Crossfire War – Hamas Near Completing Creation of Conventional Army

89

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – GAZA – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Cairo – Amman – Baghdad – Beirut – Nablus – Damascus – Gaza/Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Hamas Unleashes Mortar Bombardment – Israel has Plans to Assassinate Hamas Leadership in Damascus – Two Explosions Heard Before Macedonian M-17 Helicopter Crashed Near Skopje

Night Watch: DAMASCUS – INN reports Hamas and Palestinian militants have unleashed a mortar barrage from northern Gaza Sunday just after Israel had responded to rocket attacks on Saturday by using gunboats on Hamas positions near the Rafah terminal on Egypt’s border. In the meantime, according to the London based Al-Hayat newspaper an unnamed European country has informed Hamas Israel has plans to assassinate the Hamas leadership. Targeted are Khaled Mushaal in Damascus, senior leader Mahmoud A-Zahar and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Jerusalem seems to have been waiting for the end of the visit by U. S. President George W. Bush before making the attempt that could easily lead to war with Syria-Iran, the creators of Hamas. [INN]

There are growing concerns within Israel’s government of Hamas continuing its transformation from a guerrilla unit able to engage in light combat into a much more powerful conventional military. Government minister MK Yuval Shteinitz a former Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee voiced the latest concerns. He spoke of a “large, Iranian-backed Hamas army, just like Hizbullah, while Egypt turns a blind eye and even gives aid to some extent.” Shteinitz continued by saying the army “is being built just 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Ashdod (on the Mediterranean) and 60 kilometers (36 miles) from Tel Aviv and stands in opposition to Israel’s classic security doctrine, which never allowed the establishment of a foreign military force in the western Land of Israel. Israel pokes at it here and there, but it is not stopping it from coming into being.” He is therefore calling for a major offensive knowing it will be difficult and concluded “we waited two years too many-and now they have rockets and tanks.”

Katlanovsko Blato – There are reports now two explosions were heard by eyewitnesses just before the crash of the Macedonia Armed Forces M-17 helicopter Saturday afternoon killing all eleven soldiers on board as the helicopter was landing in the Katlanovsko Blato area south of Skopje. BIRN writes the helicopter had taken off from the Bosnia-Herezgovina capital Sarajevo as part of a regional peacekeeping mission with the European Union-EUFOR and was attempting to land in fog a poor visibility. “The helicopter burned out completely”, was the quote from Blagoja Menkovski, Chief of Skopje Fire Brigade. [BIRN]

Skopje – B92 is reporting the Macedonian government has set up a commission to investigate yesterday’s crash caused by what they say are reasons unknown. The Russian made helicopter had just been overhauled recently and there were no indications of any malfunction before takeoff. Experts are not yet speculating as to the cause of the crash. [B92]

Belgrade – Focus News Agency reports there is already speculation, from the Serbian paper Politika, the crash may not have been an accident as first assumed. They point to the lack of large fragments of the helicopter in the debris, which is usually the case after a helicopter crashes on landing since the craft would not be flying high at the time. From the photo in the linked article on B92 only small pieces remain and that definitely indicates at least one explosion and eyewitnesses have already said there were two. Could a rocket have hit the helicopter setting off the fuel as a secondary explosion? The Macedonian government has well-armed enemies, mostly in the form of Albanian nationalists, that could have done so. They staged several attacks against the Macedonian police last year and have even announced themselves publicly, but if they had caused this helicopter crash, I believe they would have taken credit. [FOCUS]

www.crossfirewar.com

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.