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Israel Launches Operation 'Summer Rain'

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  • Israel Launches Operation 'Summer Rain'

    Israel Launches Operation 'Summer Rain'
    By Cihan News Agency, Gaza
    Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    Following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier on Sunday in Gaza, Israeli forces launched an offensive strengthening its control of Rafah region.

    The Israeli army, with helicopters and tanks, gathered at three checkpoints including the Rafah pass, Yasser Arafat Airport, and the Sufa pass.

    Meanwhile, an Israeli cabinet member, claiming that HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) leader Khalid Mashal ordered the kidnapping, said Mashal has just become target for assassination.

    In a statement made on the army radio, Israel Justice Minister Haim Ramon accused Mashal of being responsible for the kidnapping and that he has definitely become a target.

    Peres: Directives Come from Syria

    Israel’s Vice Premier Shimon Peres, saying the operation in Gaza has a limited purpose; added that priority is to rescue the kidnapped soldier and prevent the attacks by terror groups.

    During his interview with CNN, Peres evaded questions on the scope of the operation. When asked if they have information as to the whereabouts of the soldiers, Peres did not response, saying only, the military knows what to do.

    Peres, as the Israeli Justice Minister said, “The directives for this action came from Khaled Mashal in Damascus. There sits a man determined to destroy any chance for peace.”

    Peres said that they were forced to take military action and criticized the Palestinian administration for failure to secure the return of the soldier.

    According to Palestinian News Agency, WAFA, an Israeli jet fired a missile at a bridge in Central Gaza Strip late Tuesday, escalating its military activity in Gaza.

    Witnesses said Israeli fighters fired at least one missile at the bridge, close to Gaza Valley in Central Gaza Strip, totally destroying it and damaging neighboring buildings.

    Palestinian security sources announced that Israeli jets bombarded Gaza's main power plant near Al-Nusairat refugee camp, destroying the generators and cutting off electricity to large parts of the city.

    The sources said that Israeli military jets also bombed fuel tanks at that plant that serve several cities and districts in Gaza. Israeli rockets also reportedly struck the city's main water networks, cutting off water to a number of refugee camps in the area.

    Kuwait's official news agency reported that scores of Israeli tanks and armed vehicles entered Rafah city south of Gaza and are now centralized near Rafah International Airport and Rafah crossing that connects Gaza and Egypt.

    Eyewitnesses said Israeli tanks fired missiles as they entered the city, damaging several buildings and starting fire that Civil Defense squads were kept from extinguishing.

    The Israeli Army requested early Wednesday that Palestinian security forces withdraw from Al-Shoka district east of Rafah and from the airport's area, they also demanded Palestinian security was prohibited to enter and that it is now a closed military zone.

    The Israel Army launched its most intense land operation in Gaza since it ended 38 years of occupation in September last year. The kidnapping of the Israeli soldier, sparking the latest operation, is the first since 1994.

  • #2
    Kidnapping Crisis in Gaza may Lead to Bloodshed

    Kidnapping Crisis in Gaza may Lead to Bloodshed
    By Foreign News Desk
    Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    The crisis that started with the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinians has brought Gaza to the threshold of a new occupation. The Israeli administration, increasing the pressure on Palestine, has asked help from Turkey as well.

    Israel deployed troops to Gaza and threatened “We may arrest HAMAS Government’s ministers” unless the kidnapped Israeli soldier is found.

    As the first hostage negotiation between Palestinians and Israel ended without resolution, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced “We are ready for a long and intensive operation. We will not meet with terrorists.”

    In the event that Israel sends in its 10,000 troops stationed near Gaza, the region may turn into a sea of blood.

    Observers predict a new intifada may start in this case. It is feared Israel’s reaction may be harsh if news that another Israeli was kidnapped in the region proves true.

    After not receiving word from a young Jewish settler for three days and the following a pertinent statement from a Palestinian organization, concerns about possible dooms day scenario are rising.

    Palestinian villagers living at the border are rushing to secure regions before a probable operation. Israel may increase isolations by cutting power and water supplies to Gaza.

    As tensions mount, Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer made a threatening statement: “If we were to start abductions, then Israel could easily enter Gaza and kidnap half the Palestinian cabinet.”

    Eliezer said exchange of the kidnapped soldier for Palestinian Prisoners was not an option. Previously, Israel had agreed to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in return for the Israeli soldiers.

    Gilad Shalit, the 20 year-old kidnapped in a raid on the Kerem Shalom passage on Sunday, is thought to be held in Southern Gaza. HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) denied involvement in the kidnapping

    The United Nations, the European Union and the United States, keeping a close eye on the developments, have called for calm. EU High Representative Javier Solana called on Israel to “find a political solution and avoid a military intervention,” while US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Israel should give diplomacy a chance.

    Livni asks help from Gul

    As diplomatic efforts for the release of the soldier continue, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul for help.

    Upon this, Gul speaking to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniye, pointed out the event should be solved quickly to prevent the escalation of violence.

    Haniye said they, too, are working for a diplomatic solution and complained that Israel’s threat to occupy Gaza is complicating the issue. Haniye is reported to have told Gul that Israel’s “nonchalant” attitude drawing the region to a “third intifada.”

    Approval for “two-state” System in Palestine

    As the “soldier crisis” continues in Gaza, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and HAMAS Prime Minister Ismail Haniye finally agreed to “a common policy.”

    Abbas and Haniye agreed on a document prepared by Al-Fatah and HAMAS prisoners in Israel that indirectly recognizes Israel, authorities said.

    Accordingly, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza was approved, and HAMAS will set up a “joint government” with Al-Fatah and other organizations on the condition of retaining the prime ministry.

    A referendum on the issue that Abbas wanted to hold on July 26 will likely be cancelled after the agreement.


    • #3
      Israel seeks Turkish support for abducted soldier

      Israel seeks Turkish support for abducted soldier

      The New Anatolian / Ankara

      Israel asked for Turkish support on Tuesday for their attempt to rescue an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian militants, an event that has once again increased tension in the region.

      Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called her Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul to ask for Turkish assistance in finding and rescuing the Israeli soldier, sources said. Following Israel's request, Gul called Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to urge him to find a solution to the abduction crisis and to prevent a further escalation of tension.

      According to sources, Haniyeh expressed the Hamas-led Palestinian government's decisiveness to secure stability and peace in the region during a phone conversation with Gul, adding that although the Palestinian administration is trying to solve its problems with Israel through diplomacy, Israel's threat to invade Gaza Strip creates obstacles to the process.