Israel was not asked to join the international coalition against ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant). This was because the ten Arab members of this twenty country coalition are still trapped by decades of their own “Israel must be destroyed” propaganda and rhetoric. Many Arabs now regret this rigorous anti-Israel policy but it has become a part of Arab culture and very difficult to change or even discuss openly. So despite the fact that ISIL sees the overthrow of the Shia Syrian dictator as only the first of many conquests that include Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Saudi Arabia and, eventually Turkey and Israel, the Arab states must play down the fact that they and ISIL agree on one thing; that Israel must be destroyed. Meanwhile since the fall of the Iraqi city of Mosul in June ISIL has appeared to be unstoppable and all the Moslems nations on the ISIL target list realized that ISIL was a threat to everyone. The Saudis are calling on the West to do more because ISIL will eventually turn its attention to making terror attacks in the West. The Saudis do not mention that they are higher on the ISIL hit list than the West, Israel or Turkey and that the most effective force against Islamic terrorism in the region (Israel) is not being called on to help against ISIL. Israel does not complain, since ISIL is not as much of an effective threat to Israel as it is to Moslem states in the region.
With the 50 day Hamas war apparently over the temporary unity with Fatah in the West Bank has ended. Fatah accuses Hamas of not honoring a recent unification deal. That is no surprise, especially since Hamas has declared itself the victor (mainly because it can still send out press releases) in the conflict with Israel. Hamas is about to receive a large amount of foreign aid to “rebuild” and has also declared its intention to rearm. Hamas is the self-declared Arab Hero and wants to make the most of it. That includes appealing to West Bank Palestinians to declare Hamas the leader of all Palestinians and to reject Fatah. Hamas is encouraged by recent opinion polls which show Hamas gaining a sharp gain in popularity as a result of the beating it took in the 50 day war with Israel. That is not unexpected, and Fatah knows from experience that a popularity spike like that does not last. While the poll showed that 79 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas won the war, and 72 percent would vote for Hamas to be the leader of all the Palestinians, past polling showed a sharp decline in such popularity as the months went by and reality replaced fantasy.
Hamas is calling for billions in aid for reconstruction. Israel warns that most of this money will be stolen or diverted to rebuilding the Hamas ability to attack Israel again. Because Israel used precision weapons during the war, only five percent of Gaza housing was destroyed (and another eight percent damaged). Some 100,000 Gaza residents (5.6 percent of the population) are homeless. Rebuilding all that, along with legitimate public buildings (schools and utilities) will cost a lot less than what Hamas is demanding for “rebuilding.” This is not a new scam, but it is happening again, so watch carefully. Israel revealed that the financial cost of the war for them was $2.6 billion.
The continued Hamas rocket attacks on Israel ultimately got some 2,100 Palestinians killed when Israel sought to cripple the ability of Islamic terrorists to fire rockets into Israel. Hamas deliberately stored rockets in residential neighborhoods, often in schools, hospitals and mosques. Yet only about half the dead Palestinians could be termed “innocent civilians”. The rest were Hamas men handling the rocket, mortar and gunfire attacks on Israel. Oddly, according to most media Israel gets no credit for minimizing civilian casualties and Hamas no blame for trying to get civilians killed. Only 72 Israelis died, six of them civilians and the rest soldiers. Israel admits that Hamas held out longer (before basically giving up by agreeing to a ceasefire they would enforce) than Israel expected. At the same time Hamas underestimated Israeli preparations and expected to kill a lot more Israelis and not suffer such heavy losses in terms of Hamas personnel (including many senior leaders) and equipment (including most of the rocket supply and most weapons manufacturing operations).
In July 2014 Hamas thought they could risk another war with Israel and come out the winner (to the Arab world at least). Despite public warning from Israel that the Israeli armed forces were much better prepared to deal with Hamas tactics, Hamas went to war anyway, confident that they had enough new tricks to stay ahead of the Israelis. Hamas quickly discovered that the Israelis were a lot quicker and better coordinated than in the past. This has happened before, to both the Israelis but mainly to the Arabs. Case in point was a Hamas attempt to use their scuba equipped “naval commandos” to make an underwater assault on an Israeli seaside base just north of Gaza. The Hamas commandos were quickly spotted by Israeli sensors monitoring offshore waters, which automatically sent the contact information to the new Israeli computerized command and control system. This automatically sent the alert (along with location and other data) to land, naval and air vehicles within range. That meant that before the Hamas men hit the beach they were being tracked by an Israeli tank gunner, an armed UAV overhead and a nearby warship. The closest infantry unit sent troops to the beach the Hamas men appeared to be moving towards. The five Hamas men refused to surrender to the Israeli troops waiting for them on the beach and in a brief gun battle all five were killed. One Israeli soldier was wounded and this (and the fact that the Hamas men made it onto the beach) was, by Arab standards a victory. A week later Israel released details of what had happened to the Hamas frogmen. At that point Hamas was discovering that many of their other new tactics, like dozens of deep tunnels into Israel and numerous new ideas for hiding and launching rockets from residential areas and public buildings (schools, hospitals and mosques) were not only known to the Israelis but were captured by Israeli aerial video cameras. Hamas also discovered that the Israelis had better information on where the Hamas leaders were hiding out and a lot more of these fellows were getting killed than during past conflicts. Hamas also found that their attempts to force Israel to kill a lot more Palestinians during efforts to halt the rocket attacks were compromised by Israeli warnings to civilians (often via telephone) to get out when the rockets hidden in their building were about to be destroyed by smart bombs or missiles.
