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ISRAEL: Hamas Makes An Offer Everyone Can Refuse
The News as History
ISRAEL: Hamas Makes An Offer Everyone Can Refuse
October 3, 2017: Senior Hamas and Fatah officials are currently meeting in Gaza to work out the details of a Hamas proposal for a united Palestinian government. Since 2007 there have been two Palestinian governments, Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. Egypt has been increasingly insistent on unification before it will end its blockade of Gaza. In response Hamas has selected a new leader and made changes that Egypt has long demanded. One of those changes is putting Fatah (the rival Palestinian group that controls the West Bank) in charge of the newly opened Rafah crossing with Egypt. If Iran wants to get anything into Gaza it needs access to Rafah. Egypt won’t tolerate Iran using the Rafah crossing to move people or items that will hurt Egypt. But Egypt also knows that if Fatah is running Rafah security the guards can be bribed or intimidated to letting contraband through. Same with the Egyptian side. Egypt wants a through crackdown on Islamic terror groups in Gaza and Hamas seems unable to deliver on that one. Meanwhile Iran has once more established a presence in Gaza.
In the past the Iran link made Hamas an enemy as far as most Sunni Moslem nations were concerned but Egypt is willing to work with Hamas as long as Hamas is not a threat to Egypt. But when it comes to Hamas and Iran promises have proved hard to keep and Hamas will have a difficult time convincing Egypt that anything has changed. Hamas is again receiving aid from Iran and Iranian operatives are in Gaza. Although Hamas declared its civil government in Gaza dissolved on September 17th, that was just for show. The basic problem here is that Hamas will not surrender the military forces (over 10,000 armed men and a large stockpile of rockets, many of them Iranian, and other weapons). Hamas continues to build “combat tunnels” inside Gaza and tells its armed followers, most of whom are on the payroll, that nothing will change. But according to Egypt and Fatah nothing will really change unless Hamas gives up its armed personnel and all those weapons there will be no united Palestine government.
Hamas will have to admit failure if there is a united Palestinian government because just about everyone (especially Palestinians and Gulf Arabs) has stopped contributing cash. Hamas is increasingly unpopular in Gaza and one way it maintained the peace was via the 43,000 Gazans it had on its payroll. Most of these were unarmed and handling civil administrations and if unification happens most of these Hamas supporters will be out of work and replaced with more trustworthy Fatah supporters (some from outside Gaza).
The new Hamas leadership has already said that a few thousand of the best trained and equipped Hamas security personnel had to remain on the payroll and that was not negotiable. But Egypt and Fatah expect these men to be demobilized. That would be messy because it is no secret that Egypt, Fatah and Israel would like to question many of them and arrest a number of them as well. Hamas hopes to deal with this by getting everyone to agree to a multi-year schedule to carry out the reunification. During most of that time Hamas would keep its core fighters and all those weapons, which could be used to take back control of Gaza when the time was right. Fatah and Egypt have already said they are aware of this possibility and want no part of it. No one knows exactly how this mess will turn out. If the past is any guide the result will please no one and accomplish little besides setting the stage for more violence in Gaza.
Israel remains openly hostile to a permanent Iranian presence in Syria. Turkey quietly agrees and Russia is seeking opportunities for itself but seems to dislike the Iranian long range plan. Israel is quite blunt about describing Iran as replacing ISIL as the new threat to just about everyone. Russia sometimes supports that openly and Israel keeps trying to improve relations with the unstable Turkish Islamic government. Meanwhile Iran keeps moving in.
Iran and Russia have both signed deals with the Assads to establish military (mainly naval) bases in Syria. Iran and Russia are doing this for different reasons. Russia has always wanted a secure Mediterranean naval base. Iran wants bases in Syria because Iran has openly called for the destruction of Israel since the 1980s and is now seeking leadership of the Islamic world and control of Mecca and Medina.
It is possible for Russia and Israel to continue working together, as they have done since Israel was created in the late 1940s. Even during the communist period (that ended in 1991 along with the Soviet Union did) Russia often worked closely with Israel while also courting Arab states that wanted Israel to disappear. Russia continues this policy of maintaining multiple alliance with Turkey and Iran while also remaining on good terms with Israel and the Arab oil states in the region. Give the Russians credit, they are getting away with it.
