One barely-mentioned aspect of the Arab-Israeli peace deal (and the various problems which have kept that deal elusive) is the shortage of water in the region. Israel cannot get by without the water from the Golan and West Bank, and is loath to build desalinization plants on the coast as they would become targets for terrorists or missiles. The current drought is making things worse. The Sea of Galilee (which supplies 1/3 of Israel's water) is at the lowest point in 100 years. The Khabour River (a tributary of the Euphrates, inside Syria) dried up in the heat. Jerusalem has received only 7mm of rain this year compared to 80mm for a normal year. Tel Aviv has received only 17mm; it normally receives 110mm. --Stephen V Cole
December 15; Just as Israel was about to resume the long postponed peace talks with Syria, Hesbollah launched sixteen attacks against Israeli positions in south Lebanon. Several injuries were reported and Israeli warplanes promptly launched raids on Hezbollah positions. Syria has said that any peace agreement with Israel would include the situation in Lebanon. However, the Syrians do not control Hezbollah, Iran does. But Syria looks the other way as Hezbollah goes about it's business. Syrian troops have been stationed in Lebanon since the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1990.
December 14; Israel made air attacks on suspected Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon after Hezbollah guerillas shelled Israeli positions in south Lebanon.
December 13; Israeli police surrounded a house in Hebron containing several members of the pro-Palestinian extremist Hamas. Two were killed and three injured. The two dead turned out to me Hamas members on the Israeli most wanted list.
December 13; Israel announced on 3 Dec that its military had completely solved the Y2K problem after a three-year program involving intensive simulation exercises. Israel said that its troops will not even be put on special alert for the night of 31 Dec. Israel said it had fixed 90% of the problem a year, and had been fixing problems in foreign-supplied computer chips. Israel said that it had also tested the computers for 29 Feb 2000, a leap-year date out of the normal sequence. The military said that it was ready to operate without external support for several days in case Y2K problems caused a disruption of Israeli civilian society. The Israeli military has refused to have any connections between its own internal computer network and the Internet, and says this will insulate them from the expected rash of viruses and other attacks by hackers. --Stephen V Cole