BS: Another war in the Middle East?
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BS: Another war in the Middle East?

GUEST,AlexZello 09 Feb 08 - 10:55 PM
GUEST,AlexZello 07 Feb 08 - 05:54 AM
Teribus 26 Oct 07 - 09:51 AM
Little Hawk 26 Oct 07 - 12:27 AM
Peace 25 Oct 07 - 11:27 PM
Little Hawk 25 Oct 07 - 11:14 PM
Stringsinger 25 Oct 07 - 05:42 PM
beardedbruce 25 Oct 07 - 05:35 PM
beardedbruce 27 Sep 07 - 10:11 PM
beardedbruce 03 Sep 07 - 07:33 PM
GUEST,beardedbruce 02 Sep 07 - 08:53 AM
beardedbruce 13 Jul 07 - 09:29 AM
beardedbruce 11 Jul 07 - 08:38 AM
beardedbruce 29 Jun 07 - 12:26 PM
beardedbruce 28 Jun 07 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,dianavan 25 Jun 07 - 02:51 PM
Wolfgang 25 Jun 07 - 02:40 PM
beardedbruce 25 Jun 07 - 11:37 AM
beardedbruce 22 Jun 07 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,beardedbruce 21 Jun 07 - 09:33 PM
beardedbruce 21 Jun 07 - 07:17 AM
beardedbruce 20 Jun 07 - 05:12 PM
beardedbruce 19 Jun 07 - 10:18 AM
beardedbruce 18 Jun 07 - 01:52 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 07 - 12:52 PM
Little Hawk 18 Jun 07 - 12:42 PM
beardedbruce 18 Jun 07 - 11:02 AM
beardedbruce 18 Jun 07 - 10:59 AM
Wolfgang 18 Jun 07 - 10:41 AM
beardedbruce 15 Jun 07 - 05:08 PM
Little Hawk 15 Jun 07 - 01:59 PM
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GUEST,ifor 14 Jun 07 - 05:37 PM
beardedbruce 14 Jun 07 - 05:20 PM
Little Hawk 14 Jun 07 - 03:58 PM
beardedbruce 14 Jun 07 - 03:53 PM
beardedbruce 14 Jun 07 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,ifor 14 Jun 07 - 02:41 PM
beardedbruce 14 Jun 07 - 01:27 PM
Peace 13 Jun 07 - 04:54 PM
Peace 13 Jun 07 - 03:11 PM
Peace 13 Jun 07 - 03:07 PM
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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,AlexZello
Date: 09 Feb 08 - 10:55 PM

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's views on the Middle East conflict? One can argue, of course, that Shoher is ultra-right, but his followers are far from being a marginal group. Also, he rejects Jewish moralistic reasoning - that's alone is highly unusual for the Israeli right. And he is very influential here in Israel. So what do you think? One can argue, of course, that Shoher is ultra-right, but his followers are far from being a marginal group. Also, he rejects Jewish moralistic reasoning - that's alone is highly unusual for the Israeli right. And he is very influential here in Israel. So what do you think? uh, here's the site in question: [url=]Middle East conflict[/url]

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Subject: What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's
From: GUEST,AlexZello
Date: 07 Feb 08 - 05:54 AM

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's views on the Middle East conflict? One can argue, of course, that Shoher is ultra-right, but his followers are far from being a marginal group. Also, he rejects Jewish moralistic reasoning - that's alone is highly unusual for the Israeli right. And he is very influential here in Israel. So what do you think? One can argue, of course, that Shoher is ultra-right, but his followers are far from being a marginal group. Also, he rejects Jewish moralistic reasoning - that's alone is highly unusual for the Israeli right. And he is very influential here in Israel. So what do you think?

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Teribus
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 09:51 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Oct 07 - 12:27 AM

Thanks. I thought so too. Here's part II...even better.

Target Iran - Part 2

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Peace
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 11:27 PM

Once bombs start falling, the causes cease to matter. Good video, LH.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 11:14 PM

Target Iran - Part 1

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 05:42 PM

I disagree that anyone can move to Israel and be comfortable with that. Of course, this
would be true with any of Israel's neighbors.

It comes down to theology. Israel purports to be democratic but is theocratic in many respects. Zionism itself is a form of theocracy.

We are looking at religious wars in the Mid-East. (my god is bigger than your god)


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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 05:35 PM

Washington Post:

A Nation Of Mideast Hostages

By David Ignatius Thursday, October 25, 2007; Page A25

BEIRUT - Here's a Lebanese group snapshot, taken in the land where politics is an extreme sport:

In an elegant apartment building overlooking the Mediterranean, several dozen members of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority are holed up under heavy security. The legislators are trying to stay alive long enough to elect a new president by a Nov. 24 deadline, despite an assassination campaign that has already killed several MPs who dared to challenge Syria and its ally Hezbollah, the Shiite militia.

A few hundred yards away, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is hunkered down in the Grand Serail, as his office is known. He doesn't budge, even though Hezbollah has demanded for the past year that he and his U.S.-backed government resign. Despite the crowds outside chanting for his head, he says he's serene. "Don't ever think that I will blink," Siniora says. It's a statement that might be Lebanon's national political motto.

In the streets surrounding Siniora's office are Hezbollah demonstrators. They've been here for months, as stubborn as Siniora. Though they wave Lebanese flags above their encampment, they are widely seen as proxy forces of Syria and Iran. They are demanding a "consensus" Lebanese president elected with a two-thirds vote, which would effectively give Hezbollah a veto. "The Syrians would prefer to keep the presidency vacant if they don't have a say," explains one prominent pro-Syrian politician.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 27 Sep 07 - 10:11 PM

And back in the almost state on the West Bank...

New piety squad patrols Ramallah

By DALIA NAMMARI, Associated Press Writer
Thu Sep 27, 4:44 PM ET

RAMALLAH, West Bank - A new squad of morality police has begun detaining Palestinians who eat or drink in public during Ramadan in the West Bank, where the Islamic month of daytime fasting was always widely observed but never imposed.

The 12-member squad appears to be an attempt by President Mahmoud Abbas' West Bank government to challenge the monopoly on religious righteousness claimed by the militant group Hamas, the rival ruler of Gaza.

The sudden deployment of Ramadan police was unexpected in Ramallah, the seat of Abbas' government and the most cosmopolitan and well-to-do of the Palestinian cities. Ramadan squads have not been set up in other West Bank towns.

Watching observers arrive at one of the town's main mosques one recent afternoon, vice squad Lt. Murad Qendah got a radio call telling him a suspect has been spotted in the street imbibing "karoub" — a local soft drink made from carob pods. He ordered his six-man squad to seize the man's papers pending investigation. Police say violators are usually held for 24 hours.

"If anybody violates respect for Ramadan in the street, we take their identity papers and hold them for investigation," said Qendah, 27, whose officers wear red shoulder badges reading "morality police."

Police spokesman Adnan al-Damari said police have arrested at least 50 alleged public morality offenders in Ramallah since the start of Ramadan, but would not be going after people who break the fast in their own homes.

"The duty of the morality police is to preserve public manners in public places, and to preserve the feelings of the people who are fasting," he said. "Violating the holiness of Ramadan is a violation of people's freedom. "

Islamic custom demands that believers fast and refrain from self-indulgence between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan, which began Sept. 13 in the West Bank this year. The fast is largely observed across the Muslim world; voluntarily in some countries and under strict enforcement in others such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Writer Hassan Dandees, 58, said the government was right to seek to uphold religious standards.

"This is not a violation of anybody's freedom," he said. "Ramadan has a holiness every person should respect."

But Ruba el-Mimi, 21, said she opposes the police action.

"It interferes with the privacy of the individual. People are free to fast or not," she said. "If somebody is not fasting, he's not doing harm."

In addition to booking smokers, snackers and carob juice drinkers, Qendah is also on the alert for young men whistling at girls or drivers playing their car stereos too loud.

Although the piety squad has government sanction, Cabinet minister Ashraf al-Ajrami, said he is uncomfortable with the operation and the impression that the government was trying to be more zealous than Hamas.

"We are studying this issue, and there's a possibility we shall end it," he said. "We don't want to change the order of things and appear as if we are following in the footsteps of somebody or imitating somebody."

Hamas rode support for its pious and incorruptible image to a landslide parliamentary election victory in 2006, then ran Fatah out of the Gaza Strip by force in June.

The religious party has imposed no Ramadan patrol of its own in Gaza, where the population is overwhelmingly conservative and social pressure alone is enough to stop public violations of the fast. Even members of the strip's small Christian community are careful not to cause offense by breaching the Ramadan code in front of their Muslim neighbors.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 07:33 PM

Lebanon may gain new muscle after camp victory

by Nayla Razzouk
Mon Sep 3, 12:32 PM ET

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Lebanese army's victory over an Islamist militia in a Palestinian refugee camp may help the government extend its authority over other off-limits camps, poverty-stricken shantytowns that have become breeding grounds for extremism, analysts said on Monday.

Troops may have crushed Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared in a final showdown on Sunday, but fears persist that violence may spread through the country's dozen camps where hardline groups have gained influence as their impoverished residents despair of ever seeing an end to their plight.

"Fatah al-Islam has been defeated. But every 'martyr' and every event is a source of inspiration for new jihadists," said Bernard Rougier, a French expert on jihadist movements.

"There is no reason for the jihadist movement to stop in Lebanon, or that it is used by some parties for their own interests," he told AFP on a visit to Lebanon on Monday.

Fatah al-Islam first surfaced in the seafront camp of Nahr al-Bared late last year, triggering the drawn-out standoff with the army after attacking military posts in and around the camp on May 20.

Its fighters, who are said to be inspired by Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terror network, are of various Arab nationalities, not just Palestinian.

MP Farid al-Khazen, political science professor at the American University of Beirut, said it was the absence of Lebanese government authority over the camps -- which under a tacit agreement were in the control of armed Palestinian groups -- that allowed a militia like Fatah al-Islam to spawn.

"After this costly battle, there cannot be any justification to keep these security islands outside government control, especially as today there is no link between the armed presence inside the camps and the struggle to regain occupied Palestinian lands," he told AFP.

But Khazen said extending government control to the camps was not easy to achieve, nor likely in the near future.

"It needs a big political momentum. It is a delicate matter that needs a strong government and a more stable situation than today when the country is going through a deep political crisis and is facing looming presidential elections," he said.

Prime Minister Fuad Siniora insisted on Sunday that Nahr al-Bared would be under the sole authority of Lebanese security forces.

Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps, which house well over half of the country's more than 400,000 refugees, have been off-limits to the army for decades under a 1969 accord even though it was annulled by parliament in 1987.

Three days after the fighting erupted, the Palestine Liberation Organisation representative in Lebanon, Abbas Ziki, said the PLO would not object if the Lebanese army decided to send troops into the camp.

But it took the army weeks of bombardments from outside the camp -- as well as much political wrangling -- before troops moved in to Nahr al-Bared, the first such move by the military in decades.

"The PLO leadership as the representative of the Palestinians in Lebanon is adamant that the Palestinians and the camps in Lebanon be under Lebanese authority," Ziki's deputy Kamal Nagi told AFP.

"When the residents of the camp return, we will reach an understanding on all issues, primarily on security," he said.

Nagi said "any security breach may drag the camps into troubles, so we will cooperate with the government and the army to prevent any party from harming the security of the camps."

But Rougier said threats from Islamist extremists were not exclusive to the Palestinian camps.

"Lebanon is not safe from these movements. Lebanon is not safe from terrorism, especially that it is being mentioned by many jihadists, including (Al-Qaeda's fugitive number two) Ayman Zawahiri," he said.

"But I don't think there will be problems with hihadist movements from inside the other Palestinian camps, as they have become more realistic and have gained experience in the political game," he said.

"After what happened in Nahr al-Bared, they will not jeopardise their enclaves, in addition to the fact that there is a lot of vigilance from stabilisation forces both inside and outside the camps," he said.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,beardedbruce
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 08:53 AM

Lebanese army kills 28 militants

By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 32 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese troops killed 28 al-Qaida-inspired militants and captured 15 others in a massive    fight Sunday after they broke out of a northern Palestinian refugee camp devastated by over three months of fighting, a senior security official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no official casualty figure was released.

Heavy    battles that began during the dawn breakout continued through early afternoon, with troops engaging Fatah Islam fighters in buildings, fields and roads around Nahr el-Bared camp, residents and television stations reported.

In a statement, the military said troops were attacking the remaining militant strongholds inside Nahr el-Bared and "chasing the fugitives outside the camp" who had staged "a desperate attempt to flee."

It called on Lebanese citizens to inform the nearest army patrol of any suspected militants in their area, but gave no specifics on casualties excepting saying "a large number" had been killed or captured.

Lebanese security officials, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because no official casualty figures had been released by the military, said two Lebanese soldiers were killed in the fighting, raising to 155 the total number of troops who have died in the conflict.

