June 4, 2013: For over a decade now Israel has been building relationships, often in secret, with its neighbors, especially Egypt,
Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Although the decades of “hate Israel” propaganda in these countries makes it difficult to openly negotiate, the growing threat of Iranian nuclear weapons has made Israel an attractive ally for the Sunni states threatened by Shia Iran. The U.S. is currently trying to broker a secret military alliance involving Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. This would include giving Israel access to data from Arab and Turkish radar stations near Iran while also providing these nations with data from the Israeli missile early-warning system. There would also be arrangements on how Israel could participate in defending its new allies if Iran attacked. Finally, there is the fact that Israel is a nuclear power and once this proposed alliance is revealed (or even if it is known but officially denied), Iran would have to worry about Israeli retaliation even if only the Arab Gulf states or Turkey were threatened.
Working out the details of this alliance is the easy part, making it public and implementing it completely could be a problem. Arab governments have officially demonized Israel for so long that a large segment (probably still a majority) of their populations would react violently and instinctively to formal announcement of an alliance with Israel. Thus some of the diplomats involved are suggesting a secret treaty. This is not a new concept, as such secret deals have been used for thousands of years. But in the age of the Internet and speedy and abundant global media, such deals can have explosive consequences once revealed and are difficult to keep secret. The proposed deal would only be made public when it had to, as during a crisis with Iran. At that point, fear of Iran would calm many Arabs who would otherwise hit the streets to violently protest any deals with Israel.
This sort of deal making is not new. Israel has had official and unofficial arrangements with all these nations over the years. Jordan has been quite open about their security and intelligence arrangements with Israel, which go back over 30 years. The unofficial intelligence sharing has been more common over the last two decades. The reason is the growing threat of Islamic terrorism, although before the 1990s the Arabs were more concerned with secular Moslem terrorists. But these have largely been replaced by the religious fanatics, who still get a lot of unofficial support (cash and sympathizers) from Arabia, where most modern Islamic radicalism has been nurtured and encouraged for centuries. Many educated and entrepreneurial Arabs would also like access to the Israeli market (for goods, technology, and joint ventures). But the Arabs will have to work through their anti-Semitism first.
Despite its new Islamic government, Egypt is finding itself restricting access to Gaza as much, if not more, than its former (Mubarak) government and often in cooperation with Israel. The basic problem is that Gaza has become a sanctuary for all sorts of Islamic terror groups, including some that consider the relatively moderate Islamic government in Egypt to be the enemy (for not being really radical).
Palestinian terrorists continue to try and carry out attacks inside Israel. Hamas support is more frequently encountered among Palestinians arrested (by Israeli police) in the West Bank. That has led to more arrests of Hamas supporters (by Palestinian and Israeli police) in the West Bank. Hamas and Fatah still cannot agree on a merger and the troublesome disunity among Palestinians (2.5 million in the West Bank and 1.5 million in Gaza) continues.
Despite being called (largely in the Islamic media) secret partners with Iran or the rebels in Syria (take you pick), Israel could decide the war in a few days if it attacked the Assad (Syrian government) forces by air. Israel is concerned about a post-Assad government, because of the power and influence Islamic terrorist groups might have. But an Assad victory is nothing to look forward to either as more pro-Iran terrorists will be on the Israeli border. It’s a no-win situation and getting accused of supporting both sides is the least of it. Meanwhile, Iran backed terrorists, especially the Lebanese Hezbollah, are becoming more active in planning and carrying out more international terrorist operations. Iran has amped up its support for the Assads and the Assad forces are on the offensive. The rebels will probably still win but it’s going to take longer.
June 2, 2013: Israeli warplanes conducted more low-altitude flights over eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border. This is partly to remind Hezbollah who controls the air and partly to train for more air operations in Syria.
Russia and Syria are insisting that shipments of Russian
S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (similar to the U.S. Patriot) have arrived in Syria. Israel does not believe this and are apparently watching all this very carefully. Israel is determined to prevent the S-300s from becoming operational if they do arrive. The S-300s are a threat to Israeli aircraft and Israel will continue its air raids in Syria to stop any new weapons from getting to Lebanon and Hezbollah and to halt activation of the S-300 anywhere in Syria or Lebanon. If the S-300 did show up in Syria (or Lebanon) Israel would probably attack it right away, before these systems could become operational. If Syria wanted to get the S-300s operational quickly they would need the help of Russians, who would probably become casualties from the Israeli air attacks. The Russians might risk it because they have seen their weapons used on the losing (Arab) side in the Middle East for over four decades. Sure would be nice to turn this around. An attempt at this would tempt Russia to introduce more than a few troops and technicians to help activate the S-300 systems. Even then, the Russians would be up against more experienced and determined troops and risking another embarrassing defeat. This game of bluff has been played out in private by Russian and Israeli diplomats for years. The three Israeli air raids on Russian weapons in Syria this year were the Israeli response to Russians flying in more missiles (anti-ship and less capable anti-aircraft systems). The Russians keep changing their minds on the S-300s, which, if operational, can detect and attack aircraft 200 kilometers away, deep inside Israel. Against this threat Israel has electronic protection on its warplanes, but these defenses are not perfect and commercial aircraft are unprotected. In short, Israel cannot afford to allow S-300s into the region, not with terrorist groups like Hezbollah or al Qaeda standing by to get their hands on these missile systems. The Russians could have delivered the S-300s three years ago, when they were ordered, but have not. The delay is all about the Russians understanding the Israeli situation and not wanting to trigger a response that would hurt Russia. The continued threats to deliver S-300s is, however, much less risky.
An Israeli court indicted an Arab Israeli for spying on Israel for Hezbollah. The suspect was recruited five months ago, while performing the hajj (pilgrimage to the Moslem holy places in Saudi Arabia). This is a common venue for recruiting Israeli Arabs to become spies.
June 1, 2013: Egyptian police seized a ton of explosives that was headed for Gaza via a smuggling tunnel. Police were told the explosives were meant for tunnel building (getting through some rock formations that underlie part of the Gaza-Egypt border). The police seized the explosives anyway because current Egyptian policy is to shut down all the tunnels. Hamas has offered to do that if Egypt would allow free access between Egypt and Gaza. That is not going to happen as long as there are anti-Egypt terrorists inside Gaza. Hamas is also having problems with Iran, who used to be a major financial backer. Most of that money has dried up in the last year because of Hamas supporting the Sunni rebels in Syria (who are trying to overthrow a pro-Iran Shia minority government).
May 26, 2013: A rocket was fired from Lebanon (ten kilometers north of the border) towards Israel but it is unclear where it landed. Israelis near the border reported hearing an explosion and the rocket might have landed short of the border. Earlier in the day two rockets were fired from within Lebanon at a Shia neighborhood in Beirut. No one took responsibility for either attack.