libkos/Getty Images)

FOLLOWING THE HORRIFIC OCTOBER 7 ATTACKS on Israel by Hamas, the war in Ukraine was understandably pushed to the sidelines of the news, inevitably prompting right-wing trolls like former Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo to tout its alleged invisibility as implied evidence that it was always fake news:

This reduced visibility, moreover, came on the heels of weeks of claims that the Ukrainian counteroffensive was a bust and had reached the “pointless meat grinder” stage. On October 13, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, said that “the so-called Ukrainian counteroffensive can be considered finished” with nothing to show for it but tens of thousands of dead recruits and that Russia had “launched active combat operations along the entire frontline.” (Nebenzya also accused the West of feeding more weapons to Ukraine “like drugs to a drug addict, thus prolonging his agony.”) Two days later, Nebenzya’s boss Vladimir Putin weighed in with his own assertion that the Ukrainian counteroffensive had “failed completely” but, confusingly, added that “the opposing side” was planning new offensive operations in some areas and described the Russian troops’ operations as “active defense,” without explaining how that differs from plain and simple defense.

Biden’s Israel Policy Gets Put to the Test

João Fazenda

In Barack Obama’s White House, there were two schools of thought about managing the United States’ bedrock alliance with Israel. Defense Secretary Robert Gates privately called the relationship “all give and no get,” and was among those who thought that Obama should approach Jerusalem with skeptical caution, according to Dennis Ross, a Middle East hand who advised Obama and later wrote an eyewitness history of U.S.-Israeli relations. On the other side, as Ross summarized it, then Vice-President Joe Biden argued for “drawing the Israelis close to us,” in part to gain greater influence, even amid bitter disputes with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Last week, arriving for a one-day visit to Tel Aviv, President Biden descended from Air Force One and bear-hugged Netanyahu before a phalanx of cameras. “You are not alone,” he said later, in a speech to Israelis about the Hamas-led terror attacks of October 7th, when militants broke out of Gaza and murdered more than fourteen hundred Israelis and seized hostages. Since then, Biden has denounced the “bloodthirstiness” of Hamas and spoken evocatively of Israeli victims: “infants in their mother’s arms, grandparents in wheelchairs, Holocaust survivors abducted.” As the Israeli Air Force unleashed an unbridled counterattack in Gaza, the President also pledged aid to besieged Palestinian civilians; according to Gaza’s health ministry, more than twenty-five hundred women and children died in the enclave during the war’s first two weeks.


Karolina Hird, Angelica Evans, Christina Harward, Riley Bailey, and Mason Clark

Russian forces are funneling additional forces to the Avdiivka front despite ongoing challenges with frontal mechanized assaults and the failure of a renewed push on October 19-20. Several Russian milbloggers claimed that there were no significant changes along the front in the Avdiivka direction on October 22.[1] Russian forces are likely once again pausing following a failed major push which suffered heavy losses. A prominent Russian milblogger claimed that Ukrainian forces “unexpectedly” counterattacked in the direction of Pisky (8km southwest of Donetsk City) and pushed Russian forces from positions in the area. Another milblogger stated that claims of Ukrainian advances near Pisky and Opytne (4km south of Avdiivka) are false.[2] Another Russian source allegedly serving in the Avdiivka direction claimed that Ukrainian forces did not conduct counterattacks in his unspecified sector of the front.[3] Geolocated footage published on October 21 indicates that Russian forces recently made marginal advances southeast of Pervomaiske (11km southwest of Avdiivka).[4] A Russian milblogger claimed that Russian forces have not completely cleared the Avdiivka waste heap area and that the area is currently a contested “gray zone.”[5]

A Kremlin-affiliated milblogger discussed difficulties that may be contributing to a “positional deadlock” for Russian offensive operations in the Avdiivka direction as of October 22.[6] The milblogger claimed that it is difficult to conduct maneuver warfare on a static front line with a large number of personnel and fortified areas on both sides. The milblogger noted that Ukrainian drones and other precision weapons have made armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable and have made ground attacks increasingly difficult. The milblogger also noted that Russian forces are facing difficulties in overcoming Ukrainian minefields near Avdiivka and are unable to completely destroy Ukrainian logistics, allowing the Ukrainian command to quickly transfer personnel to critical areas. Russian sources have previously claimed that Ukrainian defensive fortifications pose a significant challenge to Russian advances around Avdiivka.[7] These challenges are highly similar to those faced by Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine in the initial weeks of the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive in June 2023. However, it remains to be seen if Russian forces have the capabilities and flexibility to adapt in some manner, as Ukrainian forces did following early setbacks in June 2023.

Into the Cyber Abyss: Check Point’s Riveting 2024 Predictions Reveal a Storm of AI, Hacktivism, and Weaponized Deepfakes

Criminal activities surged in the first half of the year, with Check Point Research (CPR) reporting an 8% increase in global weekly cyberattacks in the second quarter, marking the highest volume in two years. Familiar threats such as ransomware and hacktivism have evolved, with criminal gangs modifying their methods and tools to infect and affect organizations worldwide. Even legacy technology such as USB storage devices regained popularity as a vehicle to spread malware.

One of the most significant developments this year was the evolution of the ransomware landscape. Data derived from over 120 ransomware “shame-sites” revealed that in the first half of 2023, a total of 48 ransomware groups reported breaching and publicly extorting more than 2,200 victims. There have been several high-profile cases this year including the attack against MGM Resorts, which shutdown major Las Vegas sites for several days and is likely to cost millions in remediation.

Check Point’s cybersecurity predictions for 2024 broadly fall into seven categories: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; GPU farming; Supply chain and critical infrastructure attacks; cyber insurance; nation state; weaponized deepfake technology and phishing attacks.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning:
  • Rise of AI-directed cyberattacks: Artificial intelligence and machine learning have dominated the conversation in cybersecurity. Next year will see more threat actors adopt AI to accelerate and expand every aspect of their toolkit. Whether that is for more cost-efficient rapid development of new malware and ransomware variants or using deepfake technologies to take phishing and impersonation attacks to the next level.
  • Fighting fire with fire: Just as we have seen cybercriminals tap into the potential of AI and ML, so too will cyber defenders. We have already seen significant investment in AI for cybersecurity, and that will continue as more companies look to guard against advanced threats.
  • Impact of regulation: There have been significant steps in Europe and the US in regulating the use of AI. As these plans develop, we will see changes in the way these technologies are used, both for offensive and defensive activities.