Before Sunday's battle, Lebanese officials had said up to 70 Fatah Islam fighters remained in the camp. When the fighting broke out more than three months ago, the number was estimated at 360.

Sunday's developments indicated the battle was almost over for the camp, large parts of which have been reduced to rubble.

According to security officials and television reports, the breakout began early Sunday when a group of militants sneaked through an underground tunnel to an area of the camp under army control and fought with troops. At the same time, another group of militants struck elsewhere to try to escape, reportedly receiving help from militants outside the camp.

State-run Lebanese television said the militants inside the camp were aided by outside fighters who arrived in civilian cars to attack army positions around the camp.

Residents said troop reinforcements deployed close to the camp and blocked roads to prevent fighters from sneaking out. Helicopters provided aerial reconnaissance.

State television reported Lebanese residents of nearby villages, armed with    s and sticks, fanned out to protect their houses and prevent militants from seeking refuge and melting into the local population.

Army officials said they did not know whether Fatah Islam leader Shaker al-Absi was among those who attempted to break out. Al-Absi has not been seen or heard since early in the fighting. His deputy, Abu Hureira, was killed by security forces in Tripoli recently, apparently after escaping the siege.

Fighting erupted May 20 between troops and Fatah Islam militants holed up in Nahr el-Bared camp near Tripoli, becoming Lebanon's worst internal          since the 1975-90 civil war.

The battles have killed more than 20 civilians and scores of militants. Families of the militants — women and children — were evacuated late last month, the last civilians to leave the camp.

Prior to Sunday, the army had inched its way into the camp under artillery and rocket fire, destroying buildings and capturing militants' fortified positions one by one while facing tough resistance from the Islamic fighters.

In recent days, the army has cornered the militants in a small area of the camp and has been pounding it with       dropped by helicopters.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Jul 07 - 09:29 AM

Lebanon launches assault against militants

Story Highlights
Lebanese troops shell refugee camp in bid to oust entrenched Islamist militants

Army claims a number of militants killed; unsure how many are still in camp

Scores of militants, 88 service members killed in eight weeks of fighting

Violence is worst in Lebanon since end of civil war in 1990

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) - The Lebanese army pounded a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon with heavy artillery Thursday in what one high-ranking Lebanese security source described as a final bid to oust the Islamist militants entrenched inside.

People flee the embattled Palestinian refugee camp near the southern entrance blocked by Lebanese army trucks.

The Lebanese army, however, denied the shelling constituted a final push, describing the operation as continued pressure on the militants.

Fighting around the coastal Nahr al-Bared camp has been simmering on and off for about eight weeks, but flared Thursday as fresh army reinforcements were brought into the area as part of a final assault, the source said.

The sounds of artillery could be heard as black smoke billowed over the bombed-out refugee camp, some from fires triggered by the shelling.

The Lebanese army said they had killed a number of militants in the renewed clashes, but were unsure how many remained holed up inside.

Since the beginning of the assault against the Fatah al-Islam fighters - which are said to have ties with al Qaeda - scores of militants and at least 88 Lebanese service members have been killed.

The army said another soldier was killed on Tuesday by sniper fire coming from within the camp - a tactic that has become a danger for troops in the area. A number of soldiers have been killed by snipers before, the army said.

The sometimes-fierce battles mark the worst internal violence since the end of Lebanon's civil war in 1990.

Violence echoes of 'horrific' past

The violence began May 20, when Lebanese internal security forces were conducting raids in a Tripoli neighborhood, triggering clashes near the refugee camp. Army sources said militants from Fatah al-Islam fired on the forces, who then returned fire.

The fighting in the north is an added concern for Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora one year since Hezbollah guerrillas in the south of the country crossed the Israeli border, killing three soldiers and capturing two, who have yet to be released - prompting Israel to unleash a massive bombing campaign and invasion of Lebanese territory.

Attempts at mediations between Islamist leaders and the militant group have failed, and the military's top commanders have insisted they will crush the militants if they do not surrender.

Previous military operations launched against the camp have included a barrage of 155mm artillery rounds and a naval gunship.

The Lebanese army has launched attacks from nearby the camp, but troops have not ventured inside the camp's parameters, as part of a 1969 agreement that allows the Palestinian refugees to run the camps.

Meanwhile, most of the roughly 30,000 Palestinians who used to live in the once-overcrowded camp have now fled. Some left on foot carrying babies and only a few belongings, while others crammed into cars and vans.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 11 Jul 07 - 08:38 AM

Palestinians flee as Lebanon army set to storm camp

By Nazih Saddiq
1 hour, 3 minutes ago

NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon (Reuters) - About 160 Palestinians fled a refugee camp in north Lebanon on Wednesday as the Lebanese army prepared to launch a final assault against al Qaeda-inspired militants holed up inside.

Troops have been battling Fatah al-Islam fighters at Nahr al-Bared for nearly eight weeks in Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war. A total of 205 people have been killed.

The army seized all the militants' positions on the outskirts of the camp last month but refrained from entering its official boundaries.

A 1969 Arab agreement had banned Lebanese security forces from entering Palestinian camps. The agreement was annulled by the Lebanese parliament in the mid 1980s but the accord effectively stayed in place.

Security and political sources said the army was concerned it was being dragged into a war of attrition with the militants dug in inside the camp's narrow alleys and decided to move in to crush them after they refused repeated calls for surrender.

A soldier was killed by a sniper on Tuesday. At least 87 soldiers, 75 militants and 43 civilians have been killed in the fighting that began on May 20.

The sources said the army deployed extra troops in the area and was expected to use helicopter gunships and naval boats as well as tanks and heavy artillery in any assault on the coastal encampment.

Palestinian sources said some of the last remaining civilians in the camp left on Wednesday ahead of the expected assault. Local representatives of Fatah and other factions of the Palestine Liberation Organisation also left.

Witnesses said some two dozen men who left the camp were taken by the army to a nearby barracks for questioning. Red Cross sources said a total of 161 people, including women and children, left.

Most of Nahr al-Bared's 40,000 inhabitants fled in the early days of the fighting but a few thousands have stayed behind.

The Lebanese government says Fatah al-Islam is a tool of Syrian intelligence, a charge Damascus and Fatah al-Islam deny. The group says it has no organizational ties with al Qaeda, but supports its militant ideology.

Some of its members -- mainly Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians and Saudis -- have fought in Iraq. Security sources say at least 10 Saudis are among the dead militants.

The authorities have blamed the group for twin bus bombings in a Christian area near Beirut in February that killed three civilians. Investigators are also pointing a finger at the militants in the assassination of an anti-Syrian Christian government minister last November.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 12:26 PM

New Palestinian PM wants to work with Israel

POSTED: 10:19 p.m. EDT, June 28, 2007

Story Highlights• Salam Fayyad urges "intensive and active cooperation" with Israel
• Rebellion of last few years has worsened Palestinian condition, he says
• Civilians should not have weapons, prime minister declares
• He advocates Palestinian state "side by side with the state of Israel"

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- The new Palestinian government is seeking "intensive and active cooperation" with Israel to ensure that the chaos that recently gripped Gaza does not re-emerge in the West Bank, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told CNN on Thursday.

"We have sent that message [to Israel], and we are waiting to get started with this," Fayyad said in his first interview with a Western network since he was appointed to the post more than a week ago.

Fayyad rejected the notion that his stance on dealing with Israel might be seen by some Palestinians as collaborating with the occupying force in the West Bank.

"I have thick skin when it comes to these characterizations," he said. "They don't matter in the least; it doesn't concern me.

"I know what I want to do, I know what the mission is -- to serve the interests of the Palestinian people." (Watch Fayyad assess the state of the Palestinians )

Fayyad said security is a top priority, and he cautioned Palestinians not to use armed resistance as the only way to fight for an independent state.

"It's about time that we know what works and what doesn't work," he said. "And it's not enough to stop at statements and pronouncements like, 'Resistance is [the] right of any occupied people.'

"We certainly are [occupied], and that certainly is a right. But I think we have to have some sense of what has happened over the past ... seven, eight years.

"Simple, basic question: Are we better off now than we were then? Then, the situation was not great, but guess what it is like today? It's catastrophic."

Fayyad vowed to crack down on weapons in the hands of Palestinian civilians.

"Guns and arms are exclusively the property of the official agencies of the ... Palestinian National Authority, meaning that no more will guns out of the purview of the national authority ... be tolerated."

Rejecting 'chaos,' hoping for peace
He said that the recent division among Palestinians has "destroyed" the vision of a Palestinian state.

"This is complete chaos," he said. "Anyone resisting, however which way they want, whenever they want, from wherever they want, is that resistance? That has destroyed our national project completely."

Fayyad hopes to get the process toward "an independent Palestinian state living side by side with the state of Israel" back on track through peaceful means.

Although Fayyad is a political independent, he was appointed by Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas following Hamas' recent military seizure of Gaza.

That military action split the former Fatah-Hamas unity government, with Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the West Bank. (Watch boys run from gunfire in Gaza )

Fayyad denied there are two Palestinian governments, saying the previous Hamas leaders are "not legitimate under our basic law."

Hamas leaders have said the same thing about Fayyad and his government.

Despite strong backing from the United States and the European Union -- which had cut off funding to the Palestinian government after Hamas' victory last year -- the new government has a long way to go to shed the image of corruption that surrounds Abbas' Fatah party.

Fayyad acknowledged that a key goal of his government is "an entirely different mind-set" in approaching the problems that the Palestinian people face.

"What really matters to me now the most -- before money, before anything else -- is a change in attitude," Fayyad said. "If we continue in this nickel-and-dime approach to dealing with the issues, I'm afraid we are never going to get anywhere, because that has been what has been happening over the past 13, 14 years."

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 05:18 PM

6 militants killed in Lebanon clashes

By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writer
26 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese troops raided an Islamic militant hideout in a hillside cave and killed six fighters Thursday as violence spread from a Palestinian refugee camp where the military has been battling an al-Qaida-inspired group.

The dawn gunbattle — a 20-minute drive from the Nahr el-Bared Palestinian camp by the northern port city of Tripoli — underscored the challenges the army faces in crushing the Fatah Islam militants.

It also indicated Fatah Islam may have found allies among Sunni militants and fundamentalists in the region who were not affiliated with the group.

The fighting at Nahr el-Bared has become the worst internal violence since Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war, and is believed to have claimed the lives of more than 160 people, including 84 soldiers, at least 60 militants and more than 20 civilians.

Fighting first began five weeks ago in Tripoli, a largely Sunni city. Then, it shifted to the Nahr el-Bared camp, after the militants barricaded themselves inside it.

Last weekend, it moved back to Tripoli, and on Thursday to the hills near Qalamoun, 3 miles south of the city.

Troops, backed by helicopters, descended on a Fatah Islam hideout obscured by dense growth in the hills above the Mediterranean coastline. The military said a number of soldiers were slightly wounded in the clashes.

The army was apparently tipped about the hideout by residents of a nearby village who had spotted strangers in the area.

An army said a unit pursuing militants in the area clashed with "a group of terrorists" barricaded inside a cave.

"The force eliminated all six members of the group, seizing a quantity of arms and ammunition," it said. The six were of different nationalities, the army said but did not identify them.

Qalamoun hospital officials said the dead included three Saudis, two Lebanese and a sixth man whose nationality was not immediately known. However, a security official in Beirut identified the slain militants as three Saudis, two Syrians and an Iraqi. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The slain militants were all members of Fatah Islam, said the security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Fatah Islam is believed to consist of mostly foreigners, and Lebanon's Western-backed government has accused the group of trying to launch a rebellion in the north of the country.

The army has vowed to crush the militants since some 30 soldiers were killed during the first day of fighting — some as they slept in their tents around Nahr el-Bared, and others, who were off-duty, ambushed on the highway in Qalamoun.

Thursday's military statement vowed "to track down terrorists relentlessly" and not to leave them "any safe haven" to stage attacks.

President Emile Lahoud reiterated a demand that the militants surrender "as the only way" to end the fighting in the camp, parts of which have been devastated by the army bombardment.

Most of the camp's 30,000 Palestinians have fled to another camp nearby, but dozens of armed militants are believed to be holed up in Nahr el-Bared, along with several thousand civilians.

Fatah Islam leaders have threatened to take the fighting with the Lebanese army outside the camp if it continues its military offensive at Nahr el-Bared.

On Sunday, Lebanese troops raided an apartment complex in Tripoli suspected of housing Islamic militants, sparking a gunbattle that left six militants, a soldier and three others dead. Police were still investigating whether those militants had any links to Fatah Islam.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,dianavan
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 02:51 PM

The last post was mine.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 02:40 PM

The trust of the Palestinians in their leaders is on an all time low (in comparison even GWBush looks popular):

In a new survey (after the Gaza coup), 11% in the Westbank were contented with Abbas, 8 % in Gaza.
Hanija, who had very high popularity ratings six months ago, has now only a 16 % support (being contented with) in the Westbank (my source, a German newspaer, gives no numbers for Gaza here).

