So far this year, nearly fifty
Palestinians have died in tunnel collapses in Gaza. Dozens of smuggling tunnels
operate under the Egyptian border, despite the Egyptian police finding and
shutting down several tunnels a week. It's a big business, because Israel
continues to make it difficult for anything to get into Gaza legally. This is
because Hamas, which runs Gaza, is openly committed to the destruction of
Israel, and is smuggling in rockets and other weapons to that end.
radicals, largely settlers in Palestinian territory (and their allies
everywhere), are becoming more violent against their Palestinian neighbors, and
Israeli critics within Israel. This has resulted in several recent bombing
attacks on Israeli critics. Small bombs, that mainly wound, but not a good
trend. Where there used to be a few dozen settlers who were violent, now there
are hundreds. The settler radicals, like their Arab counterparts, see
themselves on a Mission From God (to make the West Bank part of "Greater
Israel" and, if need be, expel all Arabs).
terrorism by Israeli citizens (both Arabs, and anti-Arab Jews) has given the counter-terror organizations
problems. That's because the laws for operations in the Palestinian
territories, and against non-Israelis, make it easier to catch terrorists. For
example, Palestinian terror suspects can be held 96 hours (before being charged
or released), while Israelis can only be held 24 hours. Israelis have more
legal rights in general, and anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli terrorists both
use their rights to protect themselves from detection or prosecution.
population has grown 1.8 percent in the last year, and is now 7.3 million
people (75.5 percent Jewish, 20.1 percent Arab). Jews tend to live in the
center of the country, with Tel Aviv containing 7,100 people per square kilometer
(compared to an average of 315 for the entire country). About 53 percent of
those in northern Israel are Arabs.
security officials announced that they have been dealing with (and defeating) over
a dozen Hezbollah kidnapping attempts a year, and this has been going on for
several years. It was the successful kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on the
Lebanese border in 2006 that triggered the war that Summer with Hezbollah and
Lebanon. Hezbollah considers itself at war with Israel, and continues trying to
do something they can proclaim as a victory.
Fatah and Hamas
still go through the motions of trying to unify the Palestinian government, but
nothing happens. The best they can hope for is a truce, not a peace. Meanwhile,
Israel hustles to retrain and reform its armed forces for another round of war
with Hezbollah. That means changes in Israeli civil defense, because Hezbollah
has moved thousands of rockets to launching positions near the Israeli border.
This was done despite the presence of UN peacekeepers, who have been
intimidated into ineffectiveness.
29, 2008: In northern Lebanon, a
roadside bomb went off as an army truck went by, leaving four soldiers and
three civilians dead. For the last four months, the army has been fighting al
Qaeda fighters in Tripoli, and these Islamic extremists were believed
responsible for this bomb, and some previously. Many Lebanese fear that Syria
is planning to invade Lebanon again, and that Hezbollah will assist. Syria is
accusing Lebanon of allowing anti-Syria terrorists to operate from Lebanese