Israel: Corruption And Suicidal Tendencies

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March 9, 2011: The Israeli army doesn't believe there will be large scale, non-violent, demonstrations in the West Bank, similar to those taking place in many Arab countries, at least not right now. For one thing, most Palestinians are still demoralized over the "Second Intifada" terror campaign that began in 2000, but was soon defeated. That left many Palestinians unemployed and barred from Israel. In the midst of all this Hamas took control of Gaza, and pro-Hamas Palestinians in the West Bank have been causing growing violence between Palestinian factions there. Then there are the several hundred thousand Israelis living in West Bank settlements. The settlers are armed, and generally hostile to Palestinians. Finally, the biggest problem for the Palestinians is their own government (which is very corrupt and ineffective) and Palestinian terror groups (who believe all Palestinians should be prepared to die in order to destroy Israel.) Caught between corruption and suicidal tendencies, most Palestinians seem content to sit this one out.

The peace talks between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians continue to go nowhere. It's become fashionable in the West to blame Israel for this. But if you go look at Palestinian and Israeli news sites, it becomes clear that the Israelis want to work out a deal while the Palestinians, see any kind of a deal as a stepping-stone towards the ultimate objective of destroying Israel and expelling or killing all Jews in the area. This annihilation goal has been around for decades, and is not negotiable, or even open to discussion. Palestinians tend to keep this particular goal away from outsiders, but it is discussed, and celebrated, constantly in Palestinian media (particularly the Arab language outlets).

Hamas (controlling Gaza) and Fatah (controlling the West Bank) are still far from any reconciliation deal. But Fatah now insists that if Hamas is removed from the list of international terrorists, reconciliation may be possible. Hamas, once free of the "international terrorist" tag, would have much more freedom-of-action to plan and carry out terrorist attacks.

Israel is still waiting for the "revolution" in Egypt to conclude. This may take a year or more. The big crises come when (or if) there is a free election, and the resulting government tries to recover some of the billions of dollars in state property now being used to benefit senior military officers and well-connected (to corrupt officials) families. The military is more of a big business than a fighting force. This has been a long simmering scandal, and now with press censorship slipping away, more ugly stories are going to come out. Unfortunately, there is a temptation to hold off on exposing military corruption because, technically, the military is running the country, and will continue to do so until elections are held. The army wants to hold them sooner, rather than later. That would enable the military and the wealthy families to use their money and existing organizations, to get friendly candidates elected. There have been no legal political parties in Egypt for a long time, and putting together parties that can campaign and get their people elected, takes time. So the army commanders and wealthy (and quite corrupt) families want the vote to be held soon. This is also popular with the general public, as it's difficult to explain political party organizational difficulties in simple and headline-grabbing terms. Thus the Egyptian dictatorship may eventually return, under new management, but with the same owners as the last one.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah continues to talk tough about Israel, and hold its fire. Despite lots of threats, Hezbollah has not attacked Israel since the 2006 war (that Hezbollah, besides getting hurt very badly and pushed back, declared their victory.)

March 8, 2011: Overnight, Israeli commandos found and arrested eight wanted terrorists in the West Bank.

March 5, 2011: Several rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. In response, there were several air strikes on known terrorist locations.

March 3, 2011: In Gaza, Hamas police finally (after 18 months) captured a Islamic terrorist leader allied with al Qaeda. Hamas and al Qaeda do not get along, and there are several Islamic terror groups hiding out in Gaza, from Egyptian, Israeli and Hamas police.  

March 1, 2011: The anti-missile system mounted (since last year) on Israeli Merkava tanks, was used in combat for the first time, along the Gaza border, when a Palestinian fired an RPG rocket. The tanks Trophy APS (Active Protection System) automatically intercepted the RPG warhead before it reached the tank. This was the first time an APS has been used successfully in combat. APS has been around since the 1980s.

In the West Bank, Israeli settlers damaged cars belonging to Palestinians, and tried to burn down a Palestinian owned house. This was done in retaliation for Israeli police removing three illegal structures the settlers had put up. The Israeli settlers are becoming increasingly violent, against their Palestinian neighbors, as well as against Israeli police and troops. The settlers believe that most, or all, of the West Bank belongs to Israel. The most extreme settlers believe all Arabs should be expelled from the West Bank.

February 26, 2011: A long range rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel. In response, there were several air strikes on known terrorist locations.

February 25, 2011: Two Iranian Navy ships (a small frigate and a large supply ship) docked at a Syrian port after passing through the Suez canal. The 33,000 ton "supply" ship could have been carrying weapons for the Syrians and Hezbollah.

 

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