And then there are the Sunni Arab states, who want the Assads gone and are more open in opposing Iranian plans for post-war Syria. As part of this the Arab Gulf states are moving closer to an open alliance with Israel. That includes diplomatic relations and dropping the decades of Arab sponsored boycott against Israel. A major reason for these changes is the need to prevent Iran from establishing a land route from Iran to Lebanon and military installations in post-war Syria. Israel has made it clear that it will, and can, make sure that does not happen. Turkey and Russia recognize that Israel is not only the stronger military power here but also has the most at stake. For decades Iran has called for the destruction of Israel and that does not sit well with Turkey and Russia because both nations have had clashes with aggressive Iranian ambitions over the past few centuries and see the current Iranian strategy as eventually taking down Turkey (for being Sunni and an ancient rival) and Russia (for not being Moslem and defeating Iranian attempts to expand in the 19th and 20th centuries). But at the same time Russia and Turkey will play Israel and Iran off against each other to do what is best for Russia or Turkey.
The Lebanon Phantom
Although Iran backed Hezbollah in Lebanon is increasingly active in the media about how soon its next war with Israel will happen, the reality is somewhat different. Israeli wargames and monitoring of attitudes in Lebanon (among Hezbollah supporters and the majority of Lebanese who are hostile or neutral) indicates that another Hezbollah war now would be unlikely. At the moment Hezbollah military power is crippled by losses in Syria and the continued deployment of about a third of their available forces there. In addition a significant number of veteran personnel are working in Iraq and Yemen supporting local pro-Iran Shia militias. More Hezbollah personnel will be heading back to Gaza now that Hamas has resumed its alliance with Iran.
But in the long term (the 2020s) Iran is building something that threatens Israel in a big way. By establishing military bases in Syria and organizing a branch of Hezbollah in Syria Iran has legal justification for stationing Iranian troops in Syria. Unless Israel interferes Iran could rebuild the Syrian military, especially the Syrian ballistic missile stockpile. Iran would have time (and money) to deal with the financial problems that are crippling Hezbollah and Hamas. Thus by the mid-2020s Iran would be in a much stronger position for attacking Israel. That would include the new Israeli natural gas fields off the coast near the Lebanese border.
The UN has told Israel that UNIFIL (the 12,000 UN peacekeeper force on the Israeli border) will now be more assertive on dealing with violations on the Lebanese or Syrian side of the border. That will be a big change, and major challenge, because now Hezbollah is showing up on the border in Syria as well as Lebanon. In the past, when the Israelis reported a particularly obvious example of Hezbollah misbehavior on the border, Hezbollah gunmen would keep all media out and blame it all on false claims by the Israelis. This sort of thing has been going on since the last war with Hezbollah in 2006. In Lebanon Hezbollah refuses to allow UNIFIL to go near any of its rocket storage sites near the Israeli border and insists that the only weapons it has along the Israeli border are those needed to defend itself. But now Hezbollah is preparing to set up shop in the Syrian border. Hezbollah has been bringing in more rockets from Syria since the civil war escalated there in 2012 and there is fear that Hezbollah will also get some of the Syrian chemical weapons. That was apparently a reason for the September Israeli airstrike on a Syrian weapons research facility. Even the UN has to acknowledge that Iranian plans for Syria, and the use of Hezbollah in Syria, is a threat to peace.
Yet the UN still refuses to declare Hezbollah an international terrorist organization, despite the fact that Hezbollah has been caught carrying out terrorist operations in several foreign countries and openly calls for the destruction of Israel. The U.S. and a number of other nations have declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization but the UN refuses to do so. The UNIFIL force has been in place since 1978 and was expanded after the 2006 war. It will probably expand again after any peace deal in Syria. The question will the new UN resolve to make UNIFIL do its job be sustained.
The Americans are accusing Iran of continuing to develop nuclear weapons. So far both sides appear to have complied with the terms of the 2015 treaty where Iran gave up nuclear weapons research for 15 year, although without any more verification it is uncertain if Iran is still in compliance. Meanwhile Iran has become more of an international troublemaker and a growing number of intelligence analysts in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East believe Iran is still pursuing work on nuclear weapons. Iran appears to justify this effort internally by invoking “the Israeli threat” that, according to Iran, is sustained by the United States. The Iranian government regularly calls for both Israel and the United States to be destroyed. At the same time Iran is concerned that their Arab neighbors are becoming too strong.
