Israel launched air attacks on more than fifty targets in Gaza. In the last 24 hours nearly a hundred rockets were fired from Gaza and the Israeli air operations are mostly against rocket storage and firing operations. This is difficult because most of the rockets are deliberately stored in residential areas. This complicates Israeli air attacks, even though only smart bombs and guided missiles are used for these targets. Gaza medical personnel reported that nine people were wounded in todays’ air strikes. In late 2012 Israel was in a similar situation that led to an eight day offensive into Gaza. This ended with a Hamas promise to halt the rocket fire. Hamas was not able or willing to stop the attacks completely so here we are again.
Israel has other serious problems besides Hamas. For example, Israel is a democracy and governments can only be formed if a majority coalition (in parliament) can be formed. It has proved impossible to form a coalition without including some parties that back Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Arabs are violently opposed to those settlements and that anger is encouraged by decades of Arab and Palestinian media propaganda calling for the destruction of Israel at all costs. The official line in most Arab countries is that there can be no real compromise on this “destruction of Israel” issue. Any peace deals with Israel are seen as temporary truces, not a permanent end to anti-Israel violence. Calls for radical solutions (as in the destruction of Israel) were long believed to be mainly an Arab disease but in the last two decades Israeli radicals (still a minority, but a loud one) have called for more rapid and violent responses to Arab terrorism and physical attacks. This has led to Israeli “settlers” attacking Palestinians regularly. In 2012 the Israeli government announced that Jewish residents of the West Bank making "price tag" (retaliatory) attacks would be treated like terrorists. This gave the police more power to investigate and prosecute these crimes, which diminished for a while then began increasing again. That may have slowed the attacks but it did not stop them. These price tag attacks were also carried out to protest Israeli government efforts to dismantle illegal settler structures in the West Bank in addition to the more publicized revenge attacks against Palestinians who went after settlements or settlers. Price tag attacks represented a shift in settler attitudes since the 2006 war with Hezbollah and increasing violence from Hamas.
For decades the settlers could be depended on to be passive after a Palestinian attack, letting the Israeli police and military look for the culprit. But now the settlers are increasingly launching "price tag" counterattacks. The price tag refers to what the Palestinians must suffer for every attack on Israelis, or for Israeli police interfering with settler activities. This is vigilante justice, and it does more damage to Palestinians than Israeli police efforts to catch and prosecute Palestinian attackers. The Palestinians are not accustomed to this kind of swift payback and they do not like it. Israel has been under growing public and international pressure to crack down more vigorously on the vigilantes. This became especially urgent because the attacks are much more common, and are even extending to feuds between factions of Jewish religious extremists. The Palestinians are still committing most of the terror attacks, but the Jewish terrorists are catching up and extremists on both sides back increased violence in the hope of driving the other side out. Some extremist settler groups have long called for the expulsion of all Arabs from the West Bank and that idea is becoming more popular among settlers and Israelis in general. It’s still a minority attitude, but as more Israelis become frustrated with the relentless Arab calls for destroying Israel, extreme countermeasures appeal to more people.
Meanwhile the new alliance between Hamas and Fatah is collapsing because of disagreements over money (especially to pay civil servants in Gaza that Hamas is too broke to pay). Many Hamas leaders see a brief war with Israel as a way to solve their cashflow problem as the damage from such conflicts tends to be minimal but does bring in a lot more foreign aid and opportunities to exaggerate the damage (and generally gain some sympathy from donor countries). This further boosts aid, especially cash for payrolls and secret bank accounts of Palestinian leaders. Hamas sees a political advantage as well as the Fatah assistance in the search for the three Israeli teenagers is being portrayed by Hamas as collaboration with Israel. Moreover both Israel and Fatah always believed Hamas members in the West Bank were behind the kidnapping and the search for the three teenagers was mostly at the expense of the Hamas organizations in the West Bank. This included several Hamas terror cells and some of these raids captured weapons and bomb making materials. Hamas increasingly sees Fatah as an Israeli ally as well as a Hamas rival. Hamas knows that Fatah has much less enthusiasm for war with Israel. The West Bank is full of Israeli soldiers and police and going to war would lead to many Fatah leaders quickly being arrested (or killed). In Gaza it’s always possible to flee into Egypt. Thus Hamas needs a war with Israel, even if most Palestinians do not.
