Saudi Arabia came out an publically agreed with Israel about what was wrong with the Iran treaty. The Israelis, Saudis and other Gulf Arabs agree that Iran is more likely to behave like North Korea or Saddam ruled Iraq rather than comply with the treaty and pull back on getting nukes. Inside Iran the new treaty is seen as a great victory and on the streets (and on the Internet) the average Iranian sees this as their well-deserved opportunity to get their nukes. Senior American military leaders are also not happy with the new treaty, some of them going so far to point out that Iran backed Islamic terrorists killed over 500 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. Israelis and Saudis can also point to citizens killed by Iranian terrorism. Gulf Arabs in particular are reminded regularly that Iranian propaganda still praises and encourages that sort of thing. Israel reminds everyone that Iran still holds national holidays where millions of Iranians are urged (sometimes coerced) to gather and chant their hatred for the United States and Israel and call for the destruction of these two enemy states. Many Gulf Arabs still call for the destruction of Israel, but their leaders now openly speak of Israel as a valued ally in the struggle against Iranian aggression. None of this ongoing Iranian support for terrorism was addressed in the new treaty. The sanctions will be lifted gradually, over many (up to 15) years as Iran is verified to have done what it agreed to in dismantling its nuclear program. But the immediate benefit it the unfreezing of over $100 billion in foreign assets and the ability to freely export oil. Thus the most immediate benefits of the treaty (if approved by all parties) would be the Iranian economy and the average Iranian. More cash also means more money for Iran to quietly use to support terrorism abroad and bribe people in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Critics of the new treaty point out that two similar, and recent, deals failed. The 1994 deal with North Korea was simply ignored by the North Koreans who went on to create their primitive but very real nukes. A few years before that there was a deal with Iraq, which had an even more peculiar outcome. Saddam Hussein admitted, after he was captured, that he had shut down his “weapons of mass destruction” programs in the 1990s (because of the expense) but kept that secret from the outside world and all but a few Iraqis. He wanted the Iranians to believe that Iraq was still actively working on nuclear and chemical weapons. To make the deception convincing he ordered that UN inspectors be deceived and interfered with at every opportunity. Some UN inspectors believed that, despite what the rest of the world (including most major intel agencies) believed the Iraqi nuclear and chemical weapons programs were just not there anymore. It wasn’t until after the 2003 invasion and the capture of Saddam that the truth was known. Saddam also revealed that he had made sue to keep key personnel and technical knowledge safely hidden away and ready to get back to work once sanctions were lifted. Gulf Arab understand that Saddam’s deception was not a unique event but a common tactic in the region and one that Iran will surely adopt in some form.
The treaty also ignored issues Americans and other Westerners held prisoner in Iran and so on. These items were left out at the insistence of the Iranians who took advantage of the fact that many Western leaders, especially the Americans, were eager to have a deal and willing to give in to Iranian demands. The sanctions have been costly to the West in terms of lost sales and the local jobs that creates. European nations supporting the sanctions need the jobs renewed trade with Iran would provide. Israel and the Gulf Arabs accuse the Europeans of being hypocrites about this angle, even as those same Europeans keep calling to sell stuff to oil-rich Arab states.
The growing threat from ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) and their affiliates in Gaza and the West Bank contributed to a 25 percent drop in tourist traffic to Israel during the first six months of 2015. The continuing threats from Iran also played a roles as well as the growing number of low-level (stabbings, driving vehicles into crowds) Palestinian terror tactics, especially in places like Jerusalem. The tourism industry wants the government to spend more on publicizing the fact the Israel is still the safest tourist destination in the region.
While Hezbollah still talks about attacking Israel the reality is that Hezbollah will remain tied down in Syria and fighting ISIL and other Sunni Islamic terror groups on the border for some time to come. Hezbollah leaders quietly admit this is necessary because as much as most Lebanese hate everyone involved in the Syria civil war (especially the Assads) they give Hezbollah credit for fighting to keep rebels from moving into Lebanon. There is growing opposition (to the Syrian operations) within Hezbollah and Hezbollah admits that it has arrested nearly 300 of its own armed men for refusing to go fighting in Syria. Since 2013 Hezbollah has suffered several thousand casualties in Syria and that has caused declining morale among the armed members of Hezbollah (mostly part-time militia who are paid for their part-time or full-time participation).
