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FLASH ALERT: ISRAEL AT WAR WITH HAMAS

Ludovica Leccese, Lucrezia Taddei, Giorgia Cito, Utsav Yadav, Antoni Mulock Houwer, William Bos, CENTCOM/AFRICOM, EUCOM and SOUTHCOM Teams

Brantley Williams, Mia Sadler, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor

October 7, 2023


Rocket Launch[1]


The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT to Israeli citizens and civilians in the Gaza Strip following Hamas’ infiltration into Israel. Hamas is firing thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, launching the “Al-Aqsa Flood'' operation.[2] Hamas’ Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri stated that the group has enough Israeli captives to free all Palestinians in Israeli jails.[3] The EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell condemned the hostage-taking, calling it a violation of international law and demanding the immediate release of those held captive.[4] Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the nation to be at war in response to the developments. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is responding with “Operation “SWORDS OF IRON” to protect national security interests.[5]


CTG is on HIGH alert for the Israeli population and Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip following the assault launched by Hamas on Israel. The event will VERY LIKELY lead to an escalation of violence between the IDF and Hamas, LIKELY resulting in a declaration of war between Israel and Hamas, VERY LIKELY increasing the risk of civilian casualties and displacement. Continuous attacks will VERY LIKELY exacerbate the humanitarian crisis due to essential supplies shortages, damaged infrastructures, and medical facilities, LIKELY raising the casualty count. Future Israeli attacks in response to Hamas’ assault will LIKELY attract Hamas’ supporters like Hezbollah and Iran, LIKELY increasing the amount of violence in the region and prolonging the conflict. Israel will ALMOST CERTAINLY seek to secure the southern part of the country, VERY LIKELY eliminating militant groups operating in southern cities such as Be’eri, Kfar Aza, and Holit.


Introduction

On October 7, 2023, the Palestinian militant group Hamas began a military operation called “Operation FLOOD'' by firing thousands of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Following the barrage, an unknown number of armed militants infiltrated Israeli territory. Hamas fighters are actively targeting Israeli civilians, security forces, and infrastructure. The militants have taken hostages and are transporting them into Palestinian territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared war, and the IDF has called up thousands of reservists. The IDF is engaging Hamas militants inside of Israel, launching several retaliatory airstrikes into the Gaza Strip.[6]

Topics:

Israeli intelligence agencies almost certainly failed to anticipate Hamas’ military operation that has left dozens of Israelis dead and hundreds of civilians taken as hostages. Hamas very likely smuggled a large cache of rocket materials into Gaza, likely taking advantage of the Israeli protests to discreetly assemble munitions. Major demonstrations against judicial reforms in Israel likely weakened the nation’s national security and likely hindered the Israeli intelligence agencies' ability to monitor Hamas’ militant activities.[7]

The current tension between Israel and Hamas and the recent assault launched by Hamas on Israel will almost certainly lead to a significant upsurge in violence between the IDF and Hamas. The IDF’s response with airstrikes and artillery fire will very likely result in an increased risk of injury, death, and displacement of civilians living in the region. The escalation in military operations will very likely result in significant damage to properties and infrastructures on both sides, such as homes, schools, and other essential facilities. This escalation will likely further exacerbate the regional humanitarian crisis, challenging the provision of critical services to those in need.

Recommendations

  • CTG recommends that civilians living in the Gaza Strip remain indoors. CTG also recommends following emergency alerts and orders issued by the emergency services, law enforcement, and the military to relocate to reinforced areas.

  • CTG strongly recommends that Israeli citizens not directly engage with active combatants. CTG recommends creating as many barriers as possible to stop/impede attackers.

  • CTG recommends not sharing unverified media (videos, audio files, pictures) on social media to reduce the risk of misinformation.

  • CTG recommends civilians currently abstaining from posting social media updates regarding the ongoing conflict.

  • CTG recommends that foreign citizens immediately contact their embassy and consulates of their home country to guarantee safety and security

  • CTG recommends that individuals conducting business in Israel immediately adhere to the instructions given by Israeli law enforcement and armed forces and contact their executive bodies through official channels only.