The Internal Threat
The Israeli domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet, similar to the British MI5) recently revealed that it had disrupted (and thus prevented) over 200 terror attacks so far in 2017. This includes 70 of them in July and August alone. The Islamic terrorist activity is about the same as in 2016 and 2015 and includes bombings (some using a suicide bomber), kidnappings and shooting attacks. Since 2015 suicidal “knife terrorism” attacks have 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. Since 1948 some 2,600 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.
October 2, 2017: In Egypt (Cairo) police killed three Islamic terrorists during a raid on a hideout used by Hasm, a radical faction of the Moslem Brotherhood that has aligned itself with ISIL and been responsible for a growing number of attacks on security forces outside of Sinai (where most of the Islamic terrorists activity has been).
October 1, 2017: In Jerusalem an Israeli Arab supporter of ISIL drove a flatbed truck into a large group of soldiers, killing four and wounding 17. The truck driver was shot dead has he sought to move the truck to make another attack. The dead attacker was a 28 year old Palestinian who lived in Jerusalem and had served time in prison.
In Egypt (Cairo) a small bomb went off in the Burmese embassy. Egyptian Islamic terror group Hasm took credit and says the attack (which caused no injuries and little damage) was in retaliation for Burmese treatment of their Moslem minority. This was the first time Hasm had attacked a civilian target as the group normally concentrates on the security forces, judges and prosecutors.
September 30, 2017: Turkey threatened Israel for its support of Kurdish independence. This comes after the September 25th referendum in autonomous Kurdish northern Iraq where 92 percent of the voters approved of efforts to establish a Kurdish state.
Egypt announced the results of the latest census. The population is now 104.2 million but nine percent (9.4 million) live outside Egypt, usually because there are better employment opportunities abroad and the money these workers send back to their families are a major part of the economy (about 5 percent of GDP). The census found a quarter of the adult population was illiterate. Most of the remittance income comes from Gulf Arab oil states (mainly Saudi Arabia) and the West (mainly the United States).
September 29, 2017: Israel and Russia increased trade by 25 percent in the first six months of 2017. That is an increase of nearly $400 million and is a big deal with Russia because trade with most other Western nations is way down because of sanctions related to the Russian 2014 invasion of Ukraine.
September 28, 2017: The U.S. Department of Defense revealed that it had ordered Israeli Trophy ADS (Active Defense Systems) for some American M1 tanks. This is part of a test and evaluation of Trophy which is why the contract was worth only $10 million.
September 27, 2017: Turkey finally signed an agreement on September 12th to purchase the Russian S-400 SAM (Surface to Air Missile) system and paid an initial deposit on the $2.5 billion deal. The contract provides Turkey with four S-400 battalions and technology transfer. Thus two battalions will be built in Russia and the other two in Turkey. This is not the first time a NATO country has bought Russian air defense systems. Greece bought two batteries of the S-300PMU1 (each battery with a radar and command center plus four launcher vehicles, each carrying four missiles) in the late 1990s and stationed them on Crete, where they remain in use. NATO and Israeli tech experts got an opportunity to examine the equipment and was apparently not impressed. More worrisome is that Turkey is on its way towards leaving NATO. That’s because the current Turkish government is pro-Islam, not pro-secular as all Turkish governments had been from the 1920s until 2000. For nearly a century democratic Turkey was a bastion of stability in the Middle East. That ended with the election of an Islamic government and the subsequent efforts by that government to make their rule permanent and decidedly undemocratic. That in itself is a problem for NATO, Israel and the Middle East in general.
September 26, 2017: In the West Bank a Palestinian man with a clearance to work in an Israeli settlement shot dead two security guards and a policeman before he was shot and disabled. Subsequent investigation showed the man had family problems and his wife had left him. He was apparently trying to commit suicide and be declared a hero by Fatah, the Palestinian organization the runs the West Bank. Fatah pays large rewards to Palestinians who kill Israelis. Israel in turn destroys the homes of families involved and seizes other assets to take away the financial benefits of murdering Israelis. In this case Israel also cancelled the work permits of Palestinians related to this shooter.
In Egypt security forces on the Libyan border called in F-16s to attack ten four-wheel drive vehicles trying to smuggle weapons in from Libya. Egyptian F-16s have targeting pods that enable pilots to spot and target (for smart bombs) vehicles on the ground even when the aircraft is more than 20 kilometers away. Egypt also has more reconnaissance aircraft with night vision capability.
