Israeli Elections, Mideast Turmoil

YERUSHALAYIM -

During the past week, in the Middle East alone, some 562 people were killed in battles, skirmishes, executions and beheadings.

Nobody knows how many were injured, though statistics show generally there are at least three wounded for every one killed. That means roughly 1,700 wounded. Those, plus the untold number of homes destroyed and new refugees without shelter.

While Israelis remain preoccupied with the election campaign the entire region around us, on our very borders, continues in the throes of violent upheaval. The Pentagon informs us that in the last week western coalition forces carried out 18 air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria, another 20 in Iraq.

The struggle between Islamic State and Kurdish forces contined for control of the area around Kubana. Islamic State claimed it inflicted heavy causualties on the Kurds, and showed evidence of it on video taken by unmanned aircraft.

In Syria too, Islamic State claimed it gained control over some villages, though the Syrian government forces said they repulsed the attacks. Islamic State announced that a large number of volunteers swear allegience and entered their ranks to do battle in the vicinity of Damascus.

Further claims that their forces have made advances in the area of Dara in southern Syria, not far from the border with Israel, are of particular concern. They claim, in addition, that members of the Salafist Jihadi have joined them. If true, this could significantly alter regional dynamics, as it opens the way to the Golan Heights becoming a base of terror operations against Israel.

Last week, an Islamic cleric was arrested in Austria for recruiting volunteers for Islamic State. Security officials say that he was not the only one engaged in such activity in what is called the “Bosnian cell,” in Vienna, which is reportedly a center for financial and logistical support for Islamic State.

We conclude with Yemen, where 127 Jews still live. This week it was reported that elements of al Qaeda launched an attack on a western air base. Six missiles were fired at the base, apparently to retaliate for a failed attempt to rescue an American hostage that had been carried out by U.S. special forces.

What does all this say to us? That outside of the Israeli elections there a number of “little things” going on in the world around us. It’s worth noting.