It was recently revealed (by Israeli media and an Iranian opposition group) that Mossad and Shin Bet (domestic intelligence) personnel had gone to Iran last year. There they seized and questioned Mansour Rasouli, a member of Quds Force Unit 840, which carries out assassinations overseas. Rasouli admitted that he had been assigned to arrange the assassination of an Israeli diplomat in Turkey, an American general officer stationed in Germany and a journalist in France. The IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) was providing him with $150,000 to plan the killings and another million dollars if all three subjects were killed. Rasouli planned to hire contract killers via his contacts in drug smuggling gangs.
Audio, and later video, of key portions of the interrogation were leaked. Rasouli confessed because his interrogators already knew a lot about the plot. He was released and the Israeli interrogators left Iran. Rasouli and his IRGC superiors called off the assassinations because they knew the interrogation had been recorded, the targets had been alerted, and had received additional security. There was an understanding that, if Iran backed off on these killings, the Israelis would remain silent about the interrogation. Why this evidence was leaked now may have something to do with the Israeli opposition to American willingness to revive the 2015 sanctions treaty, but also a modification of the terms to make it easier for Iran to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Billions of dollars in frozen accounts would be returned to Iran and, if the Americans went ahead with taking the Iranian IRGC and its Quds Force off the list of known terrorists, there would be a lot more violence in the Middle East. Iran saw the 2015 treaty suspended by the Americans in 2018 because of Iranian cheating. Then came the 2020 American presidential elections, which put into power a new president seemingly determined to change American policies towards Iran and ignore Arab Oil states complaints about Iranian threats and attacks on them. This has driven many Gulf oil states into an economic alliance with Russia to drive up the price of oil. This policy makes it easier for Iran to smuggle more of its heavily discounted oil to customers. That plan survived the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine and even more economic sanctions. Opposition from the Arabs and American voters is having an impact and the revival of the 2015 treaty may not happen. Otherwise Israel has made it clear it will carry out attacks on Iranian targets key to nuclear and ballistic missile development and production. The Arab Oil States will cooperate, and continue refusing to increase production to lower world oil prices.
Meanwhile Hamas, the Iran-backed Islamic terror group that runs Gaza complains that Turkey has expelled dozens of Hamas members in the last few months. These expulsions are part of the Turkish effort to repair their relations with Israel.
A year ago Fatah once more encouraged major protests against imaginary Israeli threats to the al Aqsa mosque. Since then the protests have continued to become more violent. Fatah wanted protestors to get killed by the Israelis and that has not been happening near the Mosque. Palestinians measure and reward success differently than most. Fatah is enjoying some success in generating popular enthusiasm for widespread violence via false accusations of Israeli threats against the al Aqsa mosque, which is just above the Wailing Wall, a popular Jewish holy place and tourist attraction in Jerusalem. The current “al Aqsa is in danger” campaign began in 2014 and has to be periodically revived. Seeing an opportunity to grab more headlines , sympathy and, hopefully cash contributions from the Moslem world, the Palestinian leadership (Fatah in the West Bank) invested some effort and cash to get something going. This sort of thing has been tried before, actually it is attempted regularly but this time it caught on in a big way.
There are unpopular side effects to all this encouraging violence. Hamas and Fatah are under growing pressure because of the amount of foreign aid they spend on encouraging terrorism. These payments go to imprisoned terrorists or the families of dead ones. Hamas and Fatah spend over $200 million a year on this and payments on this scale would not be possible without using foreign aid funds. Recently, embarrassed by published details of how this works, many donor countries are cutting their aid in a show of opposition to this “Pay For Slay” policy. In the United States Palestinian charities are being sued for illegally soliciting money for needy Palestinians and using a lot of the contributions for supporting terrorism, either for Pay for Slay or to finance current and future attacks. The “Pay for Slay” program is very popular among Palestinians because it makes the losses they suffer for carrying out these attacks easier to tolerate. This makes it easier for Fatah and Hamas to continue avoiding restoring a united Palestinian government. The split occurred a decade ago when Hamas won local Gaza elections in 2007 and outlawed any future elections and declared itself the true leader of the Palestinians. Fatah and most Palestinians disagreed and a decade of negotiating has changed nothing.