The most irritating result is that 15 % of the Palestinians would even prefer Israeli occupation to the present administration.

Olmert has declared that Israel will release 250 Fatah prisoners. If the Israeli government is wiser than I fear they are, Marwan Barghuti will be among those released. He could be a strong man and a leader towards peace even with compromises. Then only Israel would need a similarly strong leader....


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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 25 Jun 07 - 11:37 AM

Lebanon calls for international support

By SAM F. GHATTAS, Associated Press Writers
26 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanon's government said a deadly car bombing targeting U.N. peacekeepers was "a challenge to the international community," appealing Monday for outside help to prevent the country and the region from spiraling out of control.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the bombing Sunday that killed three Colombian peacekeepers and two Spaniards. But the majority anti-Syrian coalition in parliament blamed the government in Damascus, despite its condemnation of the bombing.

Hezbollah, Syria's main ally in Lebanon, also condemned the attack.

The Cabinet issued a statement Monday saying the bombing was "an attack on Lebanon's security and stability and posed a challenge to the international community, which is standing on Lebanon's side."

Information Minister Ghazi Aridi told reporters after the meeting that Lebanon needed international support: "The collapse of this situation in Lebanon will lead to a collapse of the situation in all states in the region."

Earlier Monday, Spain's Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso arrived in southern Lebanon to collect the bodies of the six U.N. peacekeepers, as the U.N. commander stressed the force remained committed to keeping the peace between Lebanon and Israel.

The peacekeepers were patrolling a main road north of the Israeli border town of Metulla, when the bomb struck their armored personnel carrier.

Spain has 1,100 peacekeepers in Lebanon, part of the 13,000-member U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon from 30 countries, which first deployed in Lebanon in 1978 and was reinforced in the last year. UNIFIL, along with 15,000 Lebanese troops, patrols a zone along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

UNIFIL's presence puts teeth in U.N. cease-fire resolution 1701 that halted last summer's 34-day war. Southern Lebanon has been largely quiet after the summer war killed more than 1,200 people, most of them in Lebanon.

Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, on Monday said the attack would not keep Lebanon from maintaining "a government that is free from the influence of outside forces or other countries and one that can serve the interests of the Lebanese people."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack Monday and called for a full investigation, U.N. spokeswoman Michele Montas said in a statement.

The attack, the first since UNIFIL was reinforced following last year's war, came as the U.N. has become increasingly involved in highly divisive issues in Lebanon, including its tense relations with neighboring Syria.

The UNIFIL commander, Gen. Claudio Graziano of Italy, said UNIFIL "remains committed more than ever to its mission."

Media reports earlier this month said interrogations by Lebanese authorities with captured al-Qaida-inspired militants revealed plots to attack the U.N. force. In addition, al-Qaida's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri, in videos broadcast in September, has denounced the reinforced UNIFIL.

But the majority anti-Syrian coalition in Lebanon's parliament has accused Syria in the bombing, as it has for other attacks there, beginning with the assassination of Hariri in 2005, a suicide truck bombing in Beirut that caused an international uproar, forcing Damascus to pull its army out of Lebanon after nearly three decades of control.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 03:25 PM

Washington Post:

Last Chance for Abbas

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, June 22, 2007; Page A19

Gaza is now run not by a conventional political party but by a movement that is revolutionary, Islamist and terrorist. Worse, Hamas is a client of Iran. Gaza now constitutes the farthest reach of the archipelago of Iranian proxies: Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Mahdi Army (among others) in Iraq and the Alawite regime of Syria.

This Islamist mini-replica of the Comintern is at war not just with Israel but with the moderate Arab states, who finally woke up to this threat last summer when they denounced Hezbollah for provoking the Lebanon war with Israel. The fall of Gaza is particularly terrifying to Egypt because Hamas is so closely affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, the chief Islamist threat to the secular-nationalist regime that has ruled Egypt since the revolution of 1952. Which is why Egypt has just invited Israeli, Jordanian and moderate Palestinian leaders to a summit next week -- pointedly excluding and isolating Hamas.

The splitting of Palestine into two entities is nonetheless clarifying. Since Hamas won the parliamentary elections of January 2006, we've had to deal with the fiction of a supposedly unified Palestine ruled by an avowedly "unity" government of Fatah and Hamas. Now the muddle has undergone political hydrolysis, separating out the relatively pure elements: a Hamas-ruled Gaza and Fatah-ruled (for now) West Bank.

The policy implications are obvious. There is nothing to do with the self-proclaimed radical Islamist entity that is Gaza but to isolate it. No recognition, no aid (except humanitarian necessities through the United Nations), no diplomatic commerce.

Israel now has the opportunity to establish deterrence against unremitting rocket attacks from Gaza into Israeli villages. Israel failed to do that after it evacuated Gaza in 2005, permitting the development of an unprecedented parasitism by willingly supplying food, water, electricity and gasoline to a territory that was actively waging hostilities against it.

With Hamas now clearly in charge, Israel should declare that it will tolerate no more rocket fire -- that the next Qassam will be answered with a cutoff of gasoline shipments. This should bring road traffic in Gaza to a halt within days and make it increasingly difficult to ferry around missiles and launchers.

If that fails to concentrate the mind, the next step should be to cut off electricity. When the world wails, Israel should ask, what other country on Earth is expected to supply the very means for a declared enemy to attack it?

Regarding the West Bank, policy should be equally clear. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas represents moderation and should be helped as he tries to demonstrate both authority and success in running his part of Palestine.

But let's remember who Abbas is. He appears well intentioned, but he is afflicted with near-disastrous weaknesses. He controls little. His troops in Gaza simply collapsed against the greatly outnumbered forces of Hamas. His authority in the West Bank is far from universal. He does not even control the various factions within Fatah.

But the greater liability is his character. He is weak and indecisive. When he was Yasser Arafat's deputy, Abbas was known to respond to being slapped down by his boss by simply disappearing for weeks in a sulk. During the battle for Gaza, he did not order his Fatah forces to return fire against the Hamas insurrection until the fight was essentially over. Remember, too, that after Arafat's death Abbas ran the Palestinian Authority without a Hamas presence for more than a year. Can you name a single thing he achieved in that time?

Moreover, his Fatah party is ideologically spent and widely discredited. Historian Michael Oren points out that the Palestinian Authority has received more per capita aid than did Europe under the Marshall Plan. This astonishing largess has disappeared into lavish villas for party bosses and guns for the multiple militias Arafat established.

The West is rushing to bolster Abbas. Israel will release hundreds of millions in tax revenue. The United States and the European Union will be pouring in aid. All praise Abbas as a cross between Anwar Sadat and Simón Bolívar. Fine. We have no choice but to support him. But before we give him the moon, we should insist upon reasonable benchmarks of both moderation and good governance -- exactly what we failed to do during the Oslo process. Abbas needs to demonstrate his ability to run a clean administration and to engage Israel in day-to-day negotiations to alleviate the conditions of life on the ground.

Abbas is not Hamas. But despite the geographical advantages, he does not represent the second coming, either. We can prop him up only so much. In the end, the only one who can make a success of the West Bank is Abbas himself. This is his chance. His last chance.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,beardedbruce
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 09:33 PM

Hamas has tough road in disarming Gaza

By SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 21, 4:20 PM ET

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - A metal door, a window frame and a faucet were the only items dropped off at a Hamas weapons collection point Thursday, a sign the Islamic militant group faces serious trouble in getting its hands on Gaza's estimated 400,000 firearms.

The three discarded items fell under the category of "looted government property" that Hamas also demanded be turned in along with weapons by Thursday. But it was arms the group really wanted.

Hamas leaders threatened harsh punishment for anyone caught with guns after the deadline.

But in chaotic Gaza, where defeated Fatah militants are hiding out and clan grudges can flare into open warfare at any moment, few believe Hamas will recover even a fraction of the territory's arsenal — enough to arm nearly one of every three people.

Some Fatah fighters said they hid their weapons away from their homes so Hamas gunmen would not find them in searches. Some buried their weapons, including one who said he put his gun under the family chicken coop.

Others said they threw their rifles into the sea rather than risk them falling into Hamas hands.

"I prefer to shoot myself rather than give them my gun. I don't trust them at all," said a 33-year-old Fatah-affiliated security officer, who gave his name only as Abu Subhi for fear of retaliation from Hamas.

The Islamic militants scored a major success last week by securing many of the weapons held by Gaza's security forces, most of whom were loyal to Fatah, analysts said. Hamas fighters captured the arms stored at security headquarters and used lists of officers to collect weapons at their homes.

"It looks to us that Hamas has succeeded in collecting the majority of the registered weapons that belong to the Palestinian security forces," said Hazem Abu Shanab, a Gaza-based political analyst.

Jamal al-Jarrah, commander of the Hamas militia known as the Executive Force, said Hamas had collected 90 percent of the security force weapons.

But the security forces had only 15,000 firearms — a number that pales against the 400,000 weapons estimated to be inside the Gaza Strip, analysts and former security officials said.

A measure of the difficulty of disarming the myriad private gangs came over the weekend in the southern city of Khan Younis, where Hamas forces and a clan known for drug-smuggling fought a five-hour battle with mortars and automatic weapons. Two people were killed, but Hamas came away with only a fifth of the family's arsenal, a Hamas official said.

As part of its weapons collection campaign, Hamas sent cars with loudspeakers into the streets and made announcements from mosques warning defeated security officers not to keep their weapons. It also phoned them at home demanding their weapons and asked tribal leaders to negotiate an arms handover.

The group set up seven sites around Gaza City for people to drop off their weapons, including the Shafei mosque in the eastern part of the city.

In the mosque's courtyard, young boys eagerly waited at a reception table with scrap paper, a pencil and a Quran, ready to collect and list guns or looted government property. All they got was the metal door, window frame and faucet. Someone also turned in a pocket knife.

Elsewhere, the group got back a small pickup truck that had been stolen from an intelligence security post.

Hamas said it wants only to gather weapons that might be used against it, and has no interest in firearms used for fighting Israel.

"Only those with clean hands should carry weapons. All the organizations that are using these guns to defend themselves against the occupation will be welcomed and supported," Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official, told The Associated Press.

"But if people use guns to cause strife between families or to attack the official and unofficial institutions, they will be collected."

Hamas' mission has been made far more difficult by the rampant smuggling that brought arms into Gaza through tunnels under the Egyptian border — the source of much of Hamas' own arsenal.

The inflow of arms allowed many clans to build up their own militias with firepower and training rivaling the official security forces, a situation that was evident in Hamas' battle in Khan Younis last weekend.

Militants found themselves fighting a bitter battle in narrow alleys when they besieged the clan compound of the drug-smuggling clan, which was known for supporting Fatah.

Hamas stopped the fight after a clan leader agreed to hand over his fighters' weapons, said a clan security officer, who gave his name only as Abu Mohammed to keep his identity hidden from the militants.

The clan eventually turned over five rifles and a handgun. When asked if that was the family's whole arsenal, Abu Mohammed only smiled.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 21 Jun 07 - 07:17 AM

Mideast peace summit to take place Mon. 4 minutes ago

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet on Monday with Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, an Israeli government spokeswoman said Thursday.

Olmert, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan will "address ways to promote the moderate agenda and ways to go forward on the Israeli-Palestinian issues," spokeswoman Miri Eisin said.

This is a breaking news update. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Closing ranks against Hamas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian leaders to a peace summit next week, Palestinian officials said Thursday.

The regional gathering is the biggest show of support yet by moderate Arab states for beleaguered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his bitter showdown with the Islamic militants, who took control of Gaza by force last week.

Mubarak has invited Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Jordan's King Abdullah to the summit, to be held early next week in Egypt, said Abbas aides Saeb Erekat and Yasser Abed Rabbo. Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said nothing has been finalized.

At the meeting, Abbas will call for a resumption of peace talks with Israel, arguing that only progress toward Palestinian statehood can serve as a true buffer against Hamas, Erekat said.

"The most important thing to realize is that time is of the essence," Erekat said. "We need to deliver the end of occupation, a Palestinian state. If we don't have hope, Hamas will export despair to the people."

As immediate steps, Abbas will ask Israel to remove West Bank checkpoints that disrupt daily life and trade, and to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian tax funds Israel froze after Hamas came to power last year.

In Washington this week, Olmert said he would propose to his Cabinet on Sunday that it unlock frozen funds, thought he did not say how much money he thought Israel should free. Israel is holding about $550 million in tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.

Despite the talk about peace, however, the Hamas takeover has dealt a setback to statehood efforts, with the Islamic militants in charge of Gaza and Abbas in charge of the West Bank.

Gaza militants fired nine rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot on Wednesday, slightly injuring one person. Hours earlier, Israeli troops backed by tanks and armored vehicles fatally shot four militants.

Mahmoud Zahar, the man widely believed to be leading Gaza's new Hamas rulers, said Wednesday his group would be open to a cease-fire with Israel if the army halted its activities there and in the West Bank. He said Hamas was capable of halting the frequent rocket attacks out of Gaza. "But nobody will be the protector of the Israeli border," he told The Associated Press.

