February 20, 2018:
Israel believes Iran has three large bases in Syria and seven smaller “tactical” ones near areas where there is active fighting. Iran is also bringing in more rockets, missiles, ammunitions and weapons for the 80,000 militiamen it supports in Syria. In response
Israel is preparing for an Iranian attack from Lebanon and/or Syria. In addition to moving more troops to the Syrian border, improving the security fence and anti-aircraft/rocket defense Israel is also making deals with rebels on the Syrian side of the border in an effort to establish a 40 kilometers deep buffer zone. Israel has long provided some support (usually medical, in Israeli hospitals) for cooperative Syrian rebels. Now that support includes material aid and airstrikes and artillery fire against shared threats. Nevertheless Iran keeps pushing its mercenary forces closer to the Israeli border.
Israel has suggested that Russia work out some sort of truce between Iran and Israel. That is a great idea in theory but in practice Iran is pretty irrational when it comes to Israel.
Iran appears to control most of the military forces available to the Assads. This force is better armed, trained and led than the Syrian military. The Iranian forces includes 3,000 Iranian personnel, 8,000 Hezbollah fighters (with more on call in Lebanon) and some 70,000 pro-Iran militias. About a fifth of these are foreign Shia mercenaries recruited, armed and led by Iranians. The rest are local pro-Assad militias that are equipped (and often paid) by Iran. Russia is the main source of logistic, technical, air and diplomatic (via a UN veto) support. But Iran has the most armed people on the ground. To make matters worse the main function of the Iranian ground forces is to prepare for a war with Israel.
It gets worse Russia declared victory in Syria during December 2017 and plans for the gradual withdrawal of most Russian forces. That meant the only Russian ground forces left in Syria were contractors who are, of course, not members of the military. That victory claim and withdrawal plans are now on hold as Russia has to deal with heavy losses of Russians in northeast Syria (because of the Americans) and heavy losses to their Iranian allies in the south (because of Israel). Russia had always positioned itself as the deal maker in Syria. That was largely because Russia along was on reasonably good terms with most of the players (Israel, Americans, Iran, Turkey, Iraq and the Assad government of Syria). Russia had supported and used Islamic terror groups in the past but no more, not after the Cold War ended in 1991. Many of the most effective ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) members and leaders in Syria were Russians (mainly Chechens from the Caucasus). Russia was eager to kill as many of these troublesome Chechens as it could, wherever it could get to them. Syria proved to be a good place to kill Chechens and Russia had a lot of help in doing that. The helpers included the United States and Israel. Keeping all those alliances stable and productive (rather than unpredictable and unproductive) has proved to be more difficult than Russia anticipated. The American continue to support the Kurds in northeast Syria (and northern Iraq) and Israel wants Iran out of Syria and Lebanon for the very simple reason that Iran has been openly seeking to destroy Israel since the 1980s. To make matters worse Turkey now threatens to attack any Assad forces that interfere with its efforts to push all Kurds (including those backed by the Americans) away from border areas. Pease hasn’t come to Syria, rather Syria is going to pieces.
Palestinians And Oslo Want a Divorce
Fatah and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas recently (late January) told a group of Israeli politicians that the Oslo Accords (a framework for eventual peace between Israel and Palestinians) was dead. Abbas blamed the Americans, mainly the U.S. decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem in 2019 along with huge cuts in American contributions (via the UN) pay for the free aid that keeps the Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza functioning. The Oslo Accords were agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians in 1993 and between then and September 2000 Islamic and Palestinian terrorist attacks killed about 300 Israelis as the two sides sought to work out a peace deal. In September 2000 the Palestinians, unhappy with Israeli unwillingness to agree to terms that would destroy Israel, decided to launch a major terrorism campaign and between then and the end of 2005 some 1,100 Israelis were killed (most of them inside Israel). But by 2005 Israel had developed new counterterrorism tactics and techniques and from 2005 to 2013 only 135 Israelis were killed by terrorism. Each year since 2005 the number of Israeli terrorist deaths has declined, which has only enraged anti-Israel terror groups more. In 2014 Abbas declared a new terror campaign that came to be known as “knife terrorism.” This emphasis on suicidal individual attacks soon lost their popularity despite Fatah still pushing them energetically in all the Palestinian media. This can be seen in the number of Palestinian terror attacks disrupted each year. It was 217 in 2014, 187 in 2013 112 in 2012 and 88 in 2011. Since 1948 some 2,600 have died from terror attacks inside Israel. Nearly five percent of those dead were foreigners. Palestinian terrorism efforts have never recovered from the defeat they suffered, when Israel adopted new tactics that largely shut down the terror campaign the Palestinians began in 2000. Fatah and Hamas have been trying to revive that effort ever since and have largely failed. Both Palestinian groups now openly admit that want Israel destroyed and will settle for nothing less.