July 22, 2015: With great fanfare Hamas celebrated the beginning of construction on the housing reconstruction effort in Gaza. This comes a year after the 50 Day War with Israel. Since then foreign donors have donated billions for reconstruction and Israel has allowed 1.1 million tons of construction material into Gaza since October 2014. A lesser amount has entered from Egypt. Foreign donors, including Arab ones, accuse Hamas of illegally diverting rebuilding resources to military projects. Israel believes that over a thousand Hamas men are being used to build (actually rebuild) a secret tunnel network, both inside Gaza and into Israel, in preparation for another war with Israel. Because of the Israeli informant network inside Gaza only trusted Hamas men are being used for the tunnel work. Most Gazans resent the tunnel effort because many construction supplies are diverted to the tunnel work, along with some of the construction equipment. As a result of the tunnel work there has been very little rebuilding to replace structures (especially 700 housing units) lost during the 2014 war with Israel. Until very recently Hamas refused to stop the work. Israeli military leaders responsible for the Gaza border are asking, unsuccessfully so far, for permission to attack the tunnels headed for Israel before they reach Israel itself. Meanwhile Israel agreed to allow massive amounts of construction materials into Gaza in return for UN assurances that UN inspectors would monitor where the stuff goes. This is to see if the UN will do anything when confronted with obvious evidence of Hamas diverting construction materials to military uses. No one expects this to work effectively as Hamas has made it clear that any aid groups that interfere with Hamas activities will be expelled for “anti-Palestinian” activities and denounced as Israeli puppets. This has worked in the past, and will probably continue to work until everyone (Gazans and aid groups) get angry enough to confront Hamas over it. More Gazans are angry at Hamas, really angry. Angry enough to join the Israeli informant network. While this pays well, it can get you killed if Hamas catches you. At the same time Hamas is gaining more adherents in the West Bank. Gaza residents believe that is because Hamas does not run the West Bank and the Palestinians there are not reminded every day how corrupt and cruel Hamas is. This is believed one reason why ISIL is gaining so many new members in Gaza.
July 21, 2015: Israel announced that it would no longer transport wounded Syrians to Israeli hospitals after they showed up at border crossings on the Golan Heights. Now treatment will be provided at the border, using a temporary hospital set up there. Until now Israeli border guards regularly allowed badly wounded Syrians in and sent them to Israeli hospitals for medical care. Since 2011 over a thousand Syrians have received such treatment. In 2013 Israel set up a military field hospital on the Golan Heights to deal with the growing number of wounded Syrians coming up to the border seeking care. Israel lets some of these in for treatment but considers doing this long-term a security risk. So a heavily guarded field hospital right near the Syrian border will be used to treat all the injured. No Syrians will be moved to the interior because of fears that Islamic terror groups are seeking to infiltrate their people into Israel via the hospital care program. Wounded Druze are still being allowed in and sent to hospitals. Fighting on the Syrian side of the border has intensified in the last week, causing more casualties.
July 20, 2015: In Egypt (northern Sinai) over 400 Islamic terrorists have been killed in Sinai so far this month, as well as nearly a hundred soldiers and police. About twenty percent of the Islamic terrorist deaths occurred over the weekend. The largest incident was an attack on a checkpoint that was repulsed. This left over fifty Islamic terrorists and three soldiers dead. The intense violence in July was triggered by a series of attacks on checkpoints in Sinai on the 1st. ISIL took credit and Egypt has been retaliating ever since. Egypt said this was an attempt by ISIL to take control of Sinai and that this never came close to success. Egypt also revealed that some of the ISIL men in Sinai had recently come from Libya, where the situation for ISIL is grim. The initial ISIL attacks in Sinai left nearly a hundred Islamic terrorists, soldiers and police dead. Meanwhile outside Sinai weekly anti-government demonstrations are still organized by the Moslem Brotherhood, leaving over twenty Brotherhood membered dead or wounded so far this month. The Brotherhood demonstrations are illegal and often turn violent when police try to shut them down. While many of the Islamic terrorists in Sinai have switched allegiance to ISIL, most of the smaller number operating outside Sinai have not.
In the West Bank Israeli police arrested the last four of a seven man Hamas terror group who had made attacks on Israelis. The others were taken in June. One of those arrested had been released in 2011 as one of the thousand Palestinian Islamic terrorists released from jail in order to get back an Israeli soldier (Gilad Shalit) captured by Hamas. Over the last three decades, Israel has released some 7,000 Palestinians and other Arabs to obtain the freedom of 16 Israelis. That's 438 Arabs per Israeli. Many of the freed Islamic terrorists go back to attacking Israelis.
