Five Things to Know, June 17, 2024
(South Korea Ministry of National Defense)

Five Things to Know, June 17, 2024

1.   North Korean troops have been observed creating anti-tank barriers, reinforcing roads and carrying out other military projects within the Demilitarized Zone, according to the South’s military on Monday. South Korean intelligence agencies spotted the improvements near the border in recent days, army Col. Lee Seong-jun, a spokesman for the country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference Monday. Lee declined to elaborate on the North’s activities at the border and said the South’s military was still analyzing its operations.

2.  The USS Dwight D. Eisenhower may be one of the oldest aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy, but it’s still fighting — despite repeated false claims by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The Houthis and online accounts supporting them repeatedly have alleged they hit or even sank the carrier in the Red Sea as it leads the U.S. response to the rebels’ ongoing attacks targeting both commercial vessels and warships in the crucial waterway. That’s put its leader, Capt. Christopher “Chowdah” Hill, and his social media profile directly in what has become an increasingly bizarre internet front line as the campaign goes on. And while he shrugs off his posts, they represent the new level of information warfare the Navy is having to fight as it faces its most intense combat since World War II and tries to keep the morale of the nearly 5,000 personnel aboard the Eisenhower high and munitions ready as their deployment stretches on.

3.   Israel’s military announced on Sunday that it would pause fighting during daytime hours along a route in southern Gaza to free up a backlog of humanitarian aid deliveries for desperate Palestinians enduring a humanitarian crisis sparked by the war, now in its ninth month. The “tactical pause,” which applies to about 12 kilometers (7½ miles) of road in the Rafah area, falls far short of a complete cease-fire in the territory that has been sought by the international community, including Israel’s top ally, the United States. It could help address the overwhelming needs of Palestinians that have surged in recent weeks with Israel’s incursion into Rafah.

4.   Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday pledged America's full support in backing Ukraine and global efforts to achieve “a just and lasting peace” in the face of Russia's invasion, representing the United States at an international gathering on the war and meeting with Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss his country’s vision for ending it. As she arrived at the meeting venue overlooking Lake Lucerne, Harris announced $1.5 billion in U.S. assistance through the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. That includes money for energy assistance, repairing damaged energy infrastructure, helping refugees and strengthening civilian security in the wake of the aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

5.   A Chinese vessel and a Philippine supply ship collided near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Monday, China’s coast guard said, in the latest flare-up of escalating territorial disputes that have sparked alarm. The coast guard said a Philippine supply ship entered waters near the Second Thomas Shoal, a submerged reef in the Spratly Islands, part of a territory claimed by several nations. The Philippines says the shoal falls within its internationally recognized exclusive economic zone and often cites a 2016 international arbitration ruling invalidating China’s expansive South China Sea claims based on historical grounds.