Israeli forces continued advancing eastwards from the al Shifa Hospital, which is consistent with Israeli efforts to establish evacuation corridors for civilians moving west-to-east in Gaza City. Local Palestinian sources reported that Israeli forces fought Palestinian militia fighters near the al Samer roundabout on November 17, just west of the al Ahli Hospital. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that Israeli forces “surrounded” the hospital on November 17. Israeli forces have repeatedly established safe corridors and evacuation routes to facilitate the departure of civilians. The IDF announced an evacuation route east from al Shati Camp to Salah al Din Road on November 14 and declared a unilateral tactical pause between 1000 and 1600 local time to facilitate evacuations. The IDF also declared an evacuation route east from al Shifa Hospital on November 13. Hamas fighters fired upon this evacuation route from al Shifa Hospital, according to Israeli officers.
Ukrainian officials stated that Ukrainian forces have established bridgeheads on the east (left) bank of Kherson Oblast and are conducting ground operations aimed at pushing Russian forces out of artillery range of the west (right) bank of the Dnipro River. The Ukrainian Marine Corps Command and the Ukrainian General Staff stated on November 17 that Ukrainian marines have secured several “bridgeheads” on the east bank following successful actions and are conducting actions to expand these positions. US military doctrine defines a bridgehead as “an area on the enemy’s side of the water obstacle that is large enough to accommodate the majority of the crossing force, has adequate terrain to permit defense of the crossing sites, provides security to crossing forces from enemy direct fire, and provides a base for continuing the attack.” The doctrinal definition of a bridgehead does not stipulate a certain size for the crossing force, the extent of the secured positions, or the ability to transfer and operate heavy military equipment from those positions. The necessary size of a bridgehead depends on the operations it is meant to support, and the official Ukrainian acknowledgment of these positions as bridgeheads indicates that the Ukrainian command assesses that these positions are sufficient for continuing ground operations on the east bank.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is expanding its suppression of dissents by targeting overseas Chinese expatriate critics. The party previously targeted the owner of the “Teacher Li is Not Your Teacher” X account in December. The owner is a PRC national living in Italy who published videos of dissent in the PRC amid the end of the Zero-Covid policy from November to December 2022. The party has since expanded its reach to also target dissidents in the United States, such as Jiajun Qiu, by a combination of internet and potential overseas in-person harassment. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security complements these threatening messages by running secret police stations in locations such as New York City to induce fear into diaspora communities and coerce dissidents into silence. These police stations serve as the enforcement mechanism to induce fear into individuals, such as Qiu. Their presence, regardless of whether undercover agents follow dissidents, such as Qiu, presents an omnipresent sense of fear and tension to these individuals to coerce them into silence.
Israeli forces continued reconnaissance operations in al Shifa Hospital on November 16 to uncover Hamas military infrastructure, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). US military doctrine defines reconnaissance as “a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary or to secure data concerning the. . . geographic characteristics of a particular area.” Reconnaissance operations can occur before, during, or after an operation. The IDF will probably not release the intelligence that the reconnaissance generates immediately because the intelligence is meant to enable further military operations to clear, destroy, or otherwise degrade the tunnel system that the IDF claims Hamas maintains under al Shifa Hospital. An IDF spokesperson said that Israeli special forces are conducting unidentified targeted operations against Hamas infrastructure around the complex, which this intelligence could enable.
Russian forces conducted a series of missile and drone strikes against Ukraine on the night of November 15 to 16. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces launched 18 Shahed-131/136 drones of which Ukrainian forces destroyed 16. The Ukrainian Air Force reported that Russian forces launched S-300 missiles targeting Kharkiv Oblast and that Ukrainian forces destroyed a Kh-59 cruise missile over Poltava Oblast on the evening of November 15. Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Colonel Yuriy Ihnat reported on November 16 that Russian forces changed the timing of the November 16 drone attack from their normal strike pattern by conducting the drone strikes until around 9:30am local time, as opposed to conducting the attacks at their usual time from around 10:00pm to 3:00-4:00am. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Captain First Rank Nataliya Humenyuk stated that the Russian military has concentrated over 800 missiles, including Kalibr and Onyx missiles, in occupied Crimea and intends to use all of them against Ukrainian energy infrastructure in winter 2023.
