The Israeli economy continues a three year expansion. While
unemployment is still about eight percent, that's a ten year low. The economy
was supposed to grow 5.4 percent last year, but only did about 4.8 percent
because of the Hizbollah war last Summer. That conflict devastated the Lebanese
economy, cutting GDP by at least five percent. The Palestinian economy shrunk
by over ten percent last year because of the continued internal conflicts, and
terrorist campaign against Israel.
a raid in the West Bank yielded eleven terrorist suspects, and a cache of
terrorist supplies, including fifty Israeli army uniforms.
1, 2007: Negotiations, over the release of an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas
in Gaza last Summer, are stalled because the Palestinians are demanding the
release of 1,500 prisoners. Many of these are skilled terrorists, and putting
them back on the streets means more Israelis are likely to get killed.
Israeli counter-terror tactics have stopped the Palestinians, but part of that
was because of the identification, and arrest (or killing) of key
terrorist leaders and technicians. Letting too many of those guys out of prison
means some more terrorist bombs are going to go off inside Israel. That sort of
thing is political poison for Israeli politicians, so the prisoner exchange
deal has to be handled very carefully. The Palestinians, as usual, don't much
care what the Israelis are up against, and will ask for the impossible.
Qaeda leaders have denounced Fatah and Egypt for "collaborating" with
Israel. Al Qaeda backs Hamas.
31, 2006: Israel looked the other way as Egypt shipped 2,000 assault rifles,
and over half a million bullets, to Fatah forces in Gaza. This allows Fatah to
arm more of its supporters, and give it an edge in any showdown with Hamas. The
U.S. is also offering to help train Fatah security personnel, while Israel is
releasing a hundred million dollars (taxes collected by Israel for the
Palestinian Authority) to Fatah.
30, 2006: Nine more Kassam rockets were fired into southern Israel, one of them
damaged a buildings. Israel counter-terrorist forces continue to find and
arrest Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank and Gaza. Most of those arrested
or killed lately were affiliated with Fatah.
29, 2006: Lebanon says that 1,123 Lebanese died during the war Hizbollah began
with Israel last Summer. Hizbollah now admits that 250 of those dead are
Hizbollah fighters, although Israel insists that at least 600 of the Lebanese
dead are Hizbollah operatives. Hizbollah tactics included using civilians for
cover as much as possible. Hizbollah fighters did not wear uniforms, so it was
difficult to tell if the dead were involved in the fighting, or just civilians
compelled to stick around to provide protection, or, if killed, a
propaganda boost for the terrorists. The Hizbollah war also left 159 Israelis
dead. Meanwhile, for all of 2006, about 600 Palestinians were killed in Gaza
and the West Bank, while 23 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. Thus for the
entire year, Arab terrorism against Israel left 172 Israelis, and
1,700 Arabs, dead. Arabs consider this a victory, because only ten Arabs
were killed for every Israeli. The ratio has been higher in the past, and this
trend is seen as a sure sign that eventually the Arabs will prevail.
28, 2006: The new security fence between Israel and the West Bank is becoming a
battleground. Technicians performing maintenance on the fence (actually a
series of obstacles, including a wall) sensors have been fired on by
Palestinians, and, in some cases, the technicians are given a military escort.