September 5, 2010:
A UN report concludes that the Israeli/Egyptian blockade of Gaza, and similar restrictions in the West Bank, has reduced Palestinian GDP by 30 percent and caused an unemployment rate of over 30 percent. While the blockade has been eased considerably in the West Bank, because the Palestinian government there has helped contain Palestinian terror groups, such is not the case in Gaza, where numerous terror groups continue to try, and occasionally succeed, making attacks on Israel and Egypt. While the UN calls for lifting the blockade, the UN offers no guarantee that the Palestinian terrorist attacks will stop. Thus Israel and Egypt (and, to a lesser extent, Jordan for the West Bank) continue to enforce the blockade.
The Palestinian peace talks got tangled up in Arab-Iranian animosity as Fatah (West Bank) accused the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of taking office via a fraudulent election (something many Iranians agree with). Ahmadinejad had accused Fatah leaders of being pawns of the U.S. and Israel for participating in another round of peace negotiations. Ahmadinejad may be a fraud in many respects, but he's correct in calling the peace talks a hoax. Mass media in Iran, and throughout the Arab (and most of the Moslem) world considers the destruction of Israel and the death, or expulsion, of all Jews in the Middle East, as the only acceptable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Many non-Moslems in the West wish such attitudes would go away, but they won't, no matter how much Western diplomats suggest it to their Moslem counterparts. Meanwhile, Iran continues to supply Hamas with weapons and cash, causing Hamas rival Fatah no end of frustration.
The Hamas reaction to the Fatah-Israel peace talks is to call for more terrorist attacks against Israel. By activating sleeper cells in the West Bank, Hamas is exposing its agents there to arrest (or worse) by Fatah or Israeli police. What Hamas is afraid of is some kind of deal that will create a Palestinian state, involving Israel and Fatah jointly sending force in to Gaza to remove Hamas. Egyptian police and troops would also likely participate, if only to round up anti-Egyptian Islamic terrorists hiding out there.
Hamas sees these peace talks as an opportunity to radicalize more West Bank Palestinians against Fatah (which is corrupt, although also suitably behind destroying Israel and killing all Jews). Hamas advocates destroying Israel and killing all Jews sooner, rather than later. Such an approach carries risks (the Israelis fight back), but many Palestinians are opposed to peace talks with Israel, and Fatah has ordered its police to shut down any demonstrations by these people in the West Bank.
So far this year, there have been about 115 mortar shells and rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. There is supposed to be a ceasefire, but the Palestinians say this is the best they can do.
September 4, 2010: Israeli aircraft bombed a Hamas weapons smuggling tunnels in Gaza, killing one tunnel worker and wounding two others. This was in retaliation to the two attacks on Israelis in the West Bank in the last week. Hamas proudly took credit for the attacks, which left four Israelis dead and two wounded.
September 2, 2010: Hamas claimed responsibility for the two recent West Bank terror attacks, which were more terrorist violence than the West Bank has suffered for years. For the last five years, Hamas has been persecuting Fatah supporters in Gaza, while Fatah goes after Hamas supporters in the West Bank. After these two attacks, Fatah will feel obligated to go after actual, or suspected, Hamas supporters in the West Bank even harder. In part, this is because the Hamas use of one or two death squads against Israelis in the West Bank, makes it obvious that these killers could be used against Fatah officials as well.
The new peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority began in the United States. This is being done mainly to keep the United States happy, as America is the source of billions of dollars in aid.
September 1, 2010: In the West Bank, two Israelis were shot and wounded.
August 31, 2010: In the West Bank, four Israelis were shot and killed.
August 28, 2010: Egyptian police have, this month, found and seized three large shipments of weapons in the Sinai desert. Among the items found were 200 Russian made SA-7 portable anti-aircraft missiles. These have limited effect against Israeli military aircraft, but could be deadly if used against civil aviation. Smugglers get most of these weapons from Iran, via Sudan. Getting across the Sudan/Egypt border is relatively easy, but the Egyptian police have been more diligent about stopping weapons getting into Gaza via smuggling tunnels. This is in part because many tunnels have shut down since Israel recently lifted the blockade for many consumer goods. This was the main business of most of the tunnels, while a few specializing in moving weapons. For the last few months, the Egyptian police have been a lot more alert to arms shipments, and have raided several places near the Gaza border, and seized weapons ready to go through the tunnels. The lifting of the blockade, and more energetic Egyptian policing has resulted in only about ten tunnels still functioning, moving weapons and protected by larger and larger bribes.
August 20, 2010: Israel and the Palestinian Authority (which now is only Fatah, in the West Bank) agreed to hold peace talks hosted in the United States.
August 17, 2010: Israeli warplanes bombed targets in Gaza, in retaliation for mortar shells fired into Israel from Gaza. Earlier in the day, two Israeli soldiers were wounded by mortar shells.