Today’s D Brief: Deadly violence in Gaza & Israel; ‘Ransomware explosion’; Army end-strength cap; Warning shots in the Gulf; And a bit more...

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated where most of the deaths occurred.

Airstrikes kill dozens in Gaza after rockets launched at Israel. Israeli forces began airstrikes on Gaza on Monday, killing 24 people, after Hamas militants fired scores of rockets toward Israel in response to violent confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians at a holy site that injured hundreds of Palestinians.

The conflict began at the start of Ramadan, when Israeli police blocked off a plaza that is a popular area to gather during the holy month, and Palestinians protested the decision. It quickly escalated, and became violent Monday, when police in riot gear fought with worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam and the holiest site of Judaism. Police said 21 officers were injured, while the Palestine Red Crescent Society said more than 300 Palestinians were injured.

On Tuesday morning, AP was reporting that “More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank in 24 hours, including nearly 500 who were treated at hospitals. The Israeli military said six Israeli civilians were hurt by rocket fire Tuesday morning.”

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus: 15 Hamas and Islamist Jihad operatives were killed by IDF, which struck around 130 “military targets,” via CNN.

Hamas fired hundreds of rockets: “The Israeli airstrikes came after Hamas fired seven rockets at Jerusalem—the first time the city had been targeted since 2014—and 200 more at southern Israel,” the Washington Post reported. 

Many were intercepted: Israel Defense Forces officials told CNN that 90 percent of the rockets fired by Hamas were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. This video posted to Twitter by an editor for the Times of Israel purports to show more than a dozen rockets being intercepted.

5,000 Israeli soldiers have been ordered to “deepen home front defense” near the border with Gaza, Al Jazeera reported.

From Defense One

Army Leaders Have Agreed to Cap Troop Size, Top General Says // Caitlin M. Kenney: Gen. McConville and the acting secretary have agreed the force will not grow past 485,000 active-duty soldiers next year. But can they keep it from shrinking?

How to Detect Sarcasm with Artificial Intelligence // Patrick Tucker: Humans make inferences about tone and meaning, but algorithms can find hidden relationships between words to detect irony and intentional falsehood.

Redraw the Limits on Lethal Force Against Terror Groups // Rachel Stohl and Shannon Dick: As the Biden administration reviews policies for use of lethal force outside war zones, it must be certain it’s not perpetuating a cycle of “forever wars.”

To Understand 'Zero Trust,' Look to the Roman Empire // Vincent Berk, Nextgov: When the Romans realized that they could no longer prevent border incursions, they developed methods of fighting the attackers within.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Jennifer Hlad. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. OTD1846: President James Polk asks Congress to declare war on Mexico, starting the Mexican-American War.

Pipeline shutdown is part of a “ransomware explosion.” Axios: “Crippling a major U.S. oil pipeline this weekend initially looked like an act of war—but it's now looking like an increasingly normal crime, bought off-the-shelf from a ‘ransomware as a service’ provider known as DarkSide.”

Coming back online: The operator of the 5,500-mile, Texas-to-New York Colonial Pipeline says they hope to have most of the line operating by week’s end, the New York Times reported Monday.

DarkSide repents, kinda sorta: “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society. From today, we introduce moderation and check each company that our partners want to encrypt to avoid social consequences in the future,” the group posted on a website, Bloomberg reported.

But their way of making money is a huge and growing problem, Christopher Krebs told a panel of the House Homeland Security Committee last week. “Cybercriminals have been allowed to run amok while governments have mainly watched from the sidelines, unclear on whether cybercrime is a national security level threat. If there was any remaining doubt on that front, let’s dispense with it now: too many lives are at stake,” the former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agencysaid just days before the Colonial attack. Read his full testimony, here.

The good news? Krebs said that after years of “stumping for a more coordinated approach across industry and government,” we finally have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done. 

  1. Improve defenses: make two-factor authentication ubiquitous, patch systems regularly, make online backups, create response plans.
  2. Break the ransomware business model, perhaps by centralizing and therefore dampening and slowing payments.
  3. Go after ransom seekers with a coordinated government approach.

Krebs also endorsed the recent report by the Ransomware Task Force, “a

collaboration of more than 60 experts in cyber policy, software engineering, and academia, [that] lays out a comprehensive set of recommendations that all players in the IT ecosystem can take. The report is 81 pages packed with evidence, analysis, and practical/actionable recommendations.” Read it, here.

Warning shots in the Gulf. U.S. Navy ships fired 30 warning shots near 13 Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy fast attack boats that U.S. officials said conducted “unsafe and unprofessional maneuvers” in the Strait of Hormuz on Monday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said. 

In the largest such encounter in more than a year, six U.S. Navy vessels were escorting the guided missile submarine USS Georgia when the Iranian craft approached the vessels “at high speed,” coming within 150 yards and ignoring various warnings. CNN has a bit more.

DoD released short video clips of the incident. Watch them here and here.

Report: Biden taps Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan. Emanuel has serves as a U.S. Representative, mayor of Chicago, and chief of staff to President Obama, the Financial Times reported Tuesday morning. 

Lastly today: A military spouse writes about military spouses. “I arrived at Fort Irwin, California, in 2013 without knowing much about military life,” writes Arin Yoon in National Geographic. “I started making pictures in order to engage with and learn more about this community. I soon fell into a familiar rhythm of packing and unpacking as we moved from California to Kansas to New Jersey to Georgia. My children were born in between moves and deployments. All along, I have documented this life, sometimes with a baby on my back, and at one point, I realized I was no longer an outsider.” Read on, here.