Fatah leaders are scrambling to cope with a former Fatah intelligence officials recent release of evidence of corruption. The most damaging item was a 2008 video of the Fatah chief of staff demanding sex from a woman seeking help from Fatah. Many Fatah officials are calling the video a fake created by Israel. The video first appeared on Israeli TV last week (it could never get on Palestinian TV, which is controlled by Fatah). But many more Palestinians know the vid is all too real. Lawyer Fahmi Shabaneh, who released the video, and promises much more, is being denounced by Fatah as an Israeli agent. Most Palestinians believe Shabaneh, and believe that this won't make any difference. Fatah is under a lot of pressure to resume peace negotiations with Israel and work out a unity deal with Hamas. The Fatah leadership isn't really interested. Fatah is receiving over $2 billion a year in aid, mostly from the West, and the Fatah leadership are getting rich, stealing as much as they can get away with. A peace deal would cause many of the aid donors to take their money elsewhere, to more urgent crises. Fatah has to keep the pot boiling, to keep the cash coming.
Israel has decided not to deploy its new Iron Dome anti-rocket system to Gaza, but to keep it in reserve so that it can quickly (within a day), be deployed against Gaza or Lebanon. This upsets the people in southern Israel, but the government points out that only a few rockets are fired out of Gaza each week, and rarely do those hit anything. But if Hezbollah started another war, Iron Dome could save lives if it was deployed quickly enough. Hamas is less likely to launch a major rocket offensive (the Israelis watch Gaza more closely), but Iron Dome missile batteries and radars can be quickly moved south. Iron Dome can handle hundreds of incoming rockets an hour, because the radar system calculates where each rocket will land, and only launches a missile against rockets that are going to hit a residential area. Over 90 percent of rockets fired, in the north or south, hit open terrain.
February 14, 2010: Hamas arrested a British journalist in Gaza. During the last three years, Hamas has generally left journalists alone, since most are leftist and pro-Hamas and inclined to give the terrorist group favorable treatment. The current arrest is believed associated with a journalist who was not working on a pro-Hamas project. Some journalists are describing the arrest as a kidnapping, which was what often happened to journalists in Gaza before Hamas cracked down in 2007.
In Lebanon, the government announced that its anti-aircraft guns opened fire on four Israeli aircraft making their daily reconnaissance flights over Lebanon. These guns usually do not open fire unless the Israeli aircraft are within range, which is rarely the case. It's unclear what this announcement is really about, but that's not unusual. The Lebanese government has been upset over rumors that Hezbollah has been ordered by Iran (which funds, and helped create Hezbollah) to increase attacks against Israel, or launch a major attack. This would hurt Lebanon, as Israel has warned that the Lebanese government, which has failed in its attempt to control Hezbollah, would suffer as well if Hezbollah attacked again.
February 13, 2010: In the north, a feud between two Arab clans led to a large fight that sent a dozen people to the hospital. This use of clan organizations by Arabs is common throughout the region, even in Israel, where fair and impartial courts are available for settling these disputes.
February 12, 2010: The Egyptian Navy arrested four Palestinian fishermen, who had moved into Egyptian waters. The Egyptians are more concerned about smuggling, than losing some fish to boats based in Gaza. Meanwhile, another rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, where it did no damage.
February 11, 2010: In Gaza, Israeli troops spotted several Palestinians preparing to fire rockets. The troops advanced 200 meters into Gaza and killed two of the Palestinians. Three civilians were wounded as well.
February 8, 2010; A rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel, where it did no damage.
February 6, 2010: Hamas withdrew its earlier expression of regret over any Israeli civilian casualties its rocket attacks might have caused. Hamas made that comment under pressure from the UN. But rival Fatah immediately pounced, calling for Hamas to apologize for pro-Fatah civilians in Gaza that Hamas gunmen had injured in the last three years. Both Hamas and Fatah compete to outdo each other in their appeals for Palestinians to kill Israelis (including civilians). They keep most of this out of their English language propaganda, but the Arab language media is full of it, constantly.