Archive for the ‘escalation’ Category

Attack On Israel From Lebanon Confirms Threats From Iran, May Open Second Front

January 8, 2009

Several days before Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called several of his European counterparts and warned that Israel would face additional fronts if it attacked.

The rocket fire on Thursday morning from Lebanon into northern Israel can be seen as the realization of the Iranian threat.

By Yoav Stern

It is safe to assume that Palestinian operatives, working in coordination with Hezbollah and sponsored by Iran, are responsible for the rocket attacks in Nahariya and elsewhere in the north.
The rocket fire also places Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah among the list of top Arab militant leaders. He doesn’t just talk, he acts.

For now, Hezbollah is too sophisticated to claim responsibility for Thursday’s rocket fire. Elections in Lebanon are scheduled to take place in about six months, and Hezbollah does not want to be perceived as the party that once again disrupted the relative calm the country has experienced. The group does not want to risk its standing at the polls.

However, Nasrallah’s rhetoric from recent days says it all: “We are prepared for all Israeli aggression,” he said. In other words, Hezbollah won’t take responsibility for the rockets into Israel, but will claim credit for standing up against any Israeli retaliatory attacks, should there be any.

Nasrallah has already hinted that sources linked to Israel were responsible for the placement of rocket launchers discovered in Lebanon two weeks ago, not far from where rockets were fired from Thursday.

He also said that his operatives in south Lebanon are prepared to confront Israel and that any future war will make the Second Lebanon War look like a ‘walk in the park.’

Israel must now decide what the price tag will be for Thursday’s attacks on the north, knowing that a harsh response is likely to bring with it an escalation on the northern front and increasing international criticism.

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From The New York Times:
The rockets, presumably launched in support of Hamas, could presage the opening of a second front. The Israeli Army, in a brief statement, said it “responded with fire against the source of the rockets,” which landed near the town of Nahariya. Two Israelis were slightly wounded, the police said.

So far there has been no claim of responsibility. A spokeswoman for the militant group Hezbollah, which triggered a war with Israel in 2006 by firing rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon, was investigating. “We are still looking for information about it,” she said.

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora immediately condemned the attack.

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Gaza: Israel Mulling Cease Fire or Escalation

January 7, 2009

Israel is seriously considering the Sarkozy-Mubarak cease-fire proposal.

But Israel is already also considering an escalation of the fighting in Gaza.

The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday, “Despite increasing international pressure on Israel to withdraw its troops, a senior official confirmed that plans had been drawn up to move troops into the south as well.”

The Jerusalem Post report had this to say:
According to Israeli officials, the cease-fire proposal is based on the establishment of an international force to prevent the smuggling of weapons from Sinai into Gaza, which would see an increase in the number of US military engineers already on the Egyptian side of the border.

The IDF is conditioning its acceptance of a new cease-fire with Hamas on the establishment of such a supervision mechanism in the Gaza Strip and along the Egyptian side of the Philadelphi Corridor to prevent the smuggling of weaponry and explosives from Egypt.

Egypt said on Tuesday night that it was proposing an immediate cease-fire, followed by talks on long-term arrangements for borders and crossings.

Olmert, on a tour of the South Tuesday, laid out the principles for an end to Operation Cast Lead.

“It will stop when the conditions that are essential for Israel’s security are met,” Olmert said. “First and foremost, all terrorist operations against us must stop. The strengthening of the terrorist organizations via the smuggling of war material from Egypt into Gaza must also stop.”

Meanwhile, Israel said that it has agreed to set up a “humanitarian corridor” to ship vital supplies to the people in the Gaza Strip.

The office of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a statement that the humanitarian corridor idea came from the UN Security Council, and he accepted it.

Under the plan, Israel would suspend attacks in specified areas of Gaza to allow the people to receive supplies. The statement early Wednesday said the goal was to “prevent a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.”

Herb Keinon, Yaakov Katz and AP contributed to this report

Gaza: Vice Tightens on Obama, Israel; Hamas, Iran Seem Gaining World Support

January 2, 2009

Israel’s war against Hamas has so far bolstered the anti-US Iran front and placed even more daunting challenges before incoming US president Barack Obama, analysts said.

It was only a little over a year ago that President George W. Bush raised hopes of rolling back Iran’s newfound clout in the region when he helped revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in Annapolis, Maryland.

But five days of Israeli air strikes have instead raised the political fortunes of the pro-Iranian Hamas and lowered those of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’s US-backed rival and Israel’s negotiating partner, they say.

And they point to other regional casualties.

Egypt and Jordan, key US allies and the sole Arab partners in peace with Israel, are on the back foot against charges from Arab states, radical groups and public opinion of either doing nothing to stop Israel or actually tacitly accepting the assault.

“The camp centered around Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas has more leverage as of now because of what is happening in the Arab street,” said Amr Hamzawy, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

But Hamzawy, speaking to reporters in a conference call, added that Egypt and Turkey, a US-allied Sunni Muslim state, could still change the dynamic if they can broker a “durable” ceasefire, the formula embraced by Washington.

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