Meanwhile the ferocity with which some Western (and nearly all Arab) military analysts attack Israeli efforts to defend themselves is remarkable, and often spectacularly wrong. Even Israeli systems that are purely defensive are subject to ferocious, and usually false, criticism. One of the worst recent examples were the critics who claimed that it was technically impossible for the Israeli Iron Dome anti-rocket system to shoot down Palestinian rockets aimed at populated areas. Even after other technical experts pointed out the technical and statistical flaws in these criticisms the claims kept coming and being repeated. Israelis didn’t much care since each day (and night) of the recent war with Hamas anyone in southern Israel could see Iron Dome in action and doing what it was designed to do. Despite all the long range rockets fired at distant (but much larger) cities, none hit and many were spectacularly destroyed before many witnesses by Iron Dome.
The recent war between Hamas and Israel has, like the two previous conflicts, brought out a lot of pro-Arab (if not pro-Hamas) hackers to attack Israeli Internet operations. This time around the attacks, while low level (defacing websites and trying to shut down sites with DDOS attacks) were more intense. Most were from Moslems far from the Palestinian territories who had acquired some hacking skills. While the Moslem nations have lower percentages of Internet users and Internet experts, that is slowly improving every year. More worrisome to Israel is the apparent growing of Cyber War operations in Iran. All this increased hacking against Israeli targets is no surprise and it has been developing since September 11, 2001. Israel also now accuses Iran of using Cyber War operations to aid all Moslem anti-Israel groups. This support does not include high grade stuff, which only Iranian hackers are allowed to handle, but training and hacker software that many eager Moslem amateurs were not aware of or felt capable of using.
In Egypt security forces believe they have killed or captured most of the Islamic terrorists in Sinai and only about 500 are still active there (out of nearly 8,000 two years ago). This conclusion is based on the enormous amount of data captured from dead terrorists and raids on terrorist camps and facilities. All those computers and smart phones contained lots of unencrypted information that proved to be quite accurate. But the army also discovered that the Islamic terrorist groups continue to recruit and a steady stream of Islamic terrorists are returning from Syria, where they have learned new terrorist skills and often head to Sinai to try them out.
September 11, 2014: Hamas now agrees to negotiate with Israel over an expanded ceasefire. But Israel will not speak directly until Hamas renounces its policy of destroying Israel. Hamas refuses to give that up since the destruction of Israel has become the main justification for everything Hamas does. The current ceasefire was negotiated via Egyptian intermediaries.
In Egypt (Sinai) three Islamic terrorists were killed and six arrested.
September 10, 2014: In Golan 45 UN peacekeepers from Fiji were allowed to leave Syria, where they had been held captive by al Nusra rebels since August 28th. The 81 Filipino peacekeepers who worked with the Fijian were also surrounded by al Nusra rebels but refused to surrender their weapons and got back to Israel unharmed. The Fijians also went to safety in Israel. The al Nusra men wanted to ensure that the UN peacekeepers did not interfere with the rebel takeover of a border crossing.
The UN has 1,223 peacekeepers (Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines) monitoring the Syrian/Israeli border. The UN troops have been there since 1974 to monitor a ceasefire between Israel and Syria. Israel defeated Syria in 1967 and took the Golan Heights from Syria. In 1973 Israel defeated a strong effort by Syria to regain the Golan Heights. Since then the UN has watched over an uneasy peace.
September 8, 2014: On the Syrian border an Israeli soldier was wounded by fire from the Syrian side. It was believed that the fire was not deliberate but the result of a gun battle just across the border in Syria in which some of the bullets ended up in Israel.
September 4, 2014: Israel has agreed to supply Jordan with $1.5 billion worth of natural gas over 15 years. Since 2011 Jordan has seen its former gas supplier, Egypt, renege on its gas supply contracts. This came about as the new Egyptian government cancelled its contract to supply Israel with gas. While Israel agreed to allow the natural gas pipeline from Egypt to continue supplying gas to Jordan, numerous Islamic terror attacks on the pipeline in Egypt have made the Egyptian supply unreliable. Israel has developed new off shore natural gas fields and had planned to cut back on Egyptian gas anyway. Israel is getting so much gas from the offshore facilities that it can supply Jordan as well. Jordan is playing down this deal, but they need the natural gas and no other Arab state stepped up to help.
September 3, 2014: In Egypt (Sinai) seven Islamic terrorists were killed and eleven captured. In the last four days security forces in Sinai have killed 16 Islamic terrorists and arrested 94. Six Gaza smuggling tunnels were also found and destroyed and large quantities of vehicles, equipment and weapons seized.