September 24, 2017: In Egypt (northern Sinai) three more members of Hamas deserted, used smuggling tunnels to get out of Gaza and joined ISIL. Two of the Hamas deserters were members of an elite commando group trained to attempt to carry out attacks inside Israel in any future war. ISIL publicizes these defections to encourage more. Meanwhile Hamas has been promising Egypt that it would reduce the number of Gazans, especially trained Hamas fighters, from joining ISIL. Although Egyptian counter-terror operations in Sinai have greatly reduced Islamic terrorist activity ISIL continues to carry out daring attacks, some of them successful. This month they had one major success (On September 9th an attack on a convoy killed 18 people, ten of them ISIL or civilians) but mostly losses from raids on their bases or attacks that largely fail. Yet ISIL is the only Islamic terror group that really remains active in Sinai and that attracts those young men who are looking for that kind of action. So ISIL publicizes its successes (and optimistic versions of partial successes or failures) on the Internet and word-of-mouth. Finance is a problem so ISIL has to take advantage of every opportunity (kidnapping, smuggling, extortion) to raise cash.
September 23, 2017: In Syria another Israeli Arab was killed (near Homs) while fighting for ISIL. At least fifty Israeli Arabs are known to have joined ISIL and most appear to have died there or otherwise disappeared from view (or at least contact with their families back in Israel).
Since the 2006 and the war with Hezbollah that year there has been a growing problem with loyalty of Israeli Arabs, who make up 20 percent of the population. A 2007 opinion survey of the Israeli Arabs revealed some scary attitudes. For example, 48 percent believed the Hezbollah rocket attacks on northern Israel in 2006 were justified, even though Israeli Arabs suffered a disproportionate number of the Israeli casualties (because most Israeli Arabs live in the north).
Moreover, half saw the Hezbollah kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers (which triggered the 2006 war) as justified, and 89 percent considered the Israeli attack on Lebanon a war crime (44 percent believed the Hezbollah rocket attack was a war crime.) A third of Arab high school and college graduates don't believe that six million Jews were killed during World War II (compared to 28 percent of all Israeli Arabs.) Israeli Arabs also have fears, like the possibility of mass expulsions from Israel (60 percent), or transfer of their communities to a new Palestinian state (62 percent).
In fact, 68 percent would prefer to live in Israel even if there were a peace deal that led to the creation of a Palestinian state. Meanwhile, 63 percent of Israel Jews avoid entering Arab towns of neighborhoods, and 68 percent fear civil unrest among Israeli Arabs. Since 2007 these anti-Israel attitudes among Arab Israelis has gotten worse and Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIL try to take advantage of it. ISIL has been the most successful, mainly because it is the most radical Islamic terrorist group and that appeals to the young (especially teenage) Moslem males who are most attracted to Islamic terrorism. Thus at least seven Israeli citizens (all Arabs) who have died fighting for ISIL so far.
September 22, 2017: In Iran a new ballistic missile (the Khorramshahr) was displayed during a parade in the capital. This one was described as having a range of 2,000 kilometers. Later in the day the government announced one of the Khorramshahr was successfully test fired. This new missile is similar in performance to the earlier Shahab-3 and it is unclear exactly what the difference is between the two. Israeli and American intelligence officials later reported that there was no evidence the missile test took place and that the video Iran released was actually of another missile test seven months ago.
September 21, 2017: Lebanese media is reporting that an air strike, apparently Israeli, his a weapons storage area near the Damascus airport. Weapons (from Iran) for Hezbollah were apparently the target. Israel admits that it makes these attacks, and does so frequently. The Israelis rarely comment on individual airstrikes.
September 20, 2017: Egypt received the first of four Gowind class warships they had ordered in 2014. The first one was built in France but the next three will be built in in Egypt. These are 2,400 ton corvettes costing about $330 million each. These are armed with a 76mm SRMF (Super Rapid Multi Feeding) automated cannon that can fire shells up to 20 kilometers at aircraft, missiles and swarms of small armed boats. There are also four Exocet anti-ship missiles (180 kilometers range) and a dozen VL-MICA anti-aircraft missiles (15 kilometers range). There are four MU90 torpedoes for anti-submarine work. The 102 meter (332 foot) long ships have sonar and air-search radars.
September 19, 2017: In northern Israel a large (apparently Iranian) UAV was spotted crossing the border and was shot down using a Patriot missile. The wreckage was apparently not available to be studied (to obtain more details) because the UAV was brought down in Syrian air space just before it would have crossed the border into Israel.
