October 22, 2013:
Despite all the unrest in Egypt, the economy grew about two percent in the last year. Before the uprising began in 2011, the economy was growing at the rate of about seven percent a year. The first year saw the economy contract but by 2013 massive financial aid (mainly from oil-rich Arabs) helped turn things around. This infusion of cash also fed inflation, which is now running at over ten percent a year. Meanwhile, Islamic radicals are still trying to get the Islamic government restored. The army removed the Islamic president and other officials in July, after massive popular demonstrations called for this. The Islamic radicals have apparently gone to war with the government and the government has asked the courts to ban the Islamic political parties. The army still has more public support, but many of the Islamic radicals see themselves as on a Mission From God and are undeterred by logic and popular opinion. This is a repeat of the 1990s, when Islamic Brotherhood radicals tried to impose a religious dictatorship via a terror campaign. This time around, the terrorists are trying to limit civilian casualties, which turned popular opinion against them in the 1990s and led to their defeat. It remains to be seen if these new tactics will change the outcome.
In Gaza Hamas is under increasing criticism because of its censorship policies and efforts to impose Islamic lifestyle rules on everyone. The head of Hamas is calling for another violent Palestinian uprising against Israel. That is only possible in the West Bank, where half a million Israelis live alongside two point one million Palestinians. There has been an increase in Palestinian attacks there over the last few months. Israeli “settlers” have been attacking right back. Last July the Israeli government announced that from now on Jewish residents of the West Bank making "price tag" (retaliatory) attacks will be treated like terrorists. This gives the police more power to investigate and prosecute these crimes. These price tag attacks are usually in retaliation for the Israeli government dismantling illegal settler structures in the West Bank or as revenge for Palestinians attacking the settlements or settlers. Price tag attacks represent a shift in settler attitudes over the last few years. For decades the settlers could be depended on to be passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly launching "price tag" counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis, or for Israeli police interfering with settler activities. This is vigilante justice, and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not accustomed to this kind of swift payback, and they do not like it. Israel has been under growing public and international pressure to crack down more vigorously on the vigilantes. This became especially urgent because the attacks are much more common and are even extending to feuds between factions of Jewish religious extremists. The Palestinians are still committing most of the terror attacks, but the Jewish terrorists are catching up.
Despite this increased violence in the West Bank, Hamas has succeeded in halting most rocket attacks (by smaller rival terror groups) against Israel. That, in turn, reduces Israeli retaliatory attacks. But Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria all have major problems with Islamic radical violence. Jordan is dealing with more Islamic terror group threats but has so far kept a lid on it. Israel cooperates closely with the Jordanians on counter terrorism matters and has done so for decades. Egypt is now being more cooperative in this area. Such relations with Lebanon and the Syrian rebels in this area are much weaker and informal. So far Israel is an island of calm in an increasingly violent neighborhood.
Turkey is now accused of cooperating with Iranian counterintelligence by revealing the names of ten Iranians in Turkey who had been seen (by Turkish intelligence agents) meeting with Israeli intelligence officials. For a decade now the Islamic government of Turkey has been battling Turkish secularists and trying to improve relations with other Islamic countries (including ancient rival Iran). This new policy meant adopting an anti-Israel attitude after decades of close relations with the Jewish state. The Turkish betrayal occurred at least four years ago but was kept quiet until now by all concerned (including the Americans). But the Turkish cooperation with Iran was an open secret among senior government officials in the U.S. and Israel that eventually got to the media.
Israel has allowed Egyptian F-16s to fly over Gaza. Egyptian military operations in Sinai (which Gaza borders) are restricted by the 1979 peace treaty and both nations must agree to allow more Egyptian troops in the area. The treaty considers Sinai a buffer zone, to prevent Egypt from threatening Israel with attack, as it did many times in the 1950s and 60s. But because of the growing Islamic terrorist presence in Sinai and Gaza, Israel has relaxed the restrictions. So for the first time since 1979, Egyptian warplanes were in the air along Israel’s southern border.
October 21, 2013: An Israeli patrol found a bomb planted near the security fence surrounding Gaza. The bomb was disabled. It was apparently meant to be detonated remotely and kill Israeli soldiers.
On the Syrian border two mortar shells fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side but caused no casualties or property damage.
October 20, 2013: In Egypt gunmen fired on a wedding party outside a Christian church near the capital, killing four people.
October 18, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian Islamic terrorists killed a policeman.
October 17, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian police killed six Islamic terrorists who were preparing to attack a checkpoint outside al Arish airport.
October 13, 2013: Israel announced that it had discovered and destroyed a tunnel dug from inside Gaza into Israel. The tunnel was about sixteen-hundred meters (a mile) long and about twenty meters (sixty-one feet) below the surface. As a result of the tunnel being found, Israel suspended the shipment of building materials (which are also used to build tunnels) to Gaza. A week later Hamas admitted that it had built the tunnel and planned to use it to kidnap Israelis and exchange the captives for imprisoned Palestinians.
October 11, 2013: In the West Bank an Israeli settler (a retired army colonel) was beaten to death by Palestinians outside his home. The settler’s wife was injured. This is the third Israeli in three weeks killed by Palestinians in the West Bank.
October 9, 2013: The United States announced it would protest the Egyptian army takeover of the government last July by withholding over seven-hundred-million in military aid. Israel protested this decision, as the Egyptian army had removed an Islamic government that was very hostile to Israel and democracy in general.
October 8, 2013: In the southern Sinai a suicide car bomber attacked an Egyptian police compound and killed two people. An Islamic radical organization took credit the next day. In two other attacks two soldiers were killed.
October 7, 2013: Terrorist violence continued in Egypt, with ten policemen and soldiers killed in several attacks.
October 6, 2013: In Egypt at least fifty-three people died from political violence. Near the Suez Canal Islamic terrorists killed six policemen. Most of the deaths occurred in the capital where police battled Islamic radicals who are trying to overthrow the military government and halt new elections.
October 5, 2013: In the West Bank a nine year old Israeli girl was shot. Police are seeking the shooter, who was apparently Palestinian.