Israel: The Air War Resumes

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November 4, 2013: Israel is becoming more aggressive in protesting anti-Israeli (and often outright anti-Semitic) Palestinian propaganda. Israel constantly reminds the UN and the West, in particular, that Palestinian media has, for decades, spewed this sort of hate, which is at odds with the Palestinian official line (a desire for peace with Israel). Israel is particularly angry at how Palestinians praise recently released prisoners (who have killed Israeli civilians) as heroes. The prisoner release was part of the current peace effort by Israel.

In the West Bank violence between Palestinians and Israelis living in the many Jewish settlements is on the increase. The upsurge in violence is the result of the Palestinian leadership calling for another intifada (uprising) earlier this year. This is a side-effect of the rebellion in Syria and the “Arab Spring” in general. While some Palestinian leaders call for another uprising (intifada), most Palestinians, especially the older ones (over 30), fear the economic consequences of that and warn the pro-intifada radicals that there is not a lot of popular support for another round of violence. Israel has shown they know how to handle this at little cost to themselves and great cost to the Palestinians.

All this is complicated by recent American efforts to achieve a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Palestinian peace talks are not making much progress. Israeli and Palestinian officials have met 15 times in the last few months, and apparently little progress has been made. The talks are being held at the insistence of the U.S., which threatened to cut aid if the talks did not happen. American leaders are aware of Palestinian attitudes on peace with Israel but the U.S. still assumes that a peace deal is possible. For years Palestinian leaders have agreed with that when speaking to Western leaders and reporters but they then turn around and tell their followers that, of course, Israel must be destroyed and that there is no other solution. For most Western leaders the disunity, corruption, and general chaos within the Palestinian community is seen as a larger problem than a peace deal. That may be true, but without a positive attitude towards a peace deal there won’t be any peace. Despite all this, many Palestinians are now talking about a “Third Intifada,” as if more civil disorder will change anything. Peace is not on the agenda. Most Israelis and, according to a recent U.S. opinion poll, most Americans agree. Even without a new intifada, casual violence in the West Bank is increasing. This usually takes the form of young men throwing stones at Israeli soldiers or civilians. Israeli women and children are the preferred targets because they are the least likely to shoot back if the rocks begin to inflict injuries. Palestinian propaganda praises those who kill children just as much as those who kill soldiers or police. All are heroes of the Palestinian struggle to destroy Israel. This is becoming embarrassing for some Western nations when it was pointed out that their aid money was being used directly for some of this propaganda.

Today Israeli police arrested ten Hamas members operating a terrorist operation in the West Bank. These arrests are often quietly assisted by Fatah (the anti-Hamas group running the West Bank) letting the Israelis know who they think is working for Hamas (which runs Gaza and refuses to even talk about making peace with Israel). Hamas also wants to replace Fatah as the ruler of the West Bank.

The Egyptian effort to close the smuggling tunnels to Gaza and restrict access in general (to limit Islamic terrorist activity) has greatly reduced Hamas income (taxes on the tunnel operators which Hamas use to pay civil servants and their armed men) and caused shortages of consumer goods. Israel and Egypt allow essential goods (food, medicine, and the like) in but make strenuous efforts to keep out weapons and materials used to build bunkers and tunnels. Hamas is now trying to repair its relationship with Iran. Hamas leadership was visibly split over the June decision to drop links with Hezbollah and Iran (or risking losing all the cash aid from oil-rich Gulf Sunni Arab states that are fearful of Shia inspired Iranian aggression). This is complicated by the fact that Islamic terrorist group Islamic Jihad (an Iran backed terror group that is a Hamas rival in Gaza) threatened armed rebellion against Hamas and continues to take aid from Iran. Many in Hamas see this as an effort by Iran to weaken Hamas, because Hamas now openly supports the Syrian rebels. That has cost Hamas over a million dollars a month in Iranian cash and caused a lot of dissent within Hamas. Dozens of Hamas men have gone to Syria to fight against the rebels and Hamas is trying to work out some kind of deal that would allow them to maintain support from both Iran and the Sunni Arab oil states. That would be quite a feat but for an organization that believes it will eventually destroy Israel, nothing is impossible. Hamas is also facing more pressure in Gaza from moderates who are angry over the economic problems and Hamas attempts to impose Islamic conservative lifestyle rules.

