December 20, 2011:
Palestinians are enraged because an American politician recently pointed out that "Palestine" does not exist, never existed, and was invented during the Cold War by the Soviet KGB as yet another ploy to expand Russian influence in the Middle East. The 1964 charter founding the Palestine Liberation Organization was created by the KGB and "approved" by 400 pro-communist Palestinians. This charter explicitly denied any Palestinian claims on the West Bank (then part of Jordan) and Gaza (then part of Egypt). After Israel conquered these two areas, in the 1967 war, the PLO dropped that clause. But there was no real effort to push the concept of "Palestine" until the 1970s. The Arab world, humiliated from losing five wars with Israel, and seeing Israel outstrip its Arab neighbors in so many ways (economically, educationally, politically, and so on), got behind the idea that the Jews and Israel were oppressing the newly invented "Palestinian people" and must be destroyed. Most Western media ignored the ensuing decades of ugly anti-Israel propaganda. This myth of the "Palestinian State" became popular with pro-communist groups and leftists in general, and that enthusiasm survived the collapse of most communist states in the late 1980s and the end of the Cold War. But just because a lie is widely accepted does not make it true. So Palestinians are outraged at this exposure of their origins.
In Egypt, Islamic parties are winning the staggered vote for parliament and demonstrators continue to battle soldiers in the streets of the capital. Six days of such violence in the capital has left at least fifteen dead and over 600 wounded. The biggest casualty has been the army's reputation as the protector of the people. There are now calls for the army to step down as temporary rulers of the nation. Pictures and videos of soldiers and police beating men and women are getting out, making the security forces look like a bunch of thugs. The army fights back, accusing "subversives" of creating anti-army propaganda. The generals are apparently not willing to step down or ease the use of violence against demonstrators. In part, this is because most of the demonstrators are non-religious democrats. This group is a minority, attracting only about a quarter of the votes in recent parliament elections. While the Islamic parties don't like the army they believe they have sufficient votes to force the army from power, as the army has agreed, after the parliament elections and creation of the new constitution are completed next year. The urban democrats are opposed to a military dictatorship (which they fear will happen when the army decides not to surrender power) and an Islamic state (which the majority of Islamic parties deny will be created, but about a third of the Islamic parties do want a religious dictatorship.)
Many Israelis are worried about Egypt turning into another Gaza. When the Islamic Hamas party won the election in Gaza they soon turned the place into a religious dictatorship. This a more common pattern in the Middle East than the establishment of a democracy. Moreover, the revolution is not over in Egypt. The corrupt families and groups (including the senior military commanders) that supported the dictatorship, and benefited most from it, are still around and will fight (with violence and bribes) to protect their wealth and privilege. Throw religion into the mix and you have the potential for a major meltdown. The Moslem Brotherhood, which has been winning nearly half the parliament seats so far, has told the army to back off on attacking protestors. This is setting up a showdown between the military and whoever tries to take away its wealth and privileges.
Hamas announced that, as part of its alliance with Fatah (which controls the West Bank), it will suspend plans for a violent attack on Israel and join Fatah in using non-violent means to destroy Israel. This switch, plus Hamas criticism of Syrian violence against its people, has caused Iran to cut its cash donations to Hamas. Much of that money is now being given to Hamas rival (in Gaza) Islamic Jihad (a terrorist group that still attacks Israel). Iran is also unhappy that Hamas is pulling its senior leadership out of Syria, where it has been for over a decade. Hamas also faces a growing threat from more radical groups in Gaza who want to keep attacking Israel. There's also a problem with Hamas and Fatah not being able to agree on which side will get which key positions in the new "unity government."
Israeli soldiers guarding Jewish settlements in the West Bank are increasingly faced with settler, not Palestinian hostility and violence. A growing number of settler radicals are being violent to soldiers. So far, it's rocks and fists, but commanders fear it could escalate. This is a trend that has been growing in the last decade. It's not just the radical settlers (who believe in a "Greater Israel" that incorporates a lot of land from neighboring states and the Palestinian territories) and the ultra-religious Jews who want to turn Israel into a state ruled by strict religious rules.
December 18, 2011: For the tenth time this year Egyptian radicals have blown up the gas pipeline to Israel (and Jordan). The pipeline has been shut down since the November 28 attack, so there was no fire this time. Egypt insists it will stop the attacks by implementing improved security. Meanwhile, Egypt is losing lots of revenue from gas not shipped. Israel is arranging to import gas from other sources (shipping it in, possibly from Russia) until the Israeli offshore fields are producing enough to make up for the Egyptian supplies (which currently handle about 40 percent of the demand).
December 17, 2011: An Israeli patrol along the Gaza border fence fired into Gaza when an explosion occurred nearby. One Palestinian was killed and two wounded.
December 16, 2011: A mortar shell, fired from Gaza, landed in southern Israel. There were no injuries.
December 15, 2011: In the Egyptian capital, a peaceful protest against the temporary military government was attacked by police and soldiers. That started violent confrontations that continued day after day.
December 11, 2011: Another rocket was fired from Lebanon towards Israel. This one fell short, landed in Lebanon and wounded a civilian. A pro-al Qaeda terrorist group claimed responsibility for the last such attack two weeks ago. Hezbollah and Lebanon condemn these attacks as neither wants another war with Israel.
December 9, 2011: Israeli aircraft attacked a Hamas base in Gaza, killing one and wounding six Palestinians.
December 8, 2011: An Israel air strike in Gaza killed a Hamas leader and one of his followers. In response, several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. One of them landed near Beersheba, which is 35 kilometers from the Gaza border.