Tuesday, July 02, 2013
Syrian rebels operating near the
Israeli border, including the Islamic terrorist outfits, announced that
they had no intention of launching attacks into Israel and were only
interested in destroying Syrian government forces in the area.
rebels have informally said this for months, but the media has been
playing up the possibility that the rebels might attack Israel. This
seemed suicidal but it did stir things up in Israel, which has been
providing medical aid to some of the Syrians wounded along the border.
Israelis have established some informal communications with the rebels
on the border and discussions between these rebels and Israelis led to
the official announcement.
Hamas has rejected peace talks with Israel as pointless. Hamas
wants Israel destroyed and will only meet with the Israelis to discuss
ceasefires. As far as Hamas is concerned Palestinians are at war with
Israel and the fighting will only stop when Israel is destroyed. Western
nations, especially the United States, believe some kind of peace deal
is possible. So do some Palestinians, but this is despite decades of
official Palestinian propaganda backing the “destroy Israel” goal and
describing peace talks as a tactic in the battle to annihilate Israel
and not a means to a peace deal. Israel believes that their best hope
for peace with the Palestinians is the growing pressure on Palestinians
by the Arab states (particularly the wealthy ones in the Gulf) to make
peace. Israel has become a more public ally of these Arab nations in
their battle with Iran and Israel hopes that sort of thing eventually
leads to more Arab countries (besides Jordan and Egypt) establishing
diplomatic relations. Israel already has informal diplomatic relations
with several Arab states and the trend, slow as it is, has been towards
more Arab states openly establishing formal links with Israel.
Most Israelis have come to accept this Palestinian attitude
and no longer support a permanent peace deal. Most Israelis agree with
going through the motions, if only to please the United States and other
Western nations, but few believe such talks will produce anything. A
growing number of Arabs have also given up on a Palestinian peace deal
and are pressuring the Palestinians to at least give up the
pro-terrorist attitudes and make a long-term truce with Israel so that
the Palestinian economy can be revived. The Palestinian terrorist
groups, especially Hamas (which controls Gaza and 40 percent of the
Palestinian population) will not quit trying to kill Israelis any way
they can. Some Arab countries have threatened to cut financial support
for Palestinians (especially Hamas) if the Palestinians don’t halt their
hopeless war against Israel. Some Palestinians are listening to this,
most are not.
Hamas, like all other Islamic radical groups that gain control
of a government, are making themselves increasingly unpopular as they
continue to enact laws that restrict the lifestyle of the Palestinians
they rule. Hamas has recently sought to restrict the mixing of men and
women, and even children over age nine. These rules apply to Christian
Palestinians as well as Moslems. The kids do not like this, and
especially hate the growing list of dress restrictions. Hamas has other
problems besides angry teenagers. Islamic terrorist group Islamic Jihad
(an Iran backed terror group that is a Hamas rival) is threatening armed
rebellion against Hamas. Many in Hamas see this as the work of Iran,
which is angry at Hamas for openly supporting the Syrian rebels. That
has cost Hamas over a million dollars a month in Iranian cash and caused
a lot of dissent within Hamas. A few dozen, or more, Hamas men have
gone to Syria to fight against the rebels.
Israel believes Hezbollah is in big trouble as Lebanese
opponents of Hezbollah increasingly use deadly force to express their
opposition to the Iranian-backed Shia militia. That hostility in Lebanon
has been building for decades and now that Hezbollah is openly involved
fighting in Syria, the many enemies the Shia militia has made in
Lebanon and outside the country (Israel and many Arab countries that are
actively opposed to Iran-sponsored terrorism) are informally uniting in
an effort to bring Hezbollah down. The Israelis play on Hezbollah fears
that Israeli troops will be sent into southern Lebanon to destroy over
20,000 rockets stored in bunkers and the basements of homes and
businesses within a few kilometers of the Israeli border. The Israelis
know where a lot of these rockets are, and where the rest probably are.
An air campaign would kill lots of civilians (forced by Hezbollah to
store the rockets in their homes) so Israeli generals want to send
troops in to remove and destroy the rockets without destroying the homes
and businesses. A lot of Lebanese would welcome that but cannot admit
it publicly because the official line in Lebanon is “Israel must be
destroyed.” The Gulf Arab states that support the Syrian rebels have
warned Hezbollah that if they do not withdraw their gunmen from Syria,
Hezbollah will be added to the Arab list of terrorist organizations and
Hezbollah will no longer be able to operate openly in most of the Arab
world. This would hurt Hezbollah big time. Hezbollah needs the Iranian
support to survive and is now in a position where it will take some
major losses no matter what it does. So will Iran, which has long
considered Hezbollah ones of its major achievements.
The Israeli government announced that from now on Jewish
settlers in the West Bank making "price tag" attacks will be treated
like terrorists. This gives the police more power to investigate and
prosecute these crimes. These price tag attacks are usually in
retaliation of the Israeli government dismantling illegal structures in
the West Bank or local Palestinians attacking the settlements or
settlers. Price tag attacks represent a shift in settler attitudes over
the last few years. For decades the settlers could be depended on to be
passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and
military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly
launching "price tag" counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the
Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis, or for Israeli
police interfering with settler activities. This is vigilante justice,
and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to
catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not
accustomed to this kind of swift payback, and they do not like it.
Israel has been under growing public and international pressure to crack
down more vigorously on the vigilantes. This became especially urgent
because the attacks are much more common, and are even extending to
feuds between factions of Jewish religious extremists. The Palestinians
are still committing most of the terror attacks, but the Jewish
terrorists are catching up.
