Israel has begun pumping natural gas from offshore deposits discovered during the last five years. Israeli firms have found about $200 billion worth of oil and gas there so far. Israel is determined to use these finds to achieve energy independence within two years. A special military force has been established to protect the offshore facilities from attack.
Israel continues to send more troops to its Syrian border. This is not just to deal with the increase in fighting on the other side but because of the increase in wounded Syrians who come to the border seeking medical aid. Additional military medics have been sent to man the border posts to deal with this. Israel has set up a military field hospital near the Syrian border to deal with the seriously wounded. Once patched up, they are sent back into Syria.
It has been revealed that the Israeli espionage equipment found on the Syrian coast near the port of Tartus a month ago was placed there to monitor the movement of Russian naval ships. The devices, some disguised as rocks, were day/night cameras and a satellite dish for transmitting the photos taken of activity along the coastline. Israel used its naval commandos (similar to the U.S. SEALs) to secretly emplace the spy gear. The Israeli SEALs made several trips to the area, first to take pictures of the local rocks so that the sensors could be built to blend in. Unfortunately, up close you could see that the rocks were not exactly rocks. Some Lebanese fishermen landed near where the spy gear was and noted this.
Egyptian police have concluded that at least three of the Islamic terrorists who attacked Egyptian police last August belonged to Hamas. This happened on the Egyptian border near Gaza, where 32 Islamic terrorists attacked an Egyptian border post, killed 16 Egyptian police, stole two armored vehicles, and drove into Israel. Four of the attackers died on the Egyptian side and three on the Israeli side. One of the trucks apparently had a lot 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. Hamas denied any involvement but Egyptian investigators now believe they have evidence of Hamas involvement. In response Hamas has insisted that rebellious factions within Hamas are responsible and that this will be dealt with. That includes arresting members of other Islamic terror groups in Gaza if they fire rockets at Israel in defiance of the ceasefire agreement. Actually, Hamas accuses those continuing to fire rockets as working for Israel by giving the Israelis a reason to fire back.
Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in the West Bank are telling their followers to launch more terror attacks against Israel from the West Bank because the Hamas ceasefire deal with Israel makes that nearly impossible from Gaza. Hamas has increased its recruiting activity in the West Bank, where years of corrupt Fatah rule has turned off many Palestinians. In Gaza Hamas has become quite corrupt, but in the West Bank Hamas is seen as superior to Fatah. Moreover, Fatah cooperates with Israeli security forces, if only because Israeli troops and police are all over the West Bank. This makes Hamas appear to be the righteous opponents to Israel while Fatah is labeled as collaborators. But the Israelis have good informer networks in the West Bank and most of the new Hamas terrorist cells are being detected and their members arrested. As long as Hamas can recruit new terrorists in the West Bank they will keep at it, as Hamas makes much of their mission to destroy Israel. Fatah says it has the same mission but prefers to use less violent methods (like influencing Western media and politicians enough to get the West to weaken Israel).
The Arab world is unhappy with the Palestinians because of the continued division into Fatah and Hamas factions. Most Arabs agree with the Palestinian goal of destroying Israel but are dismayed at the Palestinian inability to rule themselves. The Arab League can’t even get Fatah and Hamas to meet for peace discussions anymore. Fatah insists it will not attend Arab League meetings if Hamas is there, since technically Fatah is still the sole representative of the Palestinian people. But Hams does not recognize that and will not allow new elections to deal with this problem. While the Palestinians squabble with each other, they demand that the Arab world provide more money to support all this. But the Arab world knows that an increasing amount of the aid money is being stolen by Hamas and (especially) Fatah officials.
Meanwhile, both Hamas and Fatah are increasingly using police state tactics to silence critics among the people they rule. Many Palestinians agree with the Arab world that the Palestinian leadership is corrupt and ineffective. Those leaders are fighting back because otherwise they risk losing all that power and cash.
March 30, 2013: Hamas has accused Fatah of hiring the man who attempted (and failed) to assassinate a Hamas leader on March 15th.
March 29, 2013: The UN has sent additional armored vehicles to its thousand peacekeepers on the Israeli-Syrian border. The peacekeepers have been under increasing attack by Syrian rebels.
March 28, 2013: There was an increase in Israeli warplane activity over Lebanon. This was apparently done to remind Lebanon that Israel would not tolerate Hezbollah attacking Israel again. Meanwhile, fighting continued between Lebanese factions who back the Syrian government or the rebels. Hezbollah controls southern and most of central Lebanon and is also backing the Syrian government.
In Cyprus a court sentenced a Hezbollah man to four years in prison for plotting to attack Israelis in Cyprus. Israel asked the EU (European Union) to note that this was just one of many recent bits of evidence that Hezbollah was a terrorist organization. But many EU members are convinced that Israel is really at fault here and that the Hezbollah members involved in terrorism are exceptions. So the EU refuses to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization and limit their fund raising and recruiting inside Europe.
March 27, 2013: In the West Bank Israeli police arrested five Hamas leaders.
March 25, 2013: In the West Bank Fatah police arrested eight Hamas members and charged them with plotting violence against Fatah (and Israel, but Fatah plays down that angle).
March 24, 2013: Israeli troops fired a small missile into Syria, to destroy a machine-gun that was firing into Israel and had hit an Israeli military vehicle.
March 22, 2013: Hamas arrested two non-Hamas Islamic terrorists for firing two rockets into Israel yesterday and breaking the ceasefire agreement with Israel.
March 21, 2013: Israel has broken a diplomatic impasse with Turkey by officially apologizing for defending itself when Israeli forces halted ships seeking to break the Gaza blockade three years ago. Ever since then the Turks have demanded an apology for the deaths of Turkish radicals, compensation, and an end to the blockade. This was despite the fact that Hamas (and many other groups in Gaza) are recognized as international terrorists and that the Turkish activists on the ships were videoed attacking the Israeli boarding party. The Turks refused to back down on this demand. But since both countries need to cooperate more closely over Syria, Israel stepped up and delivered an apology and an offer of compensation. Turkey accepted this, even though the third demand, allowing anything into Gaza, was not met.