July 2, 2013:
Syrian rebels operating near the Israeli border, including the Islamic terrorist outfits, announced that they had no intention of launching attacks into Israel and were only interested in destroying Syrian government forces in the area. Syrian rebels have informally said this for months, but the media has been playing up the possibility that the rebels might attack Israel. This seemed suicidal but it did stir things up in Israel, which has been providing medical aid to some of the Syrians wounded along the border. Israelis have established some informal communications with the rebels on the border and discussions between these rebels and Israelis led to the official announcement.
Hamas has rejected peace talks with Israel as pointless. Hamas wants Israel destroyed and will only meet with the Israelis to discuss ceasefires. As far as Hamas is concerned, Palestinians are at war with Israel and the fighting will only stop when Israel is destroyed. Western nations, especially the United States, believe some kind of peace deal is possible. So do some Palestinians, but this is despite decades of official Palestinian propaganda backing the “destroy Israel” goal and describing peace talks as a tactic in the battle to annihilate Israel and not a means to a peace deal. Israel believes that their best hope for peace with the Palestinians is the growing pressure on Palestinians by the Arab states (particularly the wealthy ones in the Gulf) to make peace. Israel has become a more public ally of these Arab nations in their battle with Iran and Israel hopes that sort of thing eventually leads to more Arab countries (besides Jordan and Egypt) establishing diplomatic relations. Israel already has informal diplomatic relations with several Arab states and the trend, slow as it is, has been towards more Arab states openly establishing formal links with Israel.
Most Israelis have come to accept this Palestinian attitude and no longer support a permanent peace deal. Most Israelis agree with going through the motions, if only to please the United States and other Western nations, but few believe such talks will produce anything. A growing number of Arabs have also given up on a Palestinian peace deal and are pressuring the Palestinians to at least give up the pro-terrorist attitudes and make a long-term truce with Israel, so that the Palestinian economy can be revived. The Palestinian terrorist groups, especially Hamas (which controls Gaza and 40 percent of the Palestinian population) will not quit trying to kill Israelis any way they can. Some Arab countries have threatened to cut financial support for Palestinians (especially Hamas) if the Palestinians don’t halt their hopeless war against Israel. Some Palestinians are listening to this, most are not.
Hamas, like all other Islamic radical groups that gain control of a government, are making themselves increasingly unpopular as they continue to enact laws that restrict the lifestyle of the Palestinians they rule. Hamas has recently sought to restrict the mixing of men and women and even children over age nine. These rules apply to Christian Palestinians as well as Moslems. The kids do not like this and especially hate the growing list of dress restrictions. Hamas has other problems besides angry teenagers. Islamic terrorist group Islamic Jihad (an Iran backed terror group that is a Hamas rival) is threatening armed rebellion against Hamas. Many in Hamas see this as the work of Iran, which is angry at Hamas for openly supporting the Syrian rebels. That has cost Hamas over a million dollars a month in Iranian cash and caused a lot of dissent within Hamas. A few dozen, or more, Hamas men have gone to Syria to fight against the rebels.
Israel believes Hezbollah is in big trouble as Lebanese opponents of Hezbollah increasingly use deadly force to express their opposition to the Iranian-backed Shia militia. That hostility in Lebanon has been building for decades, and now that Hezbollah is openly involved fighting in Syria, the many enemies the Shia militia has made in Lebanon and outside the country (Israel and many Arab countries that are actively opposed to Iran-sponsored terrorism) are informally uniting in an effort to bring Hezbollah down. The Israelis play on Hezbollah fears that Israeli troops will be sent into southern Lebanon to destroy over 20,000 rockets stored in bunkers and the basements of homes and businesses within a few kilometers of the Israeli border. The Israelis know where a lot of these rockets are and where the rest probably are. An air campaign would kill a lot of civilians (forced by Hezbollah to store the rockets in their homes) so Israeli generals want to send troops in to remove and destroy the rockets without destroying the homes and businesses. A lot of Lebanese would welcome that but cannot admit it publicly because the official line in Lebanon is “Israel must be destroyed.” The Gulf Arab states that support the Syrian rebels have warned Hezbollah that if they do not withdraw their gunmen from Syria, Hezbollah will be added to the Arab list of terrorist organizations and Hezbollah will no longer be able to operate openly in most of the Arab world. This would hurt Hezbollah big time. Hezbollah needs the Iranian support to survive and is now in a position where it will take some major losses no matter what it does. So will Iran, which has long considered Hezbollah ones of its major achievements.
The Israeli government announced that from now on Jewish settlers in the West Bank making "price tag" attacks will be treated like terrorists. This gives the police more power to investigate and prosecute these crimes. These price tag attacks are usually in retaliation of the Israeli government dismantling illegal structures in the West Bank or local Palestinians attacking the settlements or settlers. Price tag attacks represent a shift in settler attitudes over the last few years. For decades the settlers could be depended on to be passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly launching "price tag" counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis, or for Israeli police interfering with settler activities. This is vigilante justice and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not accustomed to this kind of swift payback and they do not like it. Israel has been under growing public and international pressure to crack down more vigorously on the vigilantes. This became especially urgent because the attacks are much more common and are even extending to feuds between factions of Jewish religious extremists. The Palestinians are still committing most of the terror attacks, but the Jewish terrorists are catching up.
