Palestinians have stopped going through the motions of negotiating a peace deal with Israel. This was done at the insistence of the Americans, who threaten to curb aid if the Palestinians refuse. But at this point it’s pretty clear that nothing is going to happen. Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues to make public statements about how he will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, despite the fact that such recognition is a key component of any peace deal. The Arab League backed Abbas offering to recognize the state of Israel but not the Jewish state of Israel. Hating Israel and Jews and denying Israel exists has long been a popular activity among Arabs. American leaders are aware of Palestinian attitudes on peace with Israel but the U.S. still assumes that a peace deal is possible. For years Palestinian leaders have agreed with that when speaking to Western leaders and reporters but they then turn around and tell their followers that, of course, Israel must be destroyed and that there is no other solution. For most Western leaders the disunity, corruption and general chaos within the Palestinian community is seen as a larger problem than a peace deal. That may be true, but without a positive attitude towards a peace deal, there won’t be any peace. The current American government refused to accept that. Palestinians believe they can bully way to victory over Israel and are now talking about a “Third Intifada” as if more civil disorder will change anything. Peace is not on the agenda. Most Israelis and according to a recent U.S. opinion poll, most Americans agree. Even without a new intifada, casual violence in the West Bank is increasing. This usually takes the form of young men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers or civilians. Israeli women and children are the preferred targets because they are the least likely to shoot back if the rocks begin to inflict injuries. Palestinian propaganda praises those who kill children just as much as those who killed soldiers or police. All are heroes of the Palestinian struggle to destroy Israel. This is becoming embarrassing for some Western nations when it was pointed out that their aid money was being used directly for some of this propaganda. The peace talks are further hampered by the fact that Palestinians lack a single leader, with Fatah in charge of the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. There is no progress (or much hope) in healing that rift. The current Palestinian plan is to go back to the UN and get recognition there as a “sort of” state and build on that to get the UN to impose economic and military sanctions on Israel for imaginary war crimes. Arab oil states have been throwing their money around for decades in the UN, to get nations to go along with meaningless resolutions condemning Israel, so this plan has a chance of success. Money talks at the UN and there are many states willing to sell their support if the price is right. Now the Palestinians want resolutions with teeth but that may prove a scam too far.
Israel has tried to make peace more than the Palestinians, and this has included some bold moves that backfired. This includes the pullout of troops from Gaza and southern Lebanon. Pulling out of the West Bank has been considered but there’s too much chance of anarchy and more violence. Israelis find the Palestinians amazingly self-destructive, largely because they remain officially (via their media and comments by officials) committed to the goal of destroying Israel, yet pretend to try and make peace. As one Israeli official commented, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” The latest Palestinian demand, in return for keeping the current peace talks going, is for Israel to release more convicted terrorists from prison. Ignoring the fact that many of these terrorists go right back to trying to kill Israelis once they are free, Palestinians ignore the fact that, as a democracy, Israeli politicians who let that happen face getting voted out of office. Israel refused to go through with the last round of releases because the Palestinians showed no signs of negotiating and the U.S. is furious, especially since the Americans have to live with the fact that it’s the Palestinians who wrecked this round of negotiations by constantly increasing their demands and giving nothing in return.
The only thing the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) has to offer is written and unwritten agreements with Israel whereby Fatah helps Israel control Islamic terrorists in the West Bank and Israel helps keep Fatah in power. Fatah is regarded by most Palestinians as corrupt and self-serving but at least they provide jobs and some public services. With Fatah the Israelis know they are basically dealing with gangsters. For the Palestinians their inability to create competent, honest and efficient leaders is a great shame and the main reason by so many Palestinians want to emigrate, or support terrorism (against Israel or, in support of Hamas, against Fatah). Many Palestinians understand, but will not say out loud, that even if the Palestinians somehow eliminated Israel and the entire area became Palestinian the Palestinian people would still suffer from corrupt and ineffective government.
The current Fatah move, to seek more recognition from the UN caused Israel to threaten economic retaliation and in response to that the Arab League stepped up and promised up to $100 million a month in aid to make up for any funds (mainly taxes collected by Israel and passed on to the Palestinian Authority) the Israelis block.