The Oslo Accords are still being used as a framework for peace negotiations but since 2000 Palestinian leaders have been telling their people that peace was no longer an option and that Israel had to be destroyed. But, to keep the cash coming (mostly from the West) non-Arab media were told that the negotiations would continue. Since then Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continue to go through the motions of agreeing to a seek a peace treaty. It is official (and well publicized) Palestinian policy to use such negotiations to weaken (and ultimately destroy) Israel not to make any real peace. The U.S. insisted that talks take place periodically anyway and threatens to withhold substantial foreign aid from both groups if negotiations do not happen every few years. In 2017 the U.S. said they were out of patience and that the Palestinians either make a deal or see most of their foreign aid disappear (something that has already been taking place over the last few years.) That plus the American decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem removed what little legitimacy the Oslo Accords still had.
The Palestinians pursuit of the impossible has been encouraged by decades of support from other Arab countries. While the Arabs have never been able to defeat Israel militarily they have achieved more success spending billions to turn Western public opinion against Jews in general and Israel in particular. Recent opinion surveys indicate that about 200 million Europeans (and a lot of Americans) consider Israelis the new Nazis for refusing to give in to the demands of the Palestinians (who want Israel destroyed in Arabic media but are more moderate in other languages). This shift in attitude has led to a dramatic increase in European anti-Semitism, most violently practiced by the rapidly growing Moslem population in Europe against a rapidly shrinking Jewish population. But back in the Middle East the attitude shifts have gone against the Palestinians.
As a result of all this more and more Israelis are calling for everyone to agree that the Oslo Accords did not work. This disappoints many because in the early 1990s there was a lot more optimism. Back then the humiliation suffered by Yasser Arafat and his PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) at the hands of Israelis in Lebanon during Operation "Peace for Galilee" in 1982 effectively ejected Arafat's armed group from the country and went a long way towards paving the way for the Oslo Accords in 1993 that ended the PLO's armed campaign and began years of futile peace talks. Instead of a separate Palestinian state many Israelis wanted Jordan to take back the West Bank and Egypt to take back Gaza. Neither Jordan nor Egypt wants the Palestinians, who have, since 1993, demonstrated an inability to govern themselves and alienated a growing number of their Arab supporters.
The Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel have backfired in a big way and now the two organizations that control the Palestinians (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) are losing the financial and diplomatic support they have enjoyed for over half a century. The cause of this calamity is the inability of the Palestinians to form a united and effective government. Instead they have suffered under decades of corrupt and ineffective leaders that led, in 2005, to a split with Islamic radicals (Hamas) taking control of Gaza while Fatah continued to rule the West Bank. Both factions agree on a few things; Israel must be destroyed and violence is justified to get it done. Fatah was more willing to pretend it would negotiate a peace deal with Israel but has proved to be as intransigent as Hamas about actually doing so. Fatah now openly admits it shares the Hamas attitude that peace is not possible with Israel and the only solution is the destruction of Israel.
The Palestinian problem was invented by the Arab countries when Israel declared independence in 1948 and Arab nations refused to accept and absorb Moslems who fled (mostly) from the newly created Israel on the promise of the Arab nations soon mobilizing sufficient military strength to destroy Israel, drive the Jews out and allow the refugees to return home. That never happened and it was quickly recognized that there was a serious refugee problem. The UN established a program to take care of these refugees but in a very unusual move the 750,000 original (later called Palestinian) refugees were allowed to pass on their refugee status to their children. No other refugee group was allowed to do that by the UN and now there are calls from major donor nations (especially the U.S., which has paid for most of that special treatment from the beginning) to rescind that rule. About the same number of Jews were driven out of Moslem countries after 1948 and they were all accepted and absorbed by other nations, mainly Israel and the U.S. Since 1947 the number of “Palestinian refugees” has grown to five million and Arab states continue to refuse to absorb them. Many Palestinians have managed to find acceptance (and citizenship) in other nations (usually not Moslem majority ones) but few have renounced their rights as hereditary refugees. This situation was all about Arabs believing they had the right to decide who can live in “Moslem territories” and for them Israel was a major offense. This is nothing new. Moslems had been driving infidels out of Islamic nations for a long time. This has not worked with Israel and the Moslem world in general takes this as a great offense. That was the attitude for many decades but nothing changed. In the 1960s those Arab refugees rebranded themselves as “Palestinians” and began seeking what their Arab sponsors had promised them, a home of their own.
