Der israelische Ministerpräsident Ehud Olmert lehnt eine groß angelegte Invasion im Gaza-Streifen als Reaktion auf die anhaltenden Raketenangriffe militanter Palästinenser ab. "Wut ist kein Operationsplan", sagte er am Sonntag bei einer Kabinettssitzung. Vor seiner Abreise zu einem dreitägigen Deutschland-Besuch sprach er sich für eine "systematische und planmäßige" Antwort auf die Angriffe aus. Er deutete an, dass dabei auch führende Hamas-Mitglieder ins Visier genommen werden könnten. [AP] [...] Israeli cabinet ministers pressed Sunday for sharper military action in Gaza after a rocket attack by Palestinian militants the night before seriously wounded two brothers, 8 and 19, in the border town of Sderot. Dozens of residents of Sderot came to Jerusalem to protest what they said was government inaction in the face of the continued rocket fire. Joined by sympathizers, they sat down on the highway and blocked the main entrance to the city at midday before marching to the prime minister's office, paralyzing traffic on central routes. [...] Meir Sheetrit, a minister from the governing Kadima party, said on Israel Radio that the army ought to "make an example, to take a neighborhood in Gaza and erase it" after warning the residents to leave. Shaul Mofaz, another minister and a former army chief of staff, asked why the army had not yet hit Mahmoud Zahar, an influential leader of Hamas, the Islamic group that controls Gaza. [...] While in Germany, Olmert is planning to lobby for tougher measures to force Iran to curb a nuclear program he has called a threat to Israel's existence. "The issues we will discuss in Germany are important for Israel's security," Olmert told reporters on the flight to Berlin, where he will spend two days. A senior Israeli official said the time had come "to upgrade the economic and diplomatic pressure" on Iran. [...] The Israeli official said Olmert's visit to Berlin would help to strengthen an "already excellent relationship" with Germany and build on Israel's "remarkable improvement" in ties with the European Union over the past five years. German officials said Merkel was keen to strengthen bilateral ties and that the talks with Olmert would prepare the ground for wider government consultations due to take place in Israel in March. [Interessante Spitze: Seit 5 Jahren, ergo seit der Rückeroberung der Westbank] [...] Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Sunday there was "no hope" for a Palestinian state that included the Gaza Strip as long as militants kept up rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled territory. "There is no hope for the Palestinian people with Hamas," Livni told reporters. "There is no hope for any kind of peace or the vision of a Palestinian state which includes the Gaza Strip without real change on the ground," the foreign minister added. [...] Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Israel should "rain fire" on areas of Gaza from which Qassm rockets are fired.
Defense officials said that the Israel Defense Forces were planning to step up its Gaza operations as well as targeted killings of specific militants in response to the ongoing Qassam rocket fire. [...] In an exchange of gunfire at the Gaza Strip border on Sunday evening, IDF troops killed a Palestinian militant after he opened fire on them. At nightfall, about 20 IDF vehicles rolled into northern Gaza, where most of the rockets are fired, witnesses said. The IDF called the operation routine. By nightfall Sunday, the IDF said Palestinians fired one rocket and five mortar shells at Israel. [...] The two brothers hurt in Saturday's rocket barrage, Osher and Rami Twito, were taken to the Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon, where doctors were forced to amputate the leg of the younger brother. The older brother, Rami, was in recovery and conscious. Their mother Iris was treated for shock, and moved between the hospital rooms of her two sons. [...] Sources close to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he told Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik, who visited Israel last week, that he is "under pressure" to launch a massive ground operation in Gaza. Olmert is reported to have consulted with Defense Minister Ehud Barak several times about the appropriate reaction to the latest Qassam attack. Defense officials told Haaretz they thought the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip were stepping up their efforts to fire Qassams into Israel in retaliation for the IDF strikes last week that killed seven Hamas men.