In the West Bank, meanwhile, a top Palestine Liberation Organization body, the Palestine National Council, was meeting for a second day Thursday. It was weighing Abbas' appeal to approve his most recent steps against Hamas, including firing the militants from the government and establishing an emergency Cabinet of moderates.

Technically, the Palestinian legislature would have to approve the emergency government after a month. However, it is controlled by Hamas and has been paralyzed for months, following Israel's arrest of most Hamas legislators.

In asking the PLO to grant the approval, Abbas was in fact sidestepping parliament. It was not immediately clear whether he'd now go to the Palestine National Council for any issue that normally would have required parliament approval, thus rendering the legislature useless.

In a televised speech to the PLO leaders on Wednesday evening, Abbas lashed out at Hamas, branding them "murderous terrorists" with whom he would have no dealings. It marked the first time since Hamas' takeover of Gaza that Abbas laid out his case before the Palestinian people.

Abbas described in detail what he said was a Hamas attempt to assassinate him. He said he obtained footage of Hamas members dragging large amounts of explosives through a tunnel they had dug under Gaza's main road — the one he takes to his office — and saying "this is for Abu Mazen," his nickname. He said he sent the tape to Hamas' supreme leader, Khaled Mashaal, and to Arab leaders to illustrate Hamas intentions.

He said Hamas was trying to build an "empire of darkness" in Gaza.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri hotly rejected Abbas' statements. "What he said was disgusting and not appropriate for the Palestinian president," he said. "The president has harmed himself with his words."

At least 2,000 Hamas supporters took to the streets in Gaza City, denouncing Abbas as an agent of Israel and the United States. "Abbas, Abbas, the (Gaza) strip is all Hamas," the crowd chanted.

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, Hamas officials claimed that Palestinian security stormed the house of Hamas leader Hassan Yossef, questioned his sons for three hours and confiscated computer and documents. Yossef is in an Israeli jail.

In another development, 35 Gazans who had been stuck at the main Gaza-Israel passenger crossing for several days were sent to Egypt via Israel late Wednesday, an Israeli army spokeswoman said Thursday.

Among those who left were gunmen from Abbas' Fatah movement, their wives and children.

Seventy had been authorized to leave, but half decided to stay in Gaza after discovering they were to go to Egypt rather than the West Bank, the spokeswoman said.

Earlier Wednesday, Israel took in several of the sick and wounded in the crowd.

Hundreds of men, women and children rushed to the crossing after the Hamas takeover, among them Fatah loyalists who feared they'd be harmed by Hamas, despite the militants' offer of amnesty. By Thursday, the passage, rank with the stench of urine and garbage, was nearly empty after it became clear that a mass exit to the West Bank was not approved.

The army spokeswoman said Palestinian dual nationals and foreigners working in Gaza were being allowed to pass through Israel on Thursday for other points. By midday, 60 Palestinian-Americans had left Gaza for Jordan, and eight World Bank employees also left the strip, she said.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 05:12 PM

Lebanese troops bombard Palestinian camp

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer
Wed Jun 20, 1:24 PM ET

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese troops bombed Islamic militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp Wednesday, as mediators met senior military officials to discuss a possible cease-fire deal that would disarm the al-Qaida-inspired fighters.

The army unleashed artillery and tank barrages at suspected hideouts of Fatah Islam militants barricaded inside the Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the port city of Tripoli. Plumes of black and white smoke rose from inside the camp, and heavy gunfire rang out.

The monthlong fighting in Nahr el-Bared, the worst internal violence since the 1975-90 civil war, comes amid a fierce power struggle between Lebanon's Western-backed government and the opposition led by the militant Hezbollah group.

On Wednesday, Arab League Amr Moussa warned "time is running out" to resolve the political impasse that has paralyzed Lebanon for months.

Even as military tried to crush Fatah Islam's remaining strongholds at the refugee camp, Palestinian mediators held talks with Lebanese military intelligence chief Brig. George Khoury at the Defense Ministry near Beirut.

A Palestinian Muslim cleric, Sheik Mohammed Haj, said after meeting with Khoury that he hoped for "a positive response" to the cease-fire proposed by mediators.

Sheik Mohammed and the Palestinian Scholars Association met earlier this week with Fatah Islam leaders in the camp and said the militants had agreed to the deal.

"Brig. Khoury promised to take what has been reached (with Fatah Islam) to the army command and to respond to it," the cleric told Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.

He refused to give details of the cease-fire deal. Earlier, the private New TV station said it included disarming Fatah Islam's dissolution, the return of refugees and takeover of the camp by other Palestinian factions.

However, a senior military official said the army would not accept any deal unless it includes the handover of Fatah Islam militants responsible for the deaths of Lebanese soldiers.

There will be "no bargaining over the blood of the (army) martyrs," the official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to make official statements. He added that the troops were making "steady advances" in assault on the Fatah Islam militants.

The official said three soldiers were killed in clashes Tuesday, bringing the army's death toll to 75 since fighting began May 20 when police seeking suspects in a bank robbery clashed with Fatah Islam in a Tripoli neighborhood.

At least 60 militants and 20 civilians were killed in the early days of fighting. Officials say many more militants have died since, but contact with the fighters to verify figures has not been possible. The militants had earlier given a much lower death toll.

Moussa, the Arab League chief, was on a three-day visit to help end the standoff between the and the Western-backed government and the pro-Syria opposition.

Opposition supporters have held a sit-in outside Prime Minister Fuad Saniora's office since December, demanding his resignation and a national unity government in which they would have veto power. Saniora, backed by the United States, has refused to step down.

In another looming crisis, the legislature must vote on a replacement when pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud's term ends in November, but it is highly unlikely that lawmakers will be able to agree on a candidate.

Moussa said Lebanon's problems must all be addressed at once.

"It is possible to agree on all these matters at the same time. Time is running out on Lebanon," he told reporters after talks with Lahoud. "Setting priorities could have been possible had we had a year or more ahead of us but now there is only three to four months."

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 10:18 AM

Two dead in fresh Lebanon fighting

POSTED: 8:54 a.m. EDT, June 19, 2007

Story Highlights• Lebanese army continues offensive against militants in Nahr el-Bared camp
• One soldier killed in gun battles with Fatah Islam fighters; another by sniper fire
• Army has made steady gains against Islamists since clashes started on May 20

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Lebanon's army battled al Qaeda-inspired fighters in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon on Tuesday as the troops inched toward the militants' strongholds. Officials said two soldiers were killed in the fighting.

Reporters outside the Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli said a barrage of six shells at a time were heard as the army pounded the camp. Black and white plumes of smoke were seen rising from inside the camp.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make statements to media, said a soldier was killed in battles earlier in the morning with gunmen of the Fatah Islam group barricaded inside Nahr el-Bared.

A security official, also requesting anonymity for the same reason, said another soldier was killed shortly before midday by sniper fire.

Tuesday's death brought the army's fatalities to 74 since fighting first erupted at Nahr el-Bared on May 20, when police raiding suspects in a bank robbery clashed with Fatah Islam in a Tripoli neighborhood.

Fatah Islam -- a group of Islamic militants from various Arab nationalities that built its power structure in the camp in recent months -- subsequently burst out of Nahr el-Bared, attacked Lebanese army positions and ambushed soldiers, killing 27 in attacks that drew condemnation from Lebanese and Palestinians alike.

At least 60 militants were killed in the early days of the fighting, with officials saying many more died later on. The militants have given a much lower death toll, but contact with them recently has not been possible. At least 20 civilians were reported killed.

The army has made steady gains on the ground in recent days. On occasion, it leveled top floors of buildings to root out militant snipers, and engaged in door-to-door combat to try break the stubborn resistance of the militants who operate from behind fortified positions and target the military with rockets and booby traps.

Palestinian Islamic clerics have attempted to mediate an end to the fighting but their efforts came up against the militants' pledge to fight to the death rather than comply by the army's request that they surrender.

The battle to drive the Islamic militants out has led to significant damage to parts of the camp, once home to some 30,000 Palestinian refugees. Only about 5,000 remain inside, after most residents fled to the nearby Beddawi refugee camp.

From the outside, the destruction to camp buildings can be clearly seen on the skyline. With the military advancing in recent days, the militants have been retreating deeper inside Nahr el-Bared's narrow streets and residential neighborhoods, hounded by army artillery.

There has been little information from inside the camp since the early days of the fighting. Nahr el-Bared has been off limits to journalists.

An amateur video obtained by Associated Press Television News on Tuesday showed major destruction in largely deserted residential neighborhoods.

Debris from collapsed walls and balconies littered the narrow alleys, covered with ripped electricity wires. Shells and shrapnel holes peppered some buildings. A burnt car and a parked pickup truck with a collapsed wall resting on lay on one deserted street.

Shells had struck a school and a mosque, and the backyard of a house was covered with fallen blocks. On another, steel-reinforced pillars lay twisted.

The video, taken at different periods between May 27 and June 10, showed very few residents. Six men were seen gathering around a hose to fill up cans with water. In one house, a family was sitting on the floor for a meal.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 01:52 PM

Sanctions taken off Abbas-led government By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer
11 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration on Monday lifted its economic and political embargo against the Palestinian government, Secretary of State       Condoleezza Rice announced.

The move follows the expulsion of the militant Hamas movement from the       Palestinian Authority, and is meant to strengthen Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas by resuming direct U.S. aid.

Rice said she had informed new Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the decision in phone call earlier Monday.

"I told him the United States would resume full assistance to the Palestinian government and normal government to government contacts," she told reporters at the State Department.

This is a breaking news update. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) —       President Bush on Monday pledged help and support to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as the United States prepared to lift economic and diplomatic sanctions against his new-look government.

In a 15-minute phone conversation, Abbas told Bush about the steps he has taken, including swearing in an emergency Cabinet and outlawing the militia forces of Hamas. Bush noted that he plans to meet Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and that he would share their thoughts on how to continue, White House press secretary Tony Snow said.

The Bush administration is poised to lift the sanctions and a diplomatic embargo against the new Palestinian government in the       West Bank since it no longer includes the Islamic militant group Hamas.

"What's important is, you have to have a partner who is committed to peace, and we believe that President Abbas is," Snow said. "And therefore we are committed to working with this new emergency government."

Hamas' violent takeover of the       Gaza Strip last week split the Palestinian government in two: the Hamas leadership headed by deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza and the new Cabinet now led by the Western-backed economist Salam Fayyad in the West Bank.

"We have said that Hamas is a terrorist organization," Snow said. "I think it's pretty clear what our stance has been."

Hamas seized control of Gaza last week after a series of battles with Abbas'       Fatah movement. The violence left Gaza increasingly isolated, a situation that worsened Sunday when an Israeli fuel company cut off deliveries to gas stations in the impoverished coastal strip.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to announce the new U.S. policy as soon as Monday, a U.S. official said. That announcement will coincide with a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is holding talks in Washington beginning Monday.

The State Department would not confirm the expected move ahead of Rice's announcement, but dropped strong hints Monday. The administration hopes that a resumption of aid would bolster Abbas and improve chances that he can negotiate toward peace with       Israel.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack noted that the new emergency government in the West bank is made up of moderates who have previously pledged or demonstrated their commitment to nonviolence and peace with Israel.

"We're taking a look at, in a way, how we can return back to the future," McCormack said. "We have a Palestinian government now that is committed to those principles that previous Palestinian governments had been committed to," before Hamas took power last year.

Jacob Walles, the U.S. consul-general in Jerusalem, said Saturday that the international aid embargo imposed after Hamas won parliamentary elections last year will no longer apply to Abbas' government, and said he expected the aid ban to be lifted this week.

A senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions, said that any U.S. gestures toward Abbas will be made independently of Israel.

The move essentially would reset U.S. policy to the days before Hamas swept legislative elections in early 2006 and upended U.S. and international peacemaking. The United States, Israel and the       European Union regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Since those elections, Hamas has continued to flex its muscles.

Meanwhile, in a major boost to Abbas, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana announced in Luxembourg on Monday that the 27-nation bloc would resume direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority now that Hamas is no longer part of the government.

"We absolutely have to back" the new government in the West Bank, said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. "The question of today is: How can we help the 1.4 million people in Gaza?"

Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, now runs Gaza. Abbas and his secular Fatah Party now run the West Bank. The larger West Bank is home to more than 1.5 million Palestinians.

The split cleared the way for the U.S. to resume direct aid payments to the Palestinian government, something it has refused to do so long as Hamas was a part of the government and could benefit from U.S. dollars.

Some in the United States and in Europe have advocated a policy dubbed "West Bank first" in which the West Bank would stand as an example of what a future Palestinian state could be. Critics on the other side say that leaves Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip without assistance. Europeans oppose this idea, and still others worry it would leave the Gaza Strip open to funding and influence from       Iran and       Syria.

