Gaza war could create ‘generational’ terror threat, top intelligence official says

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The top US intelligence official warned on Monday that the war in Gaza could embolden terrorist groups, which are united in their opposition to the US, to support Israel.

“This crisis has fueled violence by a number of actors around the world. And while it is too early to tell, it is likely that the conflict in Gaza will have an ethnic impact on terrorism,” Director of National Intelligence. Everel Haynes told the annual hearing on global security threats.

Haynes said the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel prompted fresh threats to the United States from groups affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State, while Iran-backed militant groups “use the conflict to advance their agenda.” used as an opportunity for “against the United States.” “And we have seen how it is encouraging people to commit acts of anti-Semitism and Islamophobic terrorism around the world,” he added.

US officials say that more than 30,000 people have died in Gaza. This claim was made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Politico’s parent company Axel Springer said in an interview Sunday that Israel had killed about 13,000 Palestinian fighters, a claim that could not be independently verified.

The hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee is a rare occasion when top leaders of US intelligence agencies testify in open hearings about a range of global challenges and hotspots. His testimony was accompanied by the release of the Intelligence Community’s annual report.

“The Gaza conflict is a challenge for many key Arab partners, who face public sentiment against Israel and the United States for the killing and destruction in Gaza, but see the United States as a power broker who is best positioned to deter and end further aggression before the conflict spreads deeper into the region,” the report said.

CIA Director William J. Burns updated lawmakers on negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza, which would include an influx of humanitarian aid. Release of Hamas hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Burns, who has traveled to the Middle East eight times in recent months as the administration’s point person to negotiate the release of more than 100 hostages still in Gaza, made his latest visit Saturday night in Doha, Qatar. Returned from the negotiation session. He spoke with the hope that the cease-fire agreement “could be the first step toward a more sustainable arrangement over time.”

“I don’t think anyone can guarantee success,” he added. “I think what you can guarantee is that for the innocent citizens of Gaza who are in desperate circumstances, for the hostages and their families who are in even the most desperate circumstances, and for all of us. are even worse.”

Intelligence officials have sought to deflect debate over a war that has rocked American politics and put the Biden administration in the difficult position of backing an ally that the United Nations and international human rights groups have criticized. The groups have faced growing condemnation from liberal Americans as well. Voters, on the severity of civilian casualties and famine as a result of the war. The White House has warned Israel not to move operations into Rafah, a city in the far south of Gaza along the border with Egypt. Israeli forces are watching the city – where about 1.5 million Palestinians have gathered, fleeing the bombardment – As the last bastion of Hamas fighters they must neutralize.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), a staunch supporter of Israel, urged Burns and Haynes to refute critics’ accusations that Israel is “exterminating the Palestinian people” through its military campaign.

The authorities refused to do so. Burns said that while the administration understands “Israel’s need” to respond to the brutal attack on Oct. 7, “I think we all have to be mindful of the enormous toll on innocent civilians in Gaza.” Should be kept.”

Is Israel starving children in Palestine or Gaza? Cotton asked, apparently citing reports from the United Nations and humanitarian aid organizations, as well as some Democratic lawmakers, that Israel’s refusal to allow essential food aid into Gaza is leading to a preventable famine. Is.

“The reality is that there are children who are starving,” Burns said. “They are malnourished, as a result of the fact that humanitarian aid cannot reach them. It is very difficult to distribute humanitarian aid effectively, unless you have a ceasefire.”

The witnesses, who included the directors of the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, talked about challenges from an ambitious China to the spread of artificial intelligence. . The constant threat of cyber espionage and war. The State Department’s top intelligence official, Brett Holmgren, said the power of AI could “lower the bar” for US adversaries to interfere in elections.

Burns didn’t mince words on the importance of U.S. aid to Ukraine, which is currently stalled amid a divisive debate on Capitol Hill.

With a steady supply of US-supplied military equipment, “Ukraine can hold its own on the front line until 2024 and 2025,” Burns said. He added that Kiev could continue strikes deep into Russia and conduct operations against Russia’s naval forces in the Black Sea, allowing Ukrainian forces to “regain the offensive initiative” possibly as early as next year. can be brought into position.

But Ukraine faces a “very grim future” if the aid does not arrive, and may “lose significant ground” to Russia, Burns said.

He said that it will be a huge and historic mistake for America. Moreover, failure to help defend Ukraine would “fuel the Chinese leadership’s ambitions” to take aggressive action on Taiwan, Burns added.

“The Ukrainians are not running out of courage and tenacity. They are running out of ammunition. And we are running out of time to help them,” Burns said.

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