Egypt is seeking to cut Gaza off from illegal access to Egypt. To this end the search goes on for smuggling tunnels, which are destroyed if found. Egypt believes it has found and closed at least 80 percent of the tunnels. More worrisome for Hamas (which runs Gaza), Egypt is destroying all buildings within 500 meters of Gaza, making it more difficult to build new smuggling tunnels and easier to find the ones that are undiscovered. Security at the only legal crossing from Gaza to Egypt has become more intense. Egypt believes many anti-Egyptian terrorists have sanctuary in Gaza where they plan and launch attacks against Egypt. Hamas denies this but the facts say otherwise. With or without the permission of Hamas, several terror groups are based in Gaza and Hamas cannot or will not shut them down, unless these groups openly rebel against Hamas rule. Meanwhile, Egypt is accusing Hamas of arresting and harassing Egyptians working in Gaza.
In the last month there have been over 300 terrorist attacks on Egyptian security forces and government officials in the Sinai Peninsula, and Egypt has responded by sending more troops, armored vehicles, and helicopters into Sinai and these are now making raids all over the area. The 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel included provisions for using Sinai as a neutral zone, with limitations on how many troops and weapons Egypt could place there. Israel is looking the other way as Egypt violates that clause. It’s more likely that Egypt and Israel have another, less formal and secret, agreement to not only allow more Egyptian troops into Sinai but also to coordinate intelligence and counter-terror operations by both countries.
In the Israeli Red Sea resort town of Eilat, and resorts across the border in Egypt, the tourists are still coming. This despite the terrorist threat and several rockets fired at the Eilat in the last month. An Iron Dome system is based outside Eilat and it detected an incoming (from Egypt) 122mm rocket and intercepted it on August 13th. Such interceptions are automatic (when Iron Dome is turned on) if the software predicts the incoming rocket will land in an inhabited area. Islamic terrorists operating in the lawless Sinai later took credit for the attack. Israel and Egypt have both deployed more police to their resorts in the area and are cooperating in keeping the terrorists out.
The Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are going nowhere. Fatah says it wants a fair agreement but won’t provide details. The Palestinians do say they will always insist on the right of return, which has always been a deal breaker because it would allow millions of Palestinians to move to Israel and vote in elections.
Police revealed that they had disrupted a Hamas attempt to bomb a Jerusalem mall. A Hamas operative in the West Bank had recruited two Arab employees of the mall to plant the bomb. There were three other Hamas members in Jerusalem who obtained the components to build the bomb. It took over a week to round up all members of the terror cell.
Israel police, civil defense, and armed forces remain on alert, to deal with any attacks on Israel resulting from U.S. and NATO attacks on Syria in retaliation for the August 21st nerve gas attack on pro-rebel civilians. In this part of the world everyone is out for revenge over something.
September 8, 2013: Israel deployed an Iron Dome battery outside Jerusalem. This would defend the city against long range rockets launched from Gaza or Lebanon.
September 7, 2013: Egypt launched its largest military operation in Sinai since the 1973 War. Twelve villages were visited by troops who searched buildings and seemed to be looking for specific individuals. There was resistance in several villages and several dozen casualties, including nine terrorists and two soldiers dead and over a dozen terrorists arrested. These raids are to continue for at least a few days.
In Cairo a bomb exploded at a police station but there were no injuries. Another bomb was found on the rail line between Suez and Ismailia where it was disabled.
September 5, 2013: In Cairo the Egyptian Interior Minister escaped injury after a bomb went off near his car. A few days later a terrorist group in Gaza took credit for the attack.
September 3, 2013: Israel tested one of its anti-missile missiles by firing it at a target launched from a ship out in the Mediterranean. Russian warships in the area noted this and made it public, which caused some brief panic in Arab stock markets.
September 2, 2013: In Lebanon three men were charged with firing rockets into Israel recently. Rogue Palestinian terrorists were blamed and both Lebanon and Hezbollah publically condemned the attack.
Along the Gaza security fence two bombs went off near an Israeli patrol. There were no injuries. This is the second time this has happened in the last three days.
September 1, 2013: Israel sent several thousand reserve troops home after the expected American air attack on Syria did not occur. The troops were called to active duty on August 28th when Israel thought the U.S. would attack soon and that there might be some response against Israel by Syria. Iran and Hezbollah also said they would attack Israel if the Americans bombed Syria. In the last few days thousands of Israeli have shown up at distribution centers to get the new gas masks that have been waiting for them since last year. Many Israelis had put this off, but now with the threat of a Syrian attack, and the recent Syrian use of nerve gas against their own people, Israelis are getting ready for the worst. The distribution centers have put employees on overtime and expanded the hours they are open.
August 31, 2013: Israel has deployed an Iron Dome anti-rocket battery around Tel Aviv. This would defend the coastal city against long range rockets launched from Gaza or Lebanon.
August 30, 2013: Syria television showed maps of Israel with cities, military bases, and industrial facilities marked for attack by Syrian missiles and long-range rockets. Israel responded by pointing out that it has the means to retaliate much more effectively and will do so if there are any attacks on Israel by Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran.
In the Egyptian capital some 10,000 Moslem Brotherhood members and supporters demonstrated against the new military government. At least six demonstrators were killed and over 50 wounded. There were smaller demonstrations in other cities. The Islamic conservatives have little public support. The army, on the other hand, has a lot of public support. That will change if the economic situation does not make some significant improvements. Meanwhile, on the Israeli border one Egyptian man was killed and another wounded when they would not stop moving towards the border fence and Israeli troops opened fire.
August 27, 2013: In the West Bank Palestinian police were fired on when they went to make an arrest in Nablus and returned fire. A civilian bystander was shot by the crossfire and died.
August 26, 2013: In the West Bank (Ramallah) Israeli troops and police conducted a raid to arrest a suspected terrorists. Hundreds of Palestinians began throwing stones at the Israelis and some opened fire. The Israelis fired back and killed three Palestinians.
August 24, 2013: Egypt reopened the only legal crossing from Gaza into Egypt, after having closed it for five days because of a terrorist threat. Since the military took control of the Egyptian government on July 3rd there have been growing restrictions on Gazans entering Egypt.
August 23, 2013: Israel warplanes bombed Islamic terrorist bases in Lebanon in retaliation for rockets fired into Israel yesterday. Elsewhere in Lebanon, bombs exploded outside two Sunni mosques, leaving 42 dead and 500 wounded. There is growing armed opposition to the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon. This is increasing the risk of another civil war.
August 22, 2013: Four rockets were fired from Lebanon into northern Israel, but the rockets landed in unoccupied land.