Hamas has issued a call for "Friday of al-Aqsa Flood" protests after Friday prayers tomorrow in Hebron, Bethlehem, Ramallah, al-Bireh, Nablus, Tulkarim, Tubas, Salfit, Jenin, and Qalqilya. Their likely goal is to rile up residents in hopes they clash with Israeli police, leading to casualties or fatalities furthering their narrative and to gain support from the broader Muslim world. Additionally, the former head of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal 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.
There are elevated concerns over potential for unrest and violence across the Middle East, North Africa, and major cities across the West following Friday prayers. Israeli and U.S. diplomatic outposts could be targeted, as well as synagogues and Jewish community centers. In the U.S., the FBI and local police departments, including the NYPD, have not indicated any specific threats but are advising vigilance as they continue to monitor the situation and prepare accordingly.
- While IDF airstrikes continue to pound Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, clashes have been reported in the West Bank between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem. At the same time, Hezbollah and the IDF continue to exchange artillery, maintaining elevated tensions but not leading to a major escalation thus far. Israel's air intrusion alarms in the north have made numerous "false indications" over the last 24 hours.
- Upwards of 200 Israelis and foreign nationals remain kidnapped in Gaza. A ground incursion by the IDF is likely, both to rescue hostages and eliminate Hamas. PM Netanyahu stated earlier that "every member of Hamas is a dead man."
- Hamas' rate of rocket fire has notably decreased, indicating rationing for Israel's looming offensive.
- On 12 October, Israeli airstrikes reportedly hit and damaged runways at airports in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria in an apparent bid to halt IRGC senior staff from landing.
- Ben Gurion Airport (TLV) remains open (subject to change). There are unconfirmed reports that Israel will suspend all air travel starting Friday AM local time for five days, potentially ahead of a planned ground invasion into Gaza which may elicit mass rocket fire from Hezbollah.
- The U.S. positioned the USS Ford naval carrier strike group off the coast of Israel as a show of support and to deter Hezbollah/Iran.
- U.S. Secretary of State Blinken visited Israel on 12 October and reiterated American support. This visit came after President Biden delivered a speech denouncing Hamas' acts of terror and solidifying American support for Israel and its right to defend itself. Blinken is set to travel to Qatar on 13 October to discuss Hamas.
- The IDF is appealing for civilians to leave Gaza City, ahead of further strikes and possible invasion. The Gaza Strip is poised to run out of fuel for electricity in the coming days.
- We expect the war to intensify in the coming 24-72 hours with 13 October serving as a potential flashpoint on both the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Gaza borders, as well as in Jerusalem.
- The scope and scale of future Israeli land operations in Gaza will determine the overall direction of the conflict and potential for outside involvement.
- This crisis is expected to persist and has the potential to spread across the entire region.
Key Takeaways & Recommendations
- 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 on 13 October and in 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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