Israel Preparing for al-Qaeda on its Borders
Hamas, for its part, has no problem with al-Qaeda launching attacks on Israel from Sinai, but it does have a problem with al-Qaeda challenging its rule.
As the Middle East continues to be rocked by instability and the old regional order crumbles, Israeli security forces are preparing for an increased al-Qaeda presence along the country's borders.
The past decade has shown that the al-Qaeda network thrives in failed states, setting down roots in areas where central governments no longer exercise a clear monopoly of arms or jurisdiction. From Pakistan to Iraq to Mali, adherents of the global jihadi movement are seeking a safe haven to set up training camps, plot terror attacks, and spread their fundamentalist ideology.
In Israel's neighborhood, at least two local regions are prime al-Qaeda growth areas: Syria, which is in the midst of a full-blown civil war, and Egypt's Sinai peninsula, a partially lawless desert province where local Bedouin tribes enjoy more power than Egyptian security forces.
In both areas, all indications suggest that al-Qaeda-affiliated forces are setting up shop.
In Syria, jihadi fighters are pouring in from neighboring countries such as Iraq (thereby reversing the traffic flow of al-Qaeda fighters a decade ago). They are mixing with local recruits to form terror cells in Syria; these have imported Iraqi-style roadside bombings on the Syrian army and vehicle bomb attacks on Syrian government installations.
The Free Syrian Army routinely denies the presence of al-Qaeda elements in Syria; admitting otherwise would serve the propaganda efforts of the embattled Assad regime.
The Syrian regime is keen on presenting all Syrian rebels as fanatical jihadis. Despite the politicized accusations by the regime and denials by the rebels, al-Qaeda is gradually establishing itself in Syria; the Israel Defense Force assumes that sooner or later the jihadis will turn their sights on Israel.
The IDF's Northern command recently took journalists on a tour of the Golan Heights and presented a few of the preparations underway by the Israeli military to ensure readiness for the new threat.
Despite Syria's hostility to Israel and its rhetorical and logistical support for the largest terrorist organization in the Middle East, Hizbullah, the border between Syria and Israel has been free of hostile action since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Now, however, as Damascus loses sovereignty and jihadis gain room to maneuver in Syria, this may change. Possible threats include bomb and shooting attacks on the border, and the possibility of rocket fire into northern Israel.
Meanwhile, in the south, al-Qaeda's presence in Sinai is already well-established. Last month, global jihadi terrorists attacked an Israeli Ministry of Defense border construction crew erecting a barrier on the border between Egypt and Israel. The attack claimed the life of a crew member. The terror cell was quickly met by an IDF unit, which shot dead two members, as other terrorists retreated into the sand dunes on the Egyptian side of the border.
The terror cell, exploiting weapons that are hidden in caches in Sinai, used a combination of explosives, a rocket-propelled grenade, and machine guns. Some of the weapons were, and are, entering the area from Libya.
A Sinai-based al-Qaeda-affiliated organization, saying it was behind the incident, released a video on YouTube (since removed); it featured several masked men standing in front of a global jihad flag. Two of them identified themselves as Saudi and Egyptian nationals.
"To the Jews, enemies of God, know you infidels that what is coming is different from what came until now," one of the masked men said.
The presence of global jihadi fighters in Sinai is made more complex by the network's having members operating in the neighboring Gaza Strip, ruled by the Hamas regime.
It is easy to imagine how one attack can set off a wider conflict, as occurred in June, after the border attack, when the Israel Air Force bombed an al-Qaeda mastermind in Gaza. In response, Hamas fired over 160 rockets into southern Israel, a reaction that prompted further Israeli airstrikes on Hamas targets.
Hamas, for its part, has no problem with al-Qaeda launching attacks on Israel from Sinai, but it does have a problem with al-Qaeda challenging its rule in Gaza. In 2009, Hamas ruthlessly enforced its jurisdiction in Gaza, sending hundreds of gunmen to the south of the Strip to put down an al-Qaeda inspired movement that challenged Hamas rule .
Since, then al-Qaeda has been gravitating towards Sinai, where the Egyptian military is struggling to maintain security. Days before the border attack, two long-range rockets were fired from Sinai, landing north of the Israeli tourist hub of Eilat.
The IDF's Southern Command, taking full note of the changes washing over the southern border, has been strengthening the army's presence in the area.
The construction of the border fence, together with a host of advanced surveillance measures, and the creation of rapid-response counter-terrorism units, are all included in the IDF's new deployment along the southern border. Intelligence efforts are focused on mapping out the widening terror network in Sinai.
Al-Qaeda's increasing shadow on Israel's borders may result in a rewriting of counter-terrorism doctrines. At present, al-Qaeda is the only terror network operating in the area with an absolute commitment to launching constant, immediate attacks.
Unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or Hizbullah, al-Qaeda has no obvious return address and no territorial hold, making it that much more challenging for Israeli security forces to identify and respond to this emerging threat.
Comment on this item
by Burak Bekdil
Where Turkey stands today is a perfect example of how, when Islamists -- mild or otherwise -- rule a county, even the most basic liberties are systematically suppressed.
"A climate of fear has emerged in Turkey." — Hasam Kilic, President, Turkey's Constitutional Court.
The prosecutor demanded a heavier penalty for the victim than for her torturers.
The European Commission identified government interference in the judiciary and bans imposed on social media as the major sources of concern regarding Turkey's candidacy for full membership.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."