Fierce clashes raged in Beirut on Thursday after the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah said the U.S.-supported Lebanese government had declared war by targeting its military communications network. Security sources said the fighting killed at least 10 people and wounded 20. The thud of exploding grenades and crackle of automatic gunfire echoed throughout the night in the worst internal strife since the 1975-90 civil war. [Video] Hizbullah secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said during a press conference Thursday that Lebanon has entered a new phase of its political crisis and warned that a government crackdown on his party was tantamount to a "declaration of war." Nasrallah stressed that Hizbullah was ready to return to dialogue, linking talks to a government back-track regarding measures taken Tuesday. [Update on the escalation of violence in Lebanon] Lebanese majority leader Saad Hariri called on Hezbollah to prevent a new civil war in Lebanon, saying "if this strife begins, there is no way out." [...] Hintergrund von Abdullah Iskandar: Lebanon entered yesterday a new phase. In its marathon meeting, the Council of Ministers raised the two explosive intertwined bones of contention, namely the responsibility of security over the Lebanese territories and Hezbollah's infrastructure that encroaches on this responsibility. In other words, Fouad Siniora's government, though supposed to run the affairs of the state until a president is elected, has made a strategic decision for the first time since the presidential post became vacant. [...] "Sunni Muslims in Lebanon have had enough," Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani said in a televised address from his office, demanding an "end to these violations." [...] Hizbullah fighters advanced in Beirut in fierce clashes with Mustaqbal Movement partisans and occupied the apartment of MP Ammar Houry, setting it ablaze. Houry's apartment in Shahadeh district of the plush Tallet al-Khayat neighborhood was overran by Hizbullah fighters, his cars were smashed and set ablaze as terrorized residents tried to escape the area, witnesses told Naharnet. [...] USA "blabla" + UN "blablabla" + Roed-Larsen "more blabla": Hizbullah's paramilitary infrastructure across Lebanon contributes to the erosion of the state's monopoly on the use of force and represents a "threat to regional peace," a U.N. envoy warned Thursday. [...] Comment and Infos at Will the latest US and March 14 provocation break Hizbullah or Lebanon? March 14 is targeting Hizbullah's communications system while Washington escalates pressure on Syria. [...] A Turkish initiative to hold a meeting between Israeli and Syrian officials fell through after Damascus leaked to the press that Israel had agreed to relinquish all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayat reported Thursday. According to another report, the chances that such a meeting will be held in the near future are slim due to the US administration's stance on Damascus.
Noch am Mittwoch Abend wird nach einer Invasion israelischer Streitkräfte in Abasan eine erschossene Frau [7 Kinder] aufgefunden. Zudem wird bei Gegenwehr ein Al-Aqsa-Mitglied getötet. Am Donnerstag kommt es zu Luftangriffen auf das Jabalia-Flüchtlingslagerin deren Verlauf vier Personen verletzt werden. Palästinensische Milizen schießen am Donnerstag zwei Projektile auf israelische Ziele im Grnzgebiet ab. Während im Gazastreifen palästinensische Journalisten gegen Restriktionen unter der Hamas-Regierung demonstrieren [das kürzlich verschärfte Demonstrationsrecht wird anscheinend recht lax gehandhabt] vermeldet diese einen diplomatischen Erfolg: The main border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt will be opened for three days starting on Saturday under a deal between the Islamist group and Cairo, a Hamas official said on Thursday. The crossing at Rafah has been largely closed since early February when Egypt resealed the border after Hamas gunmen blasted it open in defiance of an Israeli-led siege of the coastal enclave. Die in Israel statt findenden Naqba-Demonstrationen arten wie zu erwarten etwas aus: While Israel was busy celebrating its 60 years of independence, Israeli Arabs chose to mark the 60th year of the Nakba in a mass rally attended by all Arab Knesset members, as well as public figures such as the Head of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Ra'ad Salah, and Shawki Khatib, Head of Higher Arab Monitoring Committee. ... Upon closure, clashes broke out between police forces and demonstrators. Northern Region District Commander Shimon Koren and Brigadier Zohar Dvir were injured. Three more officers were injured in the clashes, as well as a few Arab demonstrators, including Balad’s MK Wasil Taha. Taha reportedly told his aides that he was struck by Police Special Patrol Unit officers. He was taken to the Italian hospital in Nazareth along with his 16-year-old son who was also reportedly injured. Zuvor war Knesset-Member Baraka an der Teilnahme einer Veranstaltung in Nablus gehindert worden. [...] While Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, Palestinian refugees mourn the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe) when they lost their homeland. Often ignored in Middle East peace talks, they cling to a "right of return". Verschiedene Veranstaltungen in der Westbank verlaufen friedlich.
Unterdessen zieht sich die Schlinge langsam aber sicher um eine gewisse Person zu: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, responding to fresh accusations that he illegally accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from a U.S. citizen, on Thursday said he will step down if he is indicted. Olmert said he never took illegal campaign contributions, responding to a corruption case that also has the potential to derail delicate peace talks with the Palestinians. [...] Olmert is under suspicion of illegally receiving "large funds" from the millionaire New York financier beginning in 1998 when he was mayor of Jerusalem, and through to 2006, by which time he had served as Likud election campaign manager; industry, trade and labor minister; and finance minister. "Ten days ago, the attorney-general ordered the launch of a new investigation against the prime minister and a number of others. The investigation deals with suspicions that Olmert illegally received funds, while holding public posts, in the period preceding his term as prime minister," a joint police and Justice Ministry statement said on Thursday night. [...] Yaakov Lippin, "Who is Morris Talansky" [...] Reuters: Investigations affecting Israel's Olmert [...] Report: Likud activist behind new Olmert probe [...] U.S. President George W. Bush will proceed with his trip to Israel next week to try to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians despite an admission by Israel's leader that he took cash from an American businessman, the White House said on Thursday. [...] Lawmakers from across the political spectrum called Thursday for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's resignation, and fresh elections, moments after it emerged that Olmert is suspected of illegally receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from an American businessman and fundraiser. [...] Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted on Thursday that he took cash from an American businessman but refused to resign over a police investigation into hundreds of thousands of dollars of alleged bribes. Here are extracts from his statement. [...] One example of Talansky's involvement in political and business affairs in Israel is a lawsuit he and other investors filed last year in federal court in New York against an Israeli satellite company that they had helped back. The suit asks for relief on the grounds that an Israeli-run defense manufacturer involved in the joint venture was putting diplomatic considerations ahead of business interests in its overseas marketing efforts. Talansky and the other plaintiffs, a group that includes one member of the prominent Reichmann family of Canada, claimed that the satellite company was being barred from offering access to its satellite images to countries like Venezuela that might be viewed as hostile to Israeli national interests. In an affidavit Talansky filed in court this January, he complained that he had personally sunk at least $500,000 into the joint venture back in 1998 and had helped raise "$5 million to $6 million more" from other individuals, not counting a $250,000 bridge loan he also made that year.
To be continued.