Am Samstag Vormittag kommt es zu einem weiteren Kommandounternehmen der Hamas auf einen israelischen Grenzübergang zum Gazastreifen: Nach offizieller Darstellung sollen drei Fahrzeuge im Morgengrauen und Nebel und unter Mörsergranatenbeschuß den Grenzübergang attackiert haben: Ein "gepanzertes" Fahrzeug hätte eine Bresche in den dortigen Zaun geschlagen, zwei als israelische Militärjeeps "verkleidete" Fahrzeuge wären in den Stützpunkt eingedrungen wo sie Explosionsladungen zündeten. Bei der Explosion werden dreizehn israelische Soldaten verletzt, die Fahrzeuglenker und zwei weitere Milizionäre der Hamas kommen im ersten Fahrzeug ums Leben. Zur selben Zeit kommt eine unbekannte Anzahl von Milizionären bei einer ähnlichen Aktion in einem gepanzerten Fahrzeug am Kissufim-Crossing um. [Palästinensische Angaben: An Israeli warplane bombed a jeep in city of Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, killing a police officer and wounding four other others, among them a young girl on Saturday, witnesses and medics said. Abweichend: Palestinian sources reported Sunday that an Israeli fighter jet fired at a car driving in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. According to the sources, IAF strike was in fact a targeted assassination attempt gone-wrong on Ra'ad al-Atar, a senior Izz al-Din Din al-Qassam – Hamas' military wing – operative.] In der Folge kommt es zu sechs Qassamraketen-Abschüssen, einigen Luftangriffen und israelischen raids auf den Gazastreifen die nach derzeitigem Stand sechs Hamas-Angehörige im Jabalia-Flüchtlingslager und in Zaytoun getötet haben. Die zuvor als produktiv empfundenen Initiativen in Sachen Waffenstillstand der Ägypter [Egypt said on Friday it was making good progress trying to negotiate a tacit cease-fire, including a prisoner exchange, between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said his government was speaking with both sides to get a "period of quiet," which would help Israeli and Palestinian negotiators achieve a deal more easily in U.S.-mediated Palestinian statehood talks that exclude Hamas. "Hamas wants to call it a period of quiet. That suits the Israelis because they do not want to reach a signed, written agreement with Hamas," Gheit said of Egypt's mediation attempts in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "We are making good progress [mediating] but the difficulty we face is that often, certain trends inside Israel challenge the idea and certain trends inside Gaza challenge the idea and maybe, maybe there could also be a foreign element," he said with a smile, referring to the United States.] und der Carter-Initiative [Carter and Meshal held more than four hours of talks Friday night that discussed how the Islamist group could be drawn into a Middle East peace plan and drop its opposition to peace talks between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the rival Fatah faction. Carter demanded that Hamas stops firing rockets on Israel while he pursues efforts with Israel and the West to lift the siege on the Gaza strip, which is ruled by Hamas, politicians familiar with the meetings said. "Carter also asked Meshal to adopt more flexible public statements and talked to him as a leader of a national liberation movement, not as the terrorist Israel and America try to depict him as being," one of the sources told Reuters. "Meshal is a first among equals in Hamas. He has to secure agreement from the rest of the Hamas leadership," he added.] werden durch zwei brüske statements negiert: Defense Minister Ehud Barak told senior officers at the Israel Defense Forces Gaza Division Saturday that Hamas will pay for the attack on the Kerem Shalom Crossing earlier in the day which left more than a dozen soldiers injured. + Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri on Sunday rejected an Egyptian plan for a cease-fire agreement with Israel, Al Jazeera reported. [Den Anderen da gibts auch noch: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday that he was determined to achieve a "framework agreement" laying the foundations for a peace deal with Israel before the end of US President George W. Bush's term in office.] Editorial: "All of Gaza can't be razed", Hamas can be blamed for the latest conflagration in the Gaza Strip. First came the attack on the Nahal Oz fuel depot; then came Wednesday's ambush, in which three Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed; and then yesterday, an attempt to infiltrate Kibbutz Keren Shalom was foiled. Meanwhile, the Qassam and mortar attacks have resumed fully. Hamas clearly wants to drag Israel into an increasingly violent retaliation in Gaza, and Israel must not fall into this trap. + King Abdullah II of Jordan conferred Sunday with former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and said that Israel must lift the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and stop expanding Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. In a royal court statement, the king also stressed the need for "tangible progress" in the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians. [Keinerlei Bewegung]
Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday that he has exchanged messages with Israel through a third party to explore the possibility of resuming peace talks, the country's official news agency SANA reported. During a meeting with ruling Baath Party officials, Assad commented on media reports about indirect contact between the two countries. "There are efforts exerted in this direction," he was quoted as saying. An Israeli newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on Thursday quoted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as saying Israel and Syria have been exchanging messages to clarify expectations for any future peace treaty. [Hatte das Interview erwähnt, aber vergessen zu verlinken.] ... Israeli officials were further incriminated by the fact that in 2007 Prime Minister Olmert also said he was not concerned by an imminent war with Syria, but that he was unhappy with the public discussion about peace between Syria and Israel. One should question the logic behind Ehud Olmert's "irritation" regarding public overtures of peace between Syria and Israel.  Realpolitik is definitely being played by Israel in regards to Damascus in a consorted effort to de-link Syria from Iran and its other allies. In this regard, Damascus publicly insisted that there be no secret talks between Syrian and Israeli officials as to the conditions for peace.  The rationale for the Syrian insistence on transparency was to deprive Israeli of any means to covertly try to divide Syria from its Middle Eastern allies by generating suspicions of betrayal. [Full text an location here: "The March to War: Israel Prepares for War against Lebanon and Syria", by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya.] + Transcript of a panel discussion of few days ago by Martin Indyk, Shibley Telhami and David Ignatius in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution on VIEWS FROM THE MIDDLE EAST: PUBLIC OPINION IN THE ARAB WORLD (results of the poll on Arab public opinion).
David Barstow, "Pentagon's influence lurks behind TV military analysts".
The Israel Defense Forces announced Sunday the launching of a formal investigation into the killing of a Reuters cameraman in Gaza, after a U.S.-based human rights group accused troops of either firing recklessly or targeting the cameraman. Fadel Shana was killed while filming an IDF tank in Gaza on Wednesday, a day of heavy fighting. His final footage shows the tank firing a shell in his direction. Palestinian medics say five others were killed in the incident, including four teenagers.
Dozens of Greek and Armenian priests and worshippers exchanged blows in Christianity's holiest shrine on Palm Sunday, and pummeled police with palm fronds when they tried to break up the brawl. The fight is part of a growing rivalry over religious rights at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, built over the site where tradition says Jesus was buried and resurrected. It erupted when Armenian clergy kicked out a Greek priest from their midst, pushed him to the ground and kicked him, according to witnesses.
Hussein Agha + Robert Malley: "Into the Lions Den": In its final year in office and the first year of its Israeli–Palestinian diplomacy, the Bush administration has introduced the latest and in some respects oddest idea for achieving peace, the shelf agreement. Its logic is straightforward. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President Mahmoud Abbas should conclude a final peace treaty by the end of 2008. The Israeli and Palestinian people subsequently would ratify it in near-simultaneous referenda or elections. And then, once approved, the treaty ought simply to be put aside (on the aforementioned shelf) until circumstances permit it to be carried out. No agreement can be fully put into effect immediately upon signature. But whereas a phased agreement includes an approved schedule, with starting date and endpoint, implementation of a shelf agreement would depend on an assessment by the parties that specified conditions have been met. ...
Besprechung des bereits Verlinkten "Schwarzuchs Hebron": Donald McIntyre: "Our reign of terror, by the Israeli army - In shocking testimonies that reveal abductions, beatings and torture, Israeli soldiers confess the horror they have visited on Hebron"
A fact-finding committee has been set up to investigate the abduction and murder of a Palestinian intelligence officer in the Gaza Strip, representatives from Palestinian parliamentarian blocs and independent lawmakers announced at a press conference in Ramallah in the central West Bank on Sunday. 35-year-old Sami Khattab from Deir Al-Balah was found dead in a field south of Gaza City on April 15. His mutilated body showed signs of torture. He was abducted by unknown assailants on April 13. Khattab's family accused the Palestinian internal security services of murdering him.
As the 18th Parliament session to elect a new Lebanese president looked likely to face the fate of earlier sessions, reports emerged that the foreign ministers of Syria and France are expected to discuss the Lebanese crisis on Tuesday on the sidelines of an international conference in Iraq to be held in Kuwait. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora discussed in a phone conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal on Sunday the potential prospects of the Kuwait conference. Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri went ahead with his preparations for holding national dialogue among the rival parties, despite the ruling coalition's objection to participating in such talks.