Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – EL ARISH – GAZA WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Cairo – Amman – Baghdad – Beirut – Damascus – Ramallah – Gaza – El Arish/Mubarak – Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Hamas Forces New Breach in Rafah Terminal – Cairo Demands Palestinians Return to Gaza by 3 PM Friday – Israel Deploys Security Forces Along Israel Sinai Border – US Closes Sinai Mission – Hamas States it Will Send 500,000 Palestinians Through Erez Crossing in N. Gaza to Ashkelon
Night Watch: EL ARISH – Tehran has widened the war around Israel by establishing the Sinai front. This is probably designed to stretch the Israel Defence Force (IDF) as thinly as possible. The Sinai/Israel border from Gaza to the Gulf of Aqaba is 125 miles, which enormously increases the amount of territory Israel will have to cover, and Jerusalem can expect no help from Cairo or any imaginary international peacekeeping force. Haaretz reports Israel has closed Route 10, which runs along the Israel Sinai frontier in expectation of Hamas and Palestinian militants attacking Israeli communities on the border. Israel’s Shin Bet security service actually expects attacks to take place in two weeks time. Public Affairs Minister Avi Dichter has stated there is “a danger of terrorists trying to enter Israel (from Sinai) along with terrorists from Africa.” It is now being reported attacks are being planned by Hamas leaders in Gaza by former Foreign Minister Mahmoud a-Zahar, and heads of the military wing, Ahmed Jabari and Mohammad Def. [HAARETZ]
Al Gura – The rush of news from Sinai-Gaza is now almost conflicting which is understandable given the chaotic situation. Though Egyptian security, I assume under President Hosni Mubarak’s direction, has demanded the Palestinians return to Gaza the time deadline seems to keep changing from 1 pm to now 7 pm Friday. There are also reports of some violence directed at the Egyptian police, but in the meantime Debka reports Egypt has decided to redeploy its Sinai units south of El Arish, the Sinai city on the Mediterranean less than 30 miles from Rafah. They are now based at Bir Lahfan and Abu Aweigila. In a similar crisis-panic move, Washington has closed the Multinational-Force Organization base at Al Gura on the Mediterranean, northeast of El Arish that had been used to monitor the Egyptian/Israeli border. The base had 400 personnel and it seems Hamas has begun to fill the security vacuum. [DEBKA]
Erez – Estimates now say, as many as 700,000 Palestinians streamed through the demolished Rafah Terminal, nearly half of Gaza’s population and by no means does Tehran want them to become inactive. As this human wave is used against what remains of President Mubarak’s authority Tehran is preparing another one further north. The Jerusalem Post reports a senior Hamas leader, Ahmed Youssef, has just announced they are prepared to send 500,000 Palestinians through the Erez crossing in northern Gaza into Israel toward Ashkelon one of the main targets of the Qassam-Katyusha rocket fire. “The next time there is a crisis in the Gaza Strip Israel will have to face half a million Palestinians who will march toward Erez. This is not an imaginary scenario and many Palestinians would be prepared to sacrifice their lives.” [JPOST]
This is not an idle threat. Iran has been planning a major Palestinian/Israel confrontation and nothing would cause it more than for a half a million Palestinians to break through the northern Gaza crossing heading toward Ashkelon, on the Mediterranean, the site of Israel’s oil terminal. It would take a major military effort for Israel to prevent that from happening, that is exactly what Tehran, and other Islamic governments want a Palestinians suicidal wave of humanity slaughtered en masse providing Iran with its excuse to enter the war, as a magnanimous gesture, in the name of supporting Palestinian people.
Rafah – Jerusalem Post reports the Israel Air Force (IAF) conducted an air strike near Rafah that killed four Hamas militants, one of them being the leader of Hamas’ military wing in Rafah. [JPOST]
Beirut- Further north, in Lebanon, “The threat of an escalation is becoming more real.” That is from the Lebanese daily L’Orient Le-Jour in describing the explosive situation in the country due to the paralysis in the government and the nationwide economic crisis. Gulf-Times/AFP reports demonstrators have blocked the roads to the airport with burning tires and setting fire to trash. Skirmishes have also broken out between Sunni/Shia communities. Imad Salamey, Political Science Professor at Lebanese American University suspects this is a ploy by Hezbollah, “I think the tactic here is to buildup a manageable escalation. And whenever it looks like its going to get out of hand, they will cool it down and wait for a new round of negotiations.” [GULFTIMES]
But crisis creation is at the center of Tehran’s foreign policy and they, along with Damascus, have equipped Hezbollah and its political-militia partners to win any military engagement to take control over the country. I don’t think Iran wants to cool anything down in fact quite the reverse; this is what Tehran has been planning for nearly thirty years.
Hazmiyeh – As a small indication of political-explosions on the horizon the Jerusalem Post/AP report a senior Lebanese intelligence official was killed by a car bomb in the Christian East Beirut neighborhood of Hazmiyeh. Captain Wisam Eid was seriously investigating the wave of political killings for the past three years beginning with former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in February 2005. Lebanon’s National Police Chief Brigadier-General Ashraf Rifi said Captain Eid was handling “very important” files including “all those having to do with the terrorist’s bombings.” That is why Tehran had him killed. [JPOST]