Egypt offered to help reorganize LNA (Libyan National Army) forces, especially those operating in eastern Libya and near the Egyptian border. This effort would involve integrating armed men who are currently not part of the LNA and supplying them with weapons, uniforms, training and screening to keep an Islamic terrorist types out.
September 18, 2017: Israel acknowledged the first American military base in Israel. This was a largely symbolic gesture because American troops have been assigned to duty in Israel for decades. There were never a lot of troops involved and they often did not wear their uniforms. All this was to avoid upsetting Moslem states that were U.S. allies. Times have changed. Many Moslem states in the region admit that they have much better relationships with Israel now and the Americans went ahead and declared an area where some American military personnel live in an Israeli base to be an “American base”. This could consist of putting up a sign and flying an American flag nearby but in this case it involves some construction on an Israeli air defense base and building a fence around housing and administrative facilities for the fewer than fifty American personnel stationed there. The United States has long worked with Israel in new tech and has invested several billion dollars in developing new air defense systems. This often involves manufacturing U.S. developed components in the United States and sometimes Israeli tech as well. Increasingly American troops work in Israel to help operate or maintain new or developing Israeli systems (and occasionally American weapons as well).
September 17, 2017: Russia is having some problems with Israel over where Iranian forces can go in Syria. Russia is enforcing the “no-fly” aspect of the “de-escalation” and ceasefire zones that are being set up in parts of Syria that rebels have lost control of. This includes parts of the Israeli border (the Golan Heights) and Hezbollah leaders can’t help themselves and boast to the media that Hezbollah has thousands of troops on the Golan Heights border and more are moving in daily. This issue becomes a news item every few weeks because that’s how often Russian and Israeli officials meet to discuss mutual concerns about what is going on in Syria and to ensure that Russian and Israeli forces avoid firing on each other. Israeli air attacks still take place in these ceasefire zones but less frequently than outside these zones.
The main problem is that Israel detects Hezbollah and Iranian forces using the “ceasefire” zones, has compiled evidence and is pressuring Russia to stop supporting these ceasefire zones. Israel has said it will attack any Iranian forces (especially Hezbollah) that get within 40-80 kilometers of the Israeli border. Currently Russia says it will only agree to five kilometers and implies that Russian warplanes and air defense systems will side with Iran if there is a problem. That has not been the case so far as long as Israel restricts its airstrikes to some limited list of items Israel and Russia have informally agreed on. This is not working for Israel because five kilometers is close enough for Hezbollah and other Iran-backed militias to fire mortar shells and portable rockets into Israel.
Since July Russia and the United States have agreed with Israeli concerns about Iran setting up bases in Syria and Lebanon. This is another way of saying Russia and the U.S. will not try to block Israeli attacks against Iranian forces getting too close to the Israeli border or Iranian efforts to establish new facilities in Syria and Lebanon. Russia does not want to put this to the test and understand that Israel has more at stake here than anyone else. In other words, nothing has changed and Iran has been officially reminded that they are on their own when they threaten Israel.
Russia and the Syrian government realize that Iran intends to control a post-war Syria and attempt to turn it into a Shia majority nation (via forced conversions and expulsions of stubborn Sunnis). That would make the Assads totally dependent on and subservient to Iran, something that most Assad supporters are not in favor of. But defying Iran does not appear to be a practical option because the most effective troops the Assads have are the 20,000 or so Iranian supplied Shia mercenaries.
Meanwhile a pro-Assad coalition of Russia, Turkey, Iran and the Assad government continues their negotiations (also called “peace talks”) with each other about how bring peace to Syria via “de-escalation” zones and ceasefires. Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed that each would contribute 500 observers to monitor compliance in the de-escalation zones in rebel held areas of Idlib province, Homs province; along the Israeli border and outside Damascus. No one else monitors the monitors these zones which makes the United States, Israel and several other Middle Eastern nations wary of what Russia, Turkey and Iran are up to. Earlier in 2017 these peace talks also involved some rebel factions but the rebels soon left because they felt the peace talks had nothing to do with peace but everything to do with how to defeat the rebels and put the Assads back in control of Syria.