In Syria, Arab states are willing to revive diplomatic and economic relationships with Syria, but only if the Assads break their ties with Iran. That can be announced but not enforced because the Iranian-backed militias in Syria, who are occupied with carrying out attacks against Israel, have thousands of fighters. If the Assad forces try to eject the Iranians, the Assad government will become an enemy of Iran and subjected to all sorts of military, economic and terrorist retaliation. The Assads want to avoid that until they have solid links with Arab countries and Israel. The Arabs are willing but the Israelis are already at war with the Iranians in Syria and are no longer interested in establishing diplomatic relations with Syria. That means Syria remains a battlefield for Islamic terrorists and Israeli, Turkish, Russian, Iranian, Syrian, and American forces fighting each other in a constantly changing web of alliances. For Syria peace will have to wait, possibly for a long time.
April 30, 2022: In Egypt (Northern Sinai) ISIL is believed responsible for another attack on a natural gas pipeline carrying Israeli natural gas to Egypt.
The damage was quickly repaired and the customers did not notice any interruption for gas supply. ISIL has been attacking Sinai pipelines for years and the gas facilities in Sinai have been modified to resist these attacks.
There has been an increase in ISIL attacks this month and the reason appears to be ISIL anger at Egyptian cooperation with Israel to defeat ISIL. The Egypt. and Israel are the primary targets of ISIL anger at the moment because of a March Israeli airstrike in northern Sinai that killed a senior ISIL leader. Israel is suspected of providing UAV surveillance of ISIL for years and for carrying out the recent attack. Egypt and Israel do have an understanding on cooperation in border security to disrupt smuggling as well as Islamic terrorist operations. This arrangement allows Israeli surveillance to extend into Sinai until Egyptian air or ground forces can intervene.
April 29, 2022: In the West Bank two armed Palestinians killed the security guard at the entrance to the Jewish town of Ariel. Video surveillance showed the attackers and the vehicle they used. That was sufficient to identify and arrest two of the attackers within 24 hours. The two men still had the firearms they used in the attack. This is the fifteenth Israeli Jew killed by Palestinians in the last month. In response to this the military has called up six additional reserve battalions for security duty .
The current terror string of successful attacks began on March 22nd when four Israeli Jews were killed by a local Bedouin who was an ISIL supporter. The killer was also an Israeli citizen and used a knife to attack people before armed civilians shot him dead.
Most of these attacks on Israelis, usually with knives or vehicles, take place in the West Bank and began in 2015 when Palestinian leaders called for suicidal “knife terrorism” attacks. These attacks soon lost their popularity despite Fatah still pushing them energetically in all the Palestinian media. This can be seen in the number of Palestinian terror attacks disrupted each year. It was 217 in 2014, 187 in 2013 112 in 2012 and 88 in 2011. In the last decade knife attacks are less common and almost always occur in the West Bank or Jerusalem. Since 1948 some 2,600 Israelis have died from terror attacks inside Israel. Nearly five percent of those dead were foreigners. Palestinian terrorism efforts have never recovered from the defeat they suffered, when Israel adopted new tactics that largely shut down the terror campaign the Palestinians began in 2000. Fatah and Hamas have been trying to revive that effort ever since and have largely failed.
Meanwhile Hamas and Fatah have lost nearly all the financial support they once received from Arab oil states. A year ago The UAE (United Arab Emirates), cut its aid to Gaza ss it established diplomatic relations with Israel. Hamas was told that if they don’t stop attacking Israel the UAE will not move forward with plans for massive economic and aid after a Palestinian-Israel peace deal was completed. That required Hamas and Fatah to carry out elections to determine which will run a united Palestinian government. Reluctance to proceed with those elections is one reason for the renewed violence against Israel. Most other Arab oil state donors are following the same policy, just not as openly as the UAE. Polls show both Hamas and Fatah (which runs the West Bank) are seen as unfit to rule by over 70 percent of Palestinians.
April 28, 2022: In the south (Nevatim air base) eight UAE Air Force C-17 military transports have landed and then taken off within an hour. Five different UAE C-17s were involved. It is believed these flights are to deliver Israeli security equipment the UAE has purchased from Israel since formal diplomatic and economic relations were established in 2020.
April 27, 2022: In southern Syria (Damascus) another Israeli air strike against Iranian targets left nine were killed and eight wounded, all the casualties belonged to Iran-backed militias or the Syrian army. These men are used to guard Iranian facilities in Syria. This was the tenth Israeli airstrike in Syria during 2022.
April 25, 2022: In the north, a rocket was fired from Lebanon into Israel, landing in an open field. Israeli artillery returned fire.
