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May 12, 2021
12-May-2021

AMERICAS

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): Nationwide demonstrations over a now-annulled tax proposal are expected to continue for a 15th consecutive day on 12 May 2021. The National Strike Committee continues to call for protests after negotiations with the government failed to make progress on the committee’s demands for government action on poverty, unemployment and police brutality. According to the Ombudsman’s Office of Colombia, 42 people have been killed since demonstrations began on 28 April, while Colombia’s Ministry of Defense has stated that 849 police officers and 716 civilians have been injured in the unrest.

Organizers have scheduled demonstrations to occur at various times in major cities across the country. In the capital Bogotá, demonstrators will gather during the morning at a number of locations, including the Parque Nacional at 0900 local time (1400 UTC), National University at 0800 local time, Pedagogical University at 0900 local time, the Monumento de Los Héroes at 1400 local time, and the Portal Américas metro station at 1600 local time. Protests are also expected at universities across the city. In Medellín, demonstrators will gather at La Maracaná field at 0800 local time, Parque de Los Deseos and Parque Gaitán at 0900 local time, and Parque de Envigado at 1500 local time. In Cali, demonstrators will gather at the Portada al Mar at 0800 local time and march to the Hospital Universitario del Valle at 1100 local time. In Cartagena, demonstrators will gather at Parque Apolo at 0900 local time and march to the Plaza de la Paz. In Barranquilla, demonstrators will gather at the Parque Esthercita Forero at 1400 local time and march to the Plaza de la Paz. In Bucaramanga, demonstrators will gather at the Provenza bridge at 0900 local time and the Puerta del Sol at 1000 local time. In Pereira, demonstrators will gather at the CAM de Dosquebradas at 0800 local time and the Parque de la Libertad at 0830 local time.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 12 May 2021, localized shortages of petroleum products have been reported in the southeastern region of the U.S. following a ransomware attack that forced the Colonial Pipeline company to shut down its operations on 7 May. Gas stations in major urban centers in the southeastern states, including Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, are reporting reduced supplies of fuel, largely attributed to panic buying. The shortages are anticipated to broaden throughout the week, although the company has stated that it plans to restore most of its services by the end of the week. Colonial Pipeline operates a network that extends more than 5,500 mi (8,850 km) from Houston, Texas, to Linden, New Jersey, and transports more than 2.5 million barrels of oil linking 20 refineries and about 200 distribution centers.

ASIA

Japan (Security threat level – 1): On 12 May 2021, authorities announced that beginning on 14 May, all foreign travelers from India, Pakistan and Nepal – including individuals who have visited those countries within 14 days prior to traveling to Japan – will be banned from entering Japan until further notice in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 variants. Japanese citizens are exempt from the order, but permanent residents will be subject to it.

Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 11 May 2021, authorities extended the ongoing suspension of international and domestic flights until 31 May amid a surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases. However, two flights per week between Nepal and India continue to operate for repatriation purposes. Cargo, rescue and evacuation flights may also operate subject to special permission.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 4 / 4): As of 12 May 2021, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas militants have fired approximately 1,050 rockets from Gaza into Israel since 10 May. Officials with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) indicate that at least 500 of those rockets have reached Israel, and another 200 fell into the Gaza strip. Rockets fired from Gaza have targeted Beersheba, Holon, Rishon LeZion and Tel Aviv. Since the conflict began, at least six Israelis have been killed in rocket attacks and 200 others have been injured, while 48 Palestinians have been killed and 250 more have been injured in Israeli airstrikes. Unrest across Israel has resulted in injury to 700 Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The IDF retaliatory airstrikes have hit at least 500 targets in the Gaza Strip – including at least two high-rise buildings and the central police headquarters in Gaza city. One of the high-rises was Al-Jawhara tower, where several media organizations are housed. Reports indicate the IDF is deploying tanks to the border of the Gaza Strip; however, this does not necessarily indicate that a ground invasion of Gaza is imminent. The escalation began on 11 May, when Hamas and PIJ began firing hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel. Flights to and from Ben Gurion International Airport (LLBG/TLV) were temporarily suspended and inbound flights were diverted to Larnaca International Airport (LCLK/LCA) in Cyprus, but operations have since resumed.

Unrest has also broken out across Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared a state of emergency in the city of Lod – located approximately 25 km (16 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv — after protesters clashed with security personnel and set 30 vehicles and a synagogue on fire. Authorities also redeployed 16 border police companies from the West Bank to Lod in an attempt to quell the unrest.

In Ramle – adjacent to Lod — ultra-nationalist Jewish demonstrators assaulted cars belonging to Arabs, while in the port city of Acre, Arab protesters set fire to a Jewish-owned restaurant and hotel. Unrest also took place in Hebron, Umm al-Fahm on the border to the West Bank, the coastal city of Jisr al-Zarqa, Jaffa near Tel Aviv, Rahat and Qalansawe. Fires attributed to arson have occurred across the area of Galilee in northern Israel and repeated confrontations between Israeli security personnel and Palestinians took place in Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Analyst Comment: Due to the high level of violence, the large number of munitions involved, and the high likelihood of further attacks, UnitedHealthcare Global has raised the threat level for Israel to 4 (High) from 3 (Medium). In addition, the threat level for Tel Aviv has been raised to 4 (High) from 3 (Medium). The likelihood of further escalation of hostilities between the Gaza-based militant groups and the Israeli military is very high, and there is also a very high risk of continued internal unrest and ethnic strife between Arabs and Jews within Israel, including mob violence.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Costa Rica (Security threat level – 3): On 11 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica issued a Travel Alert regarding sporadic demonstrations, which reads in part as follows: “Costa Rican media outlets and social media sources are reporting that Rescate Nacional has called for road blocks at various points across Costa Rica this week to protest the Government’s negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, the Public employment bill, and increases in fuel prices. The Embassy has received confirmed reports of minor confrontations between police and protestors and temporarily blocked roads at several locations across Costa Rica. The majority of protests in Costa Rica are non-violent in nature. However, you should exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations. The Embassy will continue to review the situation and will provide additional information as needed. U.S. citizens traveling within Costa Rica may wish to consult with local media sources or traffic Apps to identify possible road closures or delays in specific areas.”

Sudan (Security threat level – 5): On 12 May 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows: “Demonstrations are expected to take place on May 12, 2021. Exact times are unknown, but demonstrations are expected to begin shortly after 1800 local time. Protester road blocks are in place along sections of Siteen (also known as 60th, or Bashir Elnefeidi) Street, and road blocks are in place along streets leading to SAF Headquarters. In related demonstrations that took place on May 11, 2021, security forces dispersed protesters, with two confirmed fatalities.”

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 11 May 2021, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the FBI issued a joint advisory regarding a recent ransomware attack that targeted the Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline company, which reads in part as follows: “CISA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have released a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) on a ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) variant—referred to as DarkSide—recently used in a ransomware attack against a critical infrastructure (CI) company.

“Cybercriminal groups use DarkSide to gain access to a victim’s network to encrypt and exfiltrate data. These groups then threaten to expose data if the victim does not pay the ransom. Groups leveraging DarkSide have recently been targeting organizations across various CI sectors including manufacturing, legal, insurance, healthcare, and energy.”

The full text of the advisory is available here.

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