Israel: The Fire Next Time

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October 13, 2008: Religious extremism is a growing problem in Israel. The extremists come from the Jewish religious conservative community, which is about a third of the population. The violence is carried out by only a few hundred activists, but that number has been growing, and that core group can motivate thousands to join in demonstrations or mass acts of civil disobedience. The ultra orthodox (about 8 percent of the population) even have cases of self-appointed "lifestyle police" (as exist officially in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other Moslem nations) that physically attack (with fists and rocks) anyone seen misbehaving (or not dressing modestly) in an ultra-orthodox neighborhood. Activists also increasingly attack Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where conservative Jews settle among Palestinians and agitate for the expulsion of all Arabs from what they consider "Greater Israel."

Hamas is trying to persuade Fatah to stop cooperating with the Israelis in shutting down Hamas backed terrorist organizations in the West Bank. Fatah has resisted this, believing that ultimately most Gaza Palestinians will tire of the poor economic conditions and join a Fatah led rebellion against Hamas. As a result, Israeli counter-terror operations in the West Bank continue to find and kill or arrest key Palestinian terrorists. But Hamas continues to send trained terrorists to the West Bank (via the Jordanian crossings).

In Lebanon, police have arrested six terrorist suspects, and believe they are responsible for the September 29th bombing of a military bus that killed four soldiers. The suspects were mainly Palestinians and belonged to a Sunni Arab terrorist group affiliated with al Qaeda. The terrorists were caught with bomb making material. Another effort to arrest a terrorist failed when the suspect threw four hand grenades at police and fled.

October 9, 2008: In the northern Israeli town of Acre, four days of street fighting were triggered by an Arab taxi driver mistakenly driving into a Jewish neighborhood during a religious holiday (Yom Kippur, when religious Jews refrain from driving, working, but not rioting.) About 20 percent of the Israeli population is Arab, most of them living in the north. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Palestinian terrorists made their annual attempts to get into Jewish settlements during Yom Kippur, so they could carry out stabbing or fire bombing attacks against Jews during the religious holidays.

In Syria, police ran into Sudanese and Iraqi Islamic terrorists in a Palestinian suburb of Damascus (a "Palestinian refugee camp"). Three of the terrorists were killed. Police are seeking those responsible for a recent car bombing, and other terrorist acts. Many Islamic terrorists have fled Iraq, where even the Sunni Arab population has turned on Islamic terrorists, and tried to resume operations in Lebanon or Syria. However, the populations of both nations, with the exception of the Palestinian exile communities, are hostile to the idea.

In Russia, an Israeli delegation persuaded Russia to publically announce that S-300 anti-aircraft missiles would not be sold to Iran. The Israelis would not reveal what they did to persuade the Russians to change their mind about the sale (which would have made it more difficult for Israeli jets to bomb Iranian nuclear weapons development facilities.)

October 5, 2008: Dismayed at the growing number of deaths from smuggling tunnel (from Gaza to Egypt) collapses, Hamas has proposed that all tunnel operators pay into an insurance fund that would pay death benefits to kin of those who die in tunnel collapses. Hamas also proposes setting construction standards for the tunnels, and the use of building inspectors to enforce standards. Those tunnel operators who operate sub-standard tunnels would pay more for insurance. In addition to the smuggling tunnels, Palestinian fishing boats try to get out far enough in the Mediterranean to meet with gunrunners boats and take on weapons that will be brought in hidden among the fish caught. Israeli coastal patrols often have to use force to prevent the fishing boats from going out too far.

October 4, 2008: Israel has announced that, if there is another round of Hezbollah rocket attacks from southern Lebanon, all the villages that the attacks come from will be destroyed. Hezbollah is ignoring the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon and again installing rocket storage areas in the basements of homes, or nearby. The locals are threatened with violence or death by Hezbollah if they resist, so Israel is now playing by the same rules and letting the villagers know that, yes, they are in the crossfire if the rockets go off again.

October 3, 2008: Bahrain has called for including Israel in a regional organization that would include Iran and Turkey. This was denounced by Islamic conservatives. Several of the Gulf States have been developing closer relationships with Israel, in addition to long time trading partners Morocco and Turkey.

 


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