Since 2005 the Arab donors have become increasingly disenchanted with the Palestinians. Even by Middle Eastern standards the corruption, ineffective government, ingratitude and double dealing of the Palestinians had become intolerable. The Palestinians ignored years of warnings from their Arab backers after they failed to maintain a united Palestinian government. This wasted a lot of the Arab aid money and the corruption among Palestinian politicians became too obvious, excessive and embarrassing even for Arab backers, who had their own problems with corruption. This was compounded by the Palestinian inability to make peace with the Israelis, who had made lasting deals with Jordan and Egypt and unofficial ones with a growing number of other Arab states. Worse, the Palestinians were saying to their own people, and the Arab world, that they had no intention of making peace and were dedicated to destroying Israel. This was only said in Arabic and it was only a matter of time before these print, radio and TV pronouncements would be translated and become known to the rest of the world. That has happened in the last decade and now the Palestinians have few friends in the West except for anti-Semites and some leftist groups. Worse, there is less foreign aid, which is all that kept the Palestinian scams going. At this point the Palestinians have run out of affluent donors who are willing to give. The Palestinian leaders who ran this scam for decades have no easy (or safe, for themselves) way to change tactics without admitting responsibility for the mess. It used to be said that the Palestinian situation could not get worse but Palestinian leaders regularly defied that prediction and found a way to make things worse in ways no one expected.
ISIL In Egypt
The Egyptian government said it would eliminate ISIL in Sinai by May and the first of several major operations to make that happen began on the 9th and is still going. Efforts like this are expected to be common until the May deadline. So far the government reports three soldiers and over 60 Islamic terrorists killed and over 400 people arrested (including many wanted criminals who were not terrorists). Several hundred people were also detailed, questioned and released. Hundreds of locations were raided and 160 were destroyed when evidence of criminal or Islamic terrorist activity was found. Nearly 50 roadside and other bombs were encountered and defused or destroyed. Numerous vehicles were also seized or destroyed. Over a hundred weapons were seized, as well as over a ton of explosives and bomb making materials. At one location a well-equipped media center was found, examined and destroyed. While most of the operations were in northern Sinai, some were in the Western Desert (between the Nile River and the Libyan border) and the Nile River Valley (where most Egyptians live) itself.
Egyptian commanders caution that the Islamic terrorists and the criminal gangs they often work with, have been resourceful and these large scale operations do not capture or kill most of the people being sought. The Islamic terrorists and criminal gangs are usually prepared for raids with warning systems, escape routes and alternate hideouts. But if campaigns like this go on too long and too often the losses add up. This also persuades more Bedouin tribes to make deals with the government. The tribes do not want to lose the income from smuggling and other illegal activities but they are willing to turn on ISIL, even though these Islamic terrorists have proved that they will carry out revenge attacks. Such revenge efforts do not always succeed but when the do the tribes feel it.
Then there are the Israelis. It is no secret that Israel and Egypt quietly cooperate in fighting ISIL and Hamas. But there is also other forms of cooperation. For most of February Egypt has been denying reports (first published in the United States) that Israel has been quietly providing Egypt with air support since ISIL shot down a Russian airliner over Sinai in 2015. Even before that it was no secret that Egypt and Israel shared intel on matters of mutual interest (usually Islamic terrorism) and Israel did not object as Egypt more soldiers into Sinai in violation of the peace treaty between the two nations. But Israeli troops do not enter Egypt (although Mossad teams have done so a few time).