April 24, 2022: Israel had blocked the 12,000 Gaza Palestinians with Israeli work permits from entering Israel. This is an extreme measure but given the recent resumption of attacks on Israel from Gaza, and Hamas denying responsibility, Israel is using economic and political pressure as well as retaliatory attacks on Hamas military facilities after each new attack from Gaza. Hamas insists these attacks are the work of rouge Islamic terror groups. That’s a lie for foreign journalists because Gazans and Israelis know that Hamas runs a police state where rouge actions by armed groups are not allowed and Hamas will respond quickly, violently and aggressively against those who dare to ignore Hamas rules.
At the start of 2022 Israel agreed to issue work permits for up to 10,000 Gazans, in addition to several thousand permits already issued. When Gazans took part in a terrorist campaign against Israel in 2000 the number of work permits was reduced became some of the permit holders agreed to join terror groups and try to kill Israelis inside Israel. Hamas was already in Gaza and took control of Gaza in 2007 by promising less corruption and more attacks on Israel. Eventually only a handful of entry permits were provided to Gazans.
Hamas no longer wants to use a work permit system to organize terror attacks inside Israel because the unemployment rate in Gaza reached 50 percent in 2021 and many Hamas leaders realized that most unemployed Gazans blame Hamas for the lack of Israeli work permits. In response Israel agreed to take a chance and again issue more work permits. Since 2000 Israel has brought in West Bank and foreign workers to replace the Gazans. The foreigners were non-Moslems from distant countries and the West Bank workers knew that they could be replaced by the more expensive workers, who were also more difficult to work with because few understood Arabic or Hebrew, although many understood English. The foreign workers are in Israel for specified terms and as those contracts end and are not renewed more jobs can be offered to Gazans. The Gaza and West Bank economies have stagnated and more Palestinians have become dependent on foreign aid just to survive, all because of the Hamas and Fatah policy that Israel must be destroyed. By 2006 Israel had defeated the terror campaigns and kept subsequent terrorist efforts out of Israel, where the economy grew faster than any other in the region. Israel needs workers, Gazans want jobs and Hamas does not want a revolt led by the unemployed. Current unemployment in Israel has been between three and four percent.
The new attacks on Israel may have been ordered by Hamas, which is now the main financial and weapons supplier for Hamas. This arrangement is unpopular in Gaza, where nearly everyone is Sunni while Iran is militantly Shia.
April 20, 2022: In the south (Gaza) rockets were fired into Israel. In response an Israeli airstrike destroyed the entrance to an underground bunker where Hamas stored rocket components.
April 13, 2022: Egypt is hosting peace talks between the two rival Libyan factions; the eastern HoR (House of Representatives) and the western one based in Tripoli and surviving only because of the presence of Turkish troops. The HoR forces control most of the country and the oil production facilities. Most Libyans and Arab countries throughout the Middle East want the Turks out of Libya.
April 12, 2022: The war in Ukraine has caused several major NATO nations to increase their defense spending and change their weapons purchasing plans. Germany is considering purchasing the Israeli Arrow 3 ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) to defend against Russian ballistic missile attacks. Arrow 3 is comparable to the American THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system. The U.S. financed the research on Arrow 3 and U.S. firms built nearly half the Arrow system components.
Arrow 3 is a two-stage high-speed interceptor able to hit long-range ballistic missiles. Arrow 3 entered service in 2017, complementing and eventually replacing Arrow 2, which entered service in 2009. The original Arrow 1 entered service in 2000 and was then the world’s most advanced ABM system regularly involved in combat. Arrow 1 and 2 have been successfully used in combat while Arrow 3 has been successful in realistic tests against incoming ballistic missile warheads.
April 9, 2022: In northwestern Syria (Hama province) Israeli air-strikes hit five targets associated with Iranian missile assembly and storage operations. Structures were destroyed and some Iranians or Iranian mercenaries were killed. One of the targets was near the
main Syrian research center for advanced weapons. This is the eighth day with Israeli airstrikes in 2022. These airstrikes have destroyed a lot of weapons and structures as well as twelve military personnel and wounded at least 19. The attacks are usually made at night to minimize casualties and enhance surprise.
April 6, 2022: Israel and the United States agreed that a sale of Arrow 3 ABM (anti-ballistic missile) systems to Germany could proceed. Germany is particularly concerned about the Russian Iskander missiles, which are designed to defeat most ABM systems. Germany would pay about $2,2 billion with deliveries beginning in 2025.