In Egypt over 1,200 have died since the Army ousted the Moslem Brotherhood government in early July. Some 90 percent of the deaths occurred in the first three months of army rule. Things have calmed down in the last month or so. Most of the fighting is now in Sinai, where security forces seek to shut down Islamic terrorist operations.

November 3, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian security forces revealed that they had recently shut down a fuel smuggling operation that got diesel fuel into Gaza via an underwater pipeline along the shallow coast.

An Israeli micro-UAV crashed about 400 meters inside Gaza. The 4.6 kg (10 pound) Skylark UAV is used by infantry units for reconnaissance. The battery powered UAV can stay aloft 90 minutes at a time and came down because of component failure. Hamas said they shot it down.

November 1, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian security forces carried out several raids and arrested 36 Islamic terrorist suspects, including one senior terrorist leader. Police also found and destroyed three more smuggling tunnels into Gaza. 

October 31, 2013: In Gaza Islamic terrorists and Israeli troops clashed near the border fence, with four Hamas men killed and five Israeli soldiers wounded as Gaza tried to halt Israeli destruction of an elaborate tunnel Hamas had built from Gaza into Israel. The tunnel was discovered before Hamas could use it to send terrorists into Israel to kill or kidnap Israelis. Hamas fired several mortar shells into Israel to try and halt Israeli destruction of the tunnel.  

October 30, 2013: An Israeli air strike near the Syrian naval base at Latakia destroyed a shipment of Russian SA-125 missiles being shipped to Hezbollah in Lebanon. The 1970s era SA-125 (NATO called it the SA-3 Goa) surface-to-air missile system has a basic design that is old but it has been frequently updated since its introduction 40 years ago. The two stage SA-125 missile weighs nearly a ton and carries a 59 kg (130 pound) warhead against targets 35 kilometers away (and altitudes as high as 18,000 meters). There is also a smaller missile, weighing closer to half a ton, with a range of 15 kilometers. Having two different size missiles for the same system is a common practice with the Russians (and some other nations as well, like the U.S. Patriot system). Users have upgraded or modified their SA-125 missiles and radars themselves over the years. The most notable example of this was in Serbia, in 1999, where a missile battery commander used SA-125s to shoot down a U.S. F-117 stealth aircraft. He did this by using human observers often and his radar rarely. Since the SA-125 can be controlled (flown) by a ground operator, once the F-117 was located, an SA-125 missile was launched and flown manually to the target. This was simple and effective and largely immune to countermeasures. This feat gave SA-125 sales a shot in the arm, and the Russians opened a new factory to meet the demand (worth over $250 million). But nations don't buy the inexpensive, and reliable, SA-125 because one took down a stealth fighter. No, the missile provides basic air defense against neighbors who don't have high-end air forces. The SA-125 provides basic air defense and keeps aerial smugglers, and secretive users of UAVs, nervous. The SA-125 would not halt Israeli air operations in Lebanon but would require more effort to take out the SA-125s before major air attacks.

October 28, 2013: Israeli warplanes attacked Islamic terrorist targets in Gaza after two rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. This was the first air raid on Gaza in two months.

In Egypt (the Nile Delta) three policemen were killed in a dawn attack on a checkpoint. Most of the Islamic terrorist violence in Egypt is in the Sinai, although Moslem Brotherhood inspired demonstrations are continuing and becoming more violent. Most Egyptians are still hostile to the Moslem Brotherhood.

October 27, 2013: A mortar shell was fired from Gaza into Israel but Israel did not respond. Israel also did not respond to two rocket attacks last month. This restraint was all in the hope that Hamas would restrain the Islamic terrorists making these attacks.

October 26, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian security forces carried out several raids and arrested over 20 Islamic terrorist suspects. Six of those arrested were Palestinians in Egypt illegally.

October 25, 2013: In the West Bank Palestinian police arrested three pro-Hamas university students and accused them of plotting to use a small, but upgraded, consumer grade UAV to carry explosives into Israel.

October 24, 2013: In the Sinai an Egyptian policeman was shot dead in a drive-by attack. Elsewhere in Sinai (near the Gaza border) police found a five room “hospital” set up by Islamic terrorists. The Egyptian government agreed to shorten the curfew (in effect since August) to 1-5 AM (except on Fridays when it is 7 PM-5 AM).

October 23, 2013: In the Sinai Egyptian security forces arrested 72 Islamic terrorist suspects. One soldier died.

October 22, 2013: In the Sinai a roadside bomb hit an Egyptian military convoy, killing a soldier and a civilian while also wounding five people.

 

 

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