Israel: Chaos in Gaza and the West Bank


September 19, 2023: Saudi Arabia, the EU (European Union) and the World Bank are all urging Israel to accept a peace deal with the Palestinians that includes an independent Palestinian state. None of these proposals address the Palestinian demands that Israel must be destroyed before there can be peace. Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza are the two Palestinian governments and disagree on many issues but both agree that Israel must be destroyed and Jews expelled from the region before there can be peace. In the meantime, Hamas and Fatah both encourage violence against Israelis and a growing number of Palestinians comply. Outsiders like the Saudis, EU and World Bank dismiss or trivialize the realities that Israel faces from Palestinian violence. They also assume that Hamas and Fatah can prevent their radical factions from violently disrupting any outside peace efforts. Some foreign donor nations, especially Moslem nations, are aware of the reality of the situation but keep silent. Contradicting the Saudis, EU and World Bank by pointing out the reality of the situation is ignored. What cannot be ignored by Israel is the growing Palestinian violence.

During the last six months there has been more violence in the West Bank that required Israel forces to deal with. At first it was armed Palestinian groups fighting each other for dominance while organizing attacks on Israelis or in Israel itself. This led to a degree of fighting in the West Bank not seen since 2021 may be the start of a new Palestinian offensive or “intifada”. This would be the third one. The first lasted from 1987 to 1993 while the second one was from 2000 to 2005.

Israel defeated the 2000 “Intifada” terror campaign by 2005. But as long as Palestinians had free access to Israel, Palestinian government (Fatah) urged and encouraged Palestinians to attempt attacks inside Israel. The Israelis responded with tighter border controls which kept the terrorist threat low in Israel. Fatah insisted they had a right to keep trying to kill Israelis and, for over a decade, Arab and Western nations kept providing aid to the West Bank and Gaza despite the fact that more and more of it was used to support and encourage more terrorism against Israel. Some Palestinian leaders tried to describe the violence as an effort to defend Islam. The Palestinians were not very religious and their violence against Israelis was justified by their belief that Israel must be destroyed and Israelis driven from the region.

There were other problems, mainly involving corruption. This has led more donor states, Moslem and non-Moslem, to openly complain of Fatah misuse of aid money. Fatah denied it and continued their corrupt ways. The donors cut their aid, often to nothing. It was not just the Fatah support of terrorism but the growing Fatah corruption which meant a lot of the aid was stolen to enrich Fatah leaders. Palestinians also opposed the Fatah policy and Fatah was forced to tolerate more and more Palestinians renouncing terror to pass the background check and work in Israel. West Bank Palestinian jobs in Israel have become a crucial part of the West Bank economy even more so than they were back in 2000.

The post-2000 ban on Palestinian workers was unpopular with many Israeli employers, but the threat was so great that Israeli employers had to pay more to import and hire non-Moslem foreigners for as long as there was a threat that Palestinian workers were likely to try and kill Israelis. Both Israel and the former or potential Palestinian workers knew that a growing number of those Palestinian workers could be trusted to work in Israel. Those who violated that trust faced prison or worse if they played any part in an attack. Anyone associated with these untrustworthy Palestinians had a more difficult time getting permits to work in Israel. The growth in the number of trustworthy Palestinian workers was something neither Israel nor Fatah wanted to publicize lest the Islamic radicals declare war on Palestinians working or seeking to work in Israel. This might trigger a civil war in the West Bank, something Fatah did not want but the radicals were less opposed to. There are Palestinian factions that believe chaos in the West Bank would spread to Israel and weaken Israeli power. This is a minority belief that ignores the Israeli ability to organize effective responses to Palestinian violence. Life inside Israel is peaceful, most Palestinians wish they had a similar situation, and they would be correct if not for the endless supply of radical factions insisting violence is the solution.

