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Israel Considering Military Response in Gaza

Despite Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire between Israel and gunmen in Gaza, rocket fire on southern Israel continued for a fourth day, although at a much lower level. Israeli officials said the Israeli army hit a weapons storage facility and two rocket launching sites. Several rockets were fired from Gaza overnight, and one on Tuesday morning. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said a total of 115 rockets were fired into Israel over the past four days, lightly wounding eight Israelis and causing property damage.“The matter has definitely not ended and we will decide how and when to act at the time when there will be a need,” Barak said. “I do not want to talk about the time or the means because it would not be right to allow the other side to have this information.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has convened a meeting of his nine senior ministers today to decide what further action to take. The latest round of fighting began on Saturday when an anti-tank missile hit an Israeli jeep on the Israeli side of the border, wounding four soldiers. In the ensuing Israeli airstrikes, at least six Palestinians, four of them civilians, were killed and at least 40 wounded.

Syrian Jet Bombs Town Near Turkish Border

Witnesses said a Syrian warplane bombed the town of Ras al-Ain for the second day, causing residents on the Turkish side of the border to run for cover. The Syrian town fell to the rebels last week, causing some 9,000 Syrians to flee the fighting to Turkey. There are currently more than 120,000 registered refugees living in Turkish camps, and tens of thousands of others are staying in private homes. Syria is trying to regain control of the town, which is separated from Syria only by a barbed wire fence. Turkey has repeatedly fired into Syria after stray gunfire and mortar rounds landed inside Turkey.

 

Syria’s Opposition Seeks Support

The new Syrian opposition leader, Mouaz Al-Khatib, a former imam of a Damascus mosque, flew to Cairo to meet with officials of the Arab League and ask for recognition of the newly created Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces. “We demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawi, Ismaili, Christian, Druze, Assyrian … and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people,” he said. He also called on Syrian soldiers to desert the army. The Arab League described the new coalition as “a legitimate representative and a primary negotiator,” but did not call it the authority in Syria. The lack of coordination between rebel groups in Syria until now has been one of the reasons for the lack of international support. At least 38,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed during the 20-month conflict.

Israel Scores “Direct Hits” on Syrian Artillery

After stray mortars from Syria hit the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, Israel fired back at Syrian artillery. “We will not allow our borders to be breached or our citizens fired at,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on both Israel and Syria to stop firing. The Israeli-Syrian border has been one of the quietest for almost four decades, and Israeli officials made it clear they were not interested in a conflict with Syria. But they are concerned the fighting could spill over into Israel.

Arab News Bites

The Media Line presents Arab News Bites:

A daily summary of articles appearing throughout the Middle East

Compiled by Amir Khalil, The Media Line

Gulf States Back New Syrian Coalition

Al Hayat daily, London, Nov 13 2012

 

The Gulf Cooperation Council recognized on Monday the new “National Coalition of Forces of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition” formed in Doha as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The Cooperation Council hoped that Arab and foreign states will recognize and support this new body, Abdulatif al-Zayani, the council’s secretary general, said in a statement. Syrian opposition groups signed a deal in Doha on Sunday to form a broad coalition to oust President Bashar Assad.

 

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al-Arabi met with the Qatari and Tunisian foreign ministers, the new coalition head Ahmed Muaz Al-Khatib and Syrian National Council head George Sabra to discuss appointing Al-Khatib to Syria’s empty chair at Arab League meetings.

Sudan Rules Out War With South Sudan

Al Masry Al Youm, Cairo, Nov 13, 2012

 

Sudan’s Culture and Information Minister Ahmed Bilal Osman has ruled out the possibility of going back to war with the Republic of South Sudan, stressing the importance of reaching a peaceful solution based on the signed agreement with the newly-established state.

Osman said the negotiations with South Sudan will not