Most of the alleged air support was unmarked Israeli UAVs watching areas of mutual interest in northern Sinai. Israel has a lot more UAVs than Egypt and a lot more experience using them. But a hundred of these Israeli sorties are said to have involved firing missiles at ground targets. This could work because both Israel and Egypt buy guided missiles (like Hellfire) and smart bombs from the United States. Both nations use American aircraft (like the F-16 fighter and AH-64 helicopter gunships). Thus an Israeli F-16 or AH-64, operating at night with nationality symbols painted over, could slip across the border, hit a target and be back in Israeli air space in 10-15 minutes or less. The Egyptian Air Force often carried out these night operations but the story is Israel had unofficial permission to hit targets near the border if the alternative were for the enemy to escape. Egypt denied the allegations but many Egyptians shrugged and agreed that as long as it was unofficial and helped Egypt, so what.
ISIL is a major problem in both countries but the Israelis have managed to do a better job of suppressing ISIL. One reason for that is something older Egyptians remember. Israel was more successful governing Sinai (from 1967-82) than Egypt but that has been something Egypt was rarely willing to talk about. The Israelis always treated the Bedouin and Islamic outcasts like the Druze (from Syria) with more fairness than anyone else in the region. Although most Arabs in Arabia are Bedouin (or identify as such) outside of Arabia (especially in Egypt, Iraq and Syria) being seen as Bedouin was rarely a good thing.
The Israeli Bedouin, like the Druze, are subject to conscription in Israel and many make a career of the military or police service. Some of the Israeli Bedouin from the Negev (the desert area of southern Israel adjacent to Sinai) keep in touch with kin in Sinai just as Israeli Druze kept in touch with kin in Syria. These family links across borders are an ancient tradition in this part of the world because it can be a lifesaver in wartime. ISIL tried to force Sinai Bedouin to use their Bedouin connections in the Negev but got very little cooperation. The Sinai and Negev smugglers will cooperate, especially when it comes to getting drugs into Israel. A new border barrier has made smuggling illegal migrants into Israel nearly impossible. But information and small items can still get across the border and the Israelis will pay well for good intel on ISIL in Sinai. Israeli Bedouin broker those transactions and relevant data is passed on to the Egyptians.
It has already been noted that a growing number of ISIL members from Sinai (or points west like Syria and Iraq) are leaving the Sinai because of the growing military pressure from the security forces and the unofficial help from Israel. Despite that Egypt has become a favorite, if dangerous, route for ISIL survivors from Syria and Iraq to reach Libya. Added to this is the growing number of new ISIL recruits who deserted Hamas and other Islamic terror groups in Egypt to seek something more hard core. All this has brought hundreds of ISIL survivors to Sinai and other parts of Egypt looking for a new base area. They are not finding it in Sinai or western Egypt, where they are under constant attack and are heading for the Libyan border via the west Egypt desert between the Nile River and the Libyan border.
Meanwhile the major security operations in Sinai cause a lot of disruption for civilians. Thousands must flee their homes, usually only for hours, to escape the violence that often breaks out when troops encounter armed opposition. But these operations often include days, or more, of no cell phone or Internet access. The many road checkpoints slow delivery of consumer goods and more essential items (ambulances and medical supplies). Civilians are also vulnerable to being hurt by the security forces although that is rare now that everyone realizes mistakes like that have long term repercussions for the security forces. At the moment most civilians see ISIL as the bad guys but for many locals the security forces are a close second.
February 19, 2018: In response to a rocket attack from Gaza the night before Israel launched another round of attacks on Hamas facilities in Gaza. This time the airstrikes concentrated on the many tunnels and underground bunkers Hamas has built inside Gaza since 2014. Israel has an informant network inside Gaza that supplies information on tunnel and bunker location. Israel also has a new generation of sensors that can detect underground activity. The underground structures are very expensive to build and since Hamas won’t enforce the ceasefire it has with Israel and halt the rocket attacks, Israel is going after one of the most valuable military assets.
Israel carried out another successful test of its Arrow 3 anti-missile missile.
February 18, 2018: Russian diplomats told Israel that Russia would support Israel if Iran attacked. However Russia was not convinced that Israel shooting down an Iranian UAV over Israel on the 10th was an Iranian attack. After all, Syria or Hezbollah (which Russia considers a “Lebanese” not an Iranian force) have been using Iranian UAVs for a long time. This was an example of how unreliable Russian “support” is. Other Middle Eastern allies of Russia, like Iran and Turkey, have noticed the same thing. Russia apparently also persuaded Israel to not destroy Iranian weapons (missile and rocket) factories in Syria and Lebanon after the February 10th incident where they destroyed an Iranian UAV that had entered Israeli air space. Israel and Russia are continually making deals involving decisions like this but in the end Israel will do what it has to do to defend itself and Russia openly acknowledges that.
