Military commanders and many of the troops are complaining about the government giving into anti-Israel groups and investigating soldiers for “war crimes.” No one expects any of these charges to stick, but the troops feel that after risking their lives to halt the rocket attacks coming out of Gaza they don’t deserve this sort of harassment, especially since the Palestinians regularly praise terrorists, even those that kill children, as heroes. Israeli soldiers follow rules, Palestinian terrorists do not. So why do Palestinian terrorists get praise while Israeli troops get investigated? This all began in early December 2014 when Israel announced it was opening investigations into eight incidents from the 50 day war with Hamas in July and August. These incidents were cited by Palestinians as Israeli war crimes. Many Palestinians cannot accept the fact that they fired thousands of rockets into Israel and deployed thousands of gunmen against a smaller force of Israeli troops who entered Gaza yet at the end of it all there were over 2,000 dead Palestinians (most of them Hamas members) and only 73 dead on the Israeli side (six of them civilians and one of those a foreign worker). To Palestinians this was clear evidence that the Israelis must have done something really, really evil to achieve such an outcome and whatever they did must be a war crime.
The Israelis have learned two things about such accusations; they are almost always false and they fall apart on close examination. The Palestinians are not dismayed by these failures and often come to believe their own lies. But the Israelis continue to win by investigating the war crimes accusations and uncovering more Palestinian deceit and self-delusion. Yet Israeli troops feel they are collateral damage in these investigations and are not happy about it.
Meanwhile the Palestinians are trying to join the ICC (International Criminal Court) so they can more easily prosecute Israel for war crimes and better defend themselves against such accusations. This follows the recent Palestinian failure to get the UN to order Israeli troops withdrawn from the West Bank. The political theater at the UN, where Palestinian supporters (mainly other Moslem states) ignore the Palestinian worship of terrorism while declaring Israeli efforts to defend itself a war crime means that there is automatic support for just about anything the Palestinians want.
It has become more popular in the West, especially among leftist political groups, to join this pro-Palestinian movement. Israel points out that their Arab and Western critics would, and do, respond as Israel does when attacked by nearby terrorists but that fact is ignored. Well, not completely. Many Arabs, especially Arab diplomats who know a lot about Israel and the Palestinians, privately agree with the Israelis. But to openly point out the reality of the situation in the Moslem world will get you death threats, or worse. In the West it’s safer to point out the obvious although in leftist political circles the pro-Palestinian supporters can be loud and even a little violent at times. In Europe this has led to more tolerance of anti-Semitic violence and more European Jews moving to Israel (and elsewhere). The anti-Israel situation in Europe is largely the result of millions of Moslems moving to Europe (often as refugees) in the last few decades. The Moslems tend to cluster together and leftist politicians seek the support of Moslems by backing positions favored by Moslems (like the destruction of Israel). The leftist politicians are often placated by introducing, or just supporting, anti-Israel proposals in the UN. These have little chance of passing, but show Moslem voters in Europe that they are being served.
While Arabs cannot speak out in support of Israel (or even cooperation with Israel against common enemies), such cooperation continues and since the 1980s has grown. Saudi Arabia has always been the major supporter of greater, and open, cooperation with Israel. It’s an open secret that this relationship exists, has existed for decades and continues to be useful for both Arabs and Israelis. This is especially true when it comes to common enemies like Islamic terrorists (especially ISIL) and Iran. Israel wants the Arab states to go public about these relationships but because of decades of anti-Israel propaganda most Arabs would violently protest against any Arab government that admitted the truth of the Arab-Israel relationship. Yet there is progress, however slow, towards openness about the Arab-Israeli cooperation.
In Egypt the Islamic terrorist violence and pro-Moslem Brotherhood protests continue, but at a lower level. The government has been relentless in going after the Islamic terrorists, who only have much popular support in the northern Sinai. This is where most of the Islamic terrorists operate because the local Bedouins and many Palestinians in Gaza support them. In most of Egypt the locals cannot all be trusted to not call the police on any Islamic terrorist activity. Meanwhile no one is willing to intervene next door in the Libyan civil war. While Egypt has proclaimed that it will not intervene militarily it is apparently providing substantial, and secret, support to the Tobruk government. This comes in the form of air support, weapons and other military supplies and even some Egyptian special operations troops. A major concern of the Egyptians is the movement of weapons and Islamic terrorists into Egypt and there are a lot more Egyptian troops and police on the Libyan border since the June 2014 elections. What the Egyptians need is pro-Egypt forces controlling the Libyan side of the frontier. Thus the support for the Tobruk forces, which are strong in Eastern Libya as a coalition of Libyan Army units, tribal militias and anti-Islamic terrorist groups. General Hiftar, a former Kaddafi general and long-time Kaddafi opponent created this coalition of tribal militias and army units and is now officially part of the Tobruk government armed forces but still operates independently because the Tobruk is short of military experts and specialists capable of managing a military campaign. So is the Tripoli government and resulting lack of coordination among their armed components is another advantage the Tobruk government has.
The United States and the UN are trying to persuade Egypt, the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and Qatar to drop their support for more secular (and non-terrorist) pro-Tobruk factions fighting in Libya. The UN is sponsoring peace talks in Libya but Egypt sees this as futile and counterproductive because the Islamic terrorist factions really have no interest in compromising. Nevertheless Algeria and most Western nations (especially the EU) see a negotiated settlement as the best way to deal with the Libya civil war. The Tobruk government is going along with this, mainly because they cannot afford to annoy the UN. The Tripoli government is less eager to negotiate, in part because some of their factions are hard core Islamic terrorists and not inclined to compromise.
January 4, 2015: The government revealed that three Palestinians it had arrested in November in the West Bank were found to have been part of an ISIL terrorist cell. The three admitted their association with ISIL. This was the first confirmed ISIL presence in the West Bank. Israel expects ISIL to try and take control of some of the Syrian-Israeli border in 2015 and use that to try and move men into Israel. Meanwhile Israel and Lebanon have quietly cooperated in keep their mutual border sealed to Islamic terrorists going in either direction. Some Palestinians and Israeli Arabs are pro-ISIL and Lebanon does not want any of them coming north for any reason (like getting to Syria to fight for ISIL, which some Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have already done).
January 3, 2015: Israel announced that it would withhold $127 million in tax payments for the Palestinian Authority. This is a response to the Palestinian effort to join the ICC. Several times in the last decade Israel has withheld customs duties that it normally passed on to the Palestinians. Sometimes over half a billion dollars has been withheld before the Palestinians gave in.
January 2, 2015: In Egypt soldiers fired on four Palestinians trying to climb over the Gaza border fence. One of the teenage intruders was killed and the other three arrested.
January 1, 2015: In Egypt the government revealed that over 150 policemen were killed fighting Islamic terrorists in 2014. Nearly twice as many soldiers died. Over a thousand Islamic terrorists and civilians have also died since mid-2013, when the Moslem Brotherhood government was ousted by the army. In the last 18 months over 15,000 people have been arrested (and most released) for Islamic terrorist or pro-terrorist activities. The clashes with the Islamic terrorists are less frequent now, and usually the result of major sweeps by the police or the army. Some Islamic terrorists are still able to carry out a few murders or bombings each month. There is still a minority of Egyptians who believe Islamic terrorism and a religious dictatorship are the only way to save Egypt from its own bad habits (corruption and inept government).
December 31, 2014: In the West Bank Israeli troops shot two Palestinians who threw a bomb at them.
In Egypt (the northern Sinai) a series of army raids over the last four days left 13 Islamic terrorists dead, 288 suspects arrested and many weapons, documents and other items (including 48 vehicles) seized. The raids hit over a hundred suspected terrorist hideouts. Troops also discovered and destroyed 16 more tunnels to Gaza. These are more difficult to build now that there is a 500 meter security zone along the Gaza border and more police scrutiny on the Egyptian side. Yet the tunnels can still be very lucrative, not just for consumer goods but also for moving Islamic terrorists and weapons back and forth.
December 30, 2014: The UN rejected a Palestinian proposal calling on the UN to force Israel to make peace with the Palestinians on Palestinian terms within one year. Since the primary official goal of the Palestinian Authority is the destruction of Israel there was plenty of UN opposition to this proposal. But many Arab governments, including Jordan, supported it because most Moslem counties, or at least many of their citizens, agree with the Palestinian goal.
