September 14, 2016:
The United States and Israel signed a new military aid agreement. American military assistance will increase 23 percent to $3.8 billion year and will extend the current arrangements ten years (to 2028). Israel provides the United States with access to new military technology as well as intelligence on what is going on in the region. For decades Israel has had the best intelligence network in the region and is one the leading developers of new military technology and Internet security software and hardware. Israel also provides access to Israeli bases and operational techniques. Most of the money the U.S. provides must be spent on American made goods and services, which is one reason why most Israeli military imports are from the United States. A lot of what Israel provides is classified, which is why the military assistance keeps coming despite a lot of American politicians voting for it despite being regarded as anti-Israel. American legislators get classified (secret) briefings on details of what Israel provides.
The UN is pressuring Egypt to cooperate in efforts to bring peace to Libya. Egypt is important here because for since 2014 Egypt has been openly (but not officially) supporting Khalifa Belgacem Hiftar, a former Libyan general who was responsible for bringing peace to eastern Libya and defeating Islamic terrorist groups in the area. But Hiftar is feuding with the new, UN backed, Libyan government (the GNA). Since March Hiftar has been abandoned by his supporters in the West. Hiftar is the most powerful man in eastern Libya because he rebuilt and still commands what is left of the pre-2011 Libyan Armed Forces. Hiftar has refused to recognize the GNA in large part because of mutual distrust. Many Libyans fear Hiftar could turn into another military dictator, like the late Kaddafii. Libyans note that next door in Egypt another general recently got elected president and is trying to make his rule permanent. Hiftar is aware of all that and despite his longtime support for democracy in Libya he cannot escape the fact that he is a military man and a very effective one. But since early 2016 Hiftar has come under local and international pressure to support the GNA. He may do that, especially since Benghazi has finally been cleared of Islamic terrorists, something Hiftar can take a lot of credit for. Hiftar still has allies among powerful Arab nations, like Egypt and several Gulf oil states. But these allies were feeling the pressure as well and in late July Hiftar was told by Egyptian and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) backers that continued support from them (and France) was contingent on his destroying the remaining Islamic terrorist groups in Benghazi by the end of August. Hiftar got that done and still refuses to settle with the GNA. In part this is because former Hiftar associates have gone public about secret deals Hiftar made with Egypt to finance his military operations in eastern Libya and assure Egyptian cooperation. By Libyan standards these deals were not particularly corrupt but they were illegal and unpopular with most Libyans (who see Egypt as a traditional enemy). In this case Egypt was looking for someone in Libya to help them with border security and keeping Libya based Islamic terrorists out of Egypt. With ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) defeated in Sirte and no widespread opposition to the GNA, Hiftar was expected to make a deal. But this is Libya, and what Hiftar has done instead is make deals with corrupt oil field officials in eastern Libya and seized control of more oil facilities. Now he wants to make a deal with the UN, GNA and Egypt on the basis of his stranglehold on Libyan oil production. This is very embarrassing for Egypt because the current Egyptian government has been under pressure to secure the Libyan border and fight corruption inside Egypt. Here is evidence that the Egyptian government achieved the former by ignoring the latter.
Meanwhile that corruption is a major contributor to the worsening Egyptian economic problems. In August inflation hit a record 13 percent and unemployment is getting worse as well. The government budget is being propped up by loans and gifts from Gulf oil states who need Egypt as a reliable ally in their struggle with Iran. The only good news (sort of) is that the Islamic terrorists are not making any gains and ISIL efforts to gain a foothold in Egypt appear to have failed. But there are still plenty of local Islamic terror groups who continue carrying out violent and very public attacks. Not the spectacular ones that really hurt the economy but the lesser attacks that remind Egyptians that there are still lots of unresolved problems.
September 13, 2016: In the north (Golan Heights), three mortar shells fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side of the border. That makes five shells in the last four days and six such incidents in the last month. Israel fired back (with artillery or air strikes) at nearby Syrian army artillery or mortar positions in response to all those attacks. The Syrian Army and their Iranian allies (mainly Shia mercenaries recruited by Iran and controlled by Iranian trainers and advisors) control most of the Syria-Israel border but there is still fighting along the border with several rebel groups. 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. Except for these incidents situation continues to be quiet on the Israeli front. Israel expects this to change because Iran openly boasts (on Iranian media and to its Shia mercenaries in Syria and Lebanon) that Iran is winning in Syria and once the Syrian rebellion is crushed Israel will be the next target.
Israel announced it had launched another recon satellite (Ofek 11). This was described as an upgraded Okek 10, which went up in April 2014. The first Ofek went up in 1988 and the last two are upgrades of the Ofek 9 entered service in 2010. The Ofek 9 weighed about 300 kg (660 pounds) and used a new generation of sensors that were able to see objects as small as 55 cm (twenty inches). Ofek 10 was a little heavier with new electronics providing better resolution and Ofek 11 was more of the same. All three are mainly for keeping tabs on Iran and what Iran is doing in Syria and Lebanon. The Ofek satellites are put into orbit using Israeli designed and built rockets.