April 3, 2022: In central Syria (eastern Homs province) Iran took advantage of Russia withdrawing its forces from Mahan, where a major weapons storage complex has long existed. Providing some protection from surrounding hills, the Mahan complex consists of 25 underground bunkers where weapons and ammunition are stored. Until recently a few Russians troops and a lot of Russian backed Syrian mercenaries provided security. Initially some Assad forces, in the form of Lebanese Shia Hezbollah gunmen as well as some Syrian troops replaced the Russian force. Now several hundred Iran-backed mercenaries arrived to share the security duties, and exercise some control over how the Mahan complex would be used. The withdrawal, to Ukraine, of Russian troops and cash (for paying local mercenaries) provided several opportunities for Iran and Mahan was one of them. The Hezbollah forces took orders from Iran so now Mahan was controlled by Iran and the Assads lost exclusive control of a vital weapons and ammo storage site. Moreover, Mahan now becomes a major target for Israeli attacks, which can overcome the protection usually provided by the hills and underground bunkers. Until the departure of Russian forces the Mahan complex supplied Iranian, Assad and Russian attacks on ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) operations in central and eastern Syria.
March 31, 2022: In southern Syria (Daraa province) the violence continued with 45 incidents of violence in March leaving 39 dead. So far in 2022 there have been 117 attacks leaving 97 dead and many more wounded. been nearly twenty assassinations (of Syrian army officers) and related acts of violence so far this month. This level of violence remained fairly constant for three years until 2022. This is part of the undeclared war between Iranian and Syrian forces going on there since 2018. Anonymous assassins use pistols and hidden bombs to kill those who work, or worked for government forces or Russia and Syria backed local militias. There are also attacks against former members of ISIL and other militant groups. These victims had accepted amnesty. Russian and Assad forces openly force Iran-backed groups and individuals out of the area. There is no open violence because Iran, Syria and Russia are still officially allies. Israel sometimes fires on Iranian forces operating in Daraa, especially near the Israeli border. Israel also shares intel with Russia and Syria about Syrian officers who are secretly working for Iran. The Iranians pay well, and in dollars. Israel will sometimes release evidence of this to the media, so that Iranians back home have another reason to oppose Iranian foreign wars. Negotiations have been underway between Iran and Russia/Syria since 2020 but have not made much progress. The covert Iranian violence is just another incentive for Syria to get the Iranian agents out of the area. In 2022 much of the violence is from other groups, some of them criminal gangs retaliating against those who refuse to pay for protection from the violence.
March 29, 2022: Israel received its first Sky Dew aerostat (aerodynamic unpowered blimp) system recently and will use it to provide more protection from Iranian air attacks. Sky Dew carries radars and other sensors to monitor large land areas for low, slow intruders like fire balloons or UAV cruise missiles. The first Sky Dew is being installed along the northern border where Iranian armed UAVs are a growing problem. Another Sky Dew may be installed in the south, along the Gaza border, where fire balloons are less of a problem.
Hamas, which runs Gaza, has been relatively quiet so far this year as it tries to negotiate a cease fire that would improve the Gaza economy. Economics is something Hamas has ignored since it took control of Gaza in 2007. Polls show both Hamas and Fatah (which runs the West Bank) are seen as unfit to rule by over 70 percent of Palestinians.
March 29, 2022: Israel revealed that Iron Beam, a key component of its new Laser Wall air defense system, passed extensive tests in March demonstrating it could destroy rockets, mortar shells, ATGMs (Anti-Tank Guided Missiles) and UAVs. A short video was released showing the intercepts of all these targets except the ATGM. Like all new Israeli air-defense systems, Iron Beam will soon be at work defending Israel from ongoing attacks by Islamic terrorists and Iran-backed groups in Syria as well as Gaza. This gives Israeli defense firms an edge because their new systems must not only pass realistic tests, as Iron Beam just did, but also immediately put into service against ongoing attacks. Thus, if the new system works, it is deemed “combat proven” and is easier to export. The Israeli military is not a large enough customer to buy as many new weapons as Israeli firms must sell to make a profit.
Iron Beam was developed by Israeli firm Raphael, with the Israeli Defense Ministry covering most of the development costs. Iron Beam uses a single HEL (High Energy Laser) which requires more power than similar systems, but those higher power requirements make it possible to achieve an effective range of up to 7,000 meters. An Iron Beam battery consists of a truck-mounted radar, another truck carrying the control center and two truck-mounted Iron Beam systems, which includes a generator to supply electricity. The key advantage is that it costs $3.50 worth of electricity to destroy a target with an Iron Beam versus $100,000 if you use an interceptor rocket like Iron Dome.