September 2, 2014: In Egypt (Sinai) eleven soldiers were killed by a bomb concealed in a tunnel from Gaza. Egypt continues to seek out and destroy smuggling tunnels from Gaza into Egypt.
September 1, 2014: In Egypt (Sinai) two Islamic terrorists were killed and one captured.
August 31, 2014: Near the Israeli border 35 peacekeepers from the Philippines escaped capture by al Nusra gunmen and made it into Israel. Another 40 Filipino soldiers followed after a seven hour standoff and gun battle with al Nusra.
An Israeli Patriot anti-aircraft missile shot down what appeared to be a Syrian Army UAV that was probably checking out rebel (al Nusra) activity along the border and strayed into Israel. Since this could have been an Iranian made UAV used by Hezbollah (who have threatened to equip some of these UAVs with explosives for attacks in Israel) the Israelis have orders to shoot first and investigate later. Later in the day a mortar shell fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side, causing no damage. There was also some gunfire from the Syrian side, directed at some reporters and UN peacekeepers in Israel. There were no injuries and al Nusra later admitted it was their men who were responsible. Al Nusra has taken control of two border crossings in the last few weeks and does not want war with Israel. Most of the mortar and gunfire hitting Israel from Syria is believed to be an accidental side effect of fighting between al Nusra and Syrian troops.
In Egypt (Sinai)
six Islamic terrorists and a civilian were killed in an army raids.
August 29, 2014: Despite the Gaza ceasefire, Hamas organized a large demonstration in Gaza to proclaim their intention to rearm and try again.
August 28, 2014: Many businesses in southern Israel want the recent “operations” against Hamas officially declared a war. That’s because insurance companies and government damage compensation programs pay out more if the damage was caused by a declared war, rather than a peacetime act of terrorism (which is what the government considers the current Hamas violence.)
Near the Israeli border several dozen peacekeepers from Fiji were surrounded by al Nusra rebels who demanded that the Fiji troops surrender their weapons.
August 27, 2014: A mortar shell fired from Syria landed on the Israeli side of the border, wounding an Israeli civilian. Earlier in the day gunfire from the Syrian side wounded an Israeli soldier. Israel always fires back when these cross-border incidents occur. This time Israel also reinforced the area around a Syrian border crossing that was captured today by al Nusra rebels. That, in effect, closes that border crossing.
August 26, 2014: Israel and Hamas agree to another ceasefire. Hamas had refused before because Israel and Egypt agreed to lift the blockade (meant to keep weapons and terrorists from moving in and out). This time Egypt and Israel said some nice things about easing the blockade, but no promises and that was suddenly enough for Hamas. Negotiations for a longer ceasefire will begin on September 21st. Hamas is also demanding that hundreds of imprisoned Hamas members be released in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers Hamas had seized. Israel insists that there will be no extended ceasefire unless Hamas disarms.
August 25, 2014: At least 130 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, apparently in anticipation of another ceasefire to begin on the 26th. Iron Dome intercepted 11 percent of these rockets, the rest landed in open terrain. Israel responded with more air strikes.
On the Lebanese border Israeli artillery fired into Lebanon in retaliation for rocket fired into Israel. The rocket appears to have been fired by pro-Palestinian Arabs.
In Egypt (Sinai) two days of army raids left 14 Islamic terrorists dead. There were also four arrests and much data and equipment was captured.
August 24, 2014: Iran said an Israeli UAV had been shot down near a nuclear research facility. Video of the wreckage was broadcast and there were no indications (markings or shape of the wreckage) that the downed aircraft was definitely Israeli. Iran then claimed that it was a Hermes 800 UAV, but was quickly forced to acknowledge that this model of the Israeli built Hermes did not have the range to reach Iran from Israel. It was then claimed that the Hermes 800 was launched from somewhere else that was closer to Iran (implying it was an Arab Gulf state that hosted American warplanes or even Azerbaijan). All this appears to be another Iranian Information War operation that blew up in their faces over the next few days. If you are going to lie, do it right. Iran also announced that, in retaliation for the Israeli UAV violation of Iranian air space Iran would now arm Palestinians in the West Bank as well as provide training. Iran has been trying to do this for years, without much success. Apparently the decision has been made to be more aggressive about it. Iran has already declared that Hamas has won the current war with Israel. Hamas likes to get support from Iran but most Hamas members (and most Palestinians) see Iran as an enemy of the Arabs.
On the Syrian border five rockets were fired from Syria into Israel. There were no casualties.
August 23, 2014: Another temporary ceasefire with Hamas was broken as more rockets were fired into Israel. Over the last two days more than 200 rockets were fired into Israel. This was apparently a response to the recent Israeli air attacks that killed two senior Hamas leaders.
August 22, 2014: It has apparently become clear to Hamas leadership that in the last two weeks Israeli attacks have been concentrating on key Hamas personnel, including senior leadership. One response to this was the public execution of another 18 Palestinians accused (often incorrectly, based on past experience) of providing Israel targeting information.