For months now Hamas has been under intense pressure to halt rocket attacks from Gaza and settle their differences with rival Palestinian faction Fatah. The rocket attacks are the more immediate problem because Hamas signed a truce with Israel over this matter and failed to deliver. Now faces an Israeli effort to use massive air, and possibly ground, attacks aimed at destroying most of the Hamas rocket stockpile. The situation got worse in 2014 and now many Israelis are calling for reoccupation of Gaza because pulling troops out in 2005 has not worked out well at all. Hamas remains dedicated to destroying Israel and that rocket stockpile (built by smuggling Iranian rockets in for years) is the only thing that gives Hamas any credibility as a threat to Israel. Hamas needs all the respect it can get in the Arab world because it is losing popular support in Gaza where its 1.6 million Palestinian subjects are angry at not being able to vote Hamas out of power and being forced to submit to more and more Islamic lifestyle rules. Fatah still rules in the West Bank and despite still being corrupt, inept and unpopular has managed to reach an agreement with Hamas on a unified Palestinian government. This is essential to keep financial aid from Arab nations coming. Neither Palestinian faction is interested in real peace talks with Israel. That's because Palestinian leaders continue to preach endless war against Israel, and destruction of the Jewish state. Any peace deal is seen as a stepping stone towards that ultimate goal. Some Palestinians keep trying to make any kind of peace, in order to reverse the economic disaster they brought on themselves as a result of their 15 year old terror campaign against Israel. Polls show that Palestinians are tired of terrorism, even though they still support it in order to destroy Israel, which remains an article of faith among Palestinians. The Palestinian economy in Gaza has collapsed as a major component, foreign charity, was reduced because the people elected the Hamas (Islamic terrorists) party to power in 2007. Hamas is trying to convince foreigners that it has changed (it hasn't) in order to get more cash to keep their religious dictatorship going.
In Egypt, the disgruntled population triggered another uprising in mid-2013 and the army removed the recently elected Islamic conservatives because most Egyptians saw the new bosses as too similar to the old ones. In 2014 Egypt elected another military man, who replaces one who was overthrown in 2011. The government has arrested over 10,000 people since the coup a year ago but now the military is in charge legally. The newly elected president (Abdul al Sisi) is a former general and is determined to crush the Moslem Brotherhood and other more radical Islamic terrorist groups. Hundreds of Islamic radicals have been sentenced to death or long prison terms in the last year. This is all a repeat of what happened twenty years ago during the last Islamic radical uprising against a corrupt and inefficient government. The army promises it will be different this time, but they always do that and it never is. President Sisi has made it clear that he sees Islamic terrorism as the greatest danger the region faces. At the same time Sisi is making moves to get the economy going although it’s doubtful he will do anything about the corruption.
July 7, 2014: Israel announced a more extensive effort against the growing rocket attacks coming out of Gaza. Several thousand reservists were called to active duty and other preparations were made for possible ground raids into Gaza. Air raids in Gaza overnight have left eight Palestinians dead.
So far this month over 200 rockets have been fired into Israel from Gaza, most of them in the last five days. Iron Dome intercepted 21 rockets that were headed for populated areas. Twelve of these intercepts were today.
July 6, 2014: Overnight Israeli air raids in Gaza, aimed at Hamas targets, killed seven Hamas men and Hamas said it would take revenge. Some of these air raids are against Palestinians observed setting up rockets for firing. This is increasingly common as Israel increases the use of UAVs over Gaza and introduces new vidcam surveillance software that makes it more likely that these UAVs will spot the Palestinian rocket firing teams before the rockets can be launched.
Nazi flags are again flying over a West Bank Palestinian town (Beit Ummar, north of Hebron). This has happened in this area before. Beit Ummar is only a few kilometers from where the bodies of three kidnapped Jewish teenagers were found recently. Arabs were very pro-Nazi during World War II. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem (the highest Islamic official in the area) spent the war in Berlin (to avoid arrest by the British). Iraq, which had become independent during the 1930s, declared itself a German ally in 1941 and was promptly invaded and re-conquered by three British divisions, before the Germans could get many troops into the territory of their new ally. After World War II the Arab language media continued Nazi-grade anti-Semitism. The Arabs had enough sense to tone down this race hatred and pro-Nazi line in their English language media. But many Nazi era books are still in print in Arabic and sell well. Up in Lebanon, Hamas ally Hezbollah has adopted the infamous Nazi straight arm salute as their own and this often shows up in publicity photos of Hezbollah gatherings.
Senior Hamas leaders, speaking to the Arab media, say they want several senior Hamas men released from Israeli prisons before they will make any real effort to halt the rocket fire against Israel.
In Egypt (the Nile Delta) an off duty army officer was shot dead by gunmen.
July 5, 2014: Israeli police arrested six young Israeli men in East (Arab) Jerusalem and accused them of killing an Arab man (by burning him to death) last week hours after the funeral for three kidnapped and murdered Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. Three of those arrested are said to have confessed that they killed the Arab teenager in revenge for Arabs doing the same to the three Jewish teenagers. The arrest of six Israelis for killing the Arab teenager shocked many Israelis, who believed only Arabs were capable of such savagery. But as many Israelis have been noting for decades; “Israel is becoming a Middle Eastern country” and not in a good way. Increasing corruption and growing calls for more violence in response to Arab terrorism is becoming an disturbing trend.
Israeli air strikes in Gaza killed two Islamic terrorists. These air strikes are occurring almost daily.
