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The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has entered a new and dangerous stage. Israeli troops have entered the Palestinian territories to capture and take away Palestinian Government ministers and members of Parliament.Palestinian sources say 10 members of the Hamas Government were taken away, including the Deputy Prime Minister. The Hamas Government has called the move by Israel a declaration of "open war".Read here for more
Israeli forces have rounded up dozens of Palestinian Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from Hamas. Hamas officials said more than 30 Palestinian lawmakers have been arrested in the West Bank by Israeli forces. Palestinian security officials said Israeli forces detained Nasser Shaer, the Palestinian deputy prime minister, and three other Cabinet ministers, as well as four lawmakers in Ram Allah. Several others were arrested in the town of Jenin, they said. Read here for more
Israel is said to hold about 8,000 Palestinians in its prisons. If Israel does not negotiate, the militants will take it as a message "that they should capture more soldiers so that the Israelis will speak to them ... the message for the resistance is to kill soldiers, even if they have the opportunity to capture them," Hamdan said. Read here for more
ISRAEL last night threatened to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh if Hamas militants did not release a captured Israeli soldier unharmed. The unprecedented warning was delivered to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter as Israel debated a deal offered by Hamas to free Corporal Gilad Shalit. It came as Israeli military officials readied a second invasion force for a huge offensive into Gaza. Hamas’s Gaza-based political leaders, including Mr Haniyeh, had already gone into hiding. But last night’s direct threat to kill Mr Haniyeh, a democratically elected head of state, sharply raised the stakes. Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said Tuesday that Palestinian prime minister-designate Isma'eel Haneya could be a target for assassination if his radical Islamic Hamas movement resumed suicide bombings in Israel. Hamas, which won an absolute majority in the January 25 elections in the Palestinian territories and is in the process of forming a government, slammed the threats by Mofaz against Haneya as 'clear and formal terrorism'. " Israel's threats won't scare us and we completely reject its blackmail policy and will never surrender to it,' Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters in Gaza City. Read here for more
The U.S. State Department has asked Israel to provide a detailed explanation of the recent "liquidation" of Palestinians in the territories. As part of its annual survey of human rights violations, the State Department has submitted a list of names of Palestinians along with the dates they were killed and asked for information on how these people were killed. The request was received by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and has been transfered to the Justice Ministry and Defense officials for a response. Israeli officials are concerned the State Department report on human rights violations will severely criticize Israel for the assassinations. Read here for more
In an impassioned sermon at a Gaza mosque, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya accused Israel of a "premeditated plan" to destroy the Hamas-led Palestinian government. He also tacitly admitted that his government does not have the power to free Shalit as long as Israel is threatening further military action."We read what is happening in terms of aggression on our people, and that it is going beyond the abducted soldier," Haniya said. "This comprehensive aggression shows there is a premeditated plan against the people and the legitimate government and the elected" Palestinian Legislative Council.Haniya said the Israeli military operation was complicating his government's attempts to free Shalit. "We have contacts to end the crisis in the right way, but the escalation complicates matters," said Haniya. "We demand the end of the aggression on the Palestinian people so matters won't worsen, and [Israel] should stop attacking the Palestinian political system and democracy."Read here for more
U.S. stands alone in defending Israel: Critics say U.S. has not paid enough attention to Israel-Lebanon relations. In Germany on Thursday, President Bush strongly supported Israel's right to defend itself, blaming Syria for harboring terror groups active in both Lebanon and Gaza. His strong support of Israel put him sharply at odds with European Union allies two days before a summit of world leaders in Russia, where the United States is counting on a united stand against Iran's nuclear ambitions and North Korea's long-range missile test. The violence also presents Bush with yet another major crisis in the Middle East, along with the Iraq war and the Iran standoff. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blamed Iran as well, but Thursday night cautioned Israel not to go too far. Read here for more
For 24 hours Israel has bombed Lebanon in a staggering show of force unseen across the border for at least 10 years, evoking memories of the long and bloody occupation of its northern neighbour.
"War", screamed the front-page headline in Israel's best-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper. "Declaration of War", shrieked its rival, Maariv.
Israel's furious assault on Lebanon, which saw Beirut's international airport bombed and more than three dozen civilians killed, came after two soldiers were snatched by Hezbollah guerrillas on Wednesday and another eight killed.
The attacks in Lebanon come a week after Israeli troops have been locked in crossfire with Palestinian militants in Gaza, in an operation to rescue Corporal Gilad Shalit, the first Israeli soldier to be kidnapped on June 25. Since then, Israel has pounded Gaza, threatened Syria — where the kidnap masterminds are said to be based — and now trained its guns on Lebanon.
Israel also clamped a sea blockade along the Lebanese coast yesterday, with its warships entering Lebanese waters. The army said the aim was to prevent the transfer of militants and the transportation of weapons to Hezbollah.
More than 56 people were also injured in the attacks.
The violence is the worst since Israel launched its Grapes of Wrath operation against Lebanon — which saw around 160 killed — in 1996, and it comes six years after it pulled out Israel troops from the south of the country in May 2001.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government gave the green light to "harsh and aggressive" military action in Lebanon at a late-night emergency meeting. The aim was to force Hezbollah to withdraw from the Israel-Lebanon border and push it deeper into Lebanon, the reports said.
"The Lebanese government is responsible. Lebanon will pay the price," Mr Olmert was quoted as saying, branding the militia attack nothing less than "an act of war".
Hezbollah yesterday retaliated by firing more than 60 rockets, including Katyushas and other types with longer ranges, which hit up to 25km into northern Israel.
An Israeli woman was killed in the coastal town of Nahariya as she was having breakfast on her balcony and at least 28 other people were injured as people were ordered into bomb shelters along the entire border.
Civilians caught in the cross fire ducked into bomb-shelters for safety.
"It was terrible ... We haven't seen anything like this for six years, since (Israel's) withdrawal from southern Lebanon," says Yair Baumen, who lives in a kibbutz just outside Nahariya. "I have no doubt we're going to war."
A senior army officer called the Israeli aerial offensive in Lebanon the widest since the 1982 Israel-Lebanon war.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah demanded a prisoner swap through indirect negotiations in return for the two soldiers, who were snatched by his fighters as they patrolled along the border Wednesday morning.
But the Israelis ruled out discussions, and vowed to go on the offensive to get the soliders back.
Eyewitnesses said that they saw several missiles hitting the airport's runway. Airport officials said the raid led to the closure of the airport. Four large craters could be seen on the tarmac.
The attacks drew the ire of the international community, with many — including Malaysia — slamming Israel's use of force.
Malaysia, the current chair of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), does not have diplomatic ties with the Jewish state.