October 23, 2015:
Palestinian leaders are declaring their current campaign of “lone wolf” attacks on Israelis a success. Since this effort began in mid-September ten Israelis have been killed (and 120 wounded), usually by men wielding knives, and about fifty Palestinians have died (mostly in failed knife attacks). The success in generating popular enthusiasm for widespread violence against Israelis was gained generating support for false accusations of Israeli threats against the al Aqsa mosque (which is just above the Wailing Wall, a popular Jewish holy place and tourist attraction) in Jerusalem. The “al Aqsa is in danger” campaign began a year ago. Seeing an opportunity to grab more headlines , sympathy and, hopefully cash contributions from the Moslem world, the Palestinian leadership (Fatah) invested some effort and cash to get something going. This sort of thing has been tried before, actually it is attempted regularly but this time it caught on. The Palestinian propaganda explicitly called for individual (”lone wolf”) efforts by young men attacks led to an increasing number of attacks against Israelis. The success of the current campaign is largely a fluke. There were two successful lone wolf attacks in 2014 and Islamic terror groups have been increasingly calling for this sort of thing over the last few years because their organized efforts in the West and Israel have failed. Despite all that there have been no successful lone wolf campaigns. Fatah leaders may not know that these lone wolf campaigns don’t last long and come with some long-term costs. Then again, Fatah leadership have never been known for effective long-term planning.
This latest terror campaign against Israelis is fundamentally a side effect of the struggle between Hamas and Fatah for control over all Palestinians. These two groups keep score by how many Israelis they can kill as does mass media in Moslem nations. While there were fewer than ten terror related deaths a year in Israel in 2012 and 2013 (and only 21 in 2011) the war with Hamas raised this to 41 in 2014 and this made Fatah, which runs the West Bank, look bad in comparison. Thus the importance of the new campaign. The current effort will be a success if it can kill enough Israelis to justify Palestinians continuing to support Fatah rule in the West Bank. This is bad news for the Palestinians because both Hamas and Fatah are corrupt and incompetent administrators who are more concerned with their own power than with the welfare of the Palestinian people.
Palestinian leaders don’t even try to hide what they are doing as Palestinian media regularly runs stories encouraging Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to use whatever kind of violence they can to attack and kill or injure Israeli Jews. Palestinian leaders get on TV and tell teenagers that throwing rocks and fire bombs at Israelis, especially those in cars or busses, is a patriotic obligation and is justified resistance to Israeli repression. The Palestinian politicians further encourage the teenagers by pointing out that if Israel uses force against rock throwers and kills or injures any of them it is the Israelis who will be guilty of war crimes. Naturally this encourages a lot more Palestinian teenagers to throw rocks. There are rewards as those that manage to injure or kill Israelis are considered heroes in Palestinian media and throughout the Moslem world (and in some Western media as well). Palestinians also know that in addition to praise and lots of media attention any Palestinians who are jailed or injured while trying to hurt Israelis receive large payments from Fatah. For example payments to jailed Palestinians vary according to how many Israelis the prisoner killed or injured. Some of these convicts get over $70,000 a year. Palestinians who get killed see their families receiving payments. These economic and media attention incentives have always encouraged many Palestinian men (and some women) to join the violence.
In the face of these cynical tactics Israel has threatened to shut down Fatah and rule the West Bank directly. That does get some attention from Fatah. Normally the only thing the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) has to offer to avoid this (aside from halting its support of violence against Israelis) is written and unwritten agreements with Israel whereby Fatah helps Israel control Islamic terrorists in the West Bank and Israel helps keep Fatah in power. The current violence violates that understanding. But Fatah is desperate in large part because it is regarded by most Palestinians as corrupt and self-serving and those attitudes are increasingly expressed openly. Fatah does provide some jobs and public services. With Fatah the Israelis know they are basically dealing with gangsters. For the Palestinians their inability to create competent, honest and efficient leaders is a great shame and the main reason why so many Palestinians want to emigrate, or support terrorism (against Israel or, in support of Hamas, against Fatah). Many Palestinians understand, but will not say out loud, that even if the Palestinians somehow eliminated Israel and the entire area became Palestinian the Palestinian people would still suffer from corrupt and ineffective government.