July 4, 2014: Hamas controlled media in Gaza is saying that Hamas has rockets that can reach all of Israel and these would be used if Israel did not halt its air attacks on Gaza. The air attacks are in response to the rocket attacks that are still made from Gaza despite a ceasefire agreement. Hamas insists it cannot control the smaller Islamic terrorist groups in Gaza that are making most of these attacks and should not be held responsible. Actually Israeli air attacks tend to be at targets belonging to the smaller Islamic terrorist groups launching the rockets. Hamas leadership is divided on the ceasefire and many Hamas leaders want all-out with war with Israel believing this is preferable to the Israeli “siege” of Gaza which is making Gazans increasingly hostile to Hamas and increasing the possibility of an anti-Hamas uprising. In Israel there is growing call for an all-out offensive against Gaza to destroy Hamas once and for all.
Today six mortar shells and 20 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Israeli warplanes raided terrorist targets in Gaza.
July 3, 2014: The Israeli army sent more troops to the Gaza border. More than 40 mortar shells and rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Only 34 landed in Israel, the others were shot down or landed inside Gaza. Inside Israel more violence from Arab mobs (in reaction to the death of an Arab teenager on the 2nd) left 232 injured.
In Egypt (northern Sinai) several clashes left 17 Islamic terrorists dead. This spike in activity was because Islamic terror groups were trying to make attacks to commemorate the one year anniversary of the military coup in Egypt. Outside Cairo four people died when a bomb they were building went off. When police showed up at the poultry farm (owned by a Moslem Brotherhood leader) where this happened they found twenty other bombs completed and ready to go. Two of the dead were known as Moslem Brotherhood men who had become radicals and were actually being sought by the police. In Cairo a Islamic terrorist bomb killed two and clashes between protestors and police left three more dead.
July 2, 2014: An Arab teenager was killed in East Jerusalem. This was apparently in revenge for the killing of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank. Arab media immediately called for revenge attacks and this led to days of increasingly violent demonstrations. There were also more incidents of Moslem men (usually teenagers) throwing rocks at vehicles on highways or heavily trafficked streets through Arab towns and neighborhoods in Israel and the West Bank.
July 1, 2014: The bodies of the three kidnapped (on June 12th) Jewish teenagers were found buried in the West Bank. This led to a huge increase in social media activity with many Israelis calling for revenge. This included nearly 40,000 Israelis joining a Facebook campaign for revenge against Arabs for the deaths of the three teenagers.
June 30, 2014: In Egypt two policemen died while trying to disable a bomb found near the presidential palace.
June 28, 2014: A rocket from Gaza hit a factory in the Israeli border town of Sderot. A fire was started and four employees in the building got out safely. It’s rare for the rockets and mortar shells from Gaza to actually hit anything.
In Egypt (northern Sinai) four policemen were killed by Islamic terrorists. In Cairo an Islamic terrorist bomb killed two people.
June 26, 2014: Israel named two Hamas members living in the West Bank as prime suspects in the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank. Hamas denies that any of its members had anything to do with the kidnapping. Then again, Hamas does not have strict discipline among its members, especially those in the West Bank. There is a long history of unauthorized Hamas terror operations. Apparently many entrepreneurial Hamas members believe it is better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.
June 25, 2014: In Lebanon a police raid on a Beirut hotel led to an ISIL suicide bomber setting off his explosives killing himself and wounding three policemen. The raid was to prevent the Sunni Islamic terrorists from carrying out a planned attack elsewhere. This is the third ISIL attack in Lebanon in the last five days. This has the Lebanese government fearing that ISIL may be preparing to try and take over Lebanon as well. After all the L in ISIL stands for “Levant” which means “Greater Syria” (current Syria plus Lebanon and parts of Iraq, Israel and Turkey).
The UN called for Syrian and rebel forces to stop fighting on the Israeli border. This area, the Golan Heights, has been patrolled by UN peacekeepers since 1974 and the recent violence has endangered UN personnel.
In Egypt the government blamed the Moslem Brotherhood for five bombs that went off in Cairo, wounding eight people. The Moslem Brotherhood denied the accusation.
June 24, 2014: In Gaza four civilians were wounded and a three year old child killed when a rocket fired at Israel fell short and landed in Gaza. This is increasingly common because of the use of locally made rockets or factory made ones that are old or not stored and handled properly.
June 23, 2014: : Near the Israeli border Israeli warplanes attacked nine Syrian army targets overnight. There were also Israeli artillery and mortar attacks on Syrian targets. This destroyed several armored vehicles (including two tanks), two artillery batteries (at least six howitzers plus other equipment) and the headquarters of a Syrian infantry brigade. At least ten Syrian soldiers were killed and many more wounded. This was continued retaliation for fire from the Syrian side yesterday that left one Israeli dead and two wounded. The Syrian army recently regained control of most of the Israeli border and that was apparently done with the help of Hezbollah. This may explain the increased mortar, rocket and gun fire from the Syrian side. Most of that fire has been unintentional but recently it has been noted that some of it appears to be deliberate attempts to kill Israelis. The Syrian government is also very mad at Israel for several air attacks on recently imported Russian missiles. Meanwhile Israeli intelligence has concluded that only about 20 percent of the 120,000 rebels fighting the Assad government are secular. The rest are, to one degree or another, “Islamic” and that means all of them want Israel destroyed.