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Report from US intelligence suggests that Netanyahu's position as leader is at risk


According to the U.S. intelligence community's annual report on the national security threats facing the country, which was delivered to Congress on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "viability as a leader" is "in jeopardy."


"The public's mistrust of Netanyahu's ability to govern has grown from its already high levels before the war, and we anticipate significant demonstrations calling for his resignation and fresh elections," the report stated. "There's a chance for a different, more moderate government."


Within Israel, Netanyahu has come under heavy fire for his administration's inability to foresee or stop the October 7 terror attack, in which Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240 more. According to public surveys, a significant number of Israelis doubt whether Netanyahu's brutal military campaign, which is now in its fifth month and has destroyed Gaza and killed tens of thousands of people, is the most effective means of freeing the hostages.


According to the intelligence report, the majority of Israelis are in favour of eliminating Hamas. Nevertheless, its appraisal of Netanyahu's political circumstances provides a sobering portrait of a man that President Joe Biden formerly professed to "love."


It occurs at a time when tensions between the two leaders over the number of civilian deaths in Gaza are growing more intense and visible.


The Biden administration has been pressuring Israel to permit more aid to enter the Palestinian enclave as reports of civilian casualties and, increasingly, malnutrition and illness have grown. Biden issued a warning that Netanyahu is "hurting Israel more than helping Israel" in an interview conducted over the weekend.


In a different interview, Netanyahu retaliated, saying that Biden was incorrect on two fronts if he implied that he was "hurting Israel's interests" by pursuing private policies "against the will of the majority of Israelis."


Additionally, the U.S. intelligence report cautions that Israel will find it challenging to defeat Hamas militarily.


According to the assessment, "Israel will likely have to deal with HAMAS's persistent armed resistance for years to come, and the military will find it difficult to neutralise HAMAS's underground infrastructure, which allows insurgents to hide, regain strength, and surprise Israeli forces."


Similar evaluations have been made by experts and military analysts, who caution that Israel's heavy bombing campaign might only act as an inspiration for future terrorist generations.

The report claims that ISIS and al-Qaeda have both been influenced by Hamas and "have directed their supporters to conduct attacks against Israeli and U.S. interests."



The U.S. is facing a more significant threat of terrorist attacks


In testimony given on Monday to the Senate Intelligence Committee in connection with the report's release, FBI Director Chris Wray stated that since the October 7 attack, the threat of a terrorist attack "has gone to a whole [other] level" within the U.S.


"Even before October 7, I would have informed this committee that, from a terrorism standpoint, we were at a heightened threat level. This is because, for the first time in a very long time, the threats from domestic violent extremists, domestic extremists inspired by jihad, foreign terrorist organisations, and state-sponsored terrorist organisations, have all increased at the same time," Wray stated.


The cornerstone of the intelligence community's annual public messaging is the so-called Annual Threat Assessment, which gives Congressional leaders a chance to question the country's top intelligence officials in public. It provides an unclassified global snapshot of the intelligence community's perspective on the range of national security threats confronting the United States.


On Monday, the ordinarily security-focused forum deviated into clearly political territory as Republican members of the committee repeatedly pressed intelligence chiefs on security-related matters about the U.S. southern border.


Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the leading Democrat on the panel, and Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the leading Republican, exchanged subtle jabs regarding the panel's politicisation in the hearing's closing moments.


Warner remarked, "I think that one of the things that we have always taken some pride [in on this committee] is that we can agree without questioning each other's motives or our patriotism." "And I'm hoping that tone will stay the same."


As a retaliation, Risch said, "I've been on this committee for 15 years, and we do an excellent job until politics creep in—and that's what's happened here this afternoon with the last two speakers." He was referring to Warner and another Democratic senator who had attacked the Republican line of questioning.



Warnings from Ukraine


Both CIA Director Bill Burns and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, who testified before the committee, warned of the dire situation of the war in Ukraine, where it is generally believed that Russia has regained the initiative. Ukraine has been forced to ration ammunition.


According to Burns, Ukraine "is likely to lose ground and probably significant ground in 2024" if the U.S. does not provide further assistance. The House is not moving forward with a $60 billion aid package for Ukraine because Republicans won't accept more money.

Burns referred to Russia's recently annexed city and said, "I think without supplemental assistance in 2024, you're going to see more of Avdiivkas, and that seems to me would be a massive and historic mistake for the United States."


According to Burns, the CIA believes that "Ukraine can hold its own on the front lines" and "regain the offensive initiative" with additional military support by "the end of 2024, the beginning of 2025."


Both "uncertainties about the future of Western military assistance" and "deadlock" in the battlefield, which "plays to Russia's strategic military advantages and is increasingly shifting the momentum in Moscow's favour," are helping Russia, according to the intelligence community report.


The report provides a fascinating hint as to the degree of China's assistance to Russia in the conflict, a development that U.S. officials have long been wary of. According to the report, since Moscow invaded Ukraine in 2022, Beijing has increased its export of goods to Russia that could be used for military purposes by more than threefold.


According to the report, China has supported Russia's defence industrial base and given dual-use material and weapon components, offering "economy and security assistance to Russia's war in Ukraine."


According to the report, trade between the two has been growing since the beginning of the conflict and reached over $220 billion in 2023, surpassing their record total volume of 2022 by 15%. In exchange, Russia is reportedly offering China cheaper energy prices and more access to the Arctic.


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