Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – GAZA – KHARTOUM WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: IAF Conducts Air Attacks as Heavy Fighting Continues in South Gaza – Iran Now Shipping Rockets to Gaza Through Sudan – Egypt Red Sea Ports – Israel DM Barak Calls for PM Olmert to Resign
Night Watch: SUFA TERMINAL – Tehran continues to increase and expand the avenue of supplies to Hamas and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. INN/AP are reporting weapons are now arriving from Red Sea ports in Sudan and Egypt to the Sinai peninsula and then transported to the Gaza border and into smuggling tunnels. Most of the weapons seem to be Iranian made Katyusha (Grad) rockets which have more the twice the explosive power of the Qassam, are more accurate and have more range, 20-25 miles. It was the rocket used so effectively by Hezbollah in 2006 and has recently been fired from Gaza including the one that damaged the shopping mall in Ashkelon. When Hamas starts using them more frequently it will probably force Israel to invade Gaza. [INN]
At the same time heavy fighting is continuing in south Gaza near the Sufa Terminal as Israel Defense Force (IDF) units of the Shaked and Givati Brigade have been conducting a sweep to arrest militants to suppress the rocket and mortar fire. They are supported by tanks and helicopters and have come under heavy machine gun and mortar attacks. In response the Israel Air Force (IAF) carried out two attacks, one hit the source of the mortar fire and another hit a Palestinian squad firing rockets.
Knesset – “In the wake of the current situation and considering the challenges Israel faces, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, the captured soldiers and the peace process, the Prime Minister cannot simultaneously lead the government and conduct his personal affairs. Out of consideration for the good of the country and the accepted norms I believe the Prime Minister must detach himself from the day-to-day leadership of the country.” That was the statement, demand made by Israel Defense Minster Ehud Barak regarding Olmert since he is under serious investigation for fraud and corruption as Israel faces the most severe regional threats since the country was re-established sixty years ago. The Jerusalem Post/AP report Barak concluded his remarks by saying, “We’re not coming to Kadima with a stop watch. But this has to happen soon, and I mean soon.” If Olmert resigned Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would become caretaker Prime Minister and form a new government, if that failed then new elections. [JPOST]
But according to Olmert’s strategic adviser, Tal Zilberstein, Olmert is not about to resign because that would be tantamount to an admission of guilt, “He doesn’t have any intention to resign or to step down temporarily, even if Barak asks him to.” It is an extreme disgrace for Olmert to have a strategic adviser for his personal, financial security which he listens to more often than to strategic advisers on Israel’s security.
Najaf – There seems to be a new demonstration front developing in Baghdad and Iraq against the Washington led occupation. PressTV reports Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, head of the 60,000 Mahdi Army, has called for a new series of demonstrations against the new security accords to be signed between Baghdad-Washington which would permit U. S. forces to remain in the country after the end of 2008. “After every Friday prayers everyone must protest and demonstrate until the agreement is cancelled.” This will be done with the full blessing of the most respected spiritual leader in the country Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani who stated as long as he is alive the agreement will not take effect. This new series of protests will lead to armed confrontations and escalate into a new more serious round of fighting than in late March and early April. This could be the crisis Tehran and the Mahdi Army have been waiting for to formally end the ceasefire imposed last August and has been under severe strain all year. That is why Tehran will have Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki sign the agreement. [PRESSTV]
Tehran – In view of the wider regional war Iran is planning this year the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is stating the Guards must be ready for “new situations.” PressTV reports Major-General Mohammad-Ali Jafari stated Wednesday, “The IRGC must remain vigilant and always be prepared to make the right decision.” I suspect he means they must never be caught by surprise by any enemy attack and the new situation will of course require the Guards responding with a sense of total commitment and not just a few advisers as they have in Iraq and Lebanon. The “new situation” is (f)allout war. [PRESSTV]