October 26, 2009: Hamas police are increasingly enforcing lifestyle rules in Gaza, while they officially deny that there is any such policy. Gaza residents complain, often quietly (so the Hamas police do not hear) that the place is being turned into a little Iran. Religious intrusion into government administration is a growing problem in Israel as well, where Jewish religious conservatives increasingly use mob violence in an attempt to get all Israelis to conform to religious social customs. For example, there is a growing effort to have women kept out of the army.
October 25, 2009: A Lebanese court convicted six Palestinians, three Lebanese and two Syrians of terrorist activity, and working for al Qaeda, and sentenced them life in prison. This was done in absentia, because the accused had fled the country. Lebanon is still dealing with divided loyalties. Not just Hezbollah in the south, but there are many Christian and Sunni Arab factions that do not agree with each other (and some are allied with Hezbollah.)
Thwarted in their efforts to launch terror attacks inside Israel, Islamic radicals are trying to instigate Arab violence inside Israel. The most likely way to do this is via an uproar over rumors that Israeli radicals are secretly planning to take over the al Aksa mosque in Jerusalem (built on the site of ancient Jewish temples, but protected as an Islamic holy site by the Israeli government). Moslem men have been going to al Aksa and throwing rocks at Jews below, trying to start a riot. Police have been arresting anyone engaging in violence in the area.
A major battleground with Hamas is the Gaza-Egypt border, where Egyptian police report they have found and shut down 450 smuggling tunnels in the last year. But it is believed up to 200 tunnels are still in operation. The Egyptians are cracking down on the tunnels, because Hamas harbors anti-Egyptian Islamic terrorists. The crackdown includes Egyptian police who had long taken bribes from the smuggling gangs, to look the other way. Some cops are still on the take, but that is getting riskier. There is also a new American supplied sensor system, that makes it easier to detect tunnels. Still, the tunnels are so lucrative, that it still pays to dig and operate than for as long as you can, before being discovered and shut down.
Fatah is under increasing pressure, from Hamas and Islamic conservative groups, to resume support for terror attacks against Israel. At the moment, the Israelis have the Islamic terror groups under control. The ones in Gaza cannot get into Israel (except with occasional rockets or mortar shells), and the ones in the West Bank are constantly being chased by Israeli and Fatah police. Fatah is taking a lot of heat for supporting (ever-so-obliquely) the Israel invasion of Gaza last December, and for not working out a deal with Hamas to unite the Palestinians. But Fatah sees Hamas as being more smoke than fire. While the pro-Hamas European leftist groups make a lot of noise against Israel (or for Hamas), the Israelis still have the power.
October 21, 2009: U.S. and Israeli troops began a joint missile defense exercise, using real and simulated systems. The purpose was to see how effective a joint effort against Iranian and Syrian ballistic missiles would be.