June 14, 2016:
Despite the recent Hamas terror attack in Israel and the continuing Fatah “knife terrorism” campaign Israel continues to cope with the mayhem more efficiently than the Islamic radicals and Palestinian nationalists seeking to destroy Israel. This makes the attackers angrier but not more effective. The Palestinians have gained more allies in the West, where it has become acceptable to be anti-Semitic again and call for the destruction of “evil (for defending themselves) Jews.” As a result Jews are again fleeing Europe because of the growing violence against them and the inability of local government to do anything about it.
In the West Bank and Israel the Fatah sponsored “knife terrorism” campaign is losing the popular support it had for a while. Since September 2015 these attacks have killed 34 Israelis and foreigners and wounded 444. Not all the attacks were with sharp objects. There were 851 reported attacks involving stone throwing, 337 using fire bombs and hundreds of other potentially fatal attacks that went unreported because no one was seriously hurt. Over Palestinian attackers have died and many more arrested and imprisoned. Meanwhile poverty and corruption in Gaza and the West Bank, areas where Palestinians are in charge.
Palestinian terrorism is not the only threat Israel has to cope with. Israel believes that once the Syrian civil war is over Iran-backed Hezbollah is planning to start a new terror campaign against Israel. This one would involve a new campaign to try getting attackers into Israel to do as much damage as possible. Israel has been working to deal with this since early 2015. This has involved increasing the number of combat engineer troops the army has who are trained to detect tunnels. Until now these tunnel detection specialists have mainly been used on the Gaza border but Israel believes tunnels are part of the new Hezbollah strategy. Israel is also building more border fences and walls and installing more sensors on up to a hundred kilometers of their northern border. Israel also believes Hezbollah hopes (or expects) to get the Lebanese army involved this time. Earlier this year it was noted that the Lebanese Army was building observation towers on the border. Israel does not normally consider this a problem, unless Hezbollah comes along (as it has done in the past) forces the army out and takes over the towers. At that point Israel would have to destroy the towers, to prevent those vantage points to assist planning and carrying out attacks into Israel.
Security In Sinai
In Egypt the counter-terrorism effort in northern Sinai continues, with more raids and patrols and more locals willing to pass on tips about Islamic terrorist operations. So far in June over a hundred Islamic terrorists in north Sinai have been killed, captured or surrendered. Others are believed to have deserted or left to join other Islamic terror groups. While the people of North Sinai are still unhappy with government corruption and mismanagement they now see the Islamic terrorists as another problem, especially since ISIL has started kidnapping civilians and holding them for ransom or promises of help in carrying out attacks on soldiers or police. After 2011 many Islamic terrorists showed up in north Sinai saying they were the solution to government oppression. But that is what Islamic terrorists always say they are and rarely do they deliver. Because of the increased and continuous pressure from the security forces and increasingly hostile civilians a growing number of Sinai based Islamic terrorists are leaving the area.
The Egyptian counter-terror operation have benefitted from an informal alliance between Egypt, Israel and Hamas to drive ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) from the area. ISIL is everyone’s enemy but that sharing of information has made other Islamic terror groups in northern Sinai more vulnerable. Hamas doesn’t care about that because most of the smaller Islamic terror groups in Gaza and northern Sinai are hostile to Hamas.
Since 2013 over 700 Egyptian soldiers and police have died fighting groups like the Moslem Brotherhood, ISIL and smaller groups based in Gaza. Islamic terrorist casualties have been in the thousands. The pressure has been particularly heavy since late 2015 and some smaller Islamic terror groups appear to have disappeared. Some may have dissolved and at least one or two merged with others. Since 2013 about a thousand people a year have died from Islamic terrorism. About half the dead are terrorists (actual or suspected) and the rest usually civilians. Most Egyptians oppose Islamic terrorism, if only because it tends to kill lots of innocent civilians and cripple the economy. But in a few rural areas, mainly in northern Sinai, there are populations (usually Bedouin tribesmen) willing to support Islamic terrorists. That support is faltering. Outside of Sinai there a lot of people who are Islamic conservatives and are more tolerant of Islamic terrorism.
June 11, 2016: In Egypt (northern Sinai) ISIL gunmen killed three civilians, apparently for refusing to cooperate with ISIL. Murders such as these have increased in Sinai as the government stations soldiers and police in more rural communities. That deployment is part of an effort to gather information on Islamic terrorists (especially ISIL) and make it more difficult for Islamic terrorists to operate in these remote areas (which are usually only visited by police or army patrols or when called to deal with a crime.)
June 10, 2016: In Gaza Hamas launched more than 30 locally made short range rockets within Gaza in what was described as testing. Longer range rockets are test fired into the Mediterranean. These test firings have been going on since late 2014. That was when Hamas resumed rocket production and since then has fired over a hundred unguided rockets inside Gaza or out over the Mediterranean, so as not to violate the ceasefire. Hamas is building some rockets with a range of over 50 kilometers. The rocket tests today did not trigger any of the Israeli anti-rocket defense systems. Israel has recently reported halting several illegal shipments of rocker components into Gaza. Hamas tries to smuggle these in as “construction supplies” but Israel has identified items used for rocket construction in Gaza and bars them from entering Gaza. If Hamas adapts and uses other types of construction hardware (pipes and chemicals that can be used for rocket motors and warheads) Israel finds out quickly (via informants or examining fragments of rockets landing in Israel) and amends the list of items you cannot send to Gaza. .
June 8, 2016: In the coastal city of Tel Aviv two Hamas terrorists, dressed as religious Jews, opened fire in a shopping center, killing four people and wounding. Once out of ammunition the two attackers fled but both were quickly captured (one after being shot). Hamas took credit for the attack and Israel soon found out that the two terrorists were cousins and lived in the West Bank who had entered the Israel illegally. Until it can be determined how that was done Israel has suspended entry permits for over 80,000 West Bank Palestinians who work in Israel. The next day Israel closed all the border crossings with West Bank and Gaza, at least until the 12th. This was already scheduled as a precaution for a Jewish holiday beginning on the 11th. The families of the two Hamas killers were told to leave their homes, which are being destroyed as punishment for not reporting what their sons (the two were cousins) were involved with.
June 7, 2016: In Bangladesh the Home Minister (who is responsible for internal security nationwide) has been under increasing criticism for the government inability to stop the murders of critics of Islamic terrorism. There have been over 40 such deaths since January 2015 and the government has so far caught very few suspects and only one has ever been put on trial. There have been no convictions yet and the Home Minister in particular and the government general is apparently afraid of openly criticizing Islamic terrorists, who have claimed responsibility for most of the deaths. Instead, the Home Minister is now blaming Israel for somehow creating the situation. This is a popular fantasy in majority Moslem countries, especially when government officials are criticized for not being able to deal with local Islamic terrorists.
June 5, 2016: Syrian media reported that Israeli jets bombed a Syrian missile storage near Homs. There were Syrian air defense systems active in the area, Israeli radar detectors noted that but the Syrians never opened fire.
May 29, 2016: Russia announced that it was returning to Israel an Israeli M-48 tank, captured by Syrian troops during the 1982 Israeli war with Syria and later given to Russia by Syria. The American made M-48 is currently in a Moscow military museum. Israel won the 1982 war but in one action had to abandon some armored vehicles in order to get most of the Israeli troops out of danger. That battle left twenty Israeli soldiers dead and three missing. Giving the tank back to Israel is another Russian effort to maintain good relations with Israel, which could cause big problems for Russian troops in Syria.