PACKER’S CORNER: The Middle East is a Mess

Just when you thought the Middle East couldn’t get any messier – it does! So far this week:

-Turkey continues to attack the Kurds in northwest Syria, but the Kurds seem to be hanging tough. Additionally, the Syrian rebels shot down a Russian fighter jet and then killed the pilot on the ground (because why not?). And then the American forces in Syria killed approximately 100 Syrian soldiers as they were trying to conquer areas previously liberated from ISIS.

– Another civil war has broken out in Yemen. How many civil wars does it take to stabilize Yemen? Apparently 3 isn’t enough. Now a group has broken off from the “official government” and is fighting for a southern Yemen independent entity. Surely this will be the solution to all the problems. Meanwhile, death continues to be Yemen’s #1 commodity.

– Reports emerged that Israel has been bombing ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula – part of Egypt. How many times? Like 100! This is actually not very surprising given the dramatically changing dynamics of the region that are pushing moderate sunni muslims and Israel together to combat Iran and sunni extremism. The large number of attacks is a bit surprising. Although not many Egyptian soldiers have been killed recently by ISIS, so I guess it all makes sense now.

Speaking of Israel, let’s continue with what’s going on there!

Nearly a month after the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, hy’d, of Havat Gilad, there have been serious developments. The Israeli Government has declared that Havat Gilad will be LEGALIZED! As mentioned in previous pieces, this is a very big deal (and quite rare). Additionally, the leader of the terrorist cell that committed the murder was just now killed by Israeli forces. It would seem that all involved have either been killed or captured at this point – this is a good thing.

Unfortunately, in another terrorist attack in the Shomron (Samaria) region this week, another Rabbi was murdered. This time it was a stabbing and the killer remains on the run. The Rabbi killed, Itamar Ben-Gal, hy’d, lived with his wife and four children in the community of Har Bracha. Since the murder, there have been statements by right-wing Israeli politicians calling on the Government to approve significant numbers of housing permits in Har Bracha – upwards of 800. This would not only change Har Bracha (more than double it), but the entire region! A strengthening of the Jewish Presence in the area would pressure the Israeli Government to take further, bolder steps like returning permanently to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (nablus) and the former Jewish communities of Homesh and Sa-Nur farther to the north. (map of the area)

There have been a few other terrorist attacks since these, thankfully, much less successful. Remains to be seen if this is a new trend or just more of the same.

In less important news, leaks are leaking out of the Israeli Police (this is about the only thing they can be depended on to do) that they plan to recommend indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu on bribery charges next week. However, its only a recommendation, the Attorney General will be make the actual decision. There are reports that he thinks the whole thing is going nowhere, but we’ll have to see what happens. Regardless, its remarkable how similar the situations with Netanyahu and Trump are – on so many levels! Fascinating!

On the “diplomatic” front, President Trump’s emissaries, Ambassador David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, are verbally sparring with the Palestinian Authority (PA) pretty regularly at this point. One can only imagine where this will lead President Trump, but its unlikely it will go well for the PA. I’d expect a vitriolic tweet sometime soon.

Israeli Government and Economy are totally stable!