Five years ago, Bush called for a separate, independent Palestine alongside Israel. He was the first U.S. president to back that notion so fully and publicly. But his administration has taken heavy criticism for letting the peace process drift while conditions worsened for the impoverished Palestinians.

In New York on Sunday, Olmert said his country would be a "genuine partner" of a new Palestinian government and promised to consider releasing the hundreds of millions of dollars in frozen tax funds.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 12:52 PM

Exact title: What started the war in Europe

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 12:42 PM

For more fast-breaking news, check out the "War in Europe" thread...

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 11:02 AM

Rockets fall on northern Israel

POSTED: 5:06 p.m. EDT, June 17, 2007

Story Highlights• Sources say a third rocket landed near U.N. post in Lebanon

• Hezbollah denies responsibility for attack
• Police: Rockets appear to have caused no casualties and only minor damage
• Attack marks first rockets to land in northern Israel since last summer

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- At least two Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon landed near the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona on Sunday, police and Israel Defense Forces said.

Lebanese security sources later reported that another rocket fired from Lebanon never made it across the Israeli border and landed near an observation post operated by the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

A representative from the U.N. force called the attack a "serious violation of Security Council Resolution 1701 and of the cessation of the hostility agreement" that followed last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah militants.

"An investigation is under way," the representative said, asking all parties to "exercise maximum restraint."

All three missiles were launched using timing devices, and a fourth rocket failed to fire and is being dismantled by the Lebanese army, the sources said. (Watch the aftermath of the rocket attacks )

Hezbollah quickly denied responsibility for the attack, Lebanese security sources said.

A Lebanese security source told the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, that suspected Palestinian gunmen carried out the attack.

There were no reports of casualties, police said. Only minor damage was reported.

Video from Israeli television showed a damaged car on the side of a road, it's front bumper crushed and windshield cracked.

The launch sites were in the eastern portion of southern Lebanon, near the town of Marjayoun, which is controlled by Lebanese forces who are monitoring the border after last summer's war between Israel and Hezbollah.

The rockets were the first to land in northern Israel since Kiryat Shmona was pounded by hundreds of Katyusha rockets during the 34-day war.

According to media reports, Kiryat Shmona Mayor Haim Barbivai told Israel's Channel 2 that he wanted to see a strong response from Israel and the Lebanese government.

"Heaven help us if we have another summer like the last one. That would be a tragedy," Barbivai told the television station.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 10:59 AM

Abbas attempts to isolate Hamas

POSTED: 10:50 a.m. EDT, June 18, 2007

Story Highlights• Abbas dissolves security council to isolate Hamas; gains U.S., EU, Israeli support
• Bush tells Abbas he's open to restarting peace talks
• Israel opens crossing for Gaza medical aid, reopens fuel gas shipments
• Hamas rejects new Abbas government as illegal and "just a mistake"

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- The emergency Palestinian government -- formed in the wake of Hamas' takeover of Gaza -- continued Monday to shore up political and economic support in an attempt to further isolate the previous Hamas-led leadership.

A day after swearing in a new cabinet, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the national security council which had been formed under the previous Fatah-Hamas unity government, according to a Palestinian political source.

The council was responsible for deciding which parts of Gaza and the West Bank would be controlled by Fatah forces and Hamas forces. (Watch Hamas gunmen take control of presidential offices in Gaza )

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, who had served as Palestinian prime minister until he was dismissed last Thursday by Abbas, held the position of deputy chairman of the council.

It is unclear if a new council will be formed in its place.

Political, economic support
Meanwhile, the European Union announced Monday that it will resume direct aid to the Palestinian government under newly-appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

"We cannot let down at this moment the Palestinian people who live in Gaza," EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana said.

Europe is the largest single donor to the Palestinian territories. Before Hamas won legislative elections last year, the EU provided over $600 million in aid -- about half of it directly funding the Palestinian Authority.

The EU and United States, which provided over $400 million to the PA, suspended aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government because the Islamic fundamentalist group would not amend its charter which calls for the destruction of Israel.

Determining how the money will reach the people in Gaza where the government has no control still has to be worked out, Solana said.

"It is very important that he (Fayyad) is able to construct a budget and through that budget he will be able to help both the people in Gaza and the people in West Bank."

Bush, Abbas discuss peace talks
President Bush called Abbas on Monday and pledged his support to the president and "those Palestinian moderates who are working to better the lives of Palestinians and work towards a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel," National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told CNN

Bush also told Abbas he was "open to the idea" of restarting Mideast peace talks to stabilize the situation and will do anything to "move the peace process forward," Johndroe said.

Bush told Abbas that before he makes any firm commitments, he wants to "raise all of those issues" with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during their meeting on Tuesday and figure out the best way to proceed.

Shortly after his arrival in New York on Sunday, Olmert vowed to cooperate with Fayyad's government.

"We will defreeze monies that we kept under our control because we didn't want these monies to be taken by Hamas in order to be used as part of a terrorist action," said Olmert.

Growing humanitarian crisis
Following Hamas' take-over of Gaza last week, humanitarian groups have raised concerns about the further isolation of the Palestinian territory. Israel has closed most of the borders, and the the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been closed for over a week. (Interactive: Details about how the Palestinian power struggle unfolded)

Human rights groups have urged the Israeli government to reopen its border crossings with Gaza to allow food and medical relief supplies.

Israel agreed on Monday to temporarily open the Erez border crossing for a delivery of Red Cross medical supplies to Gaza, an Israel Defense Forces spokeswoman said.

In addition, Gaza residents will start receiving shipments of gasoline after the Israeli fuel company that is the sole supplier of gasoline for Gaza motorists announced Monday it will resume regular shipments.

Dor Alon said on Sunday that it would halt gasoline shipments in the wake of Hamas' take-over of Gaza, but would continue to supply gasoline to Gaza's electricity power plant.

It will resume shipments in coordination with all the "relevant factors," according to a news release.

A Fatah official in the West Bank said Monday that the new government will make it a top priority to make sure the people in Gaza get supplies.

"We will work to make sure that the basic services will flow as normal as possible," Tayib Abdel Rahim said at a news conference.

Hamas: new government 'just a mistake'

Hamas has rejected the new government formed by Abbas after declaring a state of emergency in the wake of the chaos in Gaza. Abbas chose all political independents for the cabinet.

Haniya's top adviser Ahmed Youssef told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer" that "there is nothing in the (Palestinian) constitution" that outlines an emergency government.

"There is a state of emergency but there is nothing called 'emergency government,'" Youssef said.

He said the move is "just a mistake" made by Abbas.

Abbas declared a state of emergency as Hamas fighters seized control of Gaza last week.

According to Abbas and his Fatah allies, the president has the power to dissolve the government and form a temporary cabinet after calling for a state of emergency. The Palestinian Legislative Council must convene to vote on the cabinet after a 30-day period.

While Hamas has gained control of Gaza, Fatah is trying to consolidate its power in the West Bank and extend it into Gaza.

Fatah official Saeb Erakat denied that there are two Palestinian governments, but made it clear that the newly appointed cabinet's first priority would be to prevent the spread of the "chaos and lawlessness" in Gaza.

"We will not allow ... the catastrophe that's happened in Gaza to reach the West Bank, that's number one," Erakat told CNN's "Late Edition."

Hamas may have backed itself into a corner in assuming sole power in Gaza which is entirely dependent on Israel and other outside resources for basic services.

Former U.S. envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross points out that Hamas is in a situation "where basically they have nobody else to blame but themselves."

"There's nobody else to hold responsible in Gaza for governing," Ross told CNN's "American Morning."

"The Israelis aren't there, Fatah isn't there, it's only Hamas. So now Hamas actually has to govern, they can't just be on the outside and not assume responsibility."

"Can they really be firing off rockets into Israel if Israel is the source of electricity? Do they really want to put themselves in the position where basically they have nobody else to blame but themselves, and they're making the situation worse?"

Ross said that position could offer leverage to Fatah, although there is the possibility that Hamas may "chose to divert attention away from their failings by heating things up with Israel."

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 10:41 AM


During the Gaza coup, some foreigners were present at the Hamas command center and directed and guided the war from there....
Hamas faces a serious problem: They have armed 100,000 fighters in Gaza and will not be able to keep them under control.

Too optimistic in my eyes regarding the time table, but still interesting reading.


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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 05:08 PM

Anxious Arab states hold Gaza crisis talks

by Jailan Zayan
27 minutes ago

CAIRO (AFP) - Arab foreign ministers held crisis talks on the deadly dispute dividing the Palestinian territories on Friday amid dire warnings about the consequences of Hamas's seizure of the       Gaza Strip.

Ministers had been due to meet on Saturday at the request of Lebanon to discuss the latest killing of an anti-Syrian politician in that country.

But they brought their meeting forward after Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas dissolved a three-month-old power-sharing government on Thursday and the Islamists of Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip, leaving Abbas and his       Fatah movement based in the occupied       West Bank.

Arab League ambassadors have appealed to both Hamas and Abbas's secular Fatah faction to return to Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation talks, warning that the failure of such talks could have "deeply negative consequences."

Before the meeting, league Secretary General Amr Mussa held talks with the head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam al-Ahmed from Fatah, who was deputy prime minister in the sacked unity government.

Abbas on Friday tasked political independent Salam Fayyad with forming an emergency government but Hamas swiftly rejected the move as a "coup against legitimacy and a transgression of all laws".

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, whose country brokered a Palestinian unity government deal in the holy city of Mecca in February, said the infighting was "realising Israel's dream."

"Through their fighting, our Palestinian brothers have realised Israel's dream of setting alight the fire of discord and war between Palestinians," he told the meeting's opening session.

"Today, the Palestinians are banging in the last nail in the coffin of the Palestinian cause," he said, appealing for dialogue.

Egypt -- evidently wary about the creation of an Islamic-run entity on its doorstep -- condemned Hamas's "seizure of power" recalled all its diplomatic and security personnel from the Gaza Strip, diplomatic sources said.

General Mohammed Burhan, who headed a permanent security delegation based in the Gaza Strip and mediated numerous ceasefire agreements between Hamas and Fatah, told AFP that he had already left Gaza for Cairo.

Egypt had been trying to broker a face-to-face meeting between the two sides but the breakdown of that effort was swiftly followed by the latest bout of fighting in which at least 113 people have been killed in a week.

Analysts warned that an Islamic state in Gaza could prove problematic for Egypt, which is battling to contain a strong Islamic opposition at home.

By Friday, Hamas fighters had taken control of all remaining institutions loyal to Abbas in Gaza, leaving the Arab League's call looking a forlorn hope.

Egypt called on Hamas to accept Abbas's presidential authority after he declared a state of emergency and dissolved both parliament and the government on Thursday pending fresh elections.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit stressed the need to "respect legitimate Palestinian institutions, abide by a unified Palestinian decision, and respect the Palestinian National Authority... and its president Mahmud Abbas."

King Abdullah II of Jordan said he hoped the feuding sides would "engage in dialogue to come to an agreement to avert an explosive situation."

In a telephone call with Abbas on Thursday, he warned that the factional fighting "only serves the interests of the Palestinian enemies."

Arab newspapers have expressed concern that Hamas's seizure of Gaza would merely play into the hands of       Israel, giving it a pretext to spurn peace talks with the Palestinians and press ahead with settlement of the occupied West Bank.

An opinion piece in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat appealed to Hamas not to torpedo Palestinian national unity for the sake of power in tiny and impoverished Gaza.

"Hamas's options will from now on be limited to the huge prison camp that is Gaza," warned columnist Maher Ossman.

"It would be disgraceful if Hamas's ambitions were confined to a trivial mini-state which will most likely be ignored," he added, calling for "a common national platform that would give the Palestinians a united voice."

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 01:59 PM

You should get a job as an anchorman, BB. ;-) Call up CNN and see if they need one.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 01:22 PM

Sporadic Violence Persists in Gaza

AP - Fri, 15 Jun 2007 12:05:50 -0400 (EDT)

On Hamas' first day of full rule in Gaza, crowds looted strongholds of the rival Fatah on Friday -- stripping the home of one of the party's strongmen down to the flower pots -- and militants sent a man plunging to his death from a rooftop.

But the violence was sporadic and Gaza's streets, deserted in the past week of fighting, were crowded with cars, pedestrians and triumphant fighters with the Islamic militant group.

At Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' captured seaside office in Gaza City, a gunman sat down at the Fatah leader's desk, picked up the phone and pretended to be calling Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "Hello, Rice?" the gunman said. "Here we are in Abu Mazen's office. Say hello to Abu Mazen for me." Other gunmen rifled through Abbas' belongings in a bedroom behind the office, lifting up a mattress and searching through drawers.

Hamas' military takeover of Gaza, after five days of battle, formalized the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, which lie on either side of Israel. The moderate government Abbas plans to appoint will have no say in Gaza, but stands a stronger chance than the Hamas-Fatah coalition it replaces of restoring foreign aid to the West Bank.

