Interfor International‘s Weekly Security Digest - May 28, 2024

Interfor International‘s Weekly Security Digest – May 28, 2024

Interfor’s Weekly Digest | Global Security and Policy Insights – May 28, 2024

Global Security Matters

Israel – Hamas

  • On Sunday evening, the IDF launched an airstrike on a Hamas “compound” in Rafah, which caused a fire in a nearby displaced persons camp. At least 35-45 Palestinians were killed by the fire, to date, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The IDF claims to have killed two high ranking Hamas commanders in the strike, Yasin Rabia and Khaled Nagaram. The incident comes just days after the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately halt operations in Rafah. The IDF’s legal arm has launched an investigation into the incident as Israel faces widespread international condemnation for the airstrike. 
    • Precisely what occurred here is still being investigated. Some, particularly those who oppose the broader war, are claiming that Israel directly targeted the displaced person camp. Israel has yet to put out an official explanation of what went wrong, though Netanyahu referred to the civilian death connected to the strike as a“tragic mistake.” Initial reporting suggests that Israel believes an IDF strike may have indirectly – perhaps via shrapnel – hit a fuel tanker or some other highly flammable equipment or armament, causing the camp to ignite. Nevertheless the incident has significantly increased pressure on Israel to cease operations in Rafah. 
    • As of now, Israel seems highly reluctant to halt operations in Rafah, particularly given recent progress in expanding control over the Philadelphi corridor on the border with Egypt and neutralizing Hamas border tunnels used for smuggling.
  • An Egyptian soldier was killed in a shooting incident at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Monday. There are conflicting reports on who shot the soldier and how the incident began. IDF sources have reported that Egyptian forces opened fire first after spotting an exchange of gunfire on the border between IDF forces and Hamas fighters. Egyptian sources have claimed the opposite. Egypt and Israel have launched investigations into the incident. For now, the incident does not appear to have sparked a wider conflict or changed Egypt’s role as partner in peace negotiations.
    • The fact that the Egyptian government has yet to cast blame in Israel’s direction is a positive indication that Egypt does not want this incident to destabilize their relationship with Israel. 
  • Last week, several families of female soldiers held hostage by Hamas released a disturbing video of their capture obtained from body camp footage. In the video, five Israeli women aged 19-21 are seen tied, beaten, and threatened with sexual assault by Hamas militants. All five women were soldiers at an observational base in kibbutz Nahal Oz in the Gaza envelope and are believed to still be alive in Hamas captivity. Families released the videos after months of little to no movement in securing a hostage release deal in hopes of forcing the government’s hand.

International Affairs

  • The Japanese government issued an emergency warning Monday morning for residents to take cover due to a potential threat from a North Korean missile. North Korea attempted to launch a rocket into orbit that waspresumed to carry its second military spy satellite. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said several fragments were spotted off the peninsula’s west coast minutes after launch. This is Pyongyang’s third such failed launch in recent months. 
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin fired several high-ranking defense officials. The decision allows the FSB, responsible for internal investigations, increased access to the Ministry of Defense. The MoD has been facing corruption allegations for months (now-deceased warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin led an unsuccessful movement of soldiers against the ministry in 2023 due, in part, to these suspicions). Several MoD officials have already been arrested on corruption charges. Among the top officials ousted is long-time Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who was replaced by Andrei Belousov. Shoigu and other top military officials have been criticized throughout Russia’s war in Ukraine for various setbacks, operational failures, and corruption in their ranks. The Kremlin denies that a“purge” is underway.
  • A devastating landslide hit Papua New Guinea on Friday. The government claims over 2,000 people were buried alive, while the UN estimated a death toll of 670 this weekend. Estimates are still uncertain due to complex and difficult search and rescue operations. The affected region, Enga Province, is in a difficult jungle terrain, densely populated, and remote. This is but one factor making rescue efforts difficult. Some aid workers have been forced to use shovels to manually parse through unstable debris looking for survivors. There is still a concern that another landslide could happen if the ground is disturbed too much. Additionally, the region is plagued by tribal warfare, meaning relief workers must enter with military escorts. International aid efforts are currently working to funnel supplies into the area.

Cyber / Defense Technology

  • The impact of a cyberattack on Ascension Health Systems is still being felt across their hospitals and offices throughout the United States. Detected on May 8th, the attack compromised critical infrastructure, disabling the main records system and other essential systems used for ordering tests, medications, and procedures. The attack underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures in protecting healthcare systems and ensuring uninterrupted patient care. Patients have also experienced issues accessing their personal portals, preventing them from viewing their records and contacting their healthcare providers. Consequently, Ascension has implemented a paper-based process. With many systems still down, Ascension has enlisted the assistance of the FBI. Due to the outage, some emergency patients have been rerouted to other hospitals to receive appropriate medical care.