For example, Hamas does not care about any form of collateral damage from forcing Palestinians working in Israel to cooperate with terrorists. Most Palestinians recognize that Hamas is hard-core about attacking Israel, which is why Hamas has had a hard time gaining political traction in the West Bank. Palestinians know that Hamas policies produce more poverty and casualties for Palestinians. The only thing that got Hamas control of Gaza during the last Palestinian elections in 2007 was the belief that Hamas would be less corrupt than Fatah. That was true in 2007 but became less so ever since. Hamas forbids working in Israel and punishes anyone who protests about Hamas corruption.

West Bank violence between Palestinians and Israelis living in the many Jewish settlements has been on the increase for over a decade. The upsurge in violence is the result of the Palestinian leadership calling for another intifada (uprising) in 2013. This was a side-effect of the rebellion in Syria and the “Arab Spring” in general. While some Palestinian leaders call for another uprising (intifada), most Palestinians, especially the older ones (over 30), fear the economic consequences of that and warn the pro-intifada radicals that there is not a lot of popular support for another round of violence. Israel has shown they know how to handle this at little cost to themselves and great cost to the Palestinians.

All this is complicated by persistent American efforts to achieve a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian peace talks never made much progress. The talks were held at the insistence of the U.S., which threatened to cut aid if the talks did not happen. American leaders are aware of Palestinian attitudes on peace with Israel but the U.S. still assumes that a peace deal is possible if you keep trying. That’s one definition of insanity, continuing to make the same policies work and failing. For years Palestinian leaders have agreed with “give peace talks a chance” approach 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. Despite all this, for over a decade many Palestinians have been talking about a “Third Intifada” as if more civil disorder will change anything. Peace is not on the agenda. Most Israelis and Americans agree. Even without a new intifada, casual violence in the West Bank kept 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 recent West Bank violence was the result of Israeli security forces shutting down a major Palestinian effort to recruit, train and arm hundreds of Palestinians to carry out attacks against Israelis living in the West Bank as well as in Jerusalem and Israel in general. The Palestinian terrorism operation was real as Israeli troops encountered armed resistance as they approached locations where weapons and munitions were stored, and newly recruited Palestinians were trained and armed. These operations were shut down, but only after fighting between Israeli troops and armed Palestinians. Once the fighting is over the weapons and munitions are disposed of and the Israeli troops withdraw, taking Palestinian suspects with them. Israeli troops are wounded and at least one has been killed in these operations. This sort of thing had not been seen in the West Bank since 2002. Until recently Palestinian security forces kept the peace in the West Bank. The current growth of terrorist activity in the West Bank can be attributed to Gaza-based and Iran-supported terror group Hamas. There have been increasing Hamas efforts to establish operations in the West Bank. Most West Bank Palestinians want no part of this because similar activity in Gaza has brought nothing but poverty and trouble to the Palestinians living there.

The disruptive impact of small groups of radicals is a long tradition in the Middle East, especially after Islam was introduced over a thousand years ago. Islam is the only major religion whose scripture mandates continuous violence against infidels (non-believers). The Islamic scriptures make it clear that the mere existence of infidels is a threat to Islam and these infidels must be attacked, no matter what the cost. Most Moslems ignore this aspect of their religion, at the risk of being declared a heretic if conservative Moslems near them decide to get violent and go jihad (war on) against any Infidels within reach. Many Moslems, including Gulf oil state Arab governments are openly seeking a way to reform Islam and eliminate this flaw which has been crippling Islam and killing Moslems for over a thousand years. This is a serious effort and one reason for making peace with Israel. The Islamic militants in Gaza and the West Bank oppose efforts to give peace a chance.