A resident of a Hamas-dominated neighborhood, identifying himself only as Yousef for fear of reprisal by his neighbors, said Gazans would always back the winner, regardless of ideology.

"Today everybody is with Hamas because Hamas won the battle. If Fatah had won the battle they'd be with Fatah. We are a hungry people, we are with whoever gives us a bag of flour and a food coupon," said Yousef, 30. "Me, I'm with God and a bag of flour."

Palestinians in the West Bank viewed the Hamas takeover of Gaza with a mixture of fear and hope -- realizing that it could bring needed foreign aid while dealing a major blow to dreams of Palestinian statehood.

Ahmed al-Aziz, a 53-year-old merchant in Ramallah, said the fenced-in Gazans have little to lose. "Everybody here is worried about his interests or his business. In Gaza, people are poor. They don't have work," he said.

Fleeing aboard a fishing boat on the Mediterranean, 97 senior members of Fatah's security and administrative apparatus arrived in Egypt hours after Hamas fighters took control of Gaza, an Egyptian security official in the port city of El-Arish said. Israel's Channel Two TV said Israel was briefly opening the Erez crossing into Israel to enable other Fatah leaders to escape.

Gazans awoke to the new reality of Hamas control, fraught with uncertainty and fear that they'll become even poorer and more isolated. Gaza's crossings with Egypt and Israel -- lifelines for the fenced-in territory -- have been closed this week, and it was not clear if they would reopen. Extended closure could quickly lead to a humanitarian crisis.

Because Fatah recognizes Israel and past peace agreements, a boycott of the Palestinian government imposed by Israel and the international community after Hamas' electoral successes may no longer apply to the West Bank -- only Gaza.

A Hamas spokesman said Palestinian police, now under Hamas command, would take up positions at the crossings, but it's unlikely Israel would agree: Hamas militants frequently attacked the passages in the past.

The house of former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, a longtime nemesis of Hamas, was overrun, and looters stripped it of everything from windows and doors to flowerpots. "This was the house of the murderer Dahlan that was cleansed by the holy warriors," read graffiti sprayed on the wall. Donkey carts outside the house waited to take on more loot.

More than 90 people were killed in five days of fighting, and dozens wounded.

The morgue at Gaza City's main Shifa Hospital was overflowing, with bodies lined up on the floor; some of the wounded were sleeping on cardboard on the floor.

Earlier Friday, Hamas announced it had arrested 10 of the most senior Fatah leaders in the strip, including the commanders of Abbas' own elite guard unit and the chief of the National Security force, but it later declared an amnesty for all Fatah leaders, and several were released.

Two revenge killings were reported.

Hamas said a Fatah man was thrown off a rooftop, to his death, in a family revenge slaying. In southern Gaza, a Fatah fighter was shot and killed by Hamas gunmen.

In all, about a dozen Fatah fighters were executed, gang-land style, since Gaza fell to Hamas late Thursday, according to people with ties to Fatah. Among those killed was Samih Madhoun, a leader of a feared militia, whose bullet-riddled body was found Thursday evening. Madhoun was captured by Hamas at a roadblock, and Hamas posted a photo of the blood-covered corpse, sprawled on the ground, on its Web site.

Still, Hamas also sent conciliatory signals. Abu Obeideh called for the immediate release of Alan Johnston, the BBC journalist who was kidnapped in March and is believed held by a powerful Gaza clan whose members had ties to both Hamas and Fatah. "We will not allow for his continued detention," Abu Obeideh said of Johnston.

The battle for Gaza ended Thursday night when Hamas forces took the last Fatah stronghold, the seaside office complex of Abbas. The Fatah forces had collapsed quickly under Hamas' systematic onslaught. One by one, Hamas seized Fatah facilities and marched Fatah fighters down the street shirtless and with hands raised.

Fearful that Hamas' momentum could spread to the West Bank, Fatah-allied forces there staged a show of force -- driving through central Ramallah in pickup trucks, their rifles raised. In Nablus, Fatah men shot dead a Hamas member early Friday, Hamas said.

The stage for the struggle between Fatah and Hamas was set last year, when Hamas won parliamentary elections. Hamas reluctantly brought Fatah into a coalition government in March to quell an earlier round of violence, but the uneasy partnership began crumbling last month over control of security forces.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 10:00 AM

from the Washington Post:

A 'Two-State Solution,' Palestinian-Style

By Martin Indyk
Friday, June 15, 2007; Page A21

Does Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas know something that we don't? For five days his presidential security forces in Gaza came under organized attack by Hamas gunmen. His compound in Gaza City was under siege. But he responded to these clear challenges to his authority with observations about the madness that had infected Gaza and refused to assign blame.

One might expect that this democratically elected leader would denounce Hamas's coup and call for international intervention to restore his control. But there he sat in Ramallah, prevaricating as the only liberated part of his putative state fell into the hands of his Palestinian archenemies. Finally yesterday, he dismissed the Hamas-led government, but only after its takeover of Gaza was complete.

Critics will say that this is typical of Abbas, a weak leader who would rather appease his challengers than confront them. But perhaps Abbas understands the emerging realities better than they do.

Over the past year when Hamas would stage attacks in Gaza, Fatah forces would retaliate in the West Bank, where they were stronger. When fighting began this time, Fatah did little in the West Bank to counter Hamas's onslaught. Abbas's passivity further confirms that the fix was in. Abbas and Fatah have in effect conceded Gaza to Hamas while they hold on to the West Bank. Hamastan and Fatahstine: a "two-state solution" -- just not the one that George W. Bush had in mind.

Of course, all Palestinian leaders will continue to declare the indivisibility of the Palestinian homeland. But in private, Abbas and other Fatah leaders may take solace from the dilemma Hamas will now have to confront.

The failed state of Gaza that Hamas controls is wedged between Egypt and Israel. Its water, electricity and basic goods are imported from the Jewish state, whose destruction Hamas has declared as its fundamental objective. One more Qassam rocket fired from Gaza into an Israeli village and Israel could threaten to seal the border if Hamas did not stop its attacks. Hamas would then have to reach a meaningful cease-fire with Israel or seek Egypt's help meeting the basic needs of the 1.5 million Gazans. Hosni Mubarak's regime turned a blind eye to the importation of weapons and money that helped ensure Hamas's takeover. But would Egypt allow on its border a failed terrorist state run by an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood with links to Iran and Hezbollah? Or will it insist on the maintenance of certain standards of order in return for its cooperation?

Whatever transpires, Gaza has become Hamas's problem. It's a safe bet that the real attitude of Abbas and Fatah is: Let Hamas try to rule Gaza, and good luck.

This turn of events would free Abbas to focus on the much more manageable West Bank, where he can depend on the Israel Defense Forces to suppress challenges from Hamas, and on Jordan and the United States to help rebuild his security forces. As chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas is empowered to negotiate with Israel over the disposition of the West Bank. Once he controls the territory, he could make a peace deal with Israel that establishes a Palestinian state with provisional borders in the West Bank and the Arab suburbs of East Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in Gaza could compare their fate under Hamas's rule with the fate of their West Bank cousins under Abbas -- which might then force Hamas to come to terms with Israel, making it eventually possible to reunite Gaza and the West Bank as one political entity living in peace with the Jewish state. It's hard to believe that such a benign outcome could emerge from the growing Palestinian civil war. But given current events, this course is likely to become Abbas's best option.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has an interest in this outcome, too. Elected on a mandate to leave the West Bank, Olmert was gravely weakened by the Lebanon war last summer. His best hope for political salvation lies in movement on the peace process. With Ehud Barak's election as Labor Party leader, Olmert now has a partner with security credentials who can lend him credibility and who may also want to prevent the West Bank from going Gaza's way.

For the Bush administration, the outcome in Gaza is an embarrassment. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has committed her last 18 months in office to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A failed terrorist state in Gaza is hardly what she had in mind for a legacy. Some will argue that it's time she talked to Hamas. But its thuggish, extraconstitutional behavior in Gaza and its commitment to the destruction of Israel make it an unlikely partner, at least until governing Gaza forces it to act more responsibly. And that leaves a "West Bank first" policy as Rice's best option, too.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 05:41 AM

A little
light relief.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 07:31 PM

Do Jews in ARAB nations enjoy the same rights as Moslems in Israel?

Would you care to anwer that? Remember, it is ILLEGAL to be Jewish and reside, even as a non-citizen, in Jordan ( The PALESTINIAN Moslem Homeland) or Saudi Arabia. Let me know what you find out about the other Arab nations.

HOW MANY Jews are presently living in JORDAN - the Palestinian Moslem Homeland)?

HOW many Moslems are living in Israel?

BTW, what about the GREATER number of Jews driven out of the Arab nations?

Or do you insist that Arab Jews are not supposed to have the "rights" that YOU have demanded for the Palestinian Arabs?

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 07:30 PM

"There are no Jews to bash, so they are gone from the thread. "

"The claim by several of the above that to be for the Human ,Civil and Democratic rights of Palestinians is to be anti semitic is a disgusting one "

I do not see that any claim of anti-semitism is being lodged for "to be for the Human ,Civil and Democratic rights of Palestinians".

I DO see that the bashing of Jews, by refusing to address the issues being discussed, or answering ANY questions about how the Israelis are acting in any manner WORSE than the Palestinians and other Arab Moslems have and are presently IS reason to claim you are being anti-semitis.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,ifor
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:37 PM

with regard to the allegation of anti semitism do refer to Peace in the above...13th june 4.54

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:20 PM

Abbas Dissolves Palestinian Government

AP - Thu, 14 Jun 2007 16:52:05 -0400 (EDT)

A beleaguered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a state of emergency and disbanded the Hamas-led unity government after the Islamic militant group vanquished its Fatah rivals and effectively took control of the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

Fearful that Hamas' momentum could spread to the West Bank, Fatah went on the offensive there, rounding up three dozen Hamas fighters.

It was a day of major victories for Hamas and its backers in Iran and Syria -- and of devastating setbacks for the Western-backed Fatah. In one particularly humiliating scene, masked Hamas fighters marched agents of the once-feared Preventive Security Service out of their headquarters, arms raised in the air, stripped to the waist and ducking at the sound of a gunshot.

Abbas, of Fatah, fired the Hamas prime minister and said he would install a new government, replacing the Hamas-Fatah coalition formed just three months ago. Abbas' decrees won't reverse the Hamas takeover of Gaza. Instead, his moves will enable Fatah to consolidate its control over the West Bank, likely paving the way for two separate Palestinian governments.

Because Fatah has recognized Israel's right to exist and signed on to past peace agreements, the international community's boycott of the Palestinian territories in the wake of Hamas' electoral successes may no longer apply to the West Bank -- just to Gaza. Some 2 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, while 1.4 million reside in Gaza.

Hamas' success has thrown into turmoil everything from Mideast peacemaking to Palestinian statehood to relations with Israel and the West.

"The era of justice and Islamic rule has arrived," Hamas spokesman Islam Shahawan said.

Fatah's old demons -- corruption, petty quarreling, lack of leadership -- led to its dismal performance. While disciplined Hamas systematically hoarded weapons, Fatah's Gaza leader, Mohammed Dahlan, preferred travel and West Bank politics to preparing for the inevitable showdown with the Islamic militants. Dahlan returned Thursday from Egypt, where he stayed several weeks after knee surgery. But instead of going to Gaza, he headed for Ramallah in the West Bank.

Many West Bank Palestinians, watching the fall of Gaza on their TV screens, pinned the blame on Abbas, whom they see as indecisive and detached. During Hamas's assaults in Gaza this week, no prominent Fatah leader was in the coastal strip to take command.

"Hamas has leadership, a goal, an ideology and funding," said Gaza analyst Talal Okal. "Fatah has neither leadership, nor a goal, a vision or money."

By capturing three of Gaza City's four main security compounds and the southern town of Rafah, Hamas all but secured its hegemony in Gaza, putting Islamic extremists in control there. The final target for Hamas is Abbas' Gaza City headquarters.

For first time since fighting erupted five days ago, Abbas issued an order to strike back at Hamas. But his words were too little, too late. The violence that has killed at least 90 people in the past five days, including 32 on Thursday alone, made the Hamas-Fatah unity government look like a farce anyway.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Abbas' decisions have "no value" on the ground.

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz vowed not to let the takeover of Gaza spill over into violence against Israel. Some Israelis said only a Gaza invasion could curb Hamas' military power. But for now, the government seems more inclined to stay out, fearful of inviting more rocket attacks on southern Israel.

In Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States backs Abbas' move. Abbas informed Rice of his decision in a phone call earlier Thursday.

"President Abbas has exercised his lawful authority as president of the Palestinian Authority, as leader of the Palestinian people," Rice said. "We fully support him in his decision to try and end this crisis for the Palestinian people and to give them an opportunity ... to return to peace and a better future."

The European Commission, meanwhile, suspended tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid projects in the Gaza Strip because of the escalating violence, a day after the U.N. announced it would scale back its relief projects there.

