Today’s D Brief: Gaza ceasefire agreed; US airstrikes in Iraq; Ukraine support ticks up; N. Korea’s spy sat;

by | Nov 22, 2023 | English


Israel and Hamas have agreed to a four-day ceasefire and hostage/prisoner exchange, officials announced Wednesday from Qatar, which—along with Egypt and the U.S.—helped broker the deal between Tel Aviv and the terrorist group. 


Involved: 50 hostages captured by Hamas are to be released in exchange for 150 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel—all of whom are women and children. Ten 10 hostages held by Hamas are expected to be released each day, according to Reuters. “Beyond that, the truce could be extended as long as an additional ten hostages were freed per day,” the wire service reports.

But Israel’s prime minister says the fighting is still far from over. “We are at war and we will continue the war until we achieve all our goals,” Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on social media Tuesday, as the last details were being nailed down ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. Israeli airstrikes continued into the morning, as did rocket attacks from Palestinian militants into southern Israel, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Institute for the Study of War has more details, here.

And Israel’s military is still evacuating entire neighborhoods in Hamas-controlled Gaza, including the Old City of Jabalia and Shuja’iya, the IDF announced on social media Wednesday.

New: The U.S. military carried out more airstrikes on alleged militant facilities in Iraq Wednesday morning. Officials at the Tampa-based Central Command referred to them as “discrete, precision strikes” after a new attack on “U.S. and Coalition forces by Iran and Iran-backed groups” on Tuesday. That attack featured “close-range ballistic missiles,” according to CENTCOM, which did not elaborate on possible coalition injuries.

The Iran-backed Kataeb Hezbollah militia was the target of the Wednesday strikes, which hit “a command and control node near Al Anbar and Jurf al Saqr, south of Baghdad,” defense officials told al-Monitor’s Jared Szuba.

Keep tabs on the known attacks on U.S. forces in the region as well as the U.S. military response to those attacks in this tracker from the Washington Institute.

Meanwhile in Dubai: Under the screams of Russian, Chinese, and American warplanes vying for attention above the Dubai Air Show tarmac, the silence on the Israel-Hamas war was deafening, Defense One’s Audrey Decker reported this week from the UAE.

As exhibitors paraded a host of weapons and aircraft at the Middle East’s largest air show, the only comment on the war blazing in the region’s western edge was no comment or a tactful evasion. But even behind the scenes, away from reporters, industry officials said the subject was avoided like an awkward “elephant in the room,” Decker writes.

Decker goes into greater detail in our latest Defense One Radio podcast, which you can find on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Welcome to this Wednesday 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 1890, celebrated French army officer Charles de Gaulle was born in the northern city of Lille.

The U.S. military this week promised another $100 million in weapons bound for Ukraine. The arms package, which was announced Monday as Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin made a surprise visit to Kyiv, is among the smallest in dollar value since Russia’s full-scale invasion began more than 600 days ago.

The Pentagon says it will send another High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, along with ammunition for that system. More 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds are included as well, along with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-tank weapons, and more.

Happening today: The 17th meeting of the U.S.-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group, hosted virtually Wednesday by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“None of us want to live in a world where bullies like [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin can invade their peaceful neighbors with impunity,” Austin said in his opening remarks. “And we refuse to let the shape of global security be dictated by autocrats who rely on repression by force at home and coercion by force abroad.”

New: After recent declines, U.S. support for aiding Ukraine has risen slightly, according to a new survey from the Associated Press/NORC. Despite Republican lawmakers’ ongoing refusal to advance the White House’s supplemental funding request linking aid for Ukraine, Israel, the Pacific region, and border security, Republican voter opposition to more U.S. aid to Ukraine has declined from 69% who said Washington was doing too much back in October—to now 59% among GOP respondents.

But overall, “45% say the U.S. government is spending too much on aid to Ukraine in the war against Russia, compared with 52% in October,” AP reported Wednesday.

Also in the AP/NORC data: 38% of those surveyed think the U.S. is spending “about the right amount.” Last month, that number was 31%. Read more, here.

Other pollsters for Gallup discovered a small erosion in Russian support for Moscow’s military. However, the decline is so small as to not be terribly meaningful—from 80% support more than a year ago to now 75%. And at the same time that marginal erosion has set in, “Confidence in the police, financial institutions and the judicial system have increased in 2023, with all three reaching record highs since Gallup began tracking these data in Russia.”

Germany’s military chief visited Kyiv on Tuesday to announce another billion-dollar arms package from Berlin, which includes 20 more MARDER infantry fighting vehicles.

Developing: Crafty Norwegian engineers are extending the range of traditional artillery shells, “giving some shells capabilities similar to missiles but with a lower cost and quicker production time,” according to the Wall Street Journal’s Alistair McDonald, reporting Friday from north of Oslo.

Boeing has partnered with Norwegian defense firm Nammo for this latest venture, which involves ramjet engines using outside air to compress and oxidize the fuel for greater efficiency and range. Indeed, “Nammo and Boeing said a test in Arizona last month set a new distance record, without disclosing how far the shell was fired.”

N. Korea orbits spy sat—but does it work? S. Korean, Japanese, and U.S. officials say they’re still trying to evaluate whether Pyongyang’s first reconnaissance satellite, launched Tuesday night, is actually functioning. “Despite questions about the launch, the United States and its allies strongly condemned it,” AP reported.

Seoul partially suspends inter-Korean agreement. “The 2018 agreement, struck during a short-lived era of reconciliation between the rival Koreas, created buffer and no-fly zones along the countries’ heavily fortified border,” AP wrote. “Under the deal, the Koreas were required to halt front-line aerial reconnaissance and live-fire exercises.”

The launch was also in violation of UN sanctions installed to prevent North Korea from testing long-range missiles. Read on, here.

Have a safe rest of the week, whether you’re on the road today or staying local. Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow in the U.S., so we won’t be back again until Monday.

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