Today's D Brief: Gaza occupation coming?; Ukraine ‘fatigue’; A plan to break Tuberville’s block; Troops’ data for sale; And a bit more.
Israel appears to be preparing for both an invasion and a military occupation of Hamas-held Gaza City, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told David Muir of ABC News in an interview that aired Monday evening. Muir had asked Bibi essentially what comes after the current siege of Israeli tanks and troops around northern Gaza, which has been gathering steam over the past several days and is widely seen as a prelude to a large ground invasion of the Palestinian enclave.
“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility [in Gaza] because we've seen what happens when we don't have it,” Netanyahu told Muir. “When we don't have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn't imagine,” he said.
Why it matters: The Wall Street Journal called it “the first indication of [Netanyahu’s] vision for Gaza after the war.” And it could propel Israeli troops into a counterterrorism campaign with no clear end date while Netanyahu seeks an end to Hamas once and for all as a terrorist organization.
It’s uncertain at best how long Hamas can last, but its officials are messaging to the public that they think they can endure a “prolonged” conflict. Its fighters are already reportedly “reducing indirect fire attacks to conserve stockpiles,” according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.
Netanyahu did leave the door open for brief pauses in fighting. But he again ruled out a general ceasefire, at least until Hamas releases the 200-plus hostages it has been holding since launching its brutal attacks on Israel exactly one month ago.
Repeating what he said publicly on Friday, the Israeli leader told ABC News, “There'll be no cease-fire, general cease-fire, in Gaza without the release of our hostages.” However, he continued, “As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there. We've had them before, I suppose, will check the circumstances in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don't think there's going to be a general cease-fire.”
“The only thing that works on these criminals in Hamas is the military pressure that we're exerting,” Netanyahu said. Any general ceasefires, he said, “will hamper the war effort” and “hamper our effort to get our hostages out.”
By the way: “The IDF opened a secure population evacuation corridor on November 6 to enable residents in the northern Gaza Strip to move south in view of military activity,” the Institute for the Study of War noted in its Monday evening assessment. The Associated Press reported on location Tuesday that the journey south through the corridor is “terrifying” with “bodies strewn alongside the road” and some evacuees reporting “Israeli soldiers firing at them” as they fled.
Palestinian militias continued attacking Israeli troops approaching Gaza on Monday, and also in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But the rate of attacks remained largely constant from past days, suggesting no particularly new strategy or tactics, according to ISW. Lebanese Hezbollah forces also continued their pressure on northern Israel Monday, conducting four cross-border attacks.
Meanwhile, the Iran-backed Islamic Resistance in Iraq “doubled its rate of claimed attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria and claimed that it fired a missile at U.S. forces” on Monday, ISW writes. And another Iranian-backed Iraqi proxy group, Ashab al Kahf, threatened to attack the U.S. embassy in Iraq.
New: The White House has drawn up a $320 million transfer of weapons to Israel, including an item known as Spice Family Gliding Bomb Assemblies, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Administration officials notified lawmakers last Tuesday of their intent, which follows an earlier request from Israel for the weapons well before Hamas began its October 7 attack. But the initial Israeli request was more of an “informal” one, the Journal writes; the White House made it official on October 31.
Said one expert to the Journal: “The administration may be asking for pauses but its actions say it is supporting the bombing campaign.”
Clarification: We flagged a recent incident involving the U.S. military shooting down a Turkish drone over Syria in yesterday’s newsletter that we’d mistakenly thought occurred on November 6; it actually occurred on October 6. Our apologies, and we regret the error.
- “Under Scrutiny Over Gaza, Israel Points to Civilian Toll of U.S. Wars,” the New York Times reported Tuesday from Tel Aviv;
- “Turkish parliament dumps Coke, Nestle from menus over alleged Israel support,” Reuters reported Tuesday from Ankara;
- “Gaza diary part 17: ‘Do stress, fear and sadness turn your hair grey in a month? I’d Google it if I could’,” the Guardian reported Tuesday;
- And “Destruction from Hamas attack hard to comprehend,” the BBC reported Tuesday after a government-guided tour of Kibbutz Kfar Aza.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here. On this day in 1917, the British military captured Gaza from Ottoman troops, breaking a months-long stalemate in a conflict known as the Third Battle of Gaza.
New on Capitol Hill: a procedural end to Tommy Tuberville’s obstruction could be decided as early as next week. The Senate Rules Committee has scheduled a markup next Tuesday, November 14, for a resolution to allow most military promotions to be confirmed in a bundle, which would effectively circumvent the nearly yearlong hold by former college football coach Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala.
Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, announced the meeting on Monday. “The resolution, which is led by Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI), establishes a standing order for the remainder of the 118th Congress to provide for the en bloc consideration of military nominations— with the exception of nominees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and commanders of a combatant command—that have been favorably reported by the Senate Armed Services Committee,” Klobuchar’s office said in a statement.
“Senator Tuberville refuses to heed the warnings of our top military officials,” and “has put a hold on over 350 military officers, from the head of the Pacific Air Command to the director of Cyber Command,” she said. “He refuses to even cooperate with members of his own party who have pleaded with him to lift this hold,” she continued, and said, “This vote in the Rules Committee will allow us to finally move forward with military confirmations, filling critical positions and protecting our military readiness.”
Ukraine “fatigue” update: More than six in 10 Americans surveyed by Gallup pollsters in October say neither Russia nor Ukraine is winning after more than 600 days of Vladimir Putin’s full-scale military invasion of Russia’s democratic neighbor. About two out of every five think the U.S. is doing too much to help Ukraine now, and Republican support for Kyiv continues to decline noticeably.
Just four months ago, only 29% of Americans thought the U.S. was doing too much. Now that figure is 41%, and it outweighs the percentage of respondents who think the U.S. is giving Ukraine “the right amount” of support to defend against Russia (33%). Only a quarter of Americans think the U.S. isn’t doing enough, according to Gallup.
When it comes to choosing between a long war and just giving Putin the parts of Ukraine he’s invaded, a majority of those polled (54%) says they still believe “the U.S. should support Ukraine in reclaiming its former territory, even if this resulted in a prolonged conflict.” That number was 66% in August 2022. About 30% felt Ukraine should cede its invaded territory to Russia back in August 2022; that number has risen slowly since January, and is now at 43%. (Reuters found similar results in early October.) Read through the rest of Gallup’s latest data, here.
So is the Ukraine war presently a “stalemate” or not? Ukraine’s top military officer said as much in an interview last week with the Economist. A top official in President Volodymir Zelenskyy’s office expressed his dismay over the claim this past weekend, but seemed to take issue more with the fact that it seemed to hand Russia a victory that Kyiv can ill afford at this stage of the conflict, according to CNN.
President Zelenskyy, too, dismissed the “stalemate” allegation on Saturday, and admitted, “People are tired. Everyone is tired.” He continued, “We all need to get together and resolve the issues, work more with our partners on air defense, unblock the skies, and enable our guys to take offensive actions. This is what we need to think about. Only about this. Not about where we will be tomorrow.”
“Exhaustion with the war rolls along like a wave. You see it in the United States, in Europe,” Zelenskyy said in a recent interview with Time. “And we see that as soon as they start to get a little tired, it becomes like a show to them: ‘I can’t watch this rerun for the 10th time,’” he said.
Said one aide to Time: “We’re out of options. We’re not winning. But try telling [Zelenskyy] that.”
Still, Zelenskyy maintains an optimistic tone publicly, even as he continues leading through an invasion by the world’s most nuclear-armed military in Russia. “Everyone should think about defending our country,” Zelenskyy pleaded in his Monday evening address to the nation. “We need to pull ourselves together, avoid unwinding and splitting up into disputes or other priorities,” he said.
“The situation is the same now as it was before: if there is no victory, there will be no country. Our victory is possible,” Zelenskyy said in his televised address. “It will come if we all focus on it. Not on politicking or searching for some personal interest.”
- “A top aide to the commander of Ukraine’s military is killed by a grenade given as a birthday gift,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday from Kyiv;
- “I’m a Ukrainian, and I Refuse to Compete for Your Attention,” wrote Sasha Dovzhyk, who edits the London Ukrainian Review, in the op-ed pages of the New York Times on Tuesday;
Troops' data is for sale. That puts national security at risk, according to researchers at Duke University. They went shopping for sensitive data for U.S. military personnel, including names, home addresses, emails and specific branch information being sold on third-party data-broker platforms. They talk about their findings in Data Brokers and the Sale of Data on U.S. Military Personnel, and you can read a bit more from D1’s sister pub GovExec, here. (Of course, all that is available on everyone else as well, though that might be changing.)
Lastly: A winning idea hides friendly radio calls in a sea of noise. Two soldiers who invented a low-cost decoy emitter won the Dragon’s Lair IX innovation competition—and some nice prizes: Meritorious Service Medals, admission to a military school of their choice, and the chance to spread their idea across the Defense Department. D1’s Jennifer Hlad reports.