Despite the success of the current Fatah terror campaign the Palestinian leaders acknowledge that most Palestinians want no part of it. Israeli police note this in that it is usually the same people involved in violent demonstrations and that the 30,000 armed Palestinian security personnel in the West Bank have stayed out of the violence. In past terrorism campaigns Palestinian leaders tolerated or encouraged their security personnel to get involved (while in civilian clothes). Not this time. That may change if there is more popular support for the attacks, but so far that is not happening. It is all mainly an effort to supply the media with an excuse to give the Palestinians some positive publicity (as victims of Israeli aggression). While the Palestinian leaders have a hard time controlling their own people they have managed to do better with a lot of foreign media organizations.
Meanwhile On The Northern Front
Despite previously negotiated “deconfliction” agreements with Russia over use of Syrian air space by Israeli and Russian aircraft proved incapable of dealing with the growing number of Iranian and Russian UAVs operating over Syria. When any of these get too close to the Israeli border. This has caused some tension with the Russians as UAVs were apparently not covered in the existing agreements. This is a problem because Russia is working with Iran, which has regularly vowed to destroy Israel and has no agreements with Israel at all. Russia does not want to get dragged into a fight with Israel because of Iranian misbehavior but the Iranians are apparently pressuring the Russians to help “defend” Iranian UAVs operating along the Israeli border. Despite this issue Israel has basically agreed to tolerate Russia (and their Iranian ally) defeating the Syrian rebels and keeping the Assads in power. Israel never liked the Assads but they were able to work with them. At the moment ISIL appears to be the likely winner of a civil war if there is no outside interference. Everyone agrees ISIL control of Syria is the worst outcome and behaves accordingly.
On the Sinai Front
In Egypt the September Sinai campaign against Islamic terrorists, which claimed to have killed over 500, appears to have succeeded. Terrorist violence has been way down since then. There have been some bombings, but even these were not as effective as past efforts. No large groups of Islamic terrorists making attacks and a number of roads once considered dangerous are now seen as safe. In early October the military launched a second campaign in Sinai which killed far fewer people but apparently captured a number of important Islamic terrorist bases and supply sites. One of these yielded a ton of explosives and a lot of Islamic terrorist recruiting literature.
While the Islamic terrorists in Sinai have become less of a threat, Egyptians are appalled at the fact that nearly 200 Egyptians died in a stampede during the annual Moslem pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Some 65,000 Egyptians went to Mecca this year thus about three out of a thousand died in the stampede accident. This was disproportionate because about two million people went on pilgrimage to Mecca this year and the stampede accident killed about one in a thousand.
The first parliamentary elections held since 2011 began in mid-October and only 26 percent of voters participated. This is in contrast to the 61 percent who turned out for the post-revolution 2011 elections. Most Egyptians are disappointed with the revolution (which got an Islamic government elected which then moved to establish a religious dictatorship). For the moment the population wants peace and prosperity, which the new government is at least working on. The Islamic radicals lost a lot of popular support because of how the first 2011 government acted.
October 21, 2015: In Gaza a rocket fired into Israel causing no casualties or damage. Hamas blamed a dissident Islamic terror group for this attack.
October 20, 2015: On the Gaza border about a hundred Palestinians rushed the fence at two different locations and Israeli soldiers fired to stop the advance. One Palestinian was killed and several wounded. Elsewhere on the fence an Israeli sniper killed a Palestinian sniper who has been firing at Israeli civilians and soldiers from the Gaza side of the fence.
October 16, 2015: Russia revealed that it had established a “hotline” agreement with Israel so the two nations could quickly resolve any problems between their respective armed forces over Syria.
October 11, 2015: Israel revealed that is has received a rescue plea from the 150 or so Jews still living in Yemen. After World War II there were about 50,000 Jews in Yemen and they had been there for over a thousand years. But the creation of Israel caused most of them to leave. Some remained but now ISIL has demanded that the Yemeni Jews convert, leave or die. In addition the Shia rebels have been urged by Iran to kill or hold for ransom any Jews they can find in Yemen. Apparently there is an Israeli rescue operation underway and is seems that Israel is depending on its unofficial anti-Iran alliance with the Gulf Arab oil states to help.