September 12, 2016: In the north (Golan Heights), a mortar shell fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side of the border.
In the south, on the Gaza border the military began construction of a new security system along portions of the 51 kilometer long Gaza border. This security system is different as it is mainly for detecting tunnels Hamas has been building into Israel for nearly a decade. Costing over half a billion dollars the new barrier won’t be complete until 2020 or later. This is the most expensive such border security project the Israelis have ever undertaken. The uncharacteristic (for the Israeli military) publicity for the actual start of construction is because of the public outcry that led to the project has been getting louder. What justifies this expense is that the effectiveness of the new tech has been confirmed by tests against new Hamas tunnels. Also very helpful was the capture and interrogation of several Gaza men with experience in the tunnels. One of those captured had spent a lot of time recently participating in the construction of the tunnels and supplied lots of details, which were confirmed with what was found in new newly discovered tunnels. Since 2014 it has been no secret (to Israelis, the Gaza population and the foreign aid donors) that Hamas was spending a lot of money and effort on rebuilding “combat tunnels” destroyed by Israel during the mid-2014 “50 Day War”. Israelis living near the Gaza border have been complaining since late 2014 that they can sometimes hear (or feel) Hamas tunnel building efforts. By early 2015 the Israeli military was making plans to erect a detection system to locate new tunnels so they could be destroyed. The detection system was continually delayed, officially because of defense spending cuts, but the real reason was the new tech needed was not ready yet and not enough was known about how the new tunnels were being built. All that has apparently changed. But one thing that has not changed is the ability of the tunnel builders to modify their techniques to avoid detection. That does not always work either so the Israelis living near the Gaza border are waiting for some proof the new barrier works.
September 11, 2016: In the south (near Gaza) a recently arrested Palestinian fisherman admitted that he and several other Palestinians in Gaza had been using fishing boats to smuggle in explosives and other bomb making components since 2012. It was a lucrative business and worth the risk of arrest and damage or destruction of their boats when caught operating outside the agreed upon fishing areas. The Israelis knew this smuggling was still going on but had been unable to catch enough smugglers in the act to stop it. Hamas has been offering more cash for successful smuggling efforts since the mid-2014 50 Day War and the subsequent destruction of most of the smuggling tunnels into Egypt. This explains why in 2015 alone the Israeli coast guard arrested 71 Palestinian fishermen and confiscated 22 fishing boats off Gaza. The much higher incidence of fishing boats operating outside permissible fishing areas led to several incidents a week of Israeli coast guard boats firing on Palestinian fishing boats to force them to stop. During 2015 these incidents let to 24 Palestinians being wounded and 16 fishing boats damaged. Most of these incidents occurred at night and it was believed that smugglers were tossing contraband overboard when detected.
September 10, 2016: In the north (Golan Heights), a mortar shell fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side of the border.
September 9, 2016: In the south (central Gaza) one of several Palestinians throwing rocks across the border at Israeli troops was shot in the head. The Palestinians blamed Israel but a review of the security videos showed no gunfire from the Israeli side.
September 8, 2016: In Egypt (Cairo) a policeman was shot dead by an Islamic terrorist belonging to a new Islamic terror group called Hassm. This group first appeared in July and has made three minor attacks since then, each time taking pictures and posting them on the Internet. Hassm is one of several Islamic terror groups that have formed since 2013 in urban areas as Moslem Brotherhood members abandon efforts to establish an Islamic dictatorship via elections and give terrorism a chance.
September 6, 2016: In Egypt (northern Sinai) a raid on three warehouses used by local smugglers turned into a major gun battle because many Islamic terrorists (partners with the smugglers) were there. The shooting was soon over because 16 of the Islamic terrorists were dead or wounded and the rest, along with the smugglers, were arrested. Apparently none of the police or soldiers were injured.
September 5, 2016: In Jerusalem two Palestinians attempted to use a car to kill several police. The police managed to shoot dead the driver and wound the passenger and the car attack failed.
In the south Islamic terrorists in Gaza fired at Israeli troops patrolling the border. This happened at night and the gunmen fled. There were no injuries but this was the second such incident in the last 48 hours. An Israeli tank later fired shells at two buildings in Gaza but near the border that were known to be used by Islamic terrorists. Later in the day Israeli police arrested six Hamas members in the West Bank and seized a quantity of explosives Hamas had stockpiled there for building bombs.
September 4, 2016: In Egypt (northern Sinai) Islamic terrorists attacked a checkpoint, killing a soldier before fleeing into the night. Some of these checkpoint attacks succeed and the Islamic terrorists make off with weapons and military equipment.
September 1, 2016: In Egypt (northern Sinai) Islamic terrorists used a roadside bomb and gunfire to kill three policemen and two civilians in three separate attacks. Some of these attacks were claimed by the local ISIL branch.