Crossfire War – Israel PM Olmert States Gaza Invasion Near

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Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=WASHINGTON-JERUSALEM-CAIRO WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Hamas Dismisses Threat of Israel Invasion – PM Olmert States Decision Near – Israel Refused Washington Advice to Attack Hezbollah May 11 – Heavy Fighting in Kashmir

Night Watch: GAZA – Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Aiman Taha, has denied reports they have been warned by Egypt Minister of Intelligence General Omar Suleiman that Israel will invade unless captured soldier Gilad Schalit is released. INN reports according to Taha, Suleiman never even held an extensive meeting with Hamas’ representative to the Cairo negotiations Abu Marzouk. At the same time Marzouk is dismissing reports Israel is completing final plans for its long awaited invasion into the Gaza Strip to end the seven years of Qassam-Katyusha rocket fire. Last week a Katyusha (Grad) injured a hundred people in Ashkelon and the major city of Beersheba, just 20 miles from Gaza, is considered next in line to be attacked. Marzouk responded, “If they could they would destroy Hamas in both Gaza and Judea-Samaria (West Bank).” But he said an invasion was unlikely because a large number of casualties could result as well as a lack of a plan for what to do the “day after”. But Israel has never suffered many casualties when they stage large ground raids into Gaza and I suspect Jerusalem intends to install Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas as administrator of the Palestinian community after Hamas’ defeat. [INN]

Rafah – The Gulf-Times/Agencies are reporting armed Palestinian groups say they are ready to face the invasion. However Abu Obaida, spokesman for Hamas military wing the Ezzedine Al Qassam Brigades believes Israel will only attack from the air. [GULFTIMES]

Knesset – “It would be wrong to go into detail and hold discussions through newspaper headlines-suffice it to say that we are convinced that this situation in the south cannot be allowed to continue as it has in recent months. The critical point on a decision of how things will be handled is very close.” That was the opening statement of Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday as Haaretz reports another Israeli leader, Benjamin Netanyahu met Egypt President Hosni Mubarak and stressed Hamas is an enemy to both Israel and Egypt. It appears Mubarak was in complete agreement and invited Netanyahu to return to Egypt soon. Iran was also targeted during the discussions and I would not be surprised in Netanyahu mentioned the significance of the arrival of the U. S. command and control ship USS Mount Whitney off the coast of Lebanon last week as a sign Washington will be coordinating joint operations against Hamas-Hezbollah-Syria-Iran. Mubarak has always hated Tehran’s government since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. And he is aware Tehran wants the Egyptian opposition group the Muslim Brotherhood to lead the effort to overthrow Mubarak. [HAARETZ]

Jerusalem – Haaretz/AP report, as rocket fire from Gaza continued over the weekend, Israel Public Security Minister Avi Dichter stated Hamas’s arsenal is almost on par with that of a sovereign state. [HAARETZ]

Jerusalem – It seems Israel refused Washington’s suggestion to launch a surprise attack on Hezbollah May 11 when Hezbollah was fighting pro-government militias in Beirut and central Lebanon. Debka reports the Pentagon had envisioned Israel conducting first air strikes on Hezbollah’s positions in the south then send two armored columns into Lebanon toward Beirut in support of pro-government militias but Israel refused. The reason was not given but it may have been because Israel did not want to commit so many resources while it still faces the immediate and active threat from the Gaza Strip. Jerusalem also may have insisted Washington take part in any action against Hezbollah knowing Syria-Iran will also enter the fighting. [DEBKA]

Lurow Jagir – As expected the melting of the snow in Kashmir this month has led to an increase in the number of attacks by Islamic units, supported by Tehran-Islamabad, against India’s control of the Muslim majority state. NewsBlaze reports eight Islamic fighters were killed in three different gunbattles Saturday. The largest and longest engagement took place in Lurow Jagir, Tral and lasted for seven hours. Six members of the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammad were killed 33 miles (55 km) from Srinagar as India sent reinforcements of para-military units. A member of Lashkar-e-Toiba was killed in action in north Kashmir and another member of Jaish-e-Mohammad was killed in a firefight in the mountainous Poonch region. [NEWSBLAZE]

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.