  • CTG recommends that humanitarian missions and NGOs actively working in Israel relay information to authorities through official channels only to guarantee operational security and mitigate disinformation.

  • CTG recommends that humanitarian missions and NGOs conduct relocation of affected civilians to properly protected areas while maintaining personal security (PERSEC) and operational security (OPSEC).

  • CTG recommends that the diplomatic missions in Israel advocate for a ceasefire and remain on high alert. CTG also recommends that all diplomatic representatives take the necessary precautionary measures to guarantee safety and security.

  • CTG recommends that individuals located in the Gaza Strip and West Bank follow the humanitarian missions and NGOs’ recommendations for an effective and secure relocation.

  • CTG recommends that all involved parties achieve an immediate ceasefire through diplomatic communication and exchange to stop violence and avoid further loss of life.

  • CTG recommends that the diplomatic missions of Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan establish communications with the Israeli counterparts to effectively prevent the conflict from reaching these countries.


CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH as a result of the large-scale attack by Hamas; this attack is an escalation of a long-standing conflict. The risks are very likely high due to the unprecedented scale of the attack and the historical context of recurring conflicts. This history makes it likely that there will be further military escalation, very likely leading to a regional conflict. The broad impact is also likely to encompass regional instability, affecting peace initiatives and relations with Saudi Arabia, which has actively sought to normalize ties with Israel. Currently, the primary impact is on the people in the immediate conflict zone, which has already resulted in casualties and hostages. The broader regional impact will likely affect neighboring countries, such as Egypt and Jordan, which have peace treaties with Israel and share borders with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Any escalation of conflict in the region can likely affect the stability and security of these neighboring nations. The immediate consequences, such as casualties and displacement, are very likely to result in a humanitarian crisis, and the international community is likely to respond, straining global diplomatic relations and influencing alliances. This situation likely affects trade and economic activities. There have been similar large-scale invasions in the past, but this event represents a development in the ongoing conflict; this very likely suggests that they are adopting new strategies and methods. The event likely underscores the urgent need for diplomatic efforts to address and resolve the issues, mitigating risks and promoting regional peace. The likely involvement of neighboring countries could likely complicate the situation further, increasing the complexity of finding a peaceful resolution.


Analysis indicates a HIGH PROBABILITY of further military escalation between Israel and Hamas, VERY LIKELY spreading the conflict and involving other regional actors. There is a VERY HIGH PROBABILITY that the conflict will have immediate humanitarian consequences, with a high number of casualties and hostages. There is an EVEN PROBABILITY that the current assault will impact the developing diplomatic talks between Israel and Saudi Arabia, LIKELY straining the ongoing negotiations and leading to heightened strain in their bilateral relations. Due to the nature of this unprecedented attack in terms of scale and tactics, there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that Israel will change its counterattack and intelligence-gathering strategies to adapt to Hamas’ methods and tactics.

 

[2] Over 5,000 Rockets Fired As 'Operation Al-Aqsa Flood' Begins: Hamas Armed Wing, Barron’s, October 2023 https://www.barrons.com/amp/news/over-5-000-rockets-fired-as-operation-al-aqsa-flood-begins-hamas-armed-wing-9229e907

[3] Scores dead in Israel and Gaza after Hamas shock attack on Israeli towns, Reuters, October 2023 https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/sirens-warning-incoming-rockets-sound-around-gaza-near-tel-aviv-2023-10-07/

[4] EU Says Civilians Being Taken Hostage In Israel 'Against International Law', Barron’s, October 2023 https://www.barrons.com/news/eu-says-civilians-being-taken-hostage-in-israel-against-international-law-b8b925d5

[5] Operation Swords of Iron - Real Time Operational Updates, idf.il, October 2023 https://www.idf.il/en/articles/hafatzot/real-time-updates-07-10/

[6] 70 Israelis and 198 Palestinians killed as new conflict erupts, Euronews, October 2023 https://www.euronews.com/2023/10/07/hamas-announces-beginning-of-a-new-operation-against-israel-launching-thousands-of-rockets

[7] As IDF takes hit from reservist protests, US eyes threat to its security interests, The Times of Israel, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-eyes-threat-to-security-interests-as-idf-takes-hit-from-reservist-protests/

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