Egypt, in response to the growing internal unrest (between the
Islamic Brotherhood dominated government and reformers and corrupt
elements from the former Mubarak government) has continued its crackdown
on smuggling tunnels into Gaza. Since March police have been searching
for and destroying these smuggling tunnels. This is to make it more
difficult for Islamic terrorists (opposed to the Egyptian government) to
operate out of Gaza. The tunnels have been there for a long time, if
only as a means to move goods and people that might have problems
(arrest warrants or high tariffs) at the regular crossings.
In Kuwait, two legislators openly defended Kuwait’s purchase
of military equipment from Israel. The two men invoked the Prophet
Mohammed’s similar dealings with the Jews and the need for Kuwait to buy
the best military gear it could to defend against its enemies (who
these days are mainly Iraq and Iran). There have been growing diplomatic
and economic ties between Israel and several Persian Gulf Arab
countries over the last decade. Many in the Gulf States want to trade
with Israel and are fed up with the Palestinian self-destructiveness and
inability to make peace with Israel.
July 1, 2013: The army demanded that the Moslem Brotherhood
dominated government resign and allow a new one, not dominated by the
Moslem Brotherhood, to be formed. President Morsi was told he had to
agree to this within 48 hours or the army would move in and force him to
comply. This was greeted with cheers by the many demonstrators still on
the streets. Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood are held responsible for
the economic depression since the Arab Spring began two years ago and
for generally ignoring the needs of the people. In practice, Morsi
attempts to improve the economy were most often stymied by the wealthy
(and largely pro-Mubarak) families that do not favor a real democracy,
but rather an oligarchy (government controlled by the wealthiest
families). Morsi told the army he would not comply with their demand.
For the first time in many years Egypt has sent tanks to
patrol the Gaza border. At least a battalion (30) of tanks are now
operating in Sinai, mainly near Gaza.
June 30, 2013: In Egypt millions of people continued to
demonstrate against the Moslem Brotherhood and what is seen as this
Islamic radical group’s attempt to turn Egypt into a religious
dictatorship. The headquarters of the Moslem Brotherhood was ransacked
by anti-government demonstrators and nationwide there were nearly a
thousand casualties over the last few days with at least sixteen dead.
June 29, 2013: Israel and the U.S. warned its citizens to not
visit Egypt in the next few days because of the growing number of
demonstrations there. Supporters of Islamic radical groups are clashing
with pro-democracy groups and it is feared that some of the Islamic
radicals may seek out and attack non-Moslems, especially foreigners.
Americans and Israelis already in Egypt have been warned to stay away
from demonstrations and travel as little as possible. Egypt is suffering
from political gridlock and economic collapse as Islamic radicals,
democrats and supporters of the deposed Mubarak dictatorship (and that
kind of government) fail to agree on a new government. The Mubarak
supporters still occupy many senior positions in the courts and the
military and elsewhere in the bureaucracy. The Mubarak supporters
control most of the economy as well. Some Islamic radical groups are in
armed opposition to the government, especially in the Sinai Peninsula,
where they are sheltered by rebellious Bedouin tribesmen. The number of
police and soldiers in Gaza keeps increasing, as does the resistance to
government authority. Today, for example, a police general was
assassinated by a group of gunmen, believed to be Islamic terrorists.
June 28, 2013: In Egypt (Port Said) a homemade bomb killed
one demonstrator and wounded fifteen others. In Alexandria at least
three people died in clashes between democrats and Islamic radicals.
Israel announced that it is making preparations to deploy a
sixth Iron Dome anti-rocket battery, with two more coming within the
next eight months. The first battery of the new Magic Wand (David’s
Sling) anti-aircraft/missile system, with a range of 160 kilometers,
will enter service early next year.
June 27, 2013: Russia has withdrawn its military and civilian
personnel from the Syrian port of Tartus and turned their naval support
facilities there (a few buildings and a pier for Russian warships to tie
up next to) to Syrian caretakers. While Russia makes much of its newly
established Mediterranean naval task force, these ships will not be
using Tartus for supplies or maintenance anymore.
June 24, 2013: Israeli warplanes hit several terrorist targets in Gaza in retaliation for recent rocket attacks on Israel.
June 23, 2013: Six rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. One
of them landed inside Gaza and two of them were intercepted by Iron
Dome missiles because the fire control computer calculated that these
would land in an inhabited area.
June 22, 2013: In Gaza Hamas executed two men (by hanging) it
had accused of spying for Israel. Last April Hamas ended a month-long
amnesty in which Palestinians who had, or were, working for Israeli
intelligence could reveal themselves and be forgiven. Israel has long
maintained a large, and pretty effective, informer network inside Gaza
and the West Bank. Hamas has condemned five men to death so far this
year after charging them with spying.
June 21, 2013: In Gaza the Islamic Jihad official (Raed
Jundiya) in charge of rocket attacks was killed by Hamas police who
tried to arrest him. Hamas is trying to force Islamic Jihad to stop
firing rockets at Israel, which is a violation of the cease fire Hamas
negotiated with Israel. Islamic Jihad demanded that the men who killed
Jundiya be punished and Hamas refused. This led to a three day armed
standoff between Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The Islamic Jihad did the math
(or were ordered by their Iranian patrons) and concluded that a war
with Hamas would be futile and only benefit Israel. Islamic Jihad has
several thousand armed followers in Gaza and cannot just be rounded up
and put out of business. Islamic Jihad still refuses to halt its rocket
attacks and Hamas may continue going after Islamic Jihad leaders to
maintain the pressure.
June 19, 2013: A mortar shell landed in Israel (Gaza) and
apparently came from Syria. There is still fighting on the Syrian side
of the border, but not a lot. Israel has been holding more training
exercises on its Syrian and Lebanese borders, to remind Hezbollah and
the armed groups in Syria who they might be messing with if they fire
across the border.