Author: Nick Nemtuda, Intelligence Analyst
International calls to protest by the former Hamas chief will likely lead to an uptick of demonstrations in support of Palestine worldwide through the weekend. Protest activity probably will increase in the next few weeks in response to the changing security situation and number of civilian casualties.
Peaceful protests probable, risk of violence between counter-protestors
Protests have begun in cities throughout the United States and law enforcement has increased their security presence in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Most protests are being promoted as peaceful protests in support of the Palestinian people, rather than Hamas. The risk of escalation is possible if additional variables are present, such as counter-protests or law enforcement intervention.
- New York City has been the host of multiple protests and counter-protests since 7 October. Protesters will often use symbolic locations as their gathering points, such as embassies, consulates, government buildings, or religious locations.
- College campuses around the United States will also be host to protests in support of Palestine. These protests will probably be smaller than those in major cities, but negative sentiment toward the Israeli government or counter-protests may trigger disruptive behavior from the protesters.
Recommended security practices during the weekend
Red Five intelligence analysts have not seen actionable reports against specific targets within the United States. Federal and local law enforcement have issued security updates and are taking proactive measures to protect vulnerable targets against violence and swatting attacks.
It is important to be aware of and avoid protest locations this weekend. If you come across protest activity, leave the area and move in a direction away from protestors.
Security situation will remain fluid during the next few weeks, travel may be impacted
It is especially important to reassess the situation daily as it pertains to you or your business as the security situation in Israel changes daily. There are many factors that can occur on short-notice and have the potential to impact security assessments. For example, the possibility of airport closures highlights the necessity for redundancies in travel plans. Red Five recommends travelers take the following precautions:
- Before traveling, it is important to establish multiple travel routes that can be easily adjusted to depending on how the situation evolves.
- Establish a plan for accountability of personnel, which can be done through automated messaging systems or call trees.
- If traveling internationally, be sure to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The alert system will provide you with urgent safety notifications for the locations you are traveling.
- Monitor travel alerts and advisories posted for the country and cities.
Use trusted sources for information and analysis
The flood of information available online can lead to the spread of misinformation about the conflict which presents an information vulnerability and can lead to an inaccurate security picture. Narratives are easily spun and sources may not be checked before online content goes viral.
- It’s common for pictures and videos to show troop movement or casualties with claims that they are connected to the current conflict, only to be confirmed they were actually from Syria in 2014 or Yemen in 2018.
Red Five recommends utilizing a network of trusted and internationally diverse sources to stay up-to-date and counter the risks associated with misinformation.
- Government sources such as the Department of State’s travel advisory, UK’s Foreign Ministry, and other states’ equivalent are excellent sources for reliable security information.
Red Five intelligence analysts monitoring key indicators of changes in the security situation
The dynamic nature of this conflict has highlighted the necessity of staying safe and informed with accurate intelligence. Red Five intelligence analyst are monitoring the following indicators for changes in the security risk environment:
- Changes to the State Department’s travel advisories and Security Alerts posts by in-country Regional Security Office;
- Outside actors such as Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, or other countries joining the conflict;
- Increased rhetoric political figures in the region or heads of state for increased violence; or
- The use of banned military armaments or combat tactics.
These events would likely trigger more frequent and volatile demonstrations globally, increased risk associated with travel, and a highly disruptive business environment in the Levant and greater MENA area.