Israel: The Big Hate Rolls On

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April 26, 2011: As Hamas hunted down the Gaza based Islamic radicals, who recently kidnapped and killed a pro-Palestinian Italian leftist, they encountered more resistance than anticipated. Several years of Hamas pressure on more radical Islamic groups, has caused these smaller groups to pay a lot of attention to how best to hide from Hamas. The search for the Italian's killers found hundreds of potential suspects, although the real ones were quickly located. All these Islamic radicals are more extreme than Hamas and have come to see Hamas as the enemy (along with Israel and the Egyptian government.) Worse, the anti-Hamas extremists are more frequently not outsiders, but local Hamas members who have become more radical than the Hamas leadership. So while Israel threatens another invasion if attacks on Israel do not cease, Hamas is under pressure to destroy these more radical challengers just to maintain control of Gaza.

Hamas has a bigger problem here. It cannot hope to win another election, especially one against Fatah (for control of the West Bank) without becoming less radical. But this causes the other Islamic radical groups in Gaza and the West Bank to gain recruits. Hamas had always sought a wider base, and got lucky when multiple moderate candidates allowed a more focused and disciplined Hamas to win an election and take control of Gaza five years ago. Now that Hamas controls Gaza, a few hundred more radical Islamic militants are not a threat to their power. But the fact is that, as quickly as these militants are killed, jailed or forced to flee, more frustrated young men replace them. The problem won't go away as long as all Palestinian media and propaganda stresses the ultimate goal of destroying Israel. But many pro-terrorist groups, including backers in Europe, blame Israel for the violence between Hamas and its more radical rivals. If anything goes wrong, the "Jewish plot" explanation is always popular. The key problem here is that the more radical groups consider attacks against targets in Gaza and Egypt as legitimate (and easier, because of effective Israeli counter-terror tactics).

Despite the threat from more radical groups, Hamas is still a threat to Israel. Hamas leaders openly talk of continuing efforts to kidnap Israeli Jews for bargaining purposes. Hamas discusses this openly because of the need to attract more Palestinians to the kidnapping effort, and to show how Hamas is taking the lead in providing this effort with leadership and better organization.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah is still seeking revenge for Israeli counter-terror operations that have killed several senior Hezbollah leaders over the last few years. Revenge for Hezbollah is simple. They don't want to kidnap Israelis, they want to kill them, wherever they can. Hezbollah has been at this for over two years, without much success. Hezbollah keeps threatening, Israel keeps warning Israelis travelling abroad (especially to Moslem countries), but the homicide campaign continues to fail.

Over a month of growing unrest in Syria has left nearly 400 dead, and several thousand injured. Many more have been arrested. The unrest just grows week by week, and the government has to worry about how much violence the army can handle, before the soldiers become unreliable. There is a limit to how many of their fellow Syrians the soldiers will brutalize or kill, before they switch sides. Israel expects any new government in Syria to be just as anti-Israel as the current dictatorship. Again, it's mainly because of the decades of anti-Israel propaganda, which Arab dictators favor as a distraction from problems closer to home.

The new coalition government in Lebanon is paralyzed by Hezbollah, which has a veto over any important government decisions. Thus Lebanon will continue to ignore Hezbollah weapons smuggling via truck from Syria and, using air and ship freight, from Iran. But the growing rebellion in Syria could hurt Hezbollah, as the majority Sunni Arabs in Syria are hostile to Shia Iran and Hezbollah.  

April 25, 2011: An opinion poll in Egypt shows that 54 percent of the population wants to annul the peace treaty with Israel. This would risk war with Israel, which more Egyptians are willing to deal with than a much less dangerous effort to aid Libyan rebels. Decades of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic government propaganda continue to poison public attitudes. Corrupt Egyptian leaders feel safer with a demonized Israel. While that didn't save Mubarak, it helped keep him in power for over three decades, and it will help the next Egyptian dictator.

April 19, 2011:  Police in Gaza found three of the Islamic radicals who had recently kidnapped and killed an Italian recently. One of the three radicals tried to kill the other two, to prevent them from surrendering. But he only succeeded in killing one, before he killed himself. Thus was one of the three radicals was taken alive.

April 17, 2011: Israeli police announced the arrest of two Palestinian teenagers (ages 18 and 19) for the March 11 murder of five Jewish settlers (including three children) in the West Bank. The killers were more interested in stealing than homicide, but apparently resorted to mass murder to avoid detection. The two suspects were not part of any Islamic terror organization, they were mainly thieves. But the two killers had been raised on pervasive Palestinian propaganda encouraging violence against Jews. That apparently made it possible for the two to kill infants and young children with knives.

April 15, 2011: An Italian activist, kidnapped a few hours earlier in an attempt to get an Islamic radical leader out of a Hamas prison, was found dead. Hamas security forces were ordered to go get the culprits as soon as possible. Hamas is very dependent on the support of European leftists and other foreign anti-Israel groups. It's important to show that these foreigners are safe in "Palestinian controlled" territory. But there is no safety, as the large number of violent, and competitive, factions creates a climate of danger and fear.

A 122mm rocket was launched from Gaza, but landed outside the city of Ashod without causing any casualties. The Israelis retaliated by attacking two Hamas facilities in Gaza.

 

 

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