Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – BEIRUT – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Ramallah – Gaza – Damascus – Beirut/Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington – Cairo – Amman; Forty Day Mourning Period Over for Mughniyeh – Hezbollah Mass Rally in Beirut Monday to Accuse Israel – Hezbollah Rocket Inventory of 40,000 – VP Cheney – Netanyahu Discuss Iran Forward Bases Threat – Heavy Fighting in Iraq
Night Watch: BEIRUT – With the ending of the 40 day Muslim period of mourning on Saturday for the mock assassination of Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh the Israel Defense Force (IDF) has increased its patrols on Israel’s northern and southern borders. INN reports security has also been increased in major cities and around national leaders in anticipation of retaliatory-revenge attacks by Hezbollah in coordination with Damascus-Tehran. On Saturday Hezbollah Deputy Chief Naim Kassem stated, in an interview with Iran’s PressTV, Hezbollah had “100 per cent proof” Israel killed Mughniyeh. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah is to address a mass rally in Beirut on Monday which he will use to not only accuse Israel but to justify Hezbollah’s revenge attacks that are designed to increase the war in the region setting the stage for Syria-Iran to enter it. [INN]
Damascus – That is why, at the time of Mughniyeh’s disappearance, I wrote this is Tehran’s timing, a mock assassination blamed on Israel to justify increasing the war since Hezbollah has massively re-armed from its war two years ago and Damascus-Tehran are ready and with Hamas in Gaza more heavily armed than ever before. The war rally Monday comes at a time Debka reports Hezbollah has three and half times the number of missiles and rockets it had in 2006 before its war with Israel that year. There are now 40,000 rockets-missiles in Hezbollah’s inventory some of which have a range of 210 miles (350 km) and when launched from bases north of the Litani River can hit as far south as Beersheba in the Negev desert. This is why the Israel Air Force (IAF) constantly conducts surveillance flights over Lebanon to monitor the storage facilities and launching pads. The vast majority have not only been supplied by Syria but manufactured there, which is why Jerusalem recently alerted Damascus when the next war begins Israel will be attacking Syria right away. Chances are the top priority of the IAF will be Syrian missile factories. [DEBKA]
In anticipation of that Damascus has increased Hezbollah’s ability to shoot down enemy aircraft by exporting large numbers of the Russian made anti-aircraft ZSU-100 automatic 14.4 mm caliber cannon. Hamas recently used one to damage an Israeli helicopter. The weapon is effective against low flying aircraft, helicopters and drones. In addition to this, fighting alongside Hezbollah, will be most of Lebanon’s army creating more resistance to any Israeli invasion in the south of the country. This is why I don’t think it will take long for Jerusalem to decide to use its nuclear weaponry especially against storage facilities and enemy staging areas.
Knesset – Being briefed on these latest developments is U. S. Vice-President Dick Cheney who Debka reports has already met opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has been one of the more consistent advocates of a large scale military operation in Gaza against Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups as the only way of ending the Qassam and now Katyusha rocket fire. Netanyahu concentrated on the immediate threats by what he called Iran’s forward bases in the region: Gaza-West Bank-Lebanon-Syria. He even mentioned if Israel withdrew from any part of Jerusalem Hamas and other groups directed by Tehran would move in and control it. [DEBKA]
Vice-President Cheney is to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the head of Israel’s intelligence service the Mossad before departing for Turkey. I suspect Cheney gave Jerusalem Washington’s tacit approval by saying he did not want Israel to undertake any operation which would endanger Israel’s security. In other words whatever they feel they should do then by all means.
Jerusalem – Binyamin Netanyahu, with his advocating a stronger response to Hamas and with his warning of Tehran’s nuclear weapons-ballistic missile programs for years, Netanyahu has been something of a voice in the wilderness. INN mentions Netanyahu first outlined his concerns over Iran with his book, “The Spectre of Nuclear Terrorism” that he wrote back in 1995 discussing Iran’s nuclear facilities at Bushehr and Isfahan. That was nearly ten years before the European Union (EU) began negotiations with Tehran under the illusion they could negotiate themselves out of being one of Iran’s targets. I remember seeing Netanyahu in 1999 on C-Span, when he was Prime Minister speaking in front of the National Press Club warning about the ballistic missiles Islamic countries were building and purchasing and that their range took them well beyond the region. So now on the eve of (f)allout war the voice in the wilderness has a larger audience. [INN]
International Green Zone – Tehran continues to increase the heavy fighting in Iraq as the International Green Zone in Baghdad was hit by two waves of mortar attacks. Asharq al-Awsat/AFP report the first wave of several rounds hit at 7:30 am and the second three hours later. A staff member of the U. S. Embassy stated, “The first attack woke us up and people went rushing to the bunkers. It was very frightening. The blasts were very close. Some people were in the showers and arrived with towels around them. Others were nonchalant and carried on as if nothing had happened. This was the worst attack since last summer, when some buildings in the embassy compound were hit by mortars.” The zone is in the center of Baghdad and covers six square miles where embassies and government buildings are located. [ASHARQALAWSAT]
Baghdad – France 24/AFP report the fortified area is routinely hit by rocket-mortar fire but this year Iran has increased the attacks as full scale war approaches. Washington says the attacks are from “rogue” elements of the Mahdi Army headed by Muqtada al-Sadr but these elements are directed by Tehran. [FRANCE24]
Zaafariniya – In other areas of the capital Al Jazeera reports gunmen in three cars opened fire indiscriminately on pedestrians in the Zaafariniya neighborhood in south Baghdad killing seven people and wounding 16. A Katyusha rocket hit a residential building in the Al-Kamaliyah neighborhood killing five and wounding eight. And in the Shuala neighborhood five were killed and eight wounded by a car bomb. In other parts of the country the largest attack was at an Iraqi army base in the Al-Hermat district of western Mosul when a truck filled with explosives crashed through a barrier killing 10 soldiers and wounding thirty. There was also a roadside bomb at Al-Tuz 45 miles (75 km) south of Kirkuk. U. S. forces raided a “suicide bombing network” in Diyala province northeast of the capital. All of these suicide-assassination networks, whether Sunni-Secular (Nationalistic)-Shi’ite are used by Tehran to maintain the atmosphere of chaos in the country and to show there will be no stability as long as the occupation remains. [ALJAZEERA]