Strategic SitRep 6/26- 7/3

Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates, French Protests turn to riots, Russia Advances on Ukraine

Issue # 7

A New Chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Escalating Military Operations and the Implications

Israeli military forces escalated their counterterrorism actions in the disputed West Bank region of Jenin today, initiating drone strikes that the Palestinian health ministry reports have led to four fatalities.

This operation, part of a broader military campaign, follows an earlier Israeli army assault in the Jenin refugee camp, which caused seven fatalities and marked an unusual deployment of helicopter missile firepower. The increased activity of the Israeli forces in the northern West Bank, an area encompassing Jenin city and an adjacent refugee camp — a bastion of Palestinian militant factions — comes in response to a recent surge of attacks against Israelis and Jewish settler attacks on Palestinian settlements.

The Palestinian health ministry noted that 27 people sustained injuries in the day's operations. "We are witnessing aerial bombing and a ground invasion," Mahmoud al-Saadi, director of the Palestinian Red Crescent in Jenin, shared with AFP, describing the widespread destruction.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated that they targeted a "joint operations center" acting as a command post for a local militant faction known as the "Jenin Brigade." This escalation of conflict unfolded in an area that's ostensibly controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas.

So, What Does This Mean?

The Israeli army's intensified activity in the West Bank represents a significant shift in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It indicates a greater willingness to utilize forceful means to neutralize what they perceive as threats to national security. This approach may further exacerbate tensions in the region, potentially sparking a cycle of retribution, as signaled by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which declared that all response options are on the table.

The Israeli administration's increased readiness to resort to military operations could have far-reaching implications for the peace process, which has already been stalled since 2014. Given the promise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to fortify Israeli settlements, the prospect of renewed peace talks seems unlikely. This military offensive, coupled with the continuous expansion of settlements, may be perceived as a provocation by Palestinian factions and the international community, thereby increasing the potential for sustained conflict and bloodshed.

Caught 'by surprise,' was how Army Spokesman Richard Hecht described the Palestinians' reaction to the recent raid, signaling a strategic shift in Israel's military approach. The lack of a specific timeline for the operation's conclusion suggests that such intensive actions may continue, further escalating tensions in the region.

As this new chapter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict unfolds, all eyes will be on the international community's response, especially considering the status of the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War of 1967. With the territory now home to around 490,000 Israelis, the conflict may have profound implications for international law and the broader geopolitical landscape.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has seen an escalation of violence since last year, resulting in numerous casualties on both sides. As the situation continues to develop, it is vital to strive for peaceful solutions to this protracted conflict. Without them, the cycle of violence will likely continue, endangering the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.

Decrease in French Civil Unrest as Nationwide Tension Continues: Understanding the Root Causes and Future Implications

France reported a decline in rioting intensity, according to the Interior Ministry on Sunday. This follows a substantial deployment of police forces to curb unrest ignited by the fatal police shooting of a North African-descended teenager.

As a measure to control the unfolding chaos, the French government mobilized 45,000 police officers on the streets, attempting to quell the upheaval that ignited after Nahel, a 17-year-old of Algerian and Moroccan descent, was fatally shot during a traffic stop in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.

The ensuing public rage led to the torching of cars, looting of stores, and even attacks on symbols of state authority such as town halls, police stations, and schools.

So, What Does This Mean?

The current unrest underscores the strained social fabric in France, exacerbated by accusations of systemic racism and police brutality particularly in low-income, racially diverse suburbs around the country's major cities. Nahel's death has amplified these allegations, pushing the nation into its most significant crisis since the 2018 "Yellow Vest" protests.

The French government's response, namely the activation of the crisis unit and significant police deployment, reflects the gravity of the situation. While these measures have somewhat reduced the immediate unrest, they may not effectively address the deeper social and racial issues at play. Unless these underlying problems are confronted, a long-term solution seems unlikely.

The fact that an officer is under investigation for voluntary homicide is significant, suggesting a potential shift in addressing concerns around police conduct. However, whether this leads to broader changes in law enforcement practices remains to be seen.

This wave of unrest has far-reaching implications. Internationally, it could impact France's tourism sector, a key pillar of the country's economy, particularly if the unrest escalates around popular landmarks during the peak summer tourist season. Warnings to citizens from China and other Western nations underscore this concern.

Politically, this unrest poses a severe challenge to President Emmanuel Macron's leadership. His decision to postpone a state visit to Germany and leave an EU summit early demonstrates the severity of the situation domestically. As seen during the Yellow Vest protests, lengthy street uprisings pose a considerable threat to political stability and can disrupt the administration's ability to conduct both domestic and foreign policy effectively.

As the situation continues to unfold, it is crucial for the French government to not only manage the immediate fallout but also to address the more profound social issues sparking the unrest. This approach is necessary to prevent future outbursts of violence and to begin healing the nation's racial and socioeconomic divides.

Ukraine Reports Russian Troops Advancing in East Amid Fierce Combat, While Progress Made in South

Ukraine has reported ongoing aggressive movements by Russian troops in four eastern regions amidst escalating hostilities, although it also indicated that Ukrainian forces are making advancements in the country's southern sector.

Deputy Defence Minister Ganna Maliar stated that Russian forces are making progress near Avdiivka, Mariinka, Lyman, and Svatove, with fierce combat taking place in these regions. However, she also reported that the Ukrainian army had experienced "partial success" in their southern counteroffensive around Bakhmut, Berdyansk, and Melitopol, despite intense resistance from enemy forces.

So, What Does This Mean?

The current military landscape signifies a critical phase in the ongoing conflict. Despite facing robust opposition and encountering advanced warfare techniques such as remote mining from the Russian side, Ukrainian forces are persistently pushing for as swift an advance as possible, especially in the south.

The reported advancements suggest that the Ukrainian counteroffensive, launched last month, is bearing fruit, albeit gradually. However, a major breakthrough is yet to be achieved, prompting calls for increased military aid from Western allies.

Simultaneously, the use of drones by Russia indicates a change in the warfare dynamics, pointing to the adoption of more sophisticated means to gain an upper hand. Nevertheless, Ukrainian forces claim to have successfully neutralized these threats.

On the economic front, the conflict also casts a shadow over Ukraine's grain export via the Black Sea. Russia has expressed reservations about maintaining the current safe passage deal, which has significant implications for Ukraine's economy and global grain supply, particularly as the deal's renewal deadline approaches in mid-July.

The ongoing conflict underscores the significant geopolitical implications for the broader international community. US President Joe Biden's impending Europe trip, including a NATO summit in Lithuania, underscores the urgency of reinforcing the global coalition supporting Ukraine.

In the face of these challenges, Ukraine continues to voice its frustration over the slow delivery of Western-promised weaponry. Given the intensity and scale of the conflict, the international community's response in terms of military aid and strategic support will be crucial in shaping the trajectory of this war.

Finally, this conflict also continues to exact a devastating human toll, as demonstrated by the unfortunate demise of Ukrainian writer Victoria Amelina in a missile strike. As the conflict persists, the preservation of human life and maintenance of peace remain paramount considerations.