August 8, 2012: Egyptian media, and Arab media in general, are pushing the theory that the recent Islamic terrorist attack on an Egyptian border post was somehow staged by Israel. There is no evidence and senior government officials, who might have to face Western officials or journalists, avoid this story with the Westerners. But this sort of thing has long been popular in the Arab world. Not just the automatic accusations against Israel but shifting blame for a failure in an Arab nation to some evil foreign conspiracy. This technique is heavily used by Islamic radicals, who preach that good Moslems cannot be wrong and all their troubles are caused by evil infidels (non-Moslems).
Egypt has admitted that Israeli intelligence did warn that there might be a major attack and ignored it. Egyptian intelligence officials said they could not believe that fellow Moslems would attack other Moslems who were having the post-fast Ramadan meal.
To placate Islamic conservative political parties, Egypt had reduced restrictions on Islamic terrorists operating in Gaza and made it possible for them to travel more freely between Gaza and Egypt. Facing reality, those policies have now been reversed. Ignoring the threat of terrorism is one thing, not responding to the violence and death is another. However, Israeli diplomats who have served in Egypt believe that after a few weeks or months of activity, the tighter security in Sinai and Gaza will be loosened and the Islamic terrorists will again be able to move freely. Decades of anti-Israeli propaganda and support for Palestinian terrorism have created a fundamental belief in Egypt that ultimately the Islamic terrorists will only attack Israel. This has never been the case, but this sort of selective amnesia has long been a problem in Egypt and the Arab world in general. Further complicating the situation are the Islamic conservative political parties in Egypt, who control about a quarter of the seats in parliament. These are the most fervent believers in the anti-foreigner conspiracies and that religion alone will solve all of Egypt's problems. Most Egyptians do not believe this but the Islamic conservatives can be violent and there is no general desire for another civil war against them, as happened in the 1990s (after an outbreak of Islamic terrorism against Egyptian targets).
There has been growing violence in the Sinai for the last few years, as Egyptian police and soldiers sought to shut down Bedouin smuggling gangs. This caused many Bedouin to, in effect, rebel. Attacks on Egyptian government officials and truck traffic moving through the area (much of it headed for Israel) are much more common now. Israel faces a similar problem in the West Bank and Gaza, where terrorist groups are allowed, by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, to operate. The terror groups there only get into trouble if they attack the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas tolerate constant Israeli raids against the terrorists (which the Palestinian officials also see as unpredictable and dangerous). Palestinian public opinion supports the terrorism, even though the Israelis have defeated the ability of the terrorists to make attacks inside Israel. This self-destructive attitude by the Palestinians, who, officially, are seeking a peace deal with Israel, has been created by decades of anti-Israel propaganda within the Palestinian community (in the mass media and the schools). The propaganda insists that Israel has no right to exist and all Israeli territory is actually part of Palestine. This angle is constantly stressed in Palestinian electronic and print media. Many of these attitudes are popular in Egypt and just as self-destructive.
August 7, 2012: Three Egyptian checkpoints in Sinai were attacked by Islamic terrorists, leaving six people wounded. Later in the day Egyptian helicopter gunships and warplanes attacked suspected Islamic terrorists, killing at least twenty people. Egyptian troops also entered villages where Islamic terrorists were known to be based. This was the first such use of Egyptian helicopters since the 1973 war with Israel (which the Israelis won but that Egypt considers a victory because it took more than a week for them to lose).
The terms of the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limit the number of Egyptian security forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has to agree to any increase in Egyptian forces in Sinai. Today, Israel agreed to Egypt sending in 3,500 more troops. In 2005, Israel allowed 750 more Egyptian police into Gaza to take care of increased security needs following Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The original treaty allowed about 26,000 Egyptian soldiers and police in the Sinai and about 2,000 foreign observers (mostly American).
August 6, 2012: In response to yesterday's border attack Egypt began closing smuggling tunnels. These were believed to have been used to get Gaza based terrorists and their weapons into Egypt. Although Egypt loosened its travel restrictions on Gazans entering Egypt, it still maintained a list of known terrorists who were not allowed to enter via the official border crossing. Egypt did not crack down on the smuggling tunnels, even though it was known that these were used to move terrorists back and forth.
Arab media began reporting that, perhaps, Israel had something to do with causing the attack on the Egyptian border guards yesterday. Israel promptly denied the accusations, which did little to stop the Arab conspiracies. Westerners tend to forget that most Arabs still believe that the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States were actually an Israeli or CIA plot to make Arabs look bad.
The Israeli Air Force admitted that it had begun receiving the new Arrow 2 anti-missile missile, which is better able to detect and destroy incoming Iranian ballistic missiles.
August 5, 2012: On the Egyptian border near Gaza some 35 Islamic terrorists attacked an Egyptian border post, killed 16 Egyptian police, stealing two armored vehicles, and driving into Israel. Four of the attackers died on the Egyptian side and three on the Israeli side. One of the trucks apparently had lots of explosives in it. Israel responded quickly and destroyed both vehicles before they could get far. As the border post attack was going on, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired mortar shells at a nearby Egyptian border post, apparently as a distraction. The main crossing from Gaza was quickly closed "indefinitely."
August 1, 2012: Hamas released a notorious Islamic terrorist leader (Hisham Saidmi) who had spent 17 months in jail and let him return to Sinai. Saidmi is an Egyptian Islamic radical who has organized attacks on Israel and Egypt. As a result of Saidmi going free, Israel warned its citizens to stay out of the Sinai and to leave if they are already there. Saidmi is believed to be eager to kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers.