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Night Watch: CENTRAL GAZA – Five Israeli soldiers were wounded as they came under anti-tank rocket fire in central Gaza Sunday morning. The Jerusalem Post reports the latest action was in response to the statement by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as he called Thursday’s Katyusha rocket attack an escalation. Olmert then stated during his weekly Cabinet meeting, “We will continue to respond, to plan and to attack those responsible for terror in every corner of the Gaza Strip.” He then instructed Defense Minister Ehud Barak to intensify the military response to the continued rocket and mortar fire knowing the longer range Katyusha’s are now going to be used. The Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC) took responsibility for the mortar-rocket fire Saturday directed mostly at Sderot. There was also an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza. [JPOST]
Shechem (Nablus) – In a parallel development the linked article from INN/Arutz Sheva is a photo essay and video of the four day operation the Israel Defense Force (IDF) just concluded in the West Bank/Judea-Samaria, in which they uncovered and destroyed explosives caches and a rocket laboratory in Shechem (Nablus). An IDF official said, “The highest amount of terrorist attacks from Judea and Samaria originate from the Shechem region.” [INN]
Damascus – Iran National Security Adviser Ali Larijani is in the middle of his four day war planning visit to Damascus. He has already not only met Syria President Bashar al-Assad but representatives of Amal and Hezbollah. Amal was represented by Deputy Ali Khalil and Hezbollah by Haj Hossein Khalil. The two organizations, controlled by Tehran-Damascus, are part of the opposition to entrenched Prime Minister Fouad Siniora the weakened representative of Paris and the West. [IRNA]
Beirut – The results of Larijani’s strategic visit are about to be made known besides the rocket -mortar offensive from Gaza. Hezbollah and its Christian nationalist coalition partners in Lebanon are about to become more demonstrative in their attempts to destroy the final authority of Prime Minister Siniora. WebIndia reports, according to sources close to Hezbollah, its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has issued a ten-day ultimatum that demands the opposition receive veto power in the new cabinet. “The country is heading toward ten critical days”. If current negotiations don’t allow the opposition its demands then Hezbollah will begin to take what it calls “decisive measures” to exert its influence. Sources say Hezbollah is studying the possibility of closing down the airport and most seaports in the country. It will also organize a “large sit-in” near the U. S. Embassy in Awkar north of Beirut and block vital roads. They are also considering a similar demonstration outside the seat of the Maronite Patriarchate the religious militia controlled by France. [WEBINDIA]
With Lebanon’s army leadership close to Tehran-Damascus these demonstrations will increase Iran-Syria’s hold over the country and Hezbollah has re-armed to such an extent it should easily win any armed confrontation with groups supporting Siniora. Hezbollah, with its near 20,000 members, even outnumber and out gun the 12,000 European units serving in UNIFIL. The European troops did nothing to help Siniora as remnants of Lebanon’s army fought the suicide unit Fatah al-Islam for more than three months last year. That convinced most of Lebanon’s army to distant itself from the West.
Damascus – Larijani has also used his visit to respond to statements-threats from U. S. President George W. Bush. In speaking to reporters, Sunday Larijani said Bush’s threats are similar to cries of worried aged women who create commotion to cover their fears. [IRNA]
North Iraq – Tehran has had the suicide unit Fatah al-Islam establish a base in northern Iraq in addition to its new position in the Gaza Strip. On both fronts they will be operating with al-Qaeda also controlled by Iran. Debka reports the unit, headed by Shaker al-Abessi, entered Iraq through Syria and is being reinforced by fighters from Syria and Lebanon. [DEBKA]