Today's D Brief: Israel-Hamas fighting enters 11th day; US, Chinese navies exchange words; Arctic warming faster than thought, ‘Guam or bust’; And a bit more.

After more than 10 days of intense bombardment on both sides, Israel’s leaders are allegedly considering a ceasefire with Hamas militants — even as its jets continue to strike targets in Gaza today, the Associated Press and Israeli public broadcaster Amichai Stein report.

The pace of Hamas rocket launches seemed to have eased somewhat overnight, but the total sent toward Israel totals more than 4,000 since May 10, the New York Times reports. 

Updated casualty count: Israeli airstrikes have killed 219 Palestinians, including 63 children, according to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. On the other hand, “Hamas rocket attacks have killed more than a dozen people in Israel, including two children,” the Times reports.

About that ceasefire: The “outlines” of such a deal are in place, and they “could come into effect as soon as Friday,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports “the Israeli military has privately conceded that it is nearing the completion of its objectives,” U.S. and other foreign officials say. 

“Late Thursday or early Friday” is when an Egyptian official told AP he expects a ceasefire to be reached. More from Gaza City, here.

One more thing: A $735 million U.S. sale of precision-guided bombs to Israel could soon be put on hold — at least until lawmakers “take a hard look at whether the sale of these weapons is actually helping...or whether it is simply fueling conflict,” according to Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders. The Washington Post has more here.

From Defense One

‘Guam or Bust’: America’s Helpers May Need a Halfway Destination as Afghanistan Pullout Nears // Jacqueline Feldscher: Lawmakers want more visas for interpreters and their families, but time is running out for anything but a hasty evacuation.

Climate Change Will Force Coast Guard to Respond to ‘More Intense’ Storms, Biden Says // Jacqueline Feldscher: One recent hurricane season cost the service nearly a billion dollars to respond to aid requests and repair the damage to its own facilities. The future is sure to bring worse.

Will 2021 Be the Year JADC2 Takes Off? // Patrick Tucker: The U.S. military has big hopes for joint, all-domain command and control. But logistical and financial challenges are mounting.

Defense One Radio, Ep. 83: The U.S. military’s first woman-led mission // Defense One Staff : From the rice fields of South Carolina comes an incredible story of courage amid unspeakable tragedy.

The F-35’s Painful Lessons Must Inform Future Programs // Dan Grazier: Congress and the Pentagon must question dubious technical requirements, rosy buy-in costs, and optimistic schedule promises.

Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson. And if you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1570, what is believed to be the world's first “modern” atlas — Theatrum Orbis Terrarum — was printed in the contemporary Belgian city of Antwerp.

China protested twice this week when a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait and the South China Sea on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. The crew of the USS Curtis Wilber (DDG 54) made the trips, which the Navy said “demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
China’s military claimed the Wilber’s Strait passage sent the “wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces, deliberately disrupting and sabotaging the regional situation and endangering peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to ABC News.
DDG 54 then sailed near the Paracel Islands, which are claimed by both Vietnam and China. A Chinese military spokesman said Thursday that the Wilber's passage near the Paracels “violates international law and basic norms of international relations, increases regional security risks,” as well as “misunderstandings, misjudgments, and accidents at sea,” CNN reports.
Reax from America’s 7th Fleet: “Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” Navy spokesperson Lt. j.g. Nicholas Lingo said in a statement. A bit more at CNN.

BTW: The U.S. Navy will request just eight ships next year, which is four less than expected, Bloomberg reported Tuesday ahead of next week’s White House’s 2022 budget request rollout — now slated for Friday, May 28.

Russia’s foreign minister failed to drum up support for a regular meeting of military officials from the eight nations on the Arctic Council (Canada, U.S., Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden). But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shot the idea down in Iceland on Wednesday, citing the “need to avoid a militarization of the region.” The Washington Post and AP have a bit more from the first high-level U.S.-Russia delegate meeting in Reykjavik.
In other Russia news: Ukraine’s president says he’s worried Germany and France have “weakened their positions a bit” when it comes to negotiating a satisfactory path toward peace in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have fought since Russia’s Feb. 2014 invasion and illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula. AP has more from Kyiv here.

And finally today: The Arctic warmed three times faster than the rest of the planet during the nearly 50 years between 1971 and 2019, according to a new report from a group of international researchers with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme. And this is leading to “rapid and widespread changes in sea ice, land ice (glaciers and ice sheets), permafrost, snow cover, and other physical features and characteristics of the Arctic environment,” the researchers warn.
That’s a much “higher rate than previously thought,” Agence France-Presse reports, noting in particular that “the Arctic's average annual temperature rose by 3.1 Celsius, compared to 1 Celcius for the planet as a whole.” The largest changes occurred over the Arctic Ocean and the northeastern Barents Sea.
The findings are helping update climate models for the Arctic, whose "first ice-free September" could happen as early as 2040. In addition, “more than 36,000 buildings, 13,000 kilometres of roads, and 100 airports in the Arctic could be at risk of damage from near-surface permafrost thaw by 2050,” according to AMAP’s report. Read on, here.