Crossfire War – Iran Supplies Hamas with Missile Twice the Katyusha’s Range

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Crossfire War – Tehran – Beirut – Ankara Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Nablus – Ankara – Damascus – Beirut – Gaza/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Iran Has Supplied Hamas With Rocket Twice The Range of Katyusha – 40 Miles – Iran Ships Long Range Missile – 180 Miles – to Hezbollah Through Turkey

Night Watch: ASHDOD – When Hamas leaders state at rallies and inteviews with Arab media, “We will strike beyond Ashkelon,” it is not an idle boast. INN reports officials in Israel’s security establishment have long acknowledged Iran has supplied Hamas with a missile twice the range of the Katyusha’s 18 miles. That would mean the unnamed missile would have a range of nearly 40 miles and if fired from northern Gaza could reach not only Ashdod, just twenty miles away but also Tel Aviv. Beersheba, just 25 miles from Gaza, would also come under bombardment. I assume the longer range means a larger more powerful warhead. Ashdod is already preparing for rocket attacks. It is Israel’s fifth largest city, more than 200,000 and the country’s largest port receiving 60% of Israel’s imported goods.

Israel Defense Force (IDF) intelligence believes Hamas is waiting either for one of its senior members to be killed or for Israel’s major offensive into Gaza before they use their longest range rocket. I would not be surprised, however, if Tehran wants Hamas to begin firing the missiles before then knowing it would force Israel to make its current offensive full scale. [INN]

The war in 2006 began with a Hamas action late June the same month Tehran-Damascus made their defense-security agreement official, what they describe as a regional axis with Hamas-Hezbollah and now Lebanon’s army are very much a part of. No country’s military industry manufactures the variety of rockets-missiles as Iran, from the Katyusha (Grad) to the Shahab ballistic missile series and other missiles

Ankara – Confirmation of suspicion concerning the countless meetings during the past several years between Ankara-Tehran as to the real nature of their official discussions on “topics of mutual interests” and bilateral relations. Haaretz reports, according to intelligence received by Israel, Tehran has been using Turkey’s airspace and territory to send shipments of long range missiles to Hezbollah, from Turkey through Syria then into Lebanon, which also establishes Ankara as part of Tehran’s regional axis.

In the meantime, in classic deceptive diplomatic tradition, Ankara performs a charade of having wonderful relations with Jerusalem. Officials at Turkey’s Embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment. These findings were made known to diplomats from the European Union (EU) by the head of Israel Defense Force research department Brigadier General Yossi Beiditz. He stated the shipments are sent under the guise of civilian cargo. In May 2007 Turkey intercepted a load of weapons, including 300 rockets, labeled “cleaning materials”. [HAARETZ]

During the 2006 war, Hezbollah fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israel, including Haifa, and based on latest information Hezbollah has been sent missiles with a 180 mile (300 km) range that surpasses the 150 mile (250 km) range officials had before believed was their maximum range weapon. Their Deputy Chief Naim Kassem stated, in an interview with Lebanon paper Al-Akhbar, Hezbollah is ready for its next war and not only with Israel, but also with what he called an “international war”, which will of course engulf the 13,000 European units in Lebanon’s south serving with UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) and the U. S. warships that just arrived off the coast.

None of the international-European units have ever made any attempt to intercept Hezbollah’s blatant re-arming. Instead they complain about Israel maintaining constant surveillance through overflights of Lebanon’s territory to pinpoint launch sites, weapon depots and smuggling routes. Obviously UNIFIL and the EU diplomats, briefed by Brigadier General Beiditz, would rather not be told but where do they think they are – the Riviera? This is Lebanon and war in West Asia and they’re in the middle of it, just where Tehran wants them.

Though Naim claims Hezbollah will not start the war he may know they will enter in support of Syria as it strikes back at Israel for what it claims is Israel’s assassination of Hezbollah official Imad Mughniyeh last month, Feb. 12, in Damascus. According to Israel’s intelligence either Syria or Hezbollah will launch a vengeance attack at the end of the Muslim forty days period of mourning which would mean March 22-23. In reality Tehran staged the mock assassination to establish the reason for the war and right now there is a high level delegation in Damascus from Iran arranging the start of it and choreographing everyone’s role, from Hamas to Ankara-Tehran.

Belgrade – Battle lines continue to be drawn in Kosovo as the Albanian government in Pristina claims control over the entire former province of Serbia including the northern part that is majority Serbian. The latest verbal salvo comes from Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci quoted by B92, “The government and I have decided to maintain authority over the entire territory of Kosovo. There is no challenge that the legitimate Kosovo institutions cannot respond. No violation of constitutional order will be tolerated.” And it appears NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR) troops and units serving with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) are quite willing to enforce Pristina’s authority while at the same time the Serbian community is preparing to be that military challenge. [B92]

The President of Serb municipalities in Kosovo, Marko Jaksic, has told the FoNet news agency, “Serbia is capable of defending its territory, and that it does not need Russian KFOR troops on its territory, but armed Russian military forces just in case. What Serbia needs is the most modern armed forces (weapons) that Russia currently has for every eventuality, because if Serbia had such weapons in 1999 it would not have been bombed.” NATO’s air campaign that year lasted 78 days which ended Moscow’s military cooperation with NATO in the Balkans but not with Belgrade. Last year Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov posed with Serbian troops at an airbase defended by Russian anti-aircraft batteries. I suspect most of the discussion during the recent visit between Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev and Serbia’s government focused on weapons support from Moscow. Another war is inevitable and both sides are quite willing, armed with mutual hatred.

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.