Israel: Palestinians Lose Enthusiasm For Rocket Attacks

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April 18, 2013: Israel said it would continue to monitor attempts to move Syrian weapons (especially anti-aircraft and chemical ones) into Lebanon (for use by Hezbollah) and bomb any movements detected. At least twice recently Israeli aircraft have bombed such arms convoys. Some of this stuff might still be getting smuggled into Lebanon, but Israel is making it as difficult as possible for that to happen.

In the West Bank there are continuing efforts to get a widespread uprising against Israel going. Fatah encourages young men to throw things (usually stones but sometimes firebombs) at Israelis. Particularly newsworthy attacks will get you a cash bonus or some other favor (like a government job). Palestinians in prison are encouraged to stage hunger strikes. This sometimes results in a cash “reward” that is paid to the family of the prisoner. This use of bonuses to encourage violence is less and less a secret and causing problems with Western donors.

Good news and bad news out of Egypt. The continuing economic chaos and demonstrations by unemployed and disillusioned young people is keeping the army distracted from being a threat to Israel. The Egyptian economy continues to weaken because the unrest has driven tourists away and the Islamic radicalism of many government officials is discouraging foreign investment. The Islamic conservatives who gained control of the government via fair elections are proving to be inept rulers, and the country is sliding into greater poverty and growing popular anger. Meanwhile, the powerful families and other groups (like military officers) stand ready to form another corrupt government that would look after the interests of the rich and do just enough to keep everyone else quiet. That formula may no longer work, but those who made it work in the past are still around. While all this uncertainty pervades Egypt, Islamic radicals are free to operate or at least less restricted than when the old Mubarak dictatorship was in charge. This actually works out to Israel’s benefit because some of these radicals attack Egyptian security forces (because they consider the current Islamic government not Islamic enough) and make Islamic terrorists even more unpopular than they already are in Egypt.

Egypt isn’t the only one having an economic crisis. The two Palestinian governments (Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza) are continuing to mismanage their money (from taxes and foreign aid). This is caused by corruption and the use of money to keep Fatah and Hamas in power (by creating jobs for supporters). Popular dissatisfaction at this sort of thing has made these two governments very unpopular, not just with Palestinians but also with foreign aid donors who more frequently threaten to cut aid. The Palestinian leadership is not swayed by this and continues to preach (to its followers) the need to destroy Israel while telling the non-Moslem world that, of course, Palestinians are only interested in a peace deal with Israel. This two-faced approach is growing more difficult to sustain as internal Palestinian government propaganda gets brought to the attention of more foreign governments. This is also causing threats of aid cuts.

In Gaza Palestinians continue to try and get past the security fence on the Israeli border. Since the current ceasefire began last November four Palestinians have been killed and over a hundred wounded because they failed to heed warnings to stay away from the fence. Most of these movements towards the fence were to carry out attacks on Israelis (who patrol the fence regularly) at the fence or beyond. The design of the security “fence” (actually a system of fences and sensors over 100 meters wide) makes it nearly impossible to get across. The failure of attacks on Israel (via rockets or trying to get past the fence) since Hamas took over in 2007 has started to sink in with Palestinians. Popular support for Hamas in Gaza is declining and only about 38 percent of Palestinians support the rocket attacks. The failure of Hamas tactics, and their increasingly harsh rule in Gaza, has led to the still-corrupt Fatah to become more popular (at least with 42 percent of Palestinians). Recent surveys find that only about 20 percent of Palestinians in Gaza would vote for Hamas again. This is the main reason Hamas will not allow any more elections in Gaza.

April 17, 2013: Two 122mm rockets were fired from Egyptian Sinai at the Israeli city of Eilat (at the northern end of the Red Sea). The new Egyptian government reduced security on its Gaza border, allowing Islamic terror groups to freely travel to Sinai with rockets and other weapons. This is in violation of the three decade old peace treaty that returned Sinai to Egyptian control. Israel threatened to send their own security patrols into Sinai if Egypt did not keep the terrorists out. After the Islamic terrorists attacked Egyptian security forces in Sinai last year, the new Egyptian government agreed to crack down. While there were two rocket attacks against Eilat last year, there had not been any more for a year. The attack today caused no injuries because the rockets landed outside the city. Some residents complained that the Iron Dome battery that had been moved to the city two weeks ago did not fire. That’s because Iron Dome calculates where incoming rockets will hit before intercepting. If the rockets are landing in an uninhabited area the interceptor missiles are not fired. Most of these rockets land in uninhabited areas and Iron Dome is affordable, and much more effective, if the missiles are only fired at rockets that are likely to hurt people or property.

The Egyptian Army continues to destroy smuggling tunnels into Gaza but selectively. This indicates that larger bribes are being demanded to allow most of the tunnels to continue operating. The army is also under pressure (from the government) to shut down tunnels moving weapons and terrorists in and out of Gaza. Those tunnels have to pay a lot more if they are found out.

April 16, 2013: The head of the Israeli military pointed out that Israel could carry out an attack on Iranian missile and nuclear weapons targets without help from any other nation (like the United States).

April 15, 2013: The U.S. has agreed to continue funding development and purchases of Iron Dome anti-rocket systems. To that end the U.S. will give Israel $220 million through the end of 2014.

April 14, 2013: The population of Israel has reached eight million, which is about ten times what it was when Israel was founded 65 years ago. Most of the population (75 percent) is Jewish, while 20 percent is Moslem, and the rest Christian and other faiths.

April 13, 2013: Hamas has resumed arresting people suspected of spying for Israel. This came after a month-long amnesty in which Palestinians who had, or were, working for Israeli intelligence could reveal themselves and be forgiven. Israel has long maintained a large, and pretty effective, informer network inside Gaza and the West Bank.

April 12, 2013: Israeli troops on the Syrian border used artillery to destroy a machine-gun that was firing into Israel. It was unclear if the machine-gun was operated by rebels or Syrian soldiers.

April 9, 2013: Egypt put its police and soldiers in Sinai on alert because it was believed Islamic terrorists were planning an attack on a police base in Sinai.

 

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