In Gaza, Hamas has had to use force
to maintain control of the streets. Two major battles resulted. In one, nearly
a week of gun battles with a clan loyal to Fatah and a few days of violence with Islamic Jihad, a
Fatah terrorist splinter group. The clan fighting led to about ten dead and
several dozen wounded. The Islamic Jihad fighting was shorter, producing about
twenty casualties, and a truce deal. Hamas does not have enough combat power to
shut down all the groups that oppose it. The clans are the strongest power in
Gaza, and they are well armed, and have fortified their neighborhoods.
Palestinian terrorists continue to fire rockets from northern Gaza, into
southern Israel. In response, Israeli artillery shells the firing positions,
and Israeli gunships seek out the rocket teams and fire on them.
October 22, 2007:
The Hamas leadership is split over the decision to take control of Gaza.
Some Hamas notables believe the organization is now trapped in what amounts to
a large prison camp. But Hamas hardliners cannot bear to openly renounce the
organizations goal of destroying Israel. Meanwhile, popular support for Hamas
declines in Gaza as living conditions continue to deteriorate.
October 21, 2007: Off the Gaza coast, an Israeli
gunboat fired on an Islamic Jihad fishing boat that was trying to reach Egypt,
killing two men. Smuggling (mostly weapons and narcotics) is a major economic
activity in Gaza.
October 20, 2007:
The U.S. has blown the cover on an Israeli espionage operation by
mentioning that Israel knew about the Syrian nuclear weapons research facility
that was bombed on September 6th. Israel got an agent inside the plant, who
took pictures, thus making it clear what the operation was for, and the North
Korean origins of the plant and its equipment. It's unclear if the Israelis got
their agent out of Syria safely. Losing agents like this makes it more
difficult to recruit in the future.
October 19, 2007:
Most members of the anti-Syrian majority in Lebanon's parliament have
gone into hiding, to evade Syrian assassins. Three of these members of
parliament have been killed in the last year, and Syria was the main suspect
every time. Syria believes Lebanon to be
part of "Greater Syria", and want it back. Lebanon was created in the
1920s, by France, to give the large Christian communities of "eastern
Syria" a nation where they would be at least half the population. But Arab
Christians continued to flee Moslem hostility and violence, and now Christians
are only about 40 percent of the Lebanese population. Another 40 percent,
mainly the Shia Arabs of the south, wouldn't mind being part of Syria. But the
majority of Lebanese want to remain independent of what they see as a corrupt
dictatorship controlled by Moslem religious fanatics in Iran.