There have been about 90 rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza since March 12th compared to 11 for all of 2013. This is largely due to Islamic terrorist group Islamic Jihad (an Iran backed terror group that is a Hamas rival in Gaza) threatening armed rebellion against Hamas because of perceived treason by Hamas against Islam. Meanwhile Islamic Jihad continues to take aid, and instructions, from Iran. Islamic Jihad takes credit for most of these rocket attacks. This aggression got Islamic Jihad criticized by the UN, which is usually condemning Israel for defending itself. The consensus is that Islamic Jihad is trying to goad Israel into attacking Gaza again. Such an attack would force Hamas to try to defend Gaza which would cause heavy Hamas casualties and make it easier for Islamic Jihad to oust Hamas by force. Many in Hamas see this as an effort by Iran to weaken Hamas, because Hamas began openly supporting the Syrian rebels in late 2013 and Iran was not pleased. That cost Hamas over a million dollars a month in Iranian cash and caused a lot of dissent within Hamas. Some 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 support the Syrian rebels. That would be quite a feat, but for an organization that believes it will eventually destroy Israel, nothing is impossible. Hamas is also facing more pressure in Gaza from moderates who are angry over the economic problems and Hamas attempts to impose Islamic conservative lifestyle rules. Hamas sees these moderates as potential traitors and probably allies with pro-Fatah groups. Fatah has been cracking down hard on Hamas supporters in the West Bank, putting more of them in jail (or out of a government job) each month. Meanwhile Israel has become so concerned about the continued activity of Islamic terrorists inside Gaza that senior Israeli military leaders are openly calling for Israel to resume control of Gaza. That would involve a lot of combat and there’s not a lot of support for going that far, at least not yet.
In Egypt former army chief Abdel Fattah el Sisi is expected to win the May 26-27 presidential election, mainly because he was seen as responsible for forcibly removing unpopular Moslem Brotherhood from control of the government in July 2013. Sisi becoming president would bring the revolution full circle as the long-time dictator Mubarak, ousted in 2011, came out of the army, as have so many other corrupt and long-serving Egyptian rulers. The army has recovered nicely since the 2011 unrest and is now grabbing control of even more of the economy. The army insists that it controls less than one percent of the economy. But the network of former officers in management positions (and able to decide what their companies do with their money and operations) indicates the military has links to over a third of the economy. These officers take care of each other, and the continued power of the military in Egypt.
The Egyptian government believes that Islamic terrorists have killed at least 500 people since the army ousted the Moslem Brotherhood nine months ago. Half the dead have been police, 37 percent soldiers and the rest civilians. Most of these deaths took place in Sinai, which has long been a sanctuary for Islamic terrorists, who generally left Egyptian security forces alone until the 2011 revolution. It is believed that over 700 civilians (Moslem Brotherhood supporters) and Islamic terrorists have died as well but the government doesn’t like to talk about that.
In Gaza the Egyptian security forces continue to find and destroy smuggling tunnels. In surrounding areas of northern Sinai the security forces continue to seek out and capture or kill the many Islamic terrorists who remain at large there.
In Lebanon religious violence related to the Syrian civil war continues in the north, where the security forces tend to step back and let the pro and anti-Assad forces go after each other. But when security forces or unaffiliated civilians are threatened, the soldiers and police intervene. In the south Hezbollah is suffering a cash-flow crises as international efforts to curb Hezbollah fund raising becomes more effective and Iran cuts back on cash aid because of the continuing sanctions on Iranian oil sales.
April 9, 2014: On the Gaza security fence an Israeli patrol was fired on from the Gaza side and the Israeli troops fired into the air. That was the end of it. Islamic terrorists inside Gaza will often fire on Israeli troops in the hope that the Israelis will fire back and hit some nearby civilians. The Israelis know about that ploy and patrols are trained to fire back if there is no other option.
A mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in Israel.
The U.S. added a Sinai-based Islamic terrorist group (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) to its list of international terrorists. This means the group will have a harder time raising money overseas and its leaders risk arrest if they travel to the West.
Kuwait pledged to increase free oil shipments to Egypt from 65,000 barrels a day to 85,000. The Gulf Arab oil states are keeping the Egyptian economy alive. The unrest and increased Islamic terrorist activity since the 2011 revolution have hurt the economy and increased public anger.
South Korea announced that it is buying ten radars from Israel. The new radars are tweaked to detect small, low flying UAVs. South Korea recently revealed that two small (1.9 meter/six foot wingspan) UAVs found in late March were definitely North Korean and used commercially available Chinese and Japanese components that any tourist could walk into a store and buy. One UAV was found March 31st on one of the islands near the maritime border with North Korea. The other one was found south of the DMZ on the 24th. The UAVs carried high resolution cameras that took pictures when over certain GPS coordinates. The photos found on one UAV included the presidential compound and some military facilities. The other one was photographing military facilities on the island. UAVs this small are hard to spot with radar if they come in very low (under 100 meters/330 feet). South Korea is now going to upgrade its aerial surveillance to handle this new (but not unknown) threat. Israel has a similar problem and has developed technology to deal with it. Since Israel sells a lot of military gear to South Korea, this Israeli purchase was not unexpected.
In southern Egypt a tribal feud turned violent over the last week leaving at least 26 dead. One tribe is Arab and the other is Nubian (black African) and the two groups have never gotten along but usually manage to live together in relative peace. In this case an accusation of harassing a woman escalated and turned violent. Police and tribal leaders are trying to calm things down.
Israel announced it had launched another recon satellite (Ofek 10). The first Ofek went up in 1988 and the latest one (Ofek 9) went up in 2010 and weighs about 300 kg (660 pounds). The Ofek 9 had a new generation of sensors that were able to see objects as small as 55 cm (twenty inches). Ofek 10 is apparently a little heavier, has better resolution and is mainly for keeping tabs on Iran.
