Israel: The Frightening Flight To The Fringe



December 11, 2008:  Hamas and Fatah are increasing persecution of their political opponents in the West Bank (where Fatah is dominant) and Gaza (where Hamas is in control). Getting the two factions to reconcile is getting nowhere. Israel is moving towards sending troops back into Gaza, as Hamas is building up a stockpile of long range rockets that could kill dozens of Israelis if ever fired. This plan would involve handing control of Gaza over to Fatah, with Israeli troops available as back up.

More Israelis are giving up on efforts to work out a peace deal with the Palestinians, who show no sign of backing off from their "Israel must be destroyed" attitudes (reinforced by decades of propaganda within the Palestinian community in particular, and the Arab community throughout the region in general.) This has led to Israeli extremists getting more violent. This is most visible with the 300,000 Jewish settlers, who have established about a hundred communities in the West Bank, and are determined to drive the Arabs out of the area, which they believe to be part of "Greater Israel." This does not have popular support among a majority of Israelis, but the settlers and "Greater Israel" fans are carrying out more attacks  on Palestinians and trying to terrorize the Arabs in the West Bank. This is becoming an embarrassment for Israel, although the settlers point out that, no matter what you do, the Palestinians will never accept Israel. But the increased settler violence has forced the government to use more force to contain the more radical and out-of-control settlers. Since this sort of thing tends to make some of the radicals more radical, the prospect of Jewish terrorists becomes more of a reality. Already, the government is working on how to protect senior officials from Jewish radical assassins.

Israel is trying to establish better relations with the West Bank Palestinians, despite the risk of creating more terrorists among Jewish settlers there. Thus the program of granting pardons to West Bank Palestinian terrorists continues, including the release of some terrorists from jail. But this is only going to work if the increasingly violent Jewish settlers can be curbed.

Palestinian terrorists continue to violate the Gaza ceasefire, although Israeli countermeasures are catching more of the rocket launchers in the  act, and killing some of them. Israeli keeps constant patrols of UAVs over northern Gaza, watching the most likely launching areas, and firing rockets at any Palestinian rocketeers they catch in the act. The rocket attacks have increased in the last month, with more than 200 fired. This began in early November, when Gaza based terrorists responded violently to Israeli efforts to destroy tunnels the terrorists were digging under the security fence. These tunnels were to be used to ambush and kidnap Israeli soldiers. This is a major objective of the Gaza terrorists, as they know the Israelis will pay a huge ransom in these cases.