Crossfire War – Rapid Fire News=Tehran – Gaza – Beirut – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Israel Imposes Virtual News Blackout on Offensive War Scenarios Discussed – Invasion Possibly Timed for Late June – Hamas States Israel Has Decided to Invade – Demands Egypt Announce its Position
Night Watch: KNESSET – It seems the Israeli government has imposed a strict news blackout on the specific war scenarios discussed by the Security Cabinet Tuesday night and frankly this should be no surprise. I personally suspect the best hint, as to the timing of the invasion, was given last week when it was reported Israel’s defense establishment had given Defense Minister Ehud Barak fourteen days to achieve a ceasefire with Hamas, through the Cairo negotiations, and if not then the invasion should take place, which would mean late this month. The only question now is the scale of it and yesterday reports were Barak would propose a “medium level military operation” to make Hamas “pay a price” for its rocket-mortar attacks. That means an extensive invasion which would render Hamas no longer an effective military force. After the cabinet strategy meeting the Jerusalem Post is reporting Barak stated, after the five hour session, there should be a very low public profile regarding invasion plans and virtually nothing should be said publicly but he did mention, “The defense establishment is dealing with it and the ministers should listen to what is being said about what we can and cannot accomplish through the various actions.” That may be Barak’s way of preparing not only Israel’s government but also the population not to assume an invasion will solve all of Israel’s security problems though it will virtually eliminate the rocket-mortar attacks. [JPOST]
One thing that was mentioned it does appear Israel’s lead negotiator in the Cairo meetings with Hamas, Amos Gilad, will be sent back to Cairo for a last series of discussions. Based on Hamas’ statements on their readiness to repel any invasion and to continue their daily rocket-mortar barrages, I suspect Gilad will be meeting almost exclusively with the head of Egypt’s Ministry of Intelligence General Omar Suleiman and outline the main priority of the Israel Defense Force (IDF), the cutting off of the massive weapons traffic from Egypt through Sinai into Gaza which has kept Palestinian militant groups so heavily supplied. Gilad may also inquire if Egypt wishes to take part in a joint operation with that purpose in mind and Suleiman may readily agree since Hamas, which is hated by the Egyptian government, is close to Egypt’s main opposition party the Muslim Brotherood.
That is why the main thrust of the IDF invasion could be in south Gaza launched from the border of one of the main targets of Palestinian mortar-rocket fire, Nahal Oz which could be the largest staging area of IDF units before the invasion. From the border to the Mediterranean coast is just seven miles through the major Palestinian city of Khan Yunis, a major base of Palestinian rocket-mortar fire. The Rafah Terminal on the Egyptian border is just four miles south and Hamas will defend heavily its main supply route. This is the section of the strip I believe Israel will re-occupy and maintain as a security zone though allows Palestinians to live there.
Cairo – Of course no one has been monitoring the Cairo negotiations more closely than Tehran and they probably knew there was serious potential of Egypt-Israel conducting joint operations. Not only is Egypt’s hatred of Hamas no secret but there has been very real animosity and enormous mutual suspicion between Cairo/Tehran ever since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran which established their leadership position in the region and support of any government, cause or movement that is not only anti-West but anti any Islamic government with close relations to the West and the last one is Mubarak. What enabled Tehran to keep track of the Cairo talks so easily was that Hamas was essentially presenting proposals from the Iranian government knowing there would never be any ceasefire with Israel because Tehran established Hamas in Gaza for the sole purpose to create another front against not only Israel but if need be Egypt. [XINHUA]
President Mubarak’s position did not change and become more agreeable to Iran with the explosions that opened the Rafah Terminal in January for twelve days and his government does not want to see it open for weapons traffic. And since we are on the eve of a wider regional war, even more so than in 2006 it is significant Tehran is having Hamas now publicly demand Cairo make its position known when the shooting really gets started. Xinhua is reporting today Hamas official Fawzi Barhoom has called on Egypt “to announce its stance regarding on going Israeli escalation on Gaza Strip borders and the cabinet’s decisions that are intended to justify the offensive against Gaza.” Egypt-Suleiman may respond by saying Egypt will take all necessary measures to insure its security and attack any threat to that security. The statement will imply not only Hamas and Palestinian militants on the Egypt border will be attacked but also any forces of any government in the area in support of Hamas-Iran. Cairo may make no official statement of joint operations with Jerusalem but there could be a tacit understanding behind the scenes to engage in them. With Israel controlling the border north of Rafah and Egypt controlling Rafah and south into Sinai.