September 16, 2023: There 15.7 million Jews worldwide, with 7.2 million in Israel. This is nearly half the worldwide population. Most, j.2 million, of the 8.5 million Jews outside of Israel are in the United States. In the Middle East Israel has established peaceful relationships with a growing number of Moslem nations. Israel has long possessed the most dynamic and prosperous economy in the region. Israel also maintains the most powerful military in the region. Israel is the only nation in the region with nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them via ballistic missiles or submarine launched cruise missiles. Most Arab states see Israel as a useful ally against the growing Iranian threat. The primary exception to this trend is the Palestinians, who believe that peace with Israel is no longer an option and that Israel had to be destroyed. But, to keep the foreign aid coming, mostly from the West, non-Arab media are told that peace negotiations with Israel will continue. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators go through the motions of agreeing to seek a peace treaty. It is official, and well publicized, Palestinian policy to use such negotiations to weaken and ultimately destroy Israel, not to achieve any real peace. The U.S. insists that talks take place periodically anyway and threatens to withhold substantial foreign aid from both Israel and Palestinians if negotiations do not happen every few years. In 2017 the U.S. said they were out of patience and told the Palestinians they either make a peace deal or see most of their foreign aid disappear. The aid had already been shrinking. That plus the Americans moved their Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Only four other nations have their embassies in Jerusalem while, while most nations will not defy Arab opposition to foreign embassies to Israel moving to Jerusalem and keep them in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital since the 1960s. In 1980 Israel passed a law that confirmed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as the capital of their non-existent state. Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and was founded over 4,000 years ago by the common ancestors of Arabs and Jews. Palestinians ignore that common origin and insist Jews are alien invaders. Foreign empires, mainly Persian (Iranian) or Egyptian (Arab), tried to deport the Jews from Israel to what is now Iraq or Egypt. Most of these exiles maintained their Jewish identity and returned to Jerusalem and Israel.

Palestinians deny this history of Jews in the area and were by decades of support from other Arab countries. While the Arabs have never been able to defeat Israel militarily they have achieved more success spending billions to turn Western public opinion against Jews in general and Israel in particular. Recent opinion surveys indicate that Palestinian propaganda has convinced hundreds of millions people worldwide that Israelis are the new Nazis because they refuse to give in to the demands of the Palestinians for a separate Palestinian state in the region. What Palestinian leaders and Palestinian media tell Palestinians is that Israel must be destroyed. Palestinians are more moderate in non-Arabic media where they settle for coexistence. Most foreigners ignore the Palestinian “Israel must be destroyed” attitude and turn to their traditional anti-Semitism. This is a problem because that anti-Semitism is violently practiced by the rapidly growing Moslem population in Europe against a rapidly shrinking Jewish population. But back in the Middle East the attitude shifts have gone against the Palestinians.

As a result of all this more and more Israelis are calling for everyone to agree that efforts to implement a two-state solution did not work. This disappoints many because in the early 1990s there was a lot more optimism. Back then the humiliation suffered by Yasser Arafat and his PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) at the hands of Israelis in Lebanon during Operation "Peace for Galilee" in 1982 effectively ejected Arafat's armed group from the country and went a long way towards paving the way for negotiations and the Oslo Accords in 1993. This ended the PLO's armed campaign and began years of futile peace talks. Instead of a separate Palestinian state many Israelis wanted Jordan to take back the West Bank and Egypt to take back Gaza. Neither Jordan nor Egypt wanted the Palestinians, who have, since 1993, demonstrated an inability to govern themselves and alienated a growing number of their Arab supporters.

The Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel have backfired in a big way and now the two organizations that control the Palestinians (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) are losing the financial and diplomatic support they have enjoyed for over half a century. The cause of this calamity is the inability of the Palestinians to form a united and effective government. Instead, they have suffered under decades of corrupt and ineffective leaders that led, in 2005, to a split with Islamic radicals (Hamas) taking control of Gaza while Fatah continued to rule the West Bank. Both factions agree on a few things; Israel must be destroyed and violence is justified to get it done. Fatah was more willing to pretend it would negotiate a peace deal with Israel but has proved to be as intransigent as Hamas about actually doing so. Fatah now openly admits it shares the Hamas attitude that peace is not possible with Israel and the only solution is the destruction of Israel. Despite many opportunities to negotiate a peaceful solution, the radical Arab factions intervene. The Palestinian policy seems to be; never miss and opportunity to miss an opportunity. All societies have a radical faction that demands unworkable solutions. The radicals must be controlled before solutions can be achieved. Israel has radicals that want to expel Arabs in Israel and annex most of the West Bank. Israel ignores their radicals while Palestinians submit to the demands of their radicals.