In the south (Gaza) more rockets were fired from Gaza and one landed on a house in Sderot (the town closest to the border and too close for Iron Dome to protect). The building was damaged but there were no injuries.
February 17, 2018: Israel warplanes and ground forces hit 18 Hamas targets in Gaza, including one of their combat tunnels. This was in retaliation for a bomb that went off on the border, wounding four soldiers. The bomb was planted the day before using one of the many Hamas organized protest demonstrations at the border. These demonstrations are often used as cover for terror attacks. Later today an Israeli tank fired on four people in Gaza approaching the border fence with the intention of getting across. Two of the Palestinians were wounded. In a separate incident a rocket fired from Gaza damaged a home in an Israeli border village but caused no injuries. There were alerts for three other rocket attacks but in those cases nothing landed in Israel.
February 15, 2018: Israel has revealed details of Hamas operations in Turkey, which are apparently carried out with the knowledge of Turkish intelligence. The Turks have been working more closely with Hamas in the last year or so and allowed Hamas to openly solicit cash and recruits in Turkey. In January Israel arrested a Turkish citizen and an Israeli Arab who was working with the Turk.
In Egypt, near the Libyan border Egyptian F-16s attacked and destroyed ten 4x4 vehicles from Libya that were trying to move weapons and ammunition into Egypt. The F-16s can operate at night and that has made it possible for more of these attacks to take place. Some of these convoys get in but a growing number are detected and destroyed. The smugglers raise their prices and if they still have customers the convoys keep coming.
February 14, 2018: Israel was apparently able to call in some favors in Jordan and Syria to have wreckage of Syrian S-200 anti-aircraft missiles (fired at Israeli F-16s on the 10th) collected and taken to the Israeli border where Israeli agents took over and moved the missile wreckage into Israel for examination. The Syrian use of S-200s on the 10th was not unusual and it consisted of firing a large (several dozen) number of missiles at the F-16s. Israel has provided supplies and emergency medical care for many Syrian civilians living near the border and established contacts on the Syrian side.
February 12, 2018: In Egypt the government hosted another round of unification talks between the two Palestinian factions. This unification effort by Fatah (which runs the West Bank) and Hamas is a sham, as Egypt well knows because they have been hosting the unification talks for a long time. Hamas is apparently waiting for the current Fatah leader to die of old age and then participate in elections they believe they can win one way or another. Israel wants to prevent this and Egypt agrees that Hamas has to go. In this they have the help of the United States and most Arab states in the region. Europe is divided on this issue and Iran sees it as an opportunity. This has produced some unusual behavior of late but the “unification” meetings continue as it provides a means for Egypt, Hamas and Fatah to catch up on changes of mutual interest.
February 10, 2018: In southern Syria (Golan Heights and Israel border) an Israeli F-16I was shot down by a Russian made Syrian S-200 (SA-5) surface to air missile. This was but on part of a very complex day. It began when an Iranian Saeqeh UAV (launched from an Iranian base in central Syria) entered Israeli air space and was shot down 90 seconds later. The Iranian UAV was a large, batwing design based on an American RQ-170 American UAV the Iranians captured intact after it came down in Iran. Israel used a helicopter (AH-64) launched Spike missile to bring down the Iranian UAV. An airstrike also attacked the vehicle carrying the ground control gear for the Saeqeh UAV. The RQ-170 was designed to be stealthy but apparently the Iranian clones are easily detected by the Israelis, or at least that is the impression the Israelis are giving the Iranians. In addition it was later revealed that it was equipment failure on the Israeli F-16I that enabled the S-200 missile to get close enough to the F-16 that the S-200 warhead explosion damaged the F-16 and prompted the crew to bail out. The F-16 equipment failure apparently limited the ability of the pilot to perform the maneuvers F-16Is use, in addition to electronic countermeasures, rapid maneuvers to avoid being hit by S-200 missiles. This was obvious to observers on the ground who could see that a nearby F-16I made the prescribed dive to avoid the S-200 while the downed F-16 did not.