In Egypt (outside Cairo) two policemen guarding a Christian (Coptic) church were shot dead.
December 28, 2014: In Gaza Hamas, at the last minute, prevented 37 children (who had lost their parents in the 50 day war) and five adults from leaving on a good will visit to Israel and the West Bank. Apparently there was some disagreement within the Hamas leadership about the wisdom of cultivating good will with Israelis and West Bank Palestinians.
December 27, 2014: In the West Bank Israeli police arrested two Palestinians for throwing a fire bomb two days earlier that hit a car and seriously burned an 11 year old Israeli girl. Her father, who was driving, was less seriously hurt. One of the arrested Palestinians was 16 years old and admitted to the attack. The Palestinians Authority regularly praises such attacks calling the attackers heroes, especially if they kill an Israeli. As a result of this there are more stabbing and fire bomb attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and inside Israel (especially Jerusalem).
December 26, 2014: On the Gaza border Israeli troops arrested (after shooting him in the leg) a Palestinian man who was climbing over the border fence. In Jerusalem a Palestinian wounded two policemen with a knife. The attacker then fled and is being sought.
December 25, 2014: Israeli and Palestinian Christians celebrated Christmas in peace. Israel and the West Bank (which is policed by Israelis and Palestinians) are the only places in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas in peace.
In Libya, the 13 year old daughter of two Egyptian Christians (both doctors) was found dead. She had been taken on the 23rd when gunmen invaded her home, killed her parents and kidnapped her. Two younger sisters were left behind. The attackers were believed to be Islamic terrorists, who have been increasingly violent against everyone, especially non-Moslems. Many skilled Egyptians go to Libya for work, but that is less of an option now that Islamic terrorists have turned the country into a sanctuary for all manner of outlaw behavior.
December 24, 2014: Israel ordered two Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries to move south because of the growing threat of more rocket attacks out of Gaza. At the same time there was another air strike on Gaza, in response to sniper fire from Gaza that wounded an Israeli (a Bedouin) soldier patrolling the border fence. The air attack killed one man who was later identified as a member of an Islamic terrorist organization.
December 23, 2014: The government reported that it had detected Hamas efforts to rebuild and expand its tunnel network inside Gaza and possibly try to build more tunnels into Israel.
December 22, 2014: For the second time in the last nine days Hamas launched some locally made rockets into the Mediterranean. Hamas has resumed rocket production and since August has test fired dozens of unguided rockets (towards the Mediterranean so as not to violate the ceasefire). Hamas is building some rockets with a range of over 50 kilometers.
December 21, 2014: Syria says it shot down an Israeli Skylark UAV on their side of the border. They showed photos of the Skylark, which appeared intact and may have come down because of a mechanical or electrical problem. Israel regularly uses UAVs to monitor its borders, especially Gaza and Syria. Israel denied that it had lost a Skylark along the Syrian border and pointed out that the Syrian Skylark photos appear to have come from a trade show or earlier incident.
December 20, 2014: Israeli warplanes attacked Gaza in response to a rocket attack against Israel from Gaza. A Hamas official admitted the rocket was fired from Gaza and said Hamas was seeking to shut down the smaller Islamic terrorist groups in Gaza that refuse to abide by the August ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Israel had not retaliated to the first two violations of the ceasefire.
December 19, 2014: For the third time since the August ceasefire a rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel.
December 16, 2014: During a night raid in the West Bank (to arrest terrorism suspects) one Palestinian was shot dead when the troops were attacked with rocks and at least one bomb.
December 15, 2014: In Egypt (the northern Sinai) a series of army raids over the weekend left 17 Islamic terrorists dead, eleven arrested and many weapons, documents and other items seized. The raids hit dozens of suspected terrorist hideouts.
December 14, 2014: Israel announced a third major natural gas discovery off their coast. This one is worth over $100 billion dollars. The two previous ones are worth over a trillion dollars. These discoveries make Israel largely energy independent and a major exporter of natural gas.