July 24, 2013:
The U.S. has persuaded Israel and the Palestinians (at least Fatah in the West Bank) to sit down to peace talks. To make that happen the U.S. persuaded Israel to release 82 Palestinians (out of 550) serving life terms for terrorism. Not much is expected from all this. The Palestinians regularly use their own media to disparage the idea of sincere peace talks. At best, Palestinians believe such peace talks can be used to weaken Israel, the better to eventually destroy Israel. Apparently the Americans are desperate to get some peace talk action going, even though the chance of success is pretty much zero. Hamas refuses to even go through the motions of peace talks and constantly calls for Israel to be destroyed. The Americans must have offered the Israelis something pretty important (and still secret) to agree to release convicted terrorists as part of this fool’s errand.
Since the July 3rd military takeover three weeks ago, 189 people have died in Egypt (and over a thousand wounded). The Islamic conservative groups have caused a lot of disruption with their demonstrations but have not brought the new government anywhere near collapse or even willingness to discuss returning the Moslem Brotherhood to power. About half the dead have been in two cities (Cairo and Giza) but there has been some violence in most parts of the country. Most of the victims are supporters of ousted president Morsi, but some Copts (local Christians) have been killed by rampaging Islamic radicals. The Moslem Brotherhood and other Islamic conservative (and radical) groups have promised to keep up the demonstrations and disruptions until they get back control of the government. The military and police have responded by arresting all the leaders of these Islamic radical groups that they can. The Islamic radicals are losing public support, a process that began months ago as the economy remained moribund and the government seemed more interested in imposing Islamic law than in doing something about poverty and unemployment. The new government has hustled to make some obvious economic progress. The new government has the support of the military, whose senior officials’ control over a third of the economy, and the wealthiest families, who control most of the rest.
Hamas is urging Palestinians in Gaza to brace themselves for a possible Egyptian attempt to regain control of Gaza. The Egyptians lost that control to Israel in 1967, and many Israelis have since hoped that Egypt would take Gaza back. But Egypt already has too many people and too many Islamic radicals and that is about all Gaza has to offer. But for Hamas the “Egyptian threat” is a good way to distract Palestinians from Hamas's inability to govern Gaza effectively. Egypt considers Gaza a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists and has shut down most (at least 80 percent) of the smuggling tunnels and more strictly policed the legal crossings (when they are not shut down, which is most of the time). Egypt makes no secret of its growing intelligence effort in Gaza, which includes aircraft and an informant network.
July 23, 2013: Someone threw a bomb from a passing car at a police station in the Egyptian capital, killing one and wounding 17 civilians.
July 21, 2013: A rocket was fired at Israel from Gaza but exploded harmlessly in an uninhabited area.
July 18, 2013: Two rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza but exploded harmlessly in an uninhabited area.
July 16, 2013: Israel has moved an Iron Dome battery to Eilat (at the northern end of the Red Sea). On July 3rd at least one 122mm rocket was fired towards Eilat from the nearby Egyptian Sinai Desert. A week later Israeli troops found 122mm rocket fragments outside Eilat. The previous such attack was last April. Israel fears there could be more of these attacks, launched by Islamic terrorists operating in the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has been unable to round up all these terrorists.
Near Gaza someone (probably local Bedouins and Islamic radicals) attacked an Egyptian Army camp with rockets and machine-guns.
The EU (European Union) finally agreed to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization. For a long time many EU members were convinced that Israel was really at fault here and that the Hezbollah members involved in terrorism were exceptions. So the EU refused to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization and limit their fund raising and recruiting inside Europe. But since the recent Hezbollah intervention in the Syrian civil war, the growing mountain of evidence became too difficult to deny. The Gulf Arab states that support the Syrian rebels have also warned Hezbollah that if they do not withdraw their gunmen from Syria, Hezbollah will be added to the Arab list of terrorist organizations and Hezbollah will no longer be able to operate openly in most of the Arab world. This would hurt Hezbollah big time. Hezbollah needs the Iranian support to survive and is now in a position where it will take some major losses no matter what it does. So will Iran, which has long considered Hezbollah ones of its major achievements. The EU ban (only on the “military wing” of Hezbollah) makes it more difficult, but not impossible, to raise money and recruit in Europe.
Syrian rebels fired on an Israeli patrol and the Israeli troops fired back. There were no casualties.
July 14, 2013: Israel crash landed a Hermes 450 UAV near the Egyptian border. Israel is the heaviest user of large (Predator size) UAVs on the planet, mainly because these aircraft are regularly used for border security and counter-terror operations. When one of these aircraft have problems in the air the operators have, so far, been able to bring them down in the sea or unoccupied land areas.
In the Golan Heights a mortar shell fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side but did no damage.