The conflict between Israel and Hamas continues with clashes along the Gaza border and multiple IDF airstrikes targeting Hamas positions. Israel's defense minister ordered the complete closure of the Gaza Strip for the first time, cutting off food, fuel, water, and electricity. Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered the military to evacuate residents around the Gaza and Lebanon borders in advance of further activity. At the same time, cross-border exchanges of mortar and artillery continue between the IDF and Hezbollah in the north, setting the stage for a major conflict that could embroil the entire region.
- At least 800 Israelis have been killed in fighting and initial terrorist attacks so far, with 2,500 injured. Over 500 targets reportedly belonging to Hamas have been hit with airstrikes and at least 560 Palestinians have been killed so far, with 2,900 injured. More than 120,000 people have been displaced.
- Upwards of 150 Israelis remain kidnapped in Gaza. Hamas is trying to trade kidnapped women and children for jailed Palestinian women in Israel. There are captives from Spain, Germany, the Philippines, Germany, Denmark, UK, U.S., Canada, and others.
- While there is no indication that a ground invasion of Gaza has begun, this is the likely next step for the IDF after calling up more than 300,000 reservists and evacuating the border areas.
- Terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by "sleeper cells" cannot be ruled out.
- Rocket and mortar fire continues to be exchanged along the Lebanese border between the IDF and Hezbollah, raising concerns of multi-front war that could draw in Iran, Russia, the U.S., and others.
- Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) remains open (subject to change). One rocket impact was reported near a runway. Multiple airlines have canceled flights in and out of Israel, including Delta, AA, United, Air France, Lufthansa, Emirates, Ryanair, and Aegean Air.
- Israel's national security minister declared a national civil emergency through 09 October giving police powers to enact a curfew, limit gatherings, and seize weapons.
- The U.S. positioned the USS Ford naval carrier strike group off the coast of Israel as a show of support and deterrence to Iran. It contains the USS Ford aircraft carrier, along with the USS Normandy, USS Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, USS Roosevelt, and F-35, F-15, F-16, A-10 aircraft squadrons.
- Israel’s primary prerogative is to secure its borders and evacuate its citizens from its borders with Gaza and Lebanon. Only after it feels that its citizens — who are most geographically vulnerable to both rockets and terrorist hit squads — are safe, will it make its next move. We expect Israel to be in this position in the next 24-72 hours. Whether that be a ground incursion into Gaza or a preemptive strike at Hezbollah, the probability of multi-front conflict is rapidly increasing.
- Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) draws their redline around an Israeli invasion of Gaza, and Russia has communicated to Israel that a U.S. entry into the conflict would result in Iranian-aligned forces in Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon entering the war immediately. Israel’s positioning of a significant portion of its forces in the north and U.S. aircraft carrier group in the Mediterranean are there to deter Hezbollah from entering the conflict but all bets are off.
- This war is now an existential conflict for both Israel — where more Jews were killed in one day than at any point since the Holocaust — and the Iranian axis (including Hamas), whose ideological legitimacy rests on confrontation with Israel. A resolution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict, one which could be realized by Saudi-Israeli normalization over the long term, would deny Iran its purported reason for its de facto occupation of Lebanon and Iraq and remove the mutual interest it shares and leverages with Sunni Islamist groups across the region.
- For Hamas, this war is a “Hail Mary” attempt, a last-ditch effort to unify the Palestinian people and galvanize Pan-Arabist sentiment that died when Egypt and Israel signed a peace accord in 1979. Hamas initiated this war knowing the game is up and is putting all its cards on the table. Thus, the stakes are high, and the incentives are in place for Israel, Hamas, and Iran — and its various regional auxiliaries — to permanently alter the current strategic balance.
- In Gaza, an Israeli invasion and operation to eliminate Hamas would be extremely bloody and result in innumerable civilian casualties, as Hamas et al. will use human shields and seeks to increase Palestinian casualties to promote its strategic goals. Having planned this operation since April, it is well prepared and will exact high casualties on Israeli forces in urban combat. Now, in a “total war” paradigm and having already ended its softer approach to Gaza, Israel may seek to protect its forces and use a more heavy-handed and less surgical approach to prosecuting its strategic goal of ending Hamas. This will be a lengthy operation and trigger large protests in both the Muslim world and through the West.
- For Israel, time and international support are inversely correlated. The longer an operation takes, the more civilian casualties, the more Western pushback Israel receives. To pursue a major war, even only on one front, Israel will need to be resupplied by the U.S. The more time that elapses following the Nova Festival massacre on 07 October, the more Israel will be operationally constrained by its patrons who will come under pressure to halt the war. Therefore, we can expect a harsh reprisal in Gaza or even a preemptive attack on Lebanon sooner rather than later. Probably in the next 24-72 hours.
- Hezbollah, with its extensive arsenal of over 140,000 rockets, including cruise missiles, short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM), and drones, poses a threat to Israel on a scale of magnitude greater than the threat from Hamas in Gaza. Israel’s multi-tiered missile defense system, while one of the most comprehensive in the world, could be saturated and Israel will need to prioritize defending its critical infrastructure (power, water, communications, airfields, military installations). To prevent extreme loss of life and irreparable damage to its fighting ability, Israel will need to prevent Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Syria from being able to unleash its missile forces to the extent it can using a hammer, not a scalpel. Bottom line: should Hezbollah and Iran enter the conflict or be pulled in through Israeli preemptive action, a regional conflict will be born.
- With American military assets now off the coast of Lebanon, in Syria, in Iraq, and in the Arabian Gulf, there is a possibility of U.S. military involvement. Indeed, there are incentives for both Israel and for the Iranian axis to draw in American involvement. The potential also exists, in the absence of decisions made in Tehran or Jerusalem, through targeting error in the fog of far, or through the singular decision of a singular commander of Iranian-backed militia in Syria or Iraq to target U.S. forces. In a regional war scenario with American involvement, the Gulf countries and international shipping lanes in the strait of Hormuz (even Bab-el-Mandeb) could be targeted by Iran and its partners.
- A new Cold War has begun — the battle lines are now being drawn. The world’s major revisionist powers in Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran (and some smaller regional ones) — united for a desire to bring about a non-U.S. centric, multipolar world order — have decided that this is their opportunity to rewrite history in their favor. What started in Ukraine and is now unfolding in Israel could even end in Taiwan.
Key Takeaways & Recommendations
- We expect the war to intensify in the coming 24-72 hours.
- This crisis is expected to persist and has the potential to spread across the entire region.
- Those in Israel and Lebanon should depart as soon as possible. Those in northern Israel, southern Israel, and southern Lebanon should distance themselves from the borders if possible.
- Major protests across the Middle East and in the West are expected in the coming days and weeks.
- Defer all non-essential travel to Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf states out of an abundance of caution.
- Israeli, Jewish, and American travelers to Muslim-majority countries should consider secure car and driver for all ground transportation, and executive protection agents while traveling in these countries due to perceived grievances and associated threats over the situation in Gaza and especially if the U.S. gets involved militarily.
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