July 19, 2015: In Gaza four bombs went off nearly simultaneously at 6 AM destroying cars belonging to leaders of Hamas and other pro-Hamas Islamic terror groups. Two civilian bystanders were wounded. Pro-ISIL groups were suspected.
July 18, 2015: A court sentenced a Palestinian engineer to 21 years in prison for helping Hamas design and build unguided rockets in Gaza. This engineer had played a crucial role in extending the range of the “Kassam” rockets that have killed several Israelis and wounded many more.
July 16, 2015: Despite the new treaty to halt the Iran nuclear program a recent poll in Israel found that 47 percent of Israelis still backed attacks on Iranian nuclear development facilities. At the same time 35 percent of Israelis opposed such a move. Some 80 percent of Israelis agreed that the new treaty was bad for Israel.
July 14, 2015: After twenty months of negotiations between Iran and a UN backed coalition (Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, United States) a treaty was agreed on. This came because of a growing willingness among many coalition members to trust Iranian pledges to abide by any treaty. Many in the West (and the Arab world) don’t trust Iran and demand a deal with strict monitoring. Iran rules this out as a violation of their sovereignty, an affront to their honor and so on. Israel and many Arab states immediately denounced the deal and are pressuring the Western nations involved to not ratify the deal.
July 11, 2015: In Lebanon an Israeli UAV crashed off the coast near the city of Tripoli. The water was only eight meters (25 feet) deep and the security forces were able to bring the UAV up and identify it. It turned out to be a Hermes 450, one of the more widely used Israeli military UAVs and the second one to crash in Lebanon since June. Israeli UAVs are frequently seen over Lebanon where they are used to keep track of Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups that regularly plan, and sometimes carry out, attacks on Israel.
ISIL took credit for a car bomb that went off near the Italian consulate in Cairo, Egypt. This killed one Egyptian and wounded seven others. There was damage to the consulate building. Both Italy and Egypt are members of the anti-ISIL coalition and ISIL has been calling for its members to strike back at coalition members. There has not been much in the way of action on this call.
July 9, 2015: In the West Bank a Palestinian terror attack was averted when Israeli troops manning a checkpoint noted a Palestinian teenager approaching and looking suspicious. The 17 year old male panicked when some of the soldiers noticed him. The Palestinian dropped a knife he was carrying in a concealed manner and fled. Soldiers caught up with and arrested him.
July 7, 2015:
Israeli police today revealed that they have arrested nine Israeli Druze for attacks on ambulances carrying Syrians allowed into Israel for medical treatment. For several years Israel has been letting badly wounded Syrians in for medical treatment but with Islamic terror groups like Al Nusra (allied with al Qaeda) and ISIL (condemned by al Qaeda) now operating on the border and threatening Syrian Druze the situation has become tense. This led some Israeli Druze to assume that wounded Syrians were al Nusra or ISIL men and there have been some violent attacks on ambulances. One June 22nd attack led to the murder of the Syrian patient. Soldiers have been injured trying to protect ambulance crews and patients. For the last few weeks Israeli police have been tracking down the Israeli Druze responsible for the violence and now believe they have most of them in custody.
Israeli Druze leaders have condemned the attacks and that helped the police investigation because the Druze can be very secretive (a centuries old trait). At the same time Druze leaders announced that Israeli Druze have raised nearly $3 million for Syrian Druze so far. The Israeli government also announced that it has told Syrian rebels across the border that if they wish to continue receiving Israeli medical aid for their badly wounded they must leave the Syrian Druze alone and help protect them from harm. Since late 2014 al Nusra and other Syrian rebels have come to control most of the border adjacent to Israel. This created problems with the Israeli Druze who feared for the safely of the 500,000 Syrian Druze.
The 130,000 Israeli Druze have been pressuring Israel for over a year to rescue or help protect Druze living across the border in Syria. Israel has agreed to help but is not releasing a lot of details. The solution apparently involves quietly making deals with Syrian rebels. This solution means there is no need allow lots of Syrian Druze into Israel or send Israeli troops across the border to establish a “safe zone” for Syrian Druze. This would preserve the lands of Syrian Druze and not turn them into refugees, but would also be more expensive (in cash and lives) for Israel by establishing a new border.
In the south police arrested six Israeli Arabs (Bedouins) in their 20s who had joined ISIL and were trying to organize Islamic terror attacks. Four of those arrested were teachers in a nearby school and were looking for recruits among their students.