Israeli forces conducted a reconnaissance operation into the al Shifa Hospital complex on November 14-15 to obtain information about the Hamas tunnel network Israel says is under the complex. US military doctrine defines a reconnaissance operation as “a mission undertaken to obtain, by visual observation or other detection methods, information about the activities and resources of an enemy or adversary or to secure data concerning the...geographic characteristics of a particular area.” Israeli officials said that IDF units entered the hospital grounds to “locate a Hamas tunnel hub that connects the hospital” with other areas.” Israeli forces approaching from the east killed four Hamas fighters who engaged them with small arms fire, presumably on the eastern side of the hospital. Israeli forces searched buildings throughout the complex and questioned Palestinians in the facility. Israeli efforts to search facilities, question individuals, and locate tunnel hubs are consistent with a reconnaissance operation. Israeli forces also released images, video, and statements saying that they discovered an ”operational headquarters.” The images and video show a limited amount of equipment labeled with Hamas insignia and iconography. This refutes the Hamas claims that it was not using the hospital for any military purposes.
The European Union (EU) appears poised to ban the export of precision machine tools and key weapons manufacturing equipment components to Russia. The ban, if enacted and effectively enforced, could deal a significant blow to Russia’s defense industrial base (DIB) given precision machine tools’ importance in industrial manufacturing. Bloomberg reported on November 15 that the EU’s 12th sanctions package proposes a ban on the export of precision machine tools and machinery parts that Russia uses to make weapons and ammunition, such as welding machines, lithium batteries, thermostats, motors, and drone motors. Bloomberg reported that Russia has been importing precision machines and precision machine tools from Europe to sustain its ammunition production and other DIB production efforts. Bne Intellinews reported in June 2021 that Russia’s near total reliance on European- and US-produced precision machine tools makes Russia particularly vulnerable to such sanctions and noted that at the time Russia imported almost all of the precision machines it required.
The positional war in Ukraine is not a stable stalemate. It is not the result of fundamental realities in modern warfare that can only be changed with a technological or tactical revolution, as was the First World War’s stalemate. Neither does it rest on a permanent parity in military capacity between Russia and Ukraine that will continue indefinitely regardless of Western support to Kyiv. It results, on the contrary, from self-imposed limitations on the technologies the West has been willing to provide Ukraine and constraints on the Russian defense industrial base largely stemming from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unwillingness so far to commit Russia fully to this war. The current balance is thus, in fact, highly unstable, and could readily be tipped in either direction by decisions made in the West.
Hamas is conducting a delaying operation against the advancing Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip to achieve strategic and operational effects. This assessment is a change to CTP-ISW's previous assessment that Hamas fighters in the northern Gaza Strip were screening a main defensive effort in Gaza City. According to US military doctrine, a delay mission is when a force “trades space for time by slowing” an enemy and “inflicting maximum damage . . . without . . . becoming decisively engaged.” A delay mission also seeks to “wear down the enemy so that friendly forces can regain the initiative through offensive action [or] establish an effective defense.” The IDF captured a Hamas battle plan on November 4 that suggested that Hamas had not heavily committed its forces to the defense of the northern Gaza Strip, which is consistent with a delay mission. A Gaza Strip-focused X (Twitter) account reported on November 10 that senior Hamas fighters fled al Shifa Hospital, where Hamas maintains key military and tunnel infrastructure. The delaying operation would have enabled these fighters to escape, and their escape lets Hamas preserve some of its core leadership. Reuters reported on November 3 that Hamas believes it can “frustrate” Israeli forces through “urban guerrilla tactics.”
Russian forces are likely trying to regain the theater-level initiative in Ukraine by conducting several simultaneous offensive operations in eastern Ukraine, although it remains unclear if Russian forces will be able to fully regain the initiative as Ukrainian forces maintain pressure on critical areas of the front. Several Ukrainian officials noted that the situation along the frontline is complex but that Ukrainian forces maintain control of the battlespace. Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi stated on November 13 during a conversation with US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Charles Brown that the Avdiivka, Kupyansk, and Marinka directions are the most intense but noted that Ukrainian forces are continuing offensive actions in unspecified sectors of the front.Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi emphasized that Russian forces are pursuing simultaneous offensive actions in several directions and trying particularly to regain the initiative north and south of Bakhmut. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian forces are reporting an increase of Russian assaults in the Kupyansk, Avdiivka, and Donetsk directions.