July 5, 2016:
Fatah continues promoting its “knife terrorism” campaign while Israel continues to cope with the mayhem. Since October 2015 there have been 250 “knife terrorism” attacks and these have left 36 Israelis or foreigners dead and nearly 500 wounded. The knife terrorism attacks and supporting violence (rock and fire bomb throwing and violent protests in general) have left 220 Palestinians dead, over 15,000 injured and nearly 2,500 under arrest. This makes the attackers angrier but not more effective. While the Fatah sponsored “knife terrorism” campaign is losing popular support among Palestinians it continues anyway. Many more of the attacks are by groups of young Palestinians in the West Bank. Thus there have been nearly 900 reported attacks involving stone throwing, over 340 using fire bombs and hundreds of other potentially fatal attacks that went unreported because no one was seriously hurt. Meanwhile poverty and corruption in Gaza and the West Bank, areas where Palestinians are in charge, continues to flourish. This suits Fatah, which proudly and publicly pays the families of dead attackers a reward while imprisoned attackers receive regular payments to their families. Some Western aid donors have cut or eliminated their contributions to Fatah over this financing of terrorists while most Western donors ignore the practice or insist it is not done with the money they contribute.
The civil war in Syria and the growth of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has led Turkey to repair relations with Israel. Egypt and the Gulf Arabs have also improved their relations with Israel as a result of the Islamic terror threat. Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf Arabs all had developed links with Islamic terror groups over the years but by 2015 realized that Israel was a better ally and certainly less dangerous than Islamic radicals.
Even before Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador in 2011 relations between the two countries had been going downhill since 2007, when the AKP (Islamic Justice and Development Party) won reelection and party leader (and Turkish president) Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to turn on Israel in order to increase influence in Arab countries. It soon became clear that this was not working out so well but the AKP leaders were not willing to back down. By 2011 Turkey had cut most of its extensive diplomatic, economic and military ties with Israel. It took four more years of Islamic terrorist violence inside Turley and isolation from Israeli economic and military cooperation, to change enough minds in the AKP (which is still Islamic).
After the Arab Spring uprisings in Syria turned violent in 2011 Turkey tolerated Islamic terrorists travelling to Syria via Turkish territory as long as this was to fight the Syrian government (Assad) forces. The Turks and the Assads had never got along well and since AKP came to power Turkey has been trying to support efforts by Moslems to “defend Islam” against heretics (like the Shia Iranians, Syrians and Lebanese), Israel and the West. But this backfired and now Turkey is trying to mend relations with Israel, Russia, Egypt and the West. At the same time, Turkey still considers the Assads a greater threat than ISIL or Kurdish separatists.
Egypt, after finding out the details of the Turkey-Israel reconciliation deal asked Israel to not respond to Turkish demands that Israel lift its Gaza blockade, at least not to the extent that it would help Islamic terrorists in Gaza to carry out more attacks (against Israel as well as Egypt). In general Egypt was opposed to Israel resuming diplomatic relations with Turkey because the Turks openly supported several of the Islamic terrorist groups in Egypt as well as the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood, which tried to turn Egypt into a religious dictatorship in 2013. Israel worked out a compromise with Egypt and the Turks helped out by agreeing to cut ties to groups that support violence in Egypt.
July 4, 2016: In the north (Golan) fire from the Syrian side of the border hit and damaged the Israeli security fence. In response Israeli artillery fired on two nearby Syrian Army bases. When the fire from Syria is deliberate the Israelis always fire back, but if it appears to have been the result of fighting between government and rebels forces inside Syria, which is the cause of most bullets, rockets and shells crossing the border, there is a verbal protest but no artillery or air strikes in response. When it is unclear, the Israelis fire back.
In the south (Gaza) ten trucks carrying Turkish aid for the residents of Gaza were allowed in from the Israeli side. This is part of the reconciliation deal with Turkey. Such aid must be shipped to an Israeli port, where it will be checked for contraband and then loaded on trucks for movement to Gaza.
July 1, 2016: In the south (on the Gaza border) a rocket fired from Gaza hit a school. There were no injuries and not much damage. In retaliation Israeli warplanes hit four Islamic terrorist bases (including some belonging to Hamas) in Gaza.
June 30, 2016: In Egypt six soldiers were killed when they clashed with heavily armed smugglers on the Libyan border. Since late 2015 Egypt has sent a lot more soldiers and special operations troops to the Libyan border to deal with Islamic terrorists and smugglers who are using more innovative methods to get back and forth across the border. Sometimes this means more firepower, finding more obscure routes or a combination of both. Special operations troops are best suited to deal with this. Egypt wants to keep weapons and Islamic terrorists from entering Egypt and stop illegal migrants, some of them new recruits for ISIL in Libya, from crossing into Libya. Smugglers still get a lot of people and goods into and out of Libya using the fact that the 1,100 kilometer long border largely runs through thinly populated desert. The desert route is more expensive and many illegals cannot afford it.
Elsewhere in Egypt (Sinai) a Coptic priest was shot dead. ISIL later took credit for this. Egyptian Islamic radicals, many of them let out of prison after the 2011 revolution, are increasingly calling for violence against Israel and non-Moslems in particular. This includes the Egyptian Christians, mainly the Copts, who converted to Christianity more than 500 years before the Islamic invaders arrived in 639. Copts are still over ten percent of the population. The stubbornness of the Copts in refusing to convert to Islam has led to centuries of persecution. By 300 AD most Egyptians were Christians, nearly all of them belonging to the local Coptic sects. When the Moslems invaded threats and incentives were used to encourage conversion to Islam. By 1000 AD Moslems were the majority in Egypt. Ever since, Egyptian Moslems have sought, often with violence, to convert the remaining Egyptian Christians. Some converted, but increasingly over the last century, Copts have simply fled the country. This is accelerating as it becomes obvious that the new government cannot or will not halt the growing persecution of the Copts. It’s not just ISIL, even more moderate Islamic radicals like the Moslem Brotherhood, regularly organize attacks (often non-fatal) against Copt communities. This is often part of a growing effort to forbid Copts (or other Christians) to build new churches.
June 29, 2016: Israeli police revealed that an Arab-Israeli man had been arrested in Turkey earlier in the month for trying to get into Syria and join ISIL. The Arab-Israeli man was returned to Israel where he was arrested and recently indicted. Police believe that between 40 and 50 Arab-Israelis have actually made it to Syria and joined ISIL.
June 28, 2016: In Egypt (Sinai) the air force carried attacks on five ISIL camps or bases. When ground forces arrived they determined that at least 30 Islamic terrorists had been killed and even more wounded. The air strikes were carried out to prevent planned ISIL attacks from taking place. No word on civilian casualties.
June 27, 2016: Israel has agreed to lease Germany five Heron TP UAVs. What is interesting about this deal is that it includes allowing the Germans to operate their Heron TPs from Israeli bases. Germany used Heron UAVs in Afghanistan and trained their operators in Israel until 2011. Several other NATO countries, plus India, have bought or leased Heron UAVs.