This week's fighting has been the most intense since Hamas won parliamentary elections last year, setting the stage for a violent power struggle with Fatah. Hamas reluctantly brought Fatah into the coalition in March to quell an earlier round of violence, but the uneasy partnership began crumbling last month over control of the powerful security forces.

No battle was more indicative of Gaza's hatreds and passions than the one at Preventive Security, one of Fatah's four main security bases in the coastal strip. After Hamas fighters overran it in a hail of mortar and gunfire Thursday, they touched their heads to the ground in prayer and marched vanquished gunmen into the streets shirtless.

Preventive Security carried out a brutal crackdown on Hamas in 1996, and the militants never forgot it. Witnesses, Fatah officials and a doctor reported gangland-style executions of the defeated fighters Thursday.

Preventive Security carried out a brutal crackdown on Hamas in 1996, and the militants never forgot it. Witnesses, Fatah officials and a doctor reported gangland-style executions of the defeated fighters Thursday.

"There is a history to it, a vendetta and a settling of scores," said Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi.

Fatah officials, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said Hamas shot dead seven Fatah fighters after they had surrendered. A doctor at Shifa Hospital said he examined two bodies that had been shot in the head at close range.

A witness named Amjad who lives in a high-rise building that overlooks the Preventive Security complex said men were killed in front of their wives and children.

"They are executing them one by one," Amjad said in a telephone interview, declining to give his full name for fear of reprisals. "They are carrying one of them on their shoulders, putting him on a sand dune, turning him around and shooting."

The killers, he said, ignored appeals from neighborhood residents to spare the men's lives.

Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman, denied the reports of gangland-style killings. "Whoever was killed was killed in clashes," he said.

Hamas TV said the Preventive Security building would be turned into an Islamic college. It showed a room with wall-to-wall wiretapping equipment -- a testament to Fatah's collapsed control.

Hamas fighters later seized the Fatah-controlled intelligence services building, planting the Islamic group's green flag on the roof of the ship-shaped structure. And after nightfall, the group announced it had seized Fatah's last stronghold in Gaza, the National Security headquarters.

Hamas TV showed smoke billowing from the top two floors of the mortar-pocked, five-story intelligence building. Five masked gunmen posed inside for the TV camera, including one who raised two assault rifles in triumph.

Another gunman, wearing a Hamas headband around his helmet, stood in a pose of prayer, a hand to each side of his head, screaming "Allah is Great" at the top of his voice.

Spent bullets lay on the floor in one office, and a carton holding hand grenades stood in another area.

Outside the building, three masked gunmen prayed on the sidewalk, their weapons on the ground in front of them as they kneeled in prayer.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:58 PM

To predict another war in the Middle East is akin to predicting more traffic accidents in L.A. or more rain in London.

The conflict between Fatah and Hamas was similarly predictable. When you have divided authority in a very unstable region that is already suffering from past warfare, poverty, and disaster, you will inevitably have infighting between the competing groups represented by those divided authorities.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:53 PM

"The claim by several of the above that to be for the Human ,Civil and Democratic rights of Palestinians is to be anti semitic is a disgusting one Although it is typical of the Zionists on this thread and elsewhere."

FALSE- NO-ONE but you has made that claim. So, YOU are now a Zionist????

I will claim that to be for the Human ,Civil and Democratic rights of ISRAELIS is what YOU seem to object the most to. The deaths of innocent PALESTINIANS seems fine with you as well, as long as they are being killed by those YOU support.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:49 PM

"an ever uglier and more brutal society"

Hamas fighters overran two of the rival       Fatah movement's most important security command centers in the       Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen into the street and shot them to death execution-style.
A witness, who identified himself only as Amjad, said men were killed as their wives and children watched.

"They are executing them one by one," said Amjad, who lives in a building that overlooks the Preventive Security complex. "They are carrying one of them on their shoulders, putting him on a sand dune, turning him around and shooting," he said by telephone.

The killers ignored appeals from residents to spare the men's lives, said Amjad, who declined to give his full name, fearing reprisal.


Among those killed Wednesday was a man who joined a nonviolent protest of the fighting in Gaza City. Also shot dead were two women from the Fatah-allied Bakr clan whose members had surrendered to Hamas. According to a clan member, the women tried to leave the area after the surrender to take a sick girl to a hospital and were shot on the street by jittery Hamas gunmen.


Separately, Hamas gunmen attacked the home of a senior Fatah security official with mortars and grenades, killing his 14-year-old son and three women inside, security officials said. Other Fatah gunmen stormed the house of a Hamas lawmaker and burned it down.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: GUEST,ifor
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 02:41 PM

The claim by several of the above that to be for the Human ,Civil and Democratic rights of Palestinians is to be anti semitic is a disgusting one .Although it is typical of the Zionists on this thread and elsewhere.
As for Mossad threatening those who support a free Palestine ,well they would need a million operatives .
I also had to have a little laugh about the reference to the apaches made by one of the zionists in one of the recent postings.
Having almost wiped out the apaches the US locked up Geronimo for years and years...Geronimos Cadillac by Michael Murphy tells the story in song ...but what is amazing having almost wiped them out an attack helicopter is named the apaches.
My take on the Hamas -Fatah conflict is this...
Fatah was a basically secular organisation which after years of resistance was unable to gain anything meaningful from Israel.
It is being pushed to one side although is getting some help from the US and indeed Israel which has been asked to allow the transport of arms and fighters through checkpoints.
Hamas has become popular not because of its religious fundamentalism but because it is still prepared to resist the Israeli occupation and threat.
It seems to me that without a just settlement the conflict will go on for years with the suffering of the Palestinians intensifying and Israel becoming an ever uglier and more brutal society.
There is still a need for a Free Palestine , justice for the refugees
and an end to the siege of Gaza.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 01:27 PM

Hamas overruns rival Fatah's key posts

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer
5 minutes ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas fighters overran two of the rival       Fatah movement's most important security command centers in the       Gaza Strip on Thursday, and witnesses said the victors dragged vanquished gunmen into the street and shot them to death execution-style.

Hamas also seized control of Rafah in the south, Gaza's third-largest city, according to witnesses and security officials. It was the second main Gaza city to fall to the militants, who captured nearby Khan Younis on Wednesday.

Hamas captured the Preventive Security headquarters and the intelligence services building n Gaza City, major advances in the Islamic group's attempts to take over Gaza.

After the rout at the security headquarters, some of the Hamas fighters kneeled outside, touching their foreheads to the ground in prayer. Others led Fatah gunmen out of the building, some shirtless or in their underwear, holding their arms in the air. Several of the Fatah men flinched as the crack of gunfire split the air.

A witness, who identified himself only as Amjad, said men were killed as their wives and children watched.

"They are executing them one by one," said Amjad, who lives in a building that overlooks the Preventive Security complex. "They are carrying one of them on their shoulders, putting him on a sand dune, turning him around and shooting," he said by telephone.

The killers ignored appeals from residents to spare the men's lives, said Amjad, who declined to give his full name, fearing reprisal.

Preventive Security is an especially despised target of Hamas because the agency carried out bloody crackdowns against the Islamic group in the 1990s.

Fatah officials said Hamas shot and killed seven of its fighters outside the Preventive Security building. A doctor at Shifa Hospital said he examined two bodies that had been shot in the head at close range. The officials and the doctor spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Militants and civilians looted the compound, hauling out computers, documents, office equipment, furniture and TVs.

The moderate President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, for the first time in five days of fierce fighting, ordered his elite presidential guard to strike back. But his forces were crumbling fast under the onslaught by the better-armed and better-disciplined Islamic fighters.

In all, 14 fighters and civilians were killed and 80 wounded in the battle for the Preventive Security complex, bringing the day's death toll to 25, hospital and security officials said. About 90 people, mostly fighters but also women and children, have been killed since a spike in violence Sunday sent Gaza into civil war.

The two factions have warred sporadically since Hamas took power from Fatah last year, but never with such intensity. Hamas reluctantly brought Fatah into the coalition in March to quell an earlier round of violence, but the uneasy partnership began crumbling last month over control of the powerful security forces.

Hamas had been tightening its grip on the Preventive Security complex for three days, stepping up its assault late Wednesday with a barrage of bullets, grenades, mortar rounds and land mines that continued until the compound fell. Electricity and telephone lines were cut, and roads leading to the complex were blocked. Hamas claimed it confiscated two cars filled with arms.

The       Palestine Liberation Organization's top body recommended that Abbas declare a state of emergency and dismantle Fatah's governing coalition with Hamas. Abbas said he would review the recommendations and decide later Thursday, said an aide, Nabil Amr.

"We are telling our people that the past era has ended and will not return," Islam Shahawan, a spokesman for Hamas' militia, told Hamas radio. "The era of justice and Islamic rule have arrived."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, heralded what he called "Gaza's second liberation," after       Israel's 2005 evacuation of the coastal strip.

Israel was watching the carnage closely, concerned the clashes might spawn attacks on its southern border. Defense Minister Amir Peretz told a weekly meeting of security officials that Israel would not allow the violence to spread to attacks on southern Israel, meeting participants said.

White House press secretary Tony Snow called the situation "a source of profound concern" that is being monitored by Washington. He said Hamas has expanded its "acts of terror" to target the Palestinian people themselves.

"We are keeping a very close watch," he said. "It's certainly not a situation we like."

The       European Union said it suspended humanitarian aid projects in Gaza, citing the escalating violence there.

The head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, warned of a "disastrous outcome" if the bloody infighting continues and called for an immediate cease-fire.

Hamas, meanwhile, had its sights on two other key command centers in Gaza City.

In a broadcast on Hamas radio, the Islamic fighters demanded that Fatah surrender the National Security compound by midafternoon. Light clashes were under way there when the ultimatum was delivered.

RPGs were fired toward Abbas' Gaza compound, provoking return fire from his presidential guard. For the first time since the fighting began, Abbas ordered his guard to go on the offensive against Hamas at the compound, and not simply maintain a defensive posture, an aide said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the situation was fluid.

Hamas fighters fired dozens of RPGs at the intelligence services building in Gaza City. When they captured it, Hamas television broadcast pictures of the fighters raising the group's green Islamic flag on the roof.

In Rafah, Hamas took over the Preventive Security building, according to witnesses and Col. Nasser Khaldi, a senior police official.

"I can see the Preventive Security building in front of me. Hamas has raised its green flags over it," said a civilian resident, who identified himself only as Raed. He said men carried away equipment from inside and the Fatah-allied security men ran away.

Near Rafah, Hamas officials said an Israeli tank shell struck a group of children from the same family riding in a car, and hospital workers said five were killed. The Israeli army denied its forces fired in the area.

Gaza hospitals were operating without water, electricity and blood.

Even holed up inside their homes, Gazans weren't able to escape the fighting. Moean Hammad, 34, said life had become a nightmare at his high-rise building near the Preventive Security headquarters, where Fatah forces on the rooftop were battling Hamas fighters.

"We spent our night in the hallway outside the apartment because the building came under crossfire," Hammad said. "We haven't had electricity for two days, and all we can hear is shooting and powerful, earthshaking explosions.

"The world is watching us dying and doing nothing to help. God help us, we feel like we are in a real-life horror movie," he said.

Fatah has threatened to carry the fighting to the       West Bank, where Hamas is weak. There have been sporadic battles in the West Bank this week, and on Thursday, Fatah went across the territory rounding up Hamas fighters in an effort to assert control.

The violence has exposed the depths of the disarray in Fatah's ranks since Hamas ended Fatah's 40-year dominion of Palestinian politics last year.

Fatah has asked Israeli permission to bring in more arms and armored vehicles, but Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Israeli parliament's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, told Army Radio that arming Fatah would be "insane" because the weapons would fall into Hamas hands.

He said Israel was considering backing Fatah forces in the West Bank, but did not elaborate.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Peace
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 04:54 PM

"And where the f#ck are Al and Ifor?"

I'll answer my own question: There are no Jews to bash, so they are gone from the thread.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Peace
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 03:11 PM

"Israel has not escaped the violence either, with Palestinian militants launching rockets early Wednesday into the country; one slammed into an Israeli primary school but caused no casualties, according to an Israeli military source."

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Peace
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 03:07 PM

'Also in recent days: Fatah and Hamas supporters have been tossed to their deaths from high-rise buildings; three family members were fatally shot -- one at close range -- while receiving treatment in a Beit Hanoun hospital; and Palestinian militants have been accused of disguising themselves as journalists to launch attacks.

Such instances prompted Human Rights Watch to issue a statement Wednesday accusing militants of "serious violations of international humanitarian law, in some cases amounting to war crimes."'

Gee. It must have hurt them terribly--HGuman Rights Watch--to suggest that Palestinians might be guilty of that. Usually it's the Israelis they mention. And what has Amnesty had to say? And where the f#ck are Al and Ifor?

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 03:02 PM

Explosion kills lawmaker in Beirut

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 59 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - An explosion rocked Beirut's popular sea-front area Wednesday, killing at least 10 people, including a vocal, anti-Syrian lawmaker who was close to slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, security officials said.

