December 18, 2009:
Egypt is making improvements in its border wall with Gaza, and this includes how they use the tunnel detection gear American technicians installed last year. Egypt is not intent on stopping all the smuggling, as that might result in chaos in Gaza and, in the worst scenario, a mass attempt, by Palestinians, to push their way into Egypt. Like Most Arab nations, Egypt refuses to accept Palestinians as immigrants and absorb them. Instead, Palestinians are forever to be considered refugees and outsiders. Meanwhile, Egypt trades tolerance for most of the smuggling, with an understanding that Hamas will not shelter anti-Egypt Islamic terrorists. These groups can still hide out in Gaza, but they have to keep quiet, as Hamas will round them up otherwise.
Two more Gaza charities (NGOs, or Non-Governmental Organizations) were broken into at night and robbed. Crime against NGOs is becoming increasingly common, partly because Gaza is being turned into a police state by Hamas, and those not in power see NGOs that work with Hamas as being pro-Hamas. That's not always true, but often it is. The largely leftist NGOs tend to idolize Hamas, and justify the police state tactics as necessary for survival in the face of Israeli oppression. But Hamas has not been able to tame all its opponents in Gaza. There are some powerful clan militias in Gaza that only pretend to back Hamas, and Hamas knows it.
Negotiations between Hamas and Fatah remain stalled, with neither side willing to submit to the other, or cooperate in a productive fashion. The basic problem is that Hamas wants to impose an Islamic conservative lifestyle on Palestinians, and most Palestinians (including most of those in Gaza) want no part of this. Hamas is still stalled in a prisoner exchange with Israel (how many hundreds of imprisoned Palestinians for the one Israeli soldier Hamas holds).
Hamas, and Fatah, are taking more heat in the West for the message Palestinian media promotes in its Arabic transmissions. The anti-Semitism and racial hatred the Palestinians use against Israelis in particular, and Jews in general, is pretty ugly stuff when translated into Western languages. The Palestinians refuse to discuss this, even as more Westerners look into that particular closet and ask embarrassing questions. Being able to deny the obvious is a skill much admired in the Middle East.
Lebanon has responded, to American appeals to halt Hezbollah smuggling and massing of combat forces along the Israeli border, by quietly pointing out that trying to halt Hezbollah activities can only be done at the risk of another civil war. In other words, the majority of Lebanese are unwilling to take on Hezbollah, which is not strong enough to take over the entire country. Thus, as a practical matter, Hezbollah has partitioned Lebanon, taking over the south. No one admits this officially, but everyone recognizes it on a practical level.
December 17, 2009: Near the Israeli border, an Egyptian was killed in a gun battle with smugglers (probably carrying drugs, the most valuable item smuggled into Israel).
December 11, 2009: In the West Bank, Israeli extremist settlers vandalized a mosque, to protest government efforts to limit settlement expansion.