Egypt, in response to the growing internal unrest (between the Islamic Brotherhood dominated government and reformers and corrupt elements from the former Mubarak government) has continued its crackdown on smuggling tunnels into Gaza. Since March police have been searching for and destroying these smuggling tunnels. This is to make it more difficult for Islamic terrorists (opposed to the Egyptian government) to operate out of Gaza. The tunnels have been there for a long time, if only as a means to move goods and people that might have problems (arrest warrants or high tariffs) at the regular crossings.
In Kuwait two legislators openly defended Kuwait’s purchase of military equipment from Israel. The two men invoked the Prophet Mohammed’s similar dealings with the Jews and the need for Kuwait to buy the best military gear it could to defend against its enemies (who these days are mainly Iraq and Iran). There have been growing diplomatic and economic ties between Israel and several Persian Gulf Arab countries over the last decade. Many in the Gulf States want to trade with Israel and are fed up with the Palestinian self-destructiveness and inability to make peace with Israel.
July 1, 2013: The army demanded that the Moslem Brotherhood dominated government resign and allow a new one, not dominated by the Moslem Brotherhood, to be formed. President Morsi was told he had to agree to this within 48 hours or the army would move in and force him to comply. This was greeted with cheers by the many demonstrators still on the streets. Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood are held responsible for the economic depression since the Arab Spring began two years ago and for generally ignoring the needs of the people. In practice, Morsi attempts to improve the economy were most often stymied by the wealthy (and largely pro-Mubarak) families that do not favor a real democracy, but rather an oligarchy (government controlled by the wealthiest families). Morsi told the army he would not comply with their demand.
For the first time in many years, Egypt has sent tanks to patrol the Gaza border. At least a battalion (30) of tanks are now operating in Sinai, mainly near Gaza.
June 30, 2013: In Egypt millions of people continued to demonstrate against the Moslem Brotherhood and what is seen as this Islamic radical group’s attempt to turn Egypt into a religious dictatorship. The headquarters of the Moslem Brotherhood was ransacked by anti-government demonstrators and nationwide there were nearly a thousand casualties over the last few days with at least sixteen dead.
June 29, 2013: Israel and the U.S. warned its citizens to not visit Egypt in the next few days because of the growing number of demonstrations there. Supporters of Islamic radical groups are clashing with pro-democracy groups and it is feared that some of the Islamic radicals may seek out and attack non-Moslems, especially foreigners. Americans and Israelis already in Egypt have been warned to stay away from demonstrations and travel as little as possible. Egypt is suffering from political gridlock and economic collapse as Islamic radicals, democrats, and supporters of the deposed Mubarak dictatorship (and that kind of government) fail to agree on a new government. The Mubarak supporters still occupy many senior positions in the courts and the military and elsewhere in the bureaucracy. The Mubarak supporters control most of the economy as well. Some Islamic radical groups are in armed opposition to the government, especially in the Sinai Peninsula, where they are sheltered by rebellious Bedouin tribesmen. The number of police and soldiers in Gaza keeps increasing, as does the resistance to government authority. Today, for example, a police general was assassinated by a group of gunmen, believed to be Islamic terrorists.
June 28, 2013: In Egypt (Port Said) a homemade bomb killed one demonstrator and wounded fifteen others. In Alexandria at least three people died in clashes between democrats and Islamic radicals.
Israel announced that it is making preparations to deploy a sixth Iron Dome anti-rocket battery, with two more coming within the next eight months. The first battery of the new Magic Wand (David’s Sling) anti-aircraft/missile system, with a range of 160 kilometers, will enter service early next year.
June 27, 2013: Russia has withdrawn its military and civilian personnel from the Syrian port of Tartus and turned their naval support facilities there (a few buildings and a pier for Russian warships to tie up next to) to Syrian caretakers. While Russia makes much of its newly established Mediterranean naval task force, these ships will not be using Tartus for supplies or maintenance anymore.
June 24, 2013: Israeli warplanes hit several terrorist targets in Gaza, in retaliation for recent rocket attacks on Israel.
June 23, 2013: Six rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza. One of them landed inside Gaza, and two of them were intercepted by Iron Dome missiles because the fire control computer calculated that these would land in an inhabited area.
June 22, 2013: In Gaza Hamas executed two men (by hanging) it had accused of spying for Israel. Last April Hamas ended a month-long amnesty in which Palestinians who had, or were, working for Israeli intelligence could reveal themselves and be forgiven. Israel has long maintained a large, and pretty effective, informer network inside Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas has condemned five men to death so far this year after charging them with spying.
June 21, 2013: In Gaza the Islamic Jihad official (Raed Jundiya) in charge of rocket attacks was killed by Hamas police who tried to arrest him. Hamas is trying to force Islamic Jihad to stop firing rockets at Israel, which is a violation of the cease fire Hamas negotiated with Israel. Islamic Jihad demanded that the men who killed Jundiya be punished and Hamas refused. This led to a three day armed standoff between Islamic Jihad and Hamas. The Islamic Jihad did the math (or were ordered by their Iranian patrons) and concluded that a war with Hamas would be futile and only benefit Israel. Islamic Jihad has several thousand armed followers in Gaza and cannot just be rounded up and put out of business. Islamic Jihad still refuses to halt its rocket attacks, and Hamas may continue going after Islamic Jihad leaders to maintain the pressure.
June 19, 2013: A mortar shell landed in Israel (Gaza) and apparently came from Syria. There is still fighting on the Syrian side of the border but not a lot. Israel has been holding more training exercises on its Syrian and Lebanese borders, to remind Hezbollah and the armed groups in Syria who they might be messing with if they fire across the border.