The eight F-16Is had been sent to hit the Iranian base the UAV came from, especially the operations center for the larger Iranian UAVs operating over Syria. This facility was destroyed and some Iranians were killed. This operation also attacked the UAV control vehicle closer to the Golan Heights. Israeli warplanes had dealt with the SA-5 for years and could destroy all the Syrian SA-5 launchers and radars. But Israel had an understanding with Russia, a nation that was something of a frenemy in Syria and the Russians wanted the SA-5s left alone. Even though the SA-5s were older tech they still posed some risk to Israeli (and American) warplanes and that is what happened to the F-16I today. The aircraft crashed on the Israeli side of the border and the crew of two safely ejected. Israel then prepared to carry out their plan to destroy the Syrian air defense system when the Russian leader called the Israeli leader and asked that the Israeli attack be put on hold. Given the relationship Israel and Russia had developed over many decades, Israel agreed. But now the Russians owed Israel a favor and the Israelis consider that another weapon to use against the Iranian threat in Syria.
The Syrians know their Russian made SA-5s missiles are not very effective against Western fighters and have adopted tactics involve firing a lot of these missiles a at Israeli jets and hope they get lucky. Today it did. The SA-5 is a 1960s design that Russia has updated and Syria received the latest S-200 version of the missile in 2010. This seven ton missile has a range of 300 kilometers but Israel has apparently developed effective countermeasures. In 2016 Russia sent in an SA-10 (S-300) anti-aircraft system to protect their troops in Syria and then upgraded that with SA-12 (S-400).
February 9, 2018: In Egypt (Sinai) the security forces began another major campaign against ISIL.
February 8, 2018:
In the north (Golan Heights) some gunfire from Syria hit a village on the Israeli side of the border. There were no injuries and the Israelis decided it was not deliberate and did not return fire.
In north, off the coast near the Lebanese border, patrol boats fired on two large buoys floating into Israeli waters from Lebanon. The buoys were fired on in case they were equipped with explosives and meant to be another attempt to carry out a terror attack in Israel. The buoys turned out to be unarmed.
Egypt and UAE have again gone public with their support for Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah el Sisi, a former general who is running for reelection next month had has blocked all major opponents one way or another. Egypt and UAE had subsidized Egypt since Sisi took over in 2014 and helped him survive the damage to the economy the current outbreak of Islamic terrorism has caused.
February 7, 2018: In the north, across the border in Syria the government
claims that Israeli aircraft in Lebanon fired missiles at a research center outside Damascus. Syria claim they shot some of the missiles. Israel did not comment, which is typical. Other witnesses report the missiles hit a new Iranian base near the Jamraya research center which specializes in weapons development.
February 5, 2018: In the West Bank a Palestinian walked up to an Israeli rabbi and stabbed him multiple times. The victim later died of his wounds. Israeli soldiers recognized the killer and the search continues. This is the second such death this year. Fatah and Hamas continue to call on Palestinians to try to kill Israelis any way they can, even if the effort is seemingly suicidal. Many of the attacks do prove to be suicidal with five to ten Palestinians dying for each Israeli murdered. Thousands more Palestinians are arrested.
February 4, 2018: In Egypt (Sinai) a roadside bomb as used to attack an army bus. This left two soldiers and a civilian dead and five wounded.
February 3, 2018: In the north, across the border in Lebanon Hezbollah had bought at least 40 hectares (100 acres) in a largely Druze are of southern Lebanon. Israel has a large Druze minority and Hezbollah is apparently going to build rocket storage bunkers on this land believing that Israel would be less likely to attack it.
January 31, 2018: Israeli warplanes attacked an ISIL base in southern Syria near Daraa city. There were ten deaths on the ground including two wives of ISIL members.
The United States designated Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh as a terrorist. Two groups (one in Egypt the other in Gaza) were also designated as terrorists.
January 28, 2018: In the south Israel sized chemical used to make explosives found hidden in a shipment of medical supplies headed for Gaza. Israel did this in part because least year a chemical testing lab was built near the Gaza Kerem Shalom crossing so that suspicious chemicals could be quickly tested.
January 26, 2018: Iran is calling for a military coalition with Iraq and Pakistan to oppose American expansion in the region. Iraq is not interested and Pakistan quietly pointed out that it is on very good terms with Saudi Arabia, an ally of the United States and now Israel as well.