2008: Israel is having increasing
problems with its Arab citizens (about a fifth of the population) and residents
(several hundred Palestinians can live in Jerusalem, but are not Israeli
citizens.) One of these residents, a construction worker, recently went on a
rampage with a bulldozer on a crowded Jerusalem street, killing three Jews and
injuring over a dozen. Three terrorist groups took credit for the attack, but
further investigation showed that the attacker was not political, and just went
berserk for various personal reasons. But there are real problems with Arabs
who join terrorist organizations. Two Bedouin from the Negev desert (where most
of Israel's 170,000 Bedouin live) admitted to working for al Qaeda, collecting information
on potential targets in Israel. Decades of anti-Israeli propaganda in Arab
media, and the growth in Arab media available via the Internet and satellite
broadcasting, has exposed Israeli Arabs to a lot more "kill-the-Jews"
programming in the past decade. This is having an effect, and Israeli
counter-terrorism officials are not sure how far it will go, or exactly what to
do about it.
with Hamas is not working. At least a dozen rockets and mortar shells have been
fired into Israel since June 19th (when the ceasefire began). Hamas
says these attacks are carried out by radical Palestinians they do not control.
Israel responds by not opening the vehicle crossing all the time. Hamas also
protests the continued attacks on Hamas operatives in the West Bank (which was
not forbidden by the ceasefire agreement). So Hamas has stopped negotiating to
free an Israeli soldier they grabbed two years ago.
Israelis also have their hard liners, who are also difficult to control. About
a sixth of the Israeli population are very religious Jews. Then there are
several hundred thousand Jewish settlers living in the West Bank (many of whom
believe Arabs should be expelled from the area, which they consider part of "Greater
Israel.") The Jewish settlers are a constant source of conflict, and the
religious Jews often get violent at the perceived "insults" by non-religious
Jews or Moslems. Lots of angry people in
this part of the world.
working with Fatah to crush Hamas in the West Bank. This involves closing Hamas
organizations, and arresting or killing Hamas terrorists (especially leaders
and technicians). Hamas is responding by attempting to kill Fatah operatives,
and trying to obtain help from European nations, but portraying Hamas has a
launched a major propaganda campaign, featuring missile tests and threats of
missile attacks on Israel, should Israel bomb Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Israeli experts doubt that Iran really has a missile that can reach Israel,
and, in any event, Israel has a functioning anti-missile system. Moreover,
Syria, an ally of Iran, is no longer so sure it wants to join in on any
counterattack against Israel. Syria is a neighbor of Israel, and apparently
Israeli diplomats have made some scary and convincing threats about what might
happen to Syria in any future war.
Lebanon, Hizbollah continues to extend its control. But this has led to more
fighting in the north (until recently an area with little Hizbollah presence). A
two week ceasefire in Tripoli ended with violence and over 60 casualties (including
five dead.) The army has been trying to keep the Hizbollah and anti-Hizbollah
(Sunni Moslem and Christian) factions apart. Meanwhile, Israel is trying to get
the UN to enforce the resolution that ended the war in 2006. For the last year,
the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon have been looking the other way as
Hizbollah brought thousands of rockets into the area and stored them in newly
built bunkers. Israel is threatening to destroy these rockets with a ground
offensive, and take on any UN peacekeepers who get in the way, if the UN does
not enforce their own resolution. Hizbollah has so far intimidated the
peacekeepers, threatening them with terrorist attacks of there is any
interference with Hizbollah preparations for another attacks on Israel.
2008: Egyptian police found and
destroyed three smuggling tunnels on the Gaza border. Several weapons caches
were also found in Sinai, near Gaza. Egypt believes that Hamas is harboring anti-Egyptian
Islamic terrorists, who use the tunnels to move in and out of Gaza. Hamas
demands that Egypt allow free passage from Gaza to Egypt, but the Egyptians
refuse, because they do not trust Hamas.