Israel closed schools close to the Gaza border, the first time it has done that since 2008, shortly before invading Gaza for three weeks to halt the growing number of rocket attacks. That offensive did bring a major drop in rocket attacks and a ceasefire with Hamas, and Israel now threatens to invade again as the number of rocket attacks increases. Many smaller and more radical groups continued to fire rockets into Israel. Hamas has refused to shut down these more radical groups because that might trigger a civil war. The smaller more radical groups are increasingly critical of Hamas for having gone soft and eased up on Israel. The smaller Islamic terror groups are not strong enough to defeat Hamas but they could carry out terror attacks inside Gaza. Hamas wants to avoid that. Meanwhile, the two Palestinian governments (Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank) continue to fill their media with “destroy Israel” propaganda. That and the corrupt and incompetent governance in both areas leaves most Palestinians frustrated and angry.
October 24, 2012: Islamic terror groups in Gaza fired 80 rockets and mortar shells into Israel from late yesterday into today, causing some property damage and injuring three Thai farm workers (brought in to replace Palestinians over the last decade of Palestinian terror attacks against Israel). Hamas took responsibility for some of the rockets fired. Israeli retaliation attacks killed three Palestinians. Egypt says it has negotiated a ceasefire between terror groups in Gaza and the Israelis. These ceasefires are frequent and rarely last long.
October 23, 2012: Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, the ruler of Qatar, visited Gaza and pledged $400 million to build 3,000 new homes in Gaza. Thani is trying to get Hamas away from its alliance with Iran and towards working with the Fatah government in the West Bank, to create a united Palestinian government that can negotiate a peace deal with Israel. Qatar wants to end the state of war between Hamas and Israel and is hoping cash and public support may do it. Qatar is very wealthy (it has the highest per-capita income in the Persian Gulf) and its ruler has been increasingly active in backing change in the Arab world. Qatar is a major supporter of the Syrian rebels and urges political reforms throughout the Arab world. This is a difficult and thankless job. For example, a major event during Thani’s visit, a rally at a soccer stadium, was cancelled at the last minute because most Palestinians were not interested and about 80 percent of the seats in the stadium were empty. Most Gazans are fed up with Hamas, and not showing up to honor the sheikh was one way to demonstrate their opposition without getting arrested.
Palestinian terrorists fired several rockets into Israel which triggered air raids in response. An Israeli soldier was also wounded by a terrorist bomb set off on the Gaza border fence.
Sudan reported that one of their ammunition factories blew up and blamed an Israeli air raid. Many Sudanese believe the bombed factory actually belongs to Iran. Sudan says they have proof it was an Israeli attack, in the form of fragments of Israeli missiles. But no such proof has yet been presented. Israeli officials refused to comment. Israel did carry out a similar raid 18 months ago. Explosions at ammunition factories often occur when someone gets sloppy, especially on the night shift.
October 19, 2012:
A bomb went off in a Christian neighborhood in the Lebanese capital, killing a senior security official (and seven others) who was openly anti-Syria (and anti-Assad). This angered many Lebanese who are still bitter about decades of Syrian interference in Lebanese affairs. Police arrested a former government official (Michel Samaha), long known as pro-Syria, and accused him of planning the operation. Police say Samaha admitted he transported explosives from Syria in his own automobile. Hezbollah has long used non-Shia allies, as well as Syrian agents, to carry out attacks on political rivals. This attack led to more gunfire between pro and anti-Syria factions in Lebanon.
On the Gaza border a bomb went off, damaging an Israeli military vehicle.
October 17, 2012: Egypt has reopened its embassy in Israel. Although the new Egyptian government is dominated by an Islamic party that spouts lots of anti-Israeli rhetoric, Egypt insists it will maintain the terms of the 1979 peace treaty. The two countries have had diplomatic relations since 1994 but there has been no Egyptian ambassador in Israel for the last two years.
Israeli aircraft hit terrorist targets in Gaza in retaliation for rocket attacks the day before.