Israel: Business or Pleasure?

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June 6,2008: Hamas continues to try new tactics. The latest one is to organize a large (several hundred, or over a thousand) demonstration and march it towards the security fence or one of the crossings. That provides cover for gunmen or suicide bombers. The Israelis have, so far, been able to break up these groups at a distance, using tear gas and rubber bullets. Meanwhile, the Kassam rockets and mortar shells keep coming across the border from Gaza, with the same lack of success. Israel has constantly improved its counter-fire tactics, and is killing, or discouraging, more of those firing the rockets and mortars. Attacks continue on terrorist leaders and technicians.

Meanwhile, Hamas is finding that running a dictatorship has its disadvantages. In a word, Hamas is becoming less popular. At least half the population would like to see Fatah back in power. The Hamas leadership does not want to risk another election, which it believes it would lose. While the Hamas "destroy Israel at all costs" line is popular enough, most Palestinians are more practical, and just want a job, and maybe electricity and regular water supplies. Hamas has been unable to supply any of this. But Hamas, and its terrorist allies, have installed a police state, complete with secret police and torture chambers. These are kept active looking for Israeli spies. The informant network in Gaza provides Israel with information about Hamas leaders and their locations. Hamas knows this because Israel keeps killing these people. So the search for the Israeli informants is constant. Meanwhile, Hamas punished (with demotions, dismissals and short jail terms) 38 of its own policemen for firing on a Fatah demonstration (containing several hundred thousand people). Even Fatah realized this attack was a big mistake, and is trying to recover some of the lost good will.

June 1, 2008: At the Lebanese border, Israel exchanged a Hizbollah spy for the bones of five Israeli soldiers killed in the 2006 war. Meanwhile, Hizbollah insisted that it does not want to run Lebanon, it just wants to insure that Lebanon does not interfere with operations against Israel. Unfortunately, if Hizbollah pushes it too far again, and there's another war with Israel, all of Lebanon will suffer. Hizbollah also faces the prospect of a two front war, as non-Shia Lebanese factions might cut a deal to attack Hizbollah at the same time Israel attacks. Although this is seen as absurd by Arab nationalists, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Arab states (especially in the Gulf) are pushing for a united front against the encroachments of the Iran-backed Shia Moslem forces. It comes down to this. Who are the Sunni Arabs more afraid of, Israel or Iran? As the old joke goes, if Sunni Arabs are confronted by an Israeli and an Iranian, and have only one bullet, who do they shoot. Business or pleasure?

 

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