Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Gaza – Beirut Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Baghdad – El Arish – Damascus – Nablus – Beirut – Gaza/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Israel Units Take Up Positions in Gaza City – Operation Expected to Continue Several Days – “Israel Has No Intention of Stopping the Fight Against Terror for Even a Second” – PM Olmert – Saudi Arabia Tells its Citizens to Leave Lebanon Immediately – Civil War – War with Israel Expected
Night Watch: JERUSALEM – “If anyone in Gaza has illusions that extending the range of rocket fire will bring our operation to an end they are sorely mistaken. Let me be clear, Israel has no intention of stopping the fight against terror for even a second, and we will act according to the blueprint set by the government at a time and intensity of our choosing in order to strike terror organizations and those who provide them with cover and the ability to operate there.”
Those were some of the opening remarks by Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the Sunday cabinet meeting on the large air-ground operation against Palestinian missile-rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Haaretz reports by Sunday evening more than thirty rockets were fired including Katyushas at Ashkelon. Also targeted were Sderot, Netivot and Ofakim a town of 30,000 just 9 miles from Gaza. [HAARETZ]
Haniyeh’s Office Destroyed – The cabinet meeting included an assessement of the possible next moves by Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran on how they intend to use the fighting in Gaza. Israel Military Intelligence Chief Major-General Amos Yadlin surmised, “The fact that Iran, Syria and the Hezbollah are not firing now doesn’t mean they have emerged from their campaign. Everyone is looking to see how the conflict will end to determine how to operate.”
With the linked photos from Xinhua there is no doubt as to the seriouness of the fighting nor of Israel’s intention of doing major damage to the military infrastructure of Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups. If Hezbollah-Damascus-Tehran do not enter the war quickly the Palestinian community may no longer take their highly publicized rhetoric of support seriously. [XINHUA]
Gaza City – The offensive is concentrating on northern Gaza since that has been the area most often used by Palestinian rocket squads as their most frequent targets Sderot and Ashkelon are just to the east and north. Haaretz reports Israel Defense Force (IDF) units have actually taken up positions in the northern districts of Gaza City and have begun extensive searches for militants. IDF Ground Forces Commander Avi Mizrachi said the operation has constant air support from the Israel Air Force (IAF).
Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Harel described the fighting as “difficult and concentrated” but that it is continuing deep into Gaza and along the border. “This is combat in a dense built up area. The enemy has thus far lost dozens of fighters and its infrastructure has been damaged. The IDF will not be deterred from fulfilling its duty which is to defend the citizens of Israel. Unfortunately the road is still long but we are determined to complete the mission.” [HAARETZ]
Tel Aviv – Defense Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by the Jerusalem Post/AP just before a meeting in Tel Aviv with security chiefs as saying the offensive against the Palestinian rocket squads will escalate and that a broad operation was “real and tangible.” Barak then added, “We are not happy about it, we won’t shy from it. There are many considerations about the timing.”
As the details are being worked out reports suggest the current operation lasting several more days. But in reading between the lines of Barak’s statement could mean Israel may have in mind a large offensive conducted in phases this being the opening one. Though the current operation may not be the one to put a final end to the Hamas government it is definitely much more than the pinpoint attacks Israel has been conducting for the past year with no impact on the rocket fire or on preparations by Palestinian militants to increase their attacks. [JPOST]
Khan Yunis – Debka reports the IAF expanded its air attacks Saturday night to hit Hamas weapon warehouses and weapon manufacturing centers in south Gaza at Khan Yunis, Rafah and the Palestinian camp al Bureij. Intelligence has reached the IDF command of Hamas sending suicide bombers to attack Israel’s troops in northern Gaza and to use secret tunnels under the Gaza/Israel border to infiltrate agents to attack inside Israel. [DEBKA]
Beirut – The Gulf-Times/Reuters reports Saudi Arabia has advised its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately due to what it calls the “security situation.” The House of Saud is well informed and they know another civil war in Lebanon could break out at any moment while at the same time Tehran orders Hezbollah to join the war against Israel in the name of supporting Palestinian people which means Lebanon could experience heavier more extensive fighting than in 2006.
Damascus is also poised to re-invade the country in support of its political-military agents. Kuwait and Bahrain have also told their citizens to leave. [GULFTIMES]