Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – GAZA – DAMASCUS WATCH – West Asia – North – Northeast Africa Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Tripoli – Khartoum – Cairo – Amman – Baghdad – Beirut – Damascus – Ramallah – Gaza/Jerusalem – Paris – Rome – London – Washington; Palestinians Fire More Than 80 Rockets – Missiles in 24 Hours At Western Negev – Askhelon – Palestinian Leader Killed in West Bank – Iran Accelerating Development of Ballistic Missiles to Reach Europe
Night Watch: SDEROT – Palestinian militant groups have responded to Israel’s killing of 20 militants Tuesday by launching more than 80 rockets at the Western Negev in the past 24 hours. This is by far there largest single total for one day and according to INN, the action is ongoing. It is no longer low-level warfare, Israel’s ground – air attacks are overlapping Palestinian mortar – rocket barrages on a daily basis. The larger barrages have caused larger responses from Israel to such an extent we now have near full-scale war and it will probably become that before the month is over. The main target is still the town of Sderot whose population of 20,000 now has 3,000 less due to some evacuation. At least one other Katyusha was fired at Ashkelon and there were more mortar bombardments. [INN]
Kibbutz Alumim – Debka reported at one time the rate of rocket fire was 30 per hour between 8-9 am Wednesday morning. For the first time Palestinians have begun to fire heavy machine guns at Israeli communities near Gaza’s border, especially Kibbutz Alumim. I expect attacks will increase after the meeting in Damascus on the 23rd between Hamas and ten other Palestinian militant units. This new level of warfare will cause them to discuss more than the overthrowing of Mahmoud Abbas, but this is what Tehran wanted anyway, a war of unity encompassing the entire region and the only way for Iran to achieve that is to increase the scale of the fighting using Israel as its latest flashpoint to prepare the way for Tehran-Damascus to enter it. Tehran’s strategy seems to have been for Hamas and Palestinian units to begin the war with the rocket firing from Gaza, which would force Israel to commit many units to their south, and then have Hezbollah become active with heavier fire and longer-range rockets and missiles in the north from Lebanon. [DEBKA]
Kabatiya – In a related development Israel Defense Force (IDF) Special Forces killed the West Bank leader of Islamic Jihad Walid Abeidi who was responsible for the April 2006 suicide attack in Tel Aviv that killed eleven civilians and wounded dozens of others. [INN]
Prague – The head of U. S. Missile Defense Program, Lieutenant-General Henry Obering, was speaking at the Czech Republic Foreign Ministry in Prague yesterday in an attempt to alert them to the growing threat from Iran’s ballistic missiles. The Jerusalem Post/AP reported Obering stated, “They (Iran) are developing missiles today in an accelerated pace. They’re developing ranges of missiles that go far beyond anything they would need in a regional fight, for example with Israel. Currently, there’s no protection in Europe against the intermediate-range or long-range weapons.” [JPOST]
To regular readers of crossfirewar.com this is nothing new, only Russia and China test more missiles each year than Iran. Last year Iran unveiled its latest missile the Ashoura, the one the French expressed so much concern about, because they probably know its range is longer than the 1,200 miles Iran’s Defense Ministry announced. At the time, I mentioned Iran already had a missile with that range, the Shahab-3 and there would be no need to produce another one. The Ashoura’s range probably matches the 2,500 mile (4,000 km) range of the CSS-2 purchased by Riyadh from Beijing during the mid-1980s. With that range, it could reach most European capitals. The West was always Tehran’s main target since they are Iran’s main international rival.