Israel: Preparations For War

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October 2,2008:  So far this year, nearly fifty Palestinians have died in tunnel collapses in Gaza. Dozens of smuggling tunnels operate under the Egyptian border, despite the Egyptian police finding and shutting down several tunnels a week. It's a big business, because Israel continues to make it difficult for anything to get into Gaza legally. This is because Hamas, which runs Gaza, is openly committed to the destruction of Israel, and is smuggling in rockets and other weapons to that end.

Israeli radicals, largely settlers in Palestinian territory (and their allies everywhere), are becoming more violent against their Palestinian neighbors, and Israeli critics within Israel. This has resulted in several recent bombing attacks on Israeli critics. Small bombs, that mainly wound, but not a good trend. Where there used to be a few dozen settlers who were violent, now there are hundreds. The settler radicals, like their Arab counterparts, see themselves on a Mission From God (to make the West Bank part of "Greater Israel" and, if need be, expel all Arabs).

The growing terrorism by Israeli citizens (both Arabs, and anti-Arab Jews) has  given the counter-terror organizations problems. That's because the laws for operations in the Palestinian territories, and against non-Israelis, make it easier to catch terrorists. For example, Palestinian terror suspects can be held 96 hours (before being charged or released), while Israelis can only be held 24 hours. Israelis have more legal rights in general, and anti-Palestinian and anti-Israeli terrorists both use their rights to protect themselves from detection or prosecution.

The Israeli population has grown 1.8 percent in the last year, and is now 7.3 million people (75.5 percent Jewish, 20.1 percent Arab). Jews tend to live in the center of the country, with Tel Aviv containing 7,100 people per square kilometer (compared to an average of 315 for the entire country). About 53 percent of those in northern Israel are Arabs.

Israeli security officials announced that they have been dealing with (and defeating) over a dozen Hezbollah kidnapping attempts a year, and this has been going on for several years. It was the successful kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese border in 2006 that triggered the war that Summer with Hezbollah and Lebanon. Hezbollah considers itself at war with Israel, and continues trying to do something they can proclaim as a victory.

Fatah and Hamas still go through the motions of trying to unify the Palestinian government, but nothing happens. The best they can hope for is a truce, not a peace. Meanwhile, Israel hustles to retrain and reform its armed forces for another round of war with Hezbollah. That means changes in Israeli civil defense, because Hezbollah has moved thousands of rockets to launching positions near the Israeli border. This was done despite the presence of UN peacekeepers, who have been intimidated into ineffectiveness.

September 29, 2008: In northern Lebanon, a roadside bomb went off as an army truck went by, leaving four soldiers and three civilians dead. For the last four months, the army has been fighting al Qaeda fighters in Tripoli, and these Islamic extremists were believed responsible for this bomb, and some previously. Many Lebanese fear that Syria is planning to invade Lebanon again, and that Hezbollah will assist. Syria is accusing Lebanon of allowing anti-Syria terrorists to operate from Lebanese bases.

 

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