Israel: Deals With The Devils

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June 6, 2011: Meir Dagan, the recently retired head of Mossad (the Israeli CIA), has gone public with his views on Iran. First, he believes it would be counterproductive for Israel to attack Iran militarily. Second that Israel should accept the Saudi peace proposal for the Palestinians, which would require an Israeli  retreat to the pre-war 1967 borders, a very unpopular move with most Israelis.

Recent revelations that the country's largest family owned conglomerate (the Ofer group) had sold a small, second hand, oil tanker to Iran, in violation of U.S. sanctions against trade with Iran, brought out that fact that some 200 Israeli firms knowingly trade (usually indirectly) with Iran. The trade is not large, but Iranian smugglers are constantly offering top prices for items needed in Iran (either by the military, or consumers). In the wake of the current revelations, Israeli media reported that since September 11, 2001, at least ten Israeli tankers had been spotted in Iranian ports.

June 5, 2011: About a thousand "Palestinians" assembled on the Syrian border in the Golan Heights and were allowed past the Syrian border crossings and attempted to enter Israel. This was to be a non-violent demonstration to commemorate the 1967 war, which is seen as a great catastrophe by Arabs. Once in Israeli territory, Israeli troops opened fire on the demonstrators, aiming for the legs. Syria claimed that 23 people were killed and 350 injured. Israel claimed that there were few deaths, and less than a hundred injured. Eventually, the demonstrators retreated back into Syria, taking the dead and wounded with them. All this went on for over five hours, with the demonstrators (most of whom could be seen arriving on what appeared to be government supplied trucks and busses) spending most of their time milling about on the Syrian side of the border. Other governments with Israeli borders did not allow such demonstrations, since the Israelis made it clear that they would not allow anyone to get across the border without permission. The Syrian government, which has been fighting pro-democracy demonstrations for the last three months, was accused by opposition groups, of staging the "Palestinian demonstration." The government was said to have recruited poor farmers, with offers of $1,000 each if they joined the march, and $10,000 each if they were killed, and free medical care if they were injured. Syrian border guards were seen directing the demonstrators, not trying to stop them from marching into Israeli gunfire. Meanwhile over 60 anti-government demonstrators were killed elsewhere in Syria as several towns and cities saw protest activity, and Syrian troops and police often opened fire. Syrian opposition groups believe their government staged the bloody protest on the Israeli border to distract media from all the Syrian demonstrators being killed by their own government.

Israeli security forces, having been hit by similar demonstrations on May 15th (Israeli independence day), prepared for the threat of more on June 5th. The Israelis warned their neighbors that no illegal border crossing would be allowed, and deadly force would be used if warnings and fences failed. This has been Israeli policy for decades, and there was the fear that the Palestinians were trying to score media and diplomatic points by getting a lot of their people killed while trying to "peacefully cross the border."

On the Gaza border with Egypt, Hamas has halted outgoing traffic. While Egypt opened the border crossing a week ago, there were, increasing restrictions, especially the checking of identify documents of those coming and going. The Egyptians were concerned about Islamic radical groups and criminals using the crossing, as many of these malefactors had a sanctuary in Gaza. Hamas was not happy with these restrictions, and is trying to pressure Egypt into lifting them.

June 4, 2011: Egypt closed its border crossings with Gaza, saying it was for maintenance. It was opened again the next day.

The Israeli foreign ministry admitted that one of their military attaches in Russia was engaged in collecting information on Russian arms sales to Arab countries. Russian police grabbed the Israeli diplomat (an army colonel) on May 12th and ordered him out of the country in 48 hours. The expelled man had been caught by the Russians before, "crossing the line" in doing what diplomats have long done; spy. A certain amount of this is allowed, but when diplomats become too aggressive, they get booted out. But the Israeli military said that their colonel was not spying, and was expelled from Russia because of a diplomatic dispute. There are often disputes between the diplomats (who have temporary control over officers serving as military attaches) and the military (who often ask their officers in foreign embassies to obtain specific information.)

May 28, 2011: The Arab League has agreed to call on the UN to unilaterally declare a Palestinian State this September, using the pre-war 1967 borders. This would be a very unpopular move in Israel, and many Israelis consider any attempt to enforce such a resolution an act of war. No Arab state is willing to try and use force to get Israel to comply with such a UN resolution, and those countries that could make a dent in Israeli military power (European states) are depending on the U.S. to veto such a proposal. Everyone can then condemn America for blocking the move. The last thing the pro-Palestinian European states want is for this proposal to pass. No one wants to try and use force on Israel, a nuclear armed state, with the strongest military in the region and a real fear is that its neighbors want to destroy it (but are too weak and disorganized to do so at the moment.)

In Egypt, an Iranian diplomat was arrested and accused of spying. He was expelled from the country a day later.

May 27, 2011: Egypt completely opened its border crossing with Gaza, which had been closed, or very restricted,  since 2007 (because Gaza had become a haven for Islamic terrorists, some of whom planned attacks in Egypt).  The crossing had been somewhat open, but only for foreigners and a few Palestinians. The one restriction now is that males aged 16-40 must show identity documents for examination and, in effect, get a visa. Known terrorists will not be able to enter or leave (although these men can use the smuggling tunnels that still operate.) The opening, and other assistance in improving trade, is part of a deal between Egypt and Hamas in which Hamas promises to make peace with its Palestinian rival Fatah, and to control anti-Egyptian Islamic terrorists based in Gaza.

May 26, 2011:  A mortar shell was fired from Gaza into Israel, there were no injuries.

 

 

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