April 8, 2014: In the West Bank a militant group of settlers fought with police who had come to destroy illegal structures. The militant settlers have become more violent with the police but have not killed any yet. When that happens, and the police see the militant settlers headed in that direction, the cops will officially have Jewish and Moslem terrorists to worry about.
April 7, 2014: Israel announced that it believes that Syria again used chemical weapons on March 27th, during two operations on the outskirts of Damascus.
The leader of Hezbollah took credit for a bomb attack against Israeli troops on the Lebanese border last month. This was suspected at the time.
An Arab-Israeli lawyer was indicted for acting as a courier between jailed Hamas terrorists and Hamas officials in Gaza. All this was in support of failed (so far) plots to get the men out of jail. The lawyer was paid $400,000 for his illegal services. The lawyer works for an NGO (Solidarity Foundation for Human Rights) that provides legal assistance to jailed Arabs in Israel. The lawyer admitted (to get a lighter sentence) the organization was a front for Hamas and actually played a large role in planning and carrying out terrorist activities inside Israel. Two other lawyers from the NGO have also been arrested and many incriminating documents and other evidence seized.
April 6, 2014: Israeli warplanes hit five Islamic terrorist targets in Gaza in retaliation for yesterday’s rocket attack.
April 5, 2014: A rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza but there were no casualties.
April 4, 2014: After two years of negotiations India and Israel have agreed to a deal where Israeli defense firms will work with DRDO (the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization) and several state-owned defense firms to design and build an integrated anti-missile defense system. India already has a tested and proven anti-missile ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) but wants something like the anti-missile system Israel has developed and deployed over the last two decades. This new arrangement implies that Israel is willing to share some of its ABM technology (among the best in the world) with India to provide some defense against Chinese and Pakistani nuclear missiles.
For the second time this year Israeli businessmen have been arrested and accused to supplying Iran with military equipment. This time it’s Anatoly Cohn, who is accused of trying to export two paragliding kits to Iran. Israeli intelligence discovered the shipment being sent through Jordan to UAE and then to Iran.
In Bulgaria prosecutors announced they had made more progress in identifying the Hezbollah terrorists who carried out a 2012 attack there. The Bulgarians identified the two terrorists who planned and managed the attacker as of Lebanese ancestry but who are citizens of Australia and Canada. The suicide bomber was identified as an Algerian and has been traced to Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon. In 2012 Bulgarian investigators issued a report that agreed with an earlier Israeli investigation that the attack was carried out by the Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah terrorist organization. Hezbollah is a Shia radical group that is obsessed with destroying Israel and turning Lebanon into a Shia religious dictatorship. The two main suspects involved appear to be hiding out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah controls the southern part of the country. Authentic Australian and Canadian passports were used by the attack planners to get in and out of Bulgaria. This reminded everyone that for decades Hezbollah has strived to establish members overseas, especially in Canada and Australia, where legitimate passports could be obtained by Lebanese born migrants and then used to help carry out international terror attacks. Canada has discovered that there are thousands of their passports held by people who spend most of their time outside of Canada. Israel and Bulgaria asked the EU (European Union) to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization and this was done in mid-2013. The U.S. and Israel had already done this, but local politics and anti-Israeli attitudes long prevented such a move in Europe. Hezbollah calls the Bulgarian investigation part of an international conspiracy to defame Hezbollah and refuses to take responsibility for the attack.
Outside of Jerusalem police were alerted to the presence of a suspicious (as in he looked very nervous) man heading for the city. Police intercepted and questioned him and found he was carrying a 30 cm (12 inch) long knife and he admitted he planned to enter the city and stab Jews.
Israel cancelled the planned release of 26 more Palestinian terrorists because the Palestinians broke their promise to not go forward with gaining more recognition in the UN.
April 3, 2014: Israeli warplanes hit Islamic terrorist targets in Gaza in retaliation for a rocket attack earlier in the day.
April 2, 2014: In Egypt two hidden bombs went off outside a Cairo university killing two people. One of the dead was a police general and he was believed the main target of the attack.
March 28, 2014: On the Syrian border Israeli troops caught two armed men trying to get through the border fence. The two men were shot and wounded.
March 27, 2014: Israeli patrol boats off Gaza caught three smuggler boats trying to get from Egypt to Gaza. Several of the men on one of the boats was wounded when they ignored warning shots and orders to halt. The Israelis fired on these two boats and that brought the smugglers to a halt. The closing of so many smuggling tunnels by the Egyptians has made the risks of smuggling by sea less scary so more Palestinians are trying it.
In the Sinai another series of raids left 41 Islamic terrorists dead and many weapons and other equipment captured. A bomb workshop was also found and seized.
March 25, 2014: On the Gaza border Israeli troops found and disabled two bombs.