Israel: Palestinian Paralysis

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May 4, 2009:  Hamas and Fatah are drifting father apart. Hamas, backed by Iranian cash, weapons and advisors, and able to use terrorism (against Israelis and Arab opponents) freely, sees itself having a good shot at eventually controlling all Palestinians. Fatah, run by the old school, and quite corrupt, Palestinian politicians, believes it can at least stall Hamas. For one thing, Fatah knows only too well how revolutionary fervor eventually evolves into self-serving corruption. Signs of that are already appearing in Gaza, where families of Hamas leaders are living much better than less well connected Hamas members. Another Fatah advantage is that the West Bank is adjacent to densely populated parts of Israel, and a very well guarded border. Gaza is next to the most thinly populated parts of Israel, with few targets for terrorists. Israel will do whatever it takes to prevent Hamas from taking over the West Bank.

Egypt has changed its attitudes towards Hamas and the smuggling tunnels under their mutual border. A recent roundup of Iran backed terrorists in Egypt, who were using Gaza as a base, convinced Egypt that tolerating the tunnels (a popular move for most Egyptians) was a bad idea. So the U.S. sensors are being used to detect tunnels, and police destroy some of them. More effective is just having the police observe truck traffic near the border, and raid the locations where the goods appear to just disappear (a tunnel entrance). Shutting down the tunnels requires a lot of pressure from the top, because the tunnel owners (often Palestinian-Egyptian partnerships) are ready to bribe, or even threaten, cops to look the other way. But for the moment, the police commanders are obeying their orders, and shutting down tunnels, reducing traffic by up to a third. Israel is using its own aerial sensors and informants inside Gaza, to target tunnels moving weapons, and bombing these from the air. This is being done in response to continued rocket attacks on southern Israel, in an attempt to pressure Hamas to control the smaller terrorist groups that are ignoring the Hamas/Israel ceasefire.

Reservists assigned to anti-missile missile units are now spending one day a week on active duty. This is normally only done for reservists in units that are expected to be on active duty soon. Reserve pilots of combat aircraft are often put on this "one day of active duty a week" status. The missile troops going this way seems to indicate Israeli fears that Iran might try to use their long range missiles to attack. That would,  perhaps, be in retaliation to an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear weapons development facilities. But there have been rumors of such an Israeli attack for years, and nothing has ever come of it.

In Lebanon, Iran, and it's local agent, Hezbollah, are having more success in coercing the Lebanese government to let Hezbollah have its way in the south. While most Lebanese oppose Hezbollah for, in effect, partitioning the country, and assisting Syria in exercising influence in Lebanese politics, this opposition is divided into dozens of parties that are unable to unite against their common foes.

May 3, 2009:  Israeli police arrested 282 Palestinians living illegally in Israel, and handed them over to Palestinian police. Also arrested were 21 Israelis who had arranged to smuggle Palestinians into Israel. This is done, for a fee, so that Palestinians can find a job in Israel. But the Israeli police fear that some of these economic migrants might be a terrorist, or inclined to assist terrorists. Palestinians are exposed to strong anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda from a young age. While many shrug it off, most do not, and accept the killing of Israelis as a desirable thing. At the same time, the Palestinians have been inept and unsuccessful in their attempts to kill Israelis. Since the January ceasefire, Palestinian attacks on Israelis have resulted in over 700 Palestinians getting killed, and about a dozen Israelis. Palestinians interpret this as another example of how unfair Israelis are, while ignoring Palestinian attitudes towards Israel and terrorism. Attempts to get around this perception problem have been unsuccessful.

 

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