The explosion, apparently from a bomb-rigged car, killed Walid Eido, his son and two bodyguards, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Six others were also killed and at least 11 were wounded, the officials said.

Eido, 65, was an ally of Saad Hariri, the leader of the parliamentary majority and son of Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2005, in a suicide truck bombing in Beirut. Eido is the seventh opponent of Damascus to be killed in two years in this conflict-ridden country.

The explosion occurred less than a mile from the site of blast that killed Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

A car was in flames and black smoke was seen rising from a narrow street off the main waterfront in Manara, which is in the Muslim sector of the capital. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. TV station said the explosion came from a bomb-rigged car, a method that has been used to assassinate opponents of       Syria in the past.

Two bodies covered with plastic bags lay in a smoldering car. The explosion shattered apartment windows, knocked down walls and scattered debris on top of parked cars in the area, which is near an amusement park, a military club and popular beaches.

The       U.N. Security Council has ordered the creation of a tribunal to prosecute those responsible for Hariri's assassination, despite virulent opposition from Syrian-backed groups in Lebanon.

Hariri's killing sparked huge protests against Syria, which was widely seen as culpable. Syria denied involvement but was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, ending a 29-year presence.

The issue of the tribunal has sharply polarized the country. It is at the core of a deep political crisis between the U.S.-backed government led by Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and the Syrian-backed opposition led by Hezbollah. The tensions have taken a more sectarian tone in recent months, with 11 people killed in clashes.

In Washington, a spokesman for       President Bush's National Security Council said the U.S. "deplores this latest attack in Beirut" that killed Eido and his son.

"We stand with the people of Lebanon and Prime Minister Saniora's government as they battle extremists who are trying to derail Lebanon's march to peace, prosperity and a lasting democracy," Gordon Johndroe said.

Eido, who was known to frequent Manara in the afternoon to play cards with friends, was a vocal opponent of recent Hezbollah-led protests and sit-ins outside Saniora's office aimed at forcing him to step down. He has called the encampment in downtown Beirut an "occupation."

Eido also was among the 70 legislators from the pro-Western majority that petitioned the       United Nations along with the government to impose the Hariri tribunal.

Six other explosions have hit Beirut and its suburbs in the past three weeks, killing at least two people, as Lebanese troops battle Islamic militants in a Palestinian refugee camp in the northern part of the country.

The Lebanese army clashed with       Fatah Islam militants in the Nahr el-Bared camp again Wednesday, and confirmed that a soldier had been killed the day before, bringing the number of troops killed since the fighting began to 61.

At least 60 Fatah Islam militants and 20 civilians have also died.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the military Wednesday for allegedly detaining and physically assaulting some Palestinian men fleeing the fighting at the besieged camp.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch, said that while the Lebanese troops may question Palestinians leaving Nahr el-Bared about the Fatah Islam militants, "resorting to physical abuse is clearly against Lebanese law and international human rights standards."

Lebanese officials and the military did not immediately comment the allegations.

Most of the camp's 31,000 residents have fled since the violence broke out on May 20. But the International Committee of the Red Cross said that between 3,000 and 6,000 civilians remain behind.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 03:00 PM

Hamas pounds main Fatah security posts

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer
36 minutes ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas pounded Gaza City's three main security compounds and President Mahmoud Abbas' headquarters with mortars, grenades and assault rifles Wednesday, calling on beleaguered       Fatah forces to surrender in an apparent attempt to take control of the entire       Gaza Strip.

In one dramatic victory, hundreds of members of a Fatah-allied clan that had fought fiercely surrendered to masked Hamas gunmen. They were led — arms raised in the air — to a nearby mosque.

Fatah fighters desperately tried to cling to their positions, but appeared outgunned by Hamas. One of the battles raged around the headquarters of the Fatah-allied Preventive Security, with both sides firing wildly from high-rise rooftops.

Violence between the factions, which nominally share power in the Palestinian government, has rapidly spiraled toward all-out civil war.

Dr. Wael Abdel Jawad, a physician trapped in his apartment in the line of fire, said he heard Fatah fighters shouting at colleagues on an adjacent roof to send them more ammunition.

"All of us are terrified here. Shooting came through the windows of our apartment, children are screaming. We are hearing from a nearby mosque the call by Hamas to surrender," he said.

Fatah's leader, Abbas, who is in the       West Bank, called the fighting "madness," but his appeals for a cease-fire rang increasingly hollow as Hamas gunmen took over or destroyed one base or another of his security forces. Later, his office and residential compound in Gaza came under attack, with Hamas fighters firing at Fatah forces guarding an access road.

Hamas has ignored calls for a cease-fire, and its hard-liners said the offensive would continue.

The State Department denounced the violence as a direct attack by the most radical elements of Hamas on legitimate Palestinian authorities. Spokesman Sean McCormack said Washington had no indication that       Israel might intervene to try to stop the infighting.

Hamas moved systematically throughout the day, taking control of key Fatah positions. Fatah commanders complained they were not given clear orders by Abbas to fight back and that they had no central command. Fatah's strongman in Gaza, Mohammed Dahlan, has spent the last few weeks in Cairo for treatment of a knee injury.

At least 15 people were killed Wednesday, bringing the death toll in the four-day campaign to more than 50.

Among those killed Wednesday was a man who joined a nonviolent protest of the fighting in Gaza City. Also shot dead were two women from the Fatah-allied Bakr clan whose members had surrendered to Hamas. According to a clan member, the women tried to leave the area after the surrender to take a sick girl to a hospital and were shot on the street by jittery Hamas gunmen.

Hamas attacked the three main compounds of Fatah-allied forces in Gaza City — the headquarters of the Preventive Security, the Intelligence Service and the National Forces — in what could usher in the final phase of the battle.

The fighters, firing rockets and mortar shells, took over the rooftops in nearby houses and cut off the roads to prevent Fatah reinforcements from arriving.

Hamas gunmen in high-rise buildings also fired at Abbas' Gaza office and house and his guard force returned fire. Abbas was in the West Bank at the time.

Earlier, Hamas militants surrounded a security headquarters in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis and ordered everyone inside to leave or they would blow the building up, witnesses said. The building was then destroyed by a bomb planted in a tunnel beneath it, said Ali Qaisi, a presidential guard spokesman.

Security forces later said they lost control of the town.

"Khan Younis is finished, but we are still holding on in Rafah," said Ziad Sarafandi, a senior security official, referring to a town south of Khan Younis. But soon after, Hamas militants blew up a second security building near Rafah after a long gunbattle, said Col. Nasser Khaldi, a senior police official.

"Hamas surrounded the building, they had come from Khan Younis to Rafah, they are working by plan," he said.

The Popular Resistance Committees, a militant group allied with Hamas, said it had taken control of Gaza's border with Egypt to prevent arms smuggling and to ensure that Gaze residents did not flee over the border.

Shops in Gaza City were closed, and streets were mostly empty as terrified residents huddled in homes. The U.N. Relief and Works Agency said it couldn't distribute food to the 30 percent of the Gaza Strip that relies on international aid.

The agency's Gaza director, John Ging, said the agency would curtail its operations after two of its Palestinian workers were killed by crossfire, but insisted, "We are scaling back, we are not pulling back."

Hamas and Fatah have waged a sporadic power struggle since Hamas won parliament elections last year, ending four decades of Fatah rule. But the battles have worsened as Hamas waged a systematic assault on security forces to take over Gaza.

Fighting between the two factions, which nominally share power in the Palestinian government, spilled into the Fatah-dominated West Bank. Militants exchanged fire in the city of Nablus and a nearby refugee camp, after Fatah gunmen tried to storm a pro-Hamas TV production company. Hamas said 12 people of its fighters were wounded.

Abbas appealed by phone to Hamas' exiled leader in       Syria, Khaled Mashaal, to end the violence.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, said the clashes could have been avoided if Abbas had given the Hamas-led Cabinet control over the security forces, which he blamed for a wave of kidnappings, torture and violence in Gaza.

"The president bears complete responsibility for the current crisis," he said.

The mounting bloodshed touched off protests in two main Gaza towns.

Several hundred tribal leaders, women, children and Islamic Jihad militants turned out in Gaza City for a protest initiated by Egyptian mediators. Some demonstrators scattered after masked Hamas gunmen fired in the air, but others pushed on, carrying Palestinian flags and shouting, "Do not shoot" and "national unity" over a loudspeaker.

Witnesses said Hamas gunmen shot at the protesters as they approached the home of Fatah loyalists, trapping them.

Protester Bilal Qurashali said he saw a man shot in the head. "We are unable to get out. The place is closed," he said.

Health officials said one protester was killed and 14 others were injured by bullets and brought to the hospital in civilian cars because ambulances couldn't navigate the heavy fire.

Separately, Hamas gunmen opened fire from a high-rise building at about 1,000 protesters in Khan Younis, injuring one and breaking up the protest.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: Teribus
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 04:11 AM

How ordinary "Palestinians" must despair. For all the high blown rhetoric and empty promises of Syria and Iran and their own leaders, whether they be tribal, religious or elected. When on earth are they going to actually get a leadership that will put the best interests of the people before all else.

The path of the posturing Jihadists and Fedahyeen follows a well beaten path:
1) Empty public displays of over excited Edjits chanting at the tops of their voices like morons and emptying their AK47's magazine after magazine into the air (Where the hell do all those bullets go??).

2) Empty promises of action against the ........... (fill in whatever, foreign invader/infidel/zionist).

3) After rather ineffectual attempts at step 2 in which they come off decidedly second best. They then turn against their own (It's happened time, after time, after time).

When are the "Palestinian" people going to realise that these clowns are taking them nowhere.

Some suggestions for future reference for any refugee camp set up in the area:

1) Should be under strict UN control (No "No-Go Areas" allowed within the camp).

2) Laws of the host country should apply within the camp.

3) Absolutely no arms permitted.

4) Political activity restricted to matters relating to interface between those running the camp and those living in it.

5) Commitment to integrate refugees into the society of the host nation.

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Subject: RE: BS: Another war in the Middle East?
From: beardedbruce
Date: 12 Jun 07 - 03:56 PM

Hamas captures Fatah security HQ in Gaza

By DIAA HADID, Associated Press Writer
2 hours, 3 minutes ago

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Hamas gunmen captured the headquarters of the       Fatah-allied security forces in northern Gaza, seizing control of a key prize in the bloody power struggle between the sides, Hamas and Fatah officials said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah said Tuesday's fighting amounted to a coup attempt by the Islamic militants.

Hamas attacked the compound with mortars and automatic gunfire, and after several hours of battle, seized control, said Hamas commander Wael al-Shakra. A Fatah security official confirmed the building had been lost. He said at least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded.

Security commanders loyal to Abbas complained they were not given clear orders to fight back at a time when Hamas appeared to be moving forward according to a plan.

Abbas' Fatah movement was to meet later in the day to decide whether to pull out of his shaky coalition with Hamas. Calls by Abbas and exasperated Egyptian mediators for a cease-fire went unheeded.

Instead, Hamas and Fatah militants threatened to kill each other's leaders. In Gaza, a rocket-propelled grenade damaged the home of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas but caused no injuries in what Hamas said was an attempted assassination. In the       West Bank, Fatah gunmen kidnapped a deputy Cabinet minister from Hamas.

Hamas gunmen also exchanged fire with Fatah forces at the southern security headquarters in the southern town of Khan Younis, but had not yet launched a major assault. The town's streets were empty as people huddled indoors.

Col. Nasser Khaldi, a Fatah commander in southern Gaza, confirmed his men were on the defensive. Khaldi said Abbas, the leader of Fatah, must give orders now to fight back.

"There is a weakness of our leaders," he said. "Hamas is just taking over our positions. There are no orders."

Pro-Fatah forces attacked the Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV and radio stations in Gaza City after security officials said they received orders to stop the broadcasts. Shortly after the attack, they started broadcasting pro-Fatah songs, a sign the security forces had taken control.

Hamas and Fatah have been locked in a violent power struggle since Hamas defeated Fatah in January 2006 legislative elections, ending four decades of Fatah rule.

The sides agreed to share power in an uneasy coalition three months ago, but put off key disputes, including control of the security forces. Most are dominated by Fatah loyalists, while Hamas has formed its own militia, in addition to the thousands of gunmen at its command.

The infighting has grown increasingly brutal. Some of those killed were shot execution-style or hit in shootouts that turned hospitals into battle grounds, while others were thrown from rooftops. Residents huddled indoors, and university exams were canceled.

The head of the Egyptian mediation team, Lt. Col. Burhan Hamad, said neither side responded to his call to hold truce talks. "It seems they don't want to come. We must make them ashamed of themselves. They have killed all hope. They have killed the future," said Hamad, who brokered several previous short-lived cease-fires.

Hamad said both sides were about equal in firepower. "Neither can have a decisive victory," he said. "To be decisive, they need weapons that neither side has."

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