Oct. 9, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Thomas Bossert published an article in the French magazine Le Monde commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Treasury Department’s official designation of Hizballah as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and calling for global action. “Hizballah remains a threat to the United States and to the security of nations across the Middle East and beyond. It is time for more nations around the world to join the United States in exposing this murderous organization for what it is, in confronting its networks and its sponsors…join our efforts to hold Hizballah accountable,” he wrote.
Sept. 13, the Department of Homeland Security ordered all federal executive branch agencies to stop using Kaspersky software on government computers, reportedly in response to a tip from Israeli officials. In 2015, Israeli government hackers caught a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm spying on the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), according to The New York Times. Israeli intelligence officials traced the hack back to the network of Kaspersky Lab, a global anti-virus firm already suspected of facilitating Russian espionage. Russian hackers have reportedly used the Kaspersky software to steal classified U.S. documents that were improperly stored on an NSA contractor’s home computer.
Oct. 24, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot attended a U.S.-led conference of chiefs of staff in Virginia to discuss counter-extremism strategy. The conference, in its second year, is organized by U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford. This was the first year that Israel participated. Last year’s conference was attended by a total of 43 nations, and this year includes 73 coalition nations. While in Washington, Lt. Gen. Eisenkot also held working meetings with various U.S. security and military officials, as well as with foreign chiefs of staff, in which they discussed shared challenges, regional and security developments in the Middle East and military cooperation, according to an IDF statement.
Oct. 24-25, Israel hosted a large-scale international emergency exercise that included 400 representatives from Jordan, Spain, France, Croatia and the Palestinian Authority. The EU-sponsored Middle East Forest Fire drill aimed to improve regional and international cooperation in dealing with large fires. The first-of-its-kind exercise simulated a forest fire and humanitarian aid situation in order to advance the participants’ professional capabilities and intelligence sharing. It also focused on wildlife protection. “The overall goal of the exercise is for participants to exchange knowledge and attain common capacities, to effectively respond to disaster situations, especially along and across mutual borders,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.