In der Westbank marodieren IDF-Milizen weiterhin in Tlkarem und Ramallah. Derweil wird ein Milizenbündiniss geschlossen: srael has informed the Palestinian Authority that it will stop pursuing 32 Fatah gunmen in the West Bank, a PA security official said Sunday. The official said the decision to pardon the gunmen belonging to Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, came after a three-month "trial period" during which they had refrained from carrying out attacks on Israel. Nach einer Woche des Pflegens hektischer "Infiltrationsängste" findet der Dimona-Fall sein Ende in einer kurzen Randnotiz: Meanwhile, Israel returned the bodies of two Hamas terrorists who carried out the suicide bombing in Dimona last week to Hebron on Sunday afternoon, Israel Radio reported. [...] "The situation in Gaza is complex and very troubling. The attack on Sderot yesterday, the injuries of the youths and the continuous Qassam (rocket) fire is very troubling and obliges the consideration of the continuing operations in the Gaza Strip," Air Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Eliezer Shkedi said on Sunday during a visit to the Druze village of Julis in the Western Galilee. Shkedi estimated that the scope of IDF operations in the Palestinian enclave would be increased. "The continuing fire will at the end of the day obligate us (to carry out) a wide scale operation in the Strip. Terrorists on the (separation) fence and ongoing rocket fire is intolerable. This is unacceptable from our point of view," the IAF chief.
Erstaunliches: The heads of the largest Palestinian clans in Hebron met with the Kiryat Arba local council chief and prominent leaders of the Jewish community in Hebron on Wednesday in what both sides described as a meeting of reconciliation, Army Radio reported. Sheikh Abu-Hader Ja'abri, the head of a prominent Palestinian clan and a relative of a former mayor of Hebron, and the head of the Abu Sneinah clan, Haj Akram Abu-Sneinah met with the head of the Kiryat Arba settlement council, Zvi K'tzubar, and the heads of Jewish settlers in Hebron. The two sides declared their goal was to restore peace and security to the city, known to Jews as Hebron and to Palestinians as Al-Halil. "We don't see you as settlers but as residents," Sheikh Ja'abri, the head of a prominent clan in Hebron, is quoted as telling his Jewish interolocutors. "Hebron is ours just as it is yours."At the end of the meeting, which was attended by the IDF's southern West Bank commander, a spokesperson for the Hebron settlers said both sides agreed to unit and combat "extremist elements that seek to sow hatred and destruction in the city."
The Hebron settlers said the talks were conducted in a positive atmosphere. In response to news of the meeting, Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, released a leaflet calling for Ja'abri's assassination, according to Army Radio.
Politicians on the Right called upon Shas to leave the government immediately on Sunday after The Jerusalem Post revealed that secret talks were taking place with the Palestinians in which Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had made concessions on Jerusalem. As reported in Sunday's Post, a senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah said that the Palestinian negotiating team headed by former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei had been holding "secret talks" with Livni and other government officials over the past few weeks. "There are public meetings and there are secret ones," the PA official explained. "The main progress has been achieved during the secret talks, particularly on the issue of Jerusalem. Today we can say that Israel is prepared to withdraw from almost all the Arab neighborhoods and villages in Jerusalem. Israel is prepared to redivide Jerusalem, and this is a positive development." [...] An Israeli official familiar with the talks said that until now they had focused on procedural matters and that the more serious issues on substance still lay ahead. The PA confirmed Sunday that Jerusalem was being discussed with Israel. Nimer Hammad, political adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said the PA had sensed readiness on Israel's part to talk about the future of Jerusalem. "The negotiations [with Israel] are not easy," Qurei said Sunday. "The topics which we're negotiating about are also not simple. These are the most difficult issues, and they include Jerusalem, the refugees, the borders and the settlements." A senior PA official added that "Jerusalem was of course on the table" and that "there is almost full understanding with Israel" regarding the creation of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. [A senior PA official in Ramallah told the Jerusalem Post on Saturday that the Palestinian negotiating team headed by former PA prime minister Ahmed Qurei had been holding secret talks with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and other government officials in the past few weeks.]
A Hamas-controlled magistrate's court on Sunday decided to ban the distribution of the daily Al-Ayyam in the Gaza Strip after accusing it of publishing "libelous and slanderous" material against Hamas figures. [Website al-Ayyam]
Gunshots were fired near the opposition-aligned Parliament speaker's residence in Beirut late Sunday and at least one person was shot and wounded in a pro-government stronghold in a mountain town hours after a leading politician warned the Syrian- and Iranian-backed opposition his coalition was ready for war and willing to burn everything rather than submit. [...] But what's been happening in Lebanon since even before the Feb. 14, 2005 killing of ex-PM Rafiq Hariri is that-- okay, in addition to the ghastly Israeli assault of summer 2006, and the brutal fighting at Nahr al-Bared refugee camp last summer-- there have been numerous other sporadic acts of lethal violence. And each time, many people around the world would perk up their ears and say, Oh my! Is Lebanon about to plunge back into civil war?" But it doesn't happen. Why not?