The U.S. sponsored peace talks between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians continue to be stalled and the U.S. is blaming Israel. This does not go down well in Israel, which is now accusing American officials of being anti-Israel. Then there is the problem with increase in Palestinian terror attacks since the peace talks began. It’s no secret that several smaller Palestinian terrorist groups oppose the peace talks and insist on constant attacks as part of their strategy to destroy Israel. Hamas refuses to even participate. The Palestinian media is openly disdainful of the peace talks and the American insistence that the talks continue. American officials seem to be obsessed with getting a symbolic deal signed, despite all indications that the Palestinians have no intention of halting their terrorism efforts against Israel.
In Egypt the Moslem Brotherhood is again fighting to survive. After forming a government they dominated in 2012, the Moslem Brotherhood proceeded to turn most Egyptians against them because the Moslem Brotherhood leadership paid too little attention to making Egypt work and too much attention to Moslem Brotherhood politics. Thus the Moslem Brotherhood failed once more to create an Islamic Egypt that the movements’ founders began working towards back in the 1920s. The basic idea behind the Moslem Brotherhood, to use Islamic law to form an Egyptian free of corruption and oppression, has always appealed to many Egyptians (rich and poor) who were fed up with the sorry state of Egyptian culture. The Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood was deposed by the July 2013 coup in part because it did not have the support of Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states. This is sad, because the Moslem Brotherhood was given shelter in Saudi Arabia when it was driven from Egypt (for trying to overthrow the secular government) in the 1960s. But once in Saudi Arabia the Moslem Brotherhood began plotting to overthrow the Saudi monarchy because it was not Islamic enough. That ended badly and most Saudis have not forgotten. Although the Saudis initially supported the new Moslem Brotherhood government with massive loans and grants, that soon changed when the Brotherhood got cozy with Iran. That offended most Egyptians as well as most people in Arabia. When the Moslem Brotherhood began acting like it did while in exile in Saudi Arabia half a century ago the Saudis concluded that the Moslem Brotherhood had not really changed. The Moslem Brotherhood is now going through the same process it suffered from in the 1990s. Radical factions are resorting to terrorism which is getting civilians killed which turns the population against the entire brotherhood. In the 1990s that led to thousands of Brotherhood members arrested and hundreds of the radicals killed. The Brotherhood lost a lot of rank-and-file members and it took over a decade to rebuild its grassroots strength. Now all that effort was being destroyed, the same way it was in the 1990s.
Thousands of ultra-orthodox Israelis demonstrated in Jerusalem to protest government plans to lift the exemption from conscription for young ultra-orthodox men. For months now ultra-orthodox religious leaders have been calling on draft age men among their followers to resist new laws that make ultra-orthodox men eligible for conscription. Ultra-orthodox (Haredi) Jews now comprise about 14 percent of Israelis and are the fastest growing portion of the population (followed by Arab Israelis). The Haredi are very poor (most men spend the bulk of their time in religious studies) but increasingly violent when it comes to imposing their customs (no traffic on the Sabbath, no advertising of women or women and men together on the same bus or public event) on non-Haredi Israelis. Street demonstrations are increasingly common, as is physical violence (stabbings and shootings). The Haredi believe their religious laws trump secular ones, and this increasingly brings them into violent conflict with the police, and their secular neighbors. For over half a century most Haredi men did not serve in the military and some Haredi sects believe that Israel should not even exist. Growing anger from the Israelis who do serve in the military led to new laws reducing Haredi exemptions from conscription.
Among the many Islamic terrorist groups Hamas shelters in Gaza is a growing al Qaeda operation. For a long time Gaza was not a popular place for al Qaeda to operate in. But with so many long-time sanctuaries becoming too dangerous Gaza has become more popular, or at least tolerable.
The new Israeli security fence on the Egyptian border has not only halted the flow of illegal African immigrants, but also the flow of drugs, especially hashish and marijuana. Prices for these drugs in Israel and the West Bank have more than doubled and will stay that way until the drug growers create a smuggling network going through Jordan. This is difficult because security is tighter in Jordan and bribes are not as effective. Jordan is particularly hostile to Islamic terrorist groups, which is why their Israeli border has never been an easy way for Islamic terrorists to get into or closer to Israel. Moreover part of the Jordan border only gives access to the West Bank, and another high-tech security fence blocks access to Israel. Most of the Jordanian border is in southern Israel. This is the Negev Desert which is sparsely inhabited and largely free of natural cover. A few extra UAVs patrolling this areas makes it very difficult for smugglers.
February 6, 2014: A rocket fired towards Ashkelon landed in an uninhabited area. Two others fired from Gaza also landed harmlessly.
February 5, 2014: Lebanese report that jamming of cell phone service is coming from Israel and that Israeli electronic surveillance activities along the border appear to be more intense than usual.
In northern Sinai Egyptian troops raided two houses and killed seven Islamic terrorists.
February 4, 2014: Egypt revealed that it had received $4 billion worth of free oil from Arab oil states during the last six months of 2013. The 2011 rebellion caused the economy to falter and that deprived the government of over $30 in income. The government has had to rely on borrowing and gifts to maintain services.
February 1, 2014: Israeli police raided a West Bank hotel and arrested two Islamic terrorism suspects.
In northern Sinai Egyptian troops raided an Islamic terrorist camp, killing two of the rebels and arresting twenty more.
January 31, 2014: In the Israeli Red Sea town of Eilat an Iron Dome system detected an incoming (from Egypt) 122mm rocket and intercepted it. 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. A similar interception took place on the 20th.
January 30, 2014: A rocket was fired from Gaza into Israel and hit nothing. Israel launched two air attacks in response.
January 29, 2014: In northern Sinai Egyptian helicopter gunships attacked troops an Islamic terrorist base killing 13 and wounding many more. This was believed to be in response to the rebels recently shooting down an army helicopter.
January 28, 2014: In Egypt Islamic terrorists took credit for killing a senior police general in Cairo. The victim was shot as he left his home.
January 27, 2014: It appears that there has been another Israeli air strike near the Syrian naval base at Latakia. Israel would not comment, which is their usual response to queries about air attacks on Syria. The last one (October 2013) destroyed a shipment of Russian SA-125 missiles being shipped to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Today’s attack was said to be against some S-300 missile components recently received from Russia. Israel has earlier indicated that if the S-300 did show up in Syria (or Lebanon) they would probably attack it right away, before these systems could become operational. Not getting new missiles is the least of Hezbollah’s worries. Iran has demanded that its long-term client send thousands of troops to Syria to help prop up the beleaguered Assad government. Hezbollah has suffered over a thousand casualties so far and the Syrian effort is not popular with most of its Lebanese Shia supporters. It is even less popular with the non-Shia majority in Lebanon, which has long sought a way to curb Hezbollah power. This has meant more political and terrorist attacks against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel sees the result of this along the border, where the Hezbollah presence has thinned out considerably in the last year.
In Egypt (Sinai) terrorists blew up a portion of a natural gas pipeline. This is the third such attack in the last month.
January 25, 2014: In Egypt violent demonstrations by the Moslem Brotherhood left 29 dead and 167 wounded. This was the third anniversary of the 2011 rebellion and Islamic radicals and terrorists are angry at having failed to take control of the government.
January 24, 2014: In Egypt a car bomb outside a police headquarters in Cairo killed five people. There were four bombs set off in Cairo by Islamic terrorists, killing six and wounding over a hundred.
January 23, 2014: Israel announced that its security forces had foiled an al Qaeda attempt to attack the U.S. embassy in Israel. This effort was controlled by al Qaeda members in Gaza.