Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Baghdad – Gaza Watch – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – El Arish – Damascus – Beirut – Ramallah – Baghdad – Gaza/Jerusalem – Cairo – Amman – London – Washington – Paris – Rome; Hamas Stages Coordinated Attack on Two Israel/Gaza Crossings – UK/US Support Iraq Army Show of Force in Basra – Conquer Abandoned District
Night Watch: KEREM SHALOM – “This is an escalation that will be dangerous if we do not stop it. In this case the incident ended with a relatively low number of casualties compared to what Hamas had planned, but it should raise a red flag over our operations in the area.” That was the concerned response by a senior Israel defense official after Hamas staged an early morning suicide attack with three vehicles under cover of heavy mortar attacks at two Gaza crossings controlled by Israel. The Jerusalem Post/AP report two vehicles approached Kerem Shalom at 7 am out of a heavy fog, the first one, designed to look like an Israel Defense Force (IDF) jeep exploded and the second, a small sedan did not go off as it was hit by fire from IDF soldiers. A third vehicle, an armored personnel carrier with gunmen arrived and opened fire under the cover of a heavy mortar barrage. After the engagement an IDF unit entered Gaza in search of the remaining cell members. At the same time another Hamas vehicle approached the crossing at Kissufim, twelve miles to the north, and was hit by an IDF tank before it could go off. For the past two weeks Hamas and Palestinian militant units are showing they are no longer confined to Qassam rocket and mortar barrages, but are now ready to conduct sustained offensive operations against Israeli positions, which is exactly what Tehran-Damascus have trained them for. [JPOST]
Israel security officials believe these attacks had been planned months in advance and are investigating why they had no intelligence about them. Sami Abu Zhuri, a Hamas official in Gaza City stated, “These operations are the beginning of the explosions that Hamas has warned of. If the parties don’t intervene quickly to save Gaza and break the siege what is coming will be greater.” But the parties-governments involved, (Damascus-Washington-Jerusalem-Tehran-Cairo etc.) don’t have any real interest in peace just in the pretense of negotiations. Tehran-Damascus-Gaza (Hamas) want war and Jerusalem believes its ten month siege of Gaza has had an impact on limiting the preparations by Palestinian militant groups in reducing their threat to Israel instead of ending the threat by invading Gaza. And Cairo has no influence. They all know the war is going to escalate the only question is to what extent.
There was an eerie postscript to this when Hamas released a video after the attack showing the gunmen before the attack with their vehicles smiling and toting their weapons. They then drove off into the fog.
Hayaniya – As heavy fighting continues in Sadr City, with militias attacking the construction of barrier walls in the city to prevent mortar – rocket fire on the International Green Zone, Swissinfo/Reuters report the Iraq Army was able to put on a show of force into Basra after U. S. airstrikes and British artillery bombardment of a deserted area west of Hayaniya in Basra. Iraq Army commander for Basra, Lieutenant-General Mohan al-Furaiji (he wasn’t removed after all) announced, “Our troops moved in there and now they have reached the center of Hayaniya. Now there are no confrontations and anyone carrying weapons will be arrested. We are chasing fugitives and arresting them. We expect within the next few hours that the operation will be concluded successfully.” [SWISSINFO]
I suspect, however, they may have walked into a trap. This district of Basra is a major base of support for the Mahdi Army though for right now their spokesman in Najaf, Salah al-Ubaidi has described the situation in Hayaniya as “tragic”. He then added, “They have surrounded the district and are preventing the wounded from going to hospitals. Then they started a ground attack. It is a very crowded area and they attacked it with rockets as if it were a military base.” Harith al-Idhari of the Sadr office in Basra said the Mahdi Army is not yet putting up resistance due to its observance of the ceasefire which has not been officially ended by Muqtada al-Sadr. With these new offenses by the Iraq Army and with such direct support by London-Washington the ceasefire could be formally ended before this month is over.