The rebels see the decision to establish “de-escalation” zones as a ploy to make it easier to defeat the rebel forces there. By the terms of this the zones would be “no-fly” zones for all aircraft except those from Russia, Turkey and Syria. The Assads and their supporters (Russia, Iran and Turkey) would establish checkpoints around the zones to control ground access. This would, in theory, allow emergency aid to get in (or be blocked) and eliminate air attacks on civilians. But the rebels point out that in previous ceasefire agreements the Russians and Assads ignored the terms and attacked rebels and civilians claiming they were reacting to rebel violence. In the case of the de-escalation zones established already that’s exactly what happened.
Israel is also aware, as are Russians, Turks, the Assads and nearly all Syrians, that Iranian efforts to take control of Syria are unwelcome. Since Iran is currently run by a religious dictatorship any opposition in Syria must be overcome because Iran is on a Mission From God and not to be interfered with. The Iranians, as far as everyone but Iran is concerned, are simply replacing one brand of Islamic fanaticism with another as ISIL power is extinguished in Syria.
September 16, 2017: Hamas and Fatah have agreed to jointly administer Gaza. Fatah would take over civil administration while Hamas would be in charge of security. Israel is apparently not interested because this is the sort of arrangement Hezbollah has in Lebanon and that Iran is trying to impose in Syria as well. Iran is once again advising and supplying aid to Hamas so this proposal makes sense, but not to Israel or Egypt.
September 15, 2017: In Gaza Hamas reported that two more of its members died while working on two different tunnels (Khan Yhounis in the south and Gaza City in the north). Neither of these tunnels were near a border and were apparently tunnels built to protect Hamas personnel and equipment from air attack or surveillance. There have been a lot fewer of these deaths in 2017 As of April there had only been two for 2017. Although not all such deaths are reported it appears that so far this year deaths were probably between five and ten. Hamas admitted that 22 of its members (or those employed by them) had died while working on a tunnels in 2016. Most of these tunnel deaths took place in those being built or repaired near the Israeli border. The similar deaths near the Egyptian border are usually not Hamas members. Most tunnel deaths recently have been in deeper and more dangerous tunnels designed to pass under the Israeli security fence or the improved Egyptian security measures. Most of the more than 30 tunnel deaths in 2016 were known to have been Hamas men or Palestinians working for Hamas. Tunnel collapses and accidents have been common in Gaza since 2007, when Hamas backed the construction of more smuggling and “combat” tunnels.
Since 2007 over 400 Gazans have died in tunnel accidents. Hamas usually blames such collapses on natural causes (like heavy rains) but Israel believes Israel and Egypt efforts to limit lumber and cement shipments entering Gaza has played a role because many of these recent accidents seem to be the result of poor tunnel construction compared to earlier, sturdier and safer tunnels.
As a result of all these accidents, which began to accelerate in late 2015, a growing number of Gazans are refusing to work in the tunnels because there is a widely believed (in Gazan) rumor that the real cause of all these tunnel collapses (including the unreported ones that didn’t kill anyone) are the result of new Israeli anti-tunnel weapons. This sort of thing has been mentioned in the Israeli media, but mainly in terms of new detection sensors not devices that could remotely trigger a tunnel collapse. Hamas denies Israel has any such weapon and Israel won’t discuss classified military matters like new tunnel detection sensors.
It is believed that Hamas spends about 40 percent of its $100 million annual military budget on tunnels. Israel believes Hamas digs about ten kilometers of tunnels a month. Most of these tunnels remain inside Gaza, to protect Hamas forces and military material from Israeli detection and attack.
Israel recently offered Hamas a peace deal that included building an international airport, a seaport and industrial zones in Gaza and lifting the blockade if Hamas would renounce its efforts to destroy Israel, cease all military operations against Israel. Hamas turned the offer down.
September 8, 2017: In Egypt (Giza, south of Cairo) raids on three hideouts left ten Islamic terrorists dead and five policemen and soldiers wounded. Most of these occurred when Islamic terrorists attempted to use a locally made bomb against the approaching troops. But the explosives, designed to be a roadside bomb, went off prematurely. This killed two Islamic terrorists and wounded several of the approaching troops.
September 7, 2017: In the northwest (Hama province) Israeli warplanes bombed a government chemical weapons research center at Masyaf. At the same time other Israeli warplanes destroyed a Hezbollah convoy transporting weapons. Syria later confirmed the attack on the Masyaf facility and said two soldiers were killed. Syria also said such Israeli air attacks will be avenged. Israel has already made it clear that such attacks will continue as long as Syria and its patron Iran try to attack Israel and openly call for the destruction of Israel.