The Palestinian problem was invented by Arab countries when Israel declared independence in 1948. Arab nations refused to accept that and absorb the many Moslems who fled from the newly created Israel on the promise of the Arab nations soon mobilizing sufficient military strength to destroy Israel, drive the Jews out and allow the refugees to return home. That never happened and it was quickly recognized that there was a serious refugee problem. The UN established a program to take care of these refugees but in a very unusual move the 750,000 original and later called Palestinian. refugees were allowed to pass on their refugee status to their children. No other refugee group was allowed to do that by the UN and now there are calls from major donor nations, especially the U.S., which has paid for most of that special treatment from the beginning, to rescind that rule. About the same number of Jews were driven out of Moslem countries after 1948 and they were all accepted and absorbed by other nations, mainly Israel and the U.S. Since 1947 the number of “Palestinian refugees” has grown to five million and Arab states continue to refuse to absorb them. Many Palestinians have managed to find acceptance and citizenship in other nations, especially those that are not Moslem majority ones. Despite that, few Palestinians have renounced their right to be hereditary refugees. This situation was all about Arabs believing they had the right to decide who can live in “Moslem territories” and for them Israel was a major offense. This is nothing new. Moslems had been driving infidels out of Islamic nations for a long time. This has not worked with Israel and the Moslem world in general takes this as a great offense. That was the attitude for many decades but nothing changed. In the 1960s those Arab refugees rebranded themselves as “Palestinians” and began seeking what their Arab sponsors had promised them, a home of their own.

Since 2005 the Arab donors have become increasingly disenchanted with the Palestinians. Even by Middle Eastern standards the corruption, ineffective government, ingratitude and double dealing of the Palestinians had become intolerable. The Palestinians ignored years of warnings from their Arab backers after they failed to maintain a united Palestinian government. This wasted a lot of the Arab aid money and the corruption among Palestinian politicians became too obvious, excessive and embarrassing even for Arab backers, who had their own problems with corruption. This was compounded by the Palestinian inability to make peace with the Israelis, who had made lasting deals with Jordan and Egypt and unofficial ones with a growing number of other Arab states. Worse, the Palestinians were saying to their own people, and the Arab world, that they had no intention of making peace and were dedicated to destroying Israel. This was only said in Arabic and it was only a matter of time before these print, radio and TV pronouncements were translated and became known to the rest of the world. During the last decade it has become common knowledge in non-Moslem states. The result is that now the Palestinians have few friends in the West except for anti-Semites and some leftist groups. Worse, there is less foreign aid, which is all that kept the Palestinian scams going. At this point the Palestinians have run out of affluent donors who are willing to give. The Palestinian leaders who ran this scam for decades have no easy or safe, for themselves, way to change tactics without admitting responsibility for the mess. It used to be said that the Palestinian situation could not get worse but Palestinian leaders regularly defied that prediction and found a way to make things worse in ways no one expected.

September 13, 2023: In Gaza six Palestinians were killed while trying to place a bomb next to the Gaza side of the border fence. The explosion wounded 25 Gaza civilians. Apparently the bomb detonated prematurely. Gazans have been once more holding demonstrations along the fence, this time to mark the 19th year since Israel withdrew all its troops from Gaza. Radical group Hamas soon took control of Gaza and called for actions to attack and destroy Israel. The fence then went up and was guarded by Israeli forces.

In Syria, Israeli air strikes hit air defense systems in the north (Tartus) that killed two Syrian soldiers. Later in the day another attack hit military targets in the north (Hama.)

September 12, 2023: An August 7 Israeli air strike near Damascus apparently killed a Syrian army officer who was working on a project that would enable Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch another missile attack into Israel using some new Iranian technology. Israel is generally successful in detecting and launching airstrikes on Iranian weapons shipments into Syria or moving through Syria to Lebanon. Iranian technology transfers to Syria or Hezbollah are more difficult to detect, which is why Israel launches air strikes in Syria against any sight where new Iranian tech is being installed. Syria has several military bases where such work is carried out and Israel attacks these bases whenever they suspect something is going on.

September 11, 2023: In the West Bank several Israeli raids to arrest terrorism suspects ran into resistance, the arrests were made but there was some armed resistance and two locals were killed and several wounded.

September 9, 2023: In the West Bank a Palestinian threw a fire bomb at some Israel soldiers, who fired back and killed the attacker. None of the soldiers were hurt.

September 5, 2023: In the West Bank, an Israeli raid to arrest Palestinians suspected to terrorist activity ran into some armed opposition and one Palestinian was killed while 17 were arrested.

September 1, 2023: In Lebanon (Beirut) Iranian officials met with Lebanese and Hezbollah leaders about supplying these groups with more weapons and UAVs to be used against Israel as well as opponents in Lebanon and Syria. Israel regularly locates and uses air strikes to attack Iranian weapons moved into Syria and Lebanon. Iran also wants to arm Palestinian militias in the West Bank so they can take on Israeli forces.

August 31, 2023: In the West Bank, an Israeli raid to seize weapons and locally made bombs ran into some resistance. One Palestinian opened fire and was killed. At least seven Palestinians were arrested and numerous weapons and munitions seized.

August 30, 2023: In the West Bank, a Palestinian driver ran his car into some Israeli soldiers. The Israelis fired on the car, wounding the driver before arresting him. One Israeli soldier was killed.

August 28, 2023: In northern Syria (Aleppo) an Israeli airstrike damaged airport facilities and halted flight activities for at least two days as repairs were made. Attacks on commercial airports are seen as a way to halt or slow down Iranian use of commercial air transports to deliver high-tech weapons to Syria. These airstrikes are delivered by Israeli warplanes operating off the coast and firing high-speed air-to-ground missiles at the airports.

August 20, 2023: Israel, South Korea and the United States were all actively seeking a suitable replacement for the thousands of M113 APCs (armored personnel carriers) each used. All three nations still use lots of M113s. About 10,000 M113s are still in use worldwide and the U.S., South Korea and Israel account for more than half of them. Everyone wanted a more effective but still affordable replacement. The U.S. settled on a support version of the M2 IFV. South Korea developed the K21 to replace the M113 in combat and the 16-ton 6x6 K806 to replace the M113 for non-IFV functions. A larger version of this vehicle, the 8x8 K808 is similar to the American Stryker. The U.S. considered a Stryker variant as a M-113 replacement but found that this vehicle could not keep up with M1 tanks and M2 IFV while traveling cross-country in a combat situation. Since AMPVs will comprise about 30 percent of the armored vehicles in an armored brigade that became the deciding factor for the AMPV.

In 2016 Israel selected the Eitan, an 8x8 wheeled APC. Eitan relies on new technologies to keep its weight under 35 tons and eliminate the cost to build and maintain tracked vehicle technology. Eitan also provides an affordable, well protected and more reliable APC than heavier and more expensive proposals. The Eitan used new types of lightweight armor and the Trophy APS (Active Protection System) for defense against RPGs (an unguided rocket propelled grenade fired from a metal tube balanced on the shoulder) and ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missile). New mechanical and electronic technologies enable the Eitan to handle off-road movement as well as a tracked vehicle. That concept had to be field tested extensively, which is why Israel first built Eitan prototypes to test mobility, protection and general usefulness. Eitan passed those tests. The new lightweight armor designs and Trophy have already been tested in combat. Trophy was first used in combat during 2011 and several times since. It has worked consistently. APS consists of a radar to detect incoming missiles and small rockets to rush out and deal with the incoming threat. A complete system weighs about a ton. Eitan will have a remotely (from inside the vehicle) controlled 30mm or 40mm autocannon and carry a crew of two and twelve passengers. The Eitan will mainly replace Israeli M113s by the end of the 2020s and cost about 20 percent less than the AMPV.




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