August 5, 2013:
The month old military coup in Egypt has been a big plus for Israel. Hamas has had its main source of weapons and other military goods severely damaged. The new Egyptian government continued the existing policy of finding and shutting down smuggling tunnels and even began closing the legal crossing point for extended periods. The deposed Moslem Brotherhood government was forced to put pressure on Hamas to curb Islamic terrorist activity in Gaza and the support provided to Islamic terrorists hiding out in the Sinai Peninsula (the huge desert between Gaza and the Suez Canal). Hamas tried to curb the more radical groups, but was not very successful. So now most of the tunnels are closed and Hamas is losing millions of dollars a month in tax revenue it got from tunnel operators.
Deposed president Morsi had tried to do more for Gaza and Hamas and the Palestinians. That was a big move because there’s a lot of anti-Palestinian sentiment in Egypt and it only got worse as the economy tanked for most Egyptians while the Palestinians (the recipients of much aid from the West and oil-rich Arab states) were doing better. Since Morsi was deposed a month ago the Egyptian anti-Palestinian attitudes have returned worse than ever. General hostility to Islamic conservatives also become more obvious and public. Most Egyptians are focused on economic conditions while the Morsi government seemed oblivious with that and focused on imposing Islamic law and unpopular lifestyle rules. Continued opposition by Morsi supporters is generally unpopular.
Egypt has noted that half the 60 Islamic terrorists killed in the Sinai over the last month (of increased anti-terrorist operations there) were Palestinian. These were not just from Gaza, as seven of the 90 terrorist suspects arrested were from the West Bank. The Egyptian military have been waging a major campaign against the Sinai-based Islamic terrorists, who have been largely free to do what they wanted over the last two years of rebellion and change. Since Morsi was deposed, that anti-terror campaign has become more intense. Now the Egyptians are even going after Hamas leaders they consider active in terrorist operations.
Hamas leadership is also visibly split over their recent decision to drop links with Hezbollah and Iran (or risk losing all the cash aid from oil-rich Gulf Sunni Arab states that are fearful of Shia inspired Iranian aggression). This is complicated by the fact that Islamic terrorist group Islamic Jihad (an Iran backed terror group that is a Hamas rival in Gaza) is threatening armed rebellion against Hamas and continues to take aid from Iran. Many in Hamas see this as an effort by Iran to weaken Hamas, because Hamas openly supports the Syrian rebels. That has cost Hamas over a million dollars a month in Iranian cash and caused a lot of dissent within Hamas. Dozens of Hamas men have gone to Syria to fight against the rebels and Hamas is trying to work out some kind of deal that would allow them to maintain support from both Iran and the Sunni Arab oil states. That would be quite a feat, but for an organization that believes it will eventually destroy Israel, nothing is impossible.
In Lebanon Hezbollah is under more pressure, and public criticism, from the Christian and Sunni majority because of Hezbollah actively entering the Syrian civil war on the side of the dictatorship. Syria is hated by most Lebanese because Syria considers Lebanon a “lost province” and has never been shy about letting that be known. A new Syrian government will likely be friendlier towards Lebanon (if only because most Lebanese favor the rebels) and Hezbollah is seen as acting like a traitor to Lebanese independence by supporting the Syrian government. Christian leaders have usually been discreet in their public criticism of Hezbollah because that pro-Iranian organization has assassinated several outspoken Christian leaders. But now the public criticism is being heard again and Hezbollah leaders are the ones that are feeling fear.
Israeli and American disagreements on the threat of Syrian weapons ending up in Lebanon (and used by Hezbollah) have become public. The Israelis have been bombing high-tech weapons (usually Russian imports) when it appeared that they might be headed for Lebanon. The U.S. considers this an overreaction and has been leaking details (gathered by American intelligence) about the Israeli operations in order to pressure Israel to stop. The Israelis won’t stop because they see it as a matter of life of death for them.
On the Syrian border Israeli troops have noted less activity from the other side. The rebels appear to control most of the border and are not usually hostile to Israelis.
The U.S. is moving ahead with a new round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The U.S. plan is for nine months of negotiations to result in a final peace deal. No one in Israel or the Palestinian community expects this to happen. Israel is being coerced and the Palestinians bribed to go along with this, but the demands the Palestinians constantly talk about mean the destruction of Israel and any Palestinian leaders who agree to settle for anything less becomes the target for assassination. The U.S. government is willing to do what it takes to just go through the motions for the political benefits (domestic and international) obtained.
August 1, 2013: Israel charged an Israeli Jew with spying for Iran. The accused is a member of the small (15,000 people) ultra-orthodox community that believes the state of Israel (for religious reasons) should not exist and has approached the Iranians out of his hatred of the Israeli government and to make some money.
July 31, 2013: U.S. intelligence officials believe that the July 5th Israeli air strike on the Syrian naval base at Latakia failed to destroy all the anti-ship missiles stored there. Some of those missiles had been moved before the Israeli attack. The Israeli attack was on a warehouse holding new anti-ship missiles recently received from Russia. These high-speed P-800/Yakhont missiles have a range of about 300 kilometers and a 200 kg (440 pound) warhead. Israel responded with this attack and an accelerated installation of new Barak 8 anti-aircraft/anti-missile systems on three of their Saar 5 class corvettes (a prime target for the Yakhont).
July 26, 2013: For the fifth time this year Israel attacked a target in Syria. This time it was high-tech weapons stored at an army base north of the Israeli border (near Quneitra). The attack was carried out by warplanes and, as in the previous attacks was part of an effort to prevent Syrian weapons from being moved to Hezbollah bases in Lebanon.
It has been revealed that there is now evidence of Hezbollah sending $100,000 (via bank transfer) to two of the main suspects in a 2012 terror attack against Israelis last year.
July 25, 2013: Hamas ordered the closure of the Maan news agency and Al Arabiya TV operations in Gaza. The two foreign new organizations were accused of saying things Hamas did not like.