Israel: No Progress Passes for Progress

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March 14, 2007: Still no joint Fatah-Hamas government. No peace deal with Israel either. But everyone is still talking. Everyone is still fighting as well. There are daily clashes between Fatah and Hamas gunmen in Gaza. And Israeli counter-terror operations continue in the West Bank. The only successful attacks on Israel are Palestinian home made rockets fired from Gaza into thinly populated southern Israel. Over a thousand such rockets have been fired in the last two years, causing 110 Israeli casualties. The Palestinians consider this a victory, and devote considerable resources to the rocket campaign, despite a four month ceasefire that was supposed to have stopped the rockets.

March 12, 2007: A BBC reporter was kidnapped in Gaza. This sort of thing is increasingly common, and is usually done by a faction trying to get something (jobs, money) out of the larger factions (Fatah and Hamas.) The victim is kept for a few days, and released. Meanwhile, Hamas is publicly squabbling with al Qaeda over the lack of Hamas suicide bomber attacks on Israel since 2004. In the previous four years, Hamas carried out 58 attacks in Israel, killing 300 civilians. Superior Israeli counter-terrorism tactics shut down the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign, but Hamas insists its spending all its energy on preparing bigger and more destructive attacks on Israel.

March 10, 2007: Gun battles between Fatah and Hamas groups continue in Gaza, with one dead and several wounded today.

March 9, 2007: A gunfight broke out at the Gaza border crossings with Egypt. Fatah gunmen fought Palestinian police. At least five people were wounded, and the border was closed for hours. Israel keeps the border crossing closed 80 percent of the time anyway, in an effort to force the Palestinians to free an Israeli soldier they kidnapped last year.

Israel claims that Syria was moving its long range rockets (that could reach targets throughout Israel) to underground positions near the Lebanese and Israeli borders. However, Israeli military intelligence believes Syria would not attack Israel, at least not this year. The Syrian armed forces are too weak, having suffered over a decade of decline because of the end of foreign subsidies once the Cold War ended in 1991.

March 8, 2007: Israeli military intelligence believes Hamas is using the four month old cease fire to smuggle more weapons and Iranian technical advisors into Gaza, in preparation for a major rocket attack against southern Israel. Hamas expects to win the same kind of symbolic victory, like Hizbollah did last year. Hamas expects to lose militarily, when Israeli troops return to Gaza. But in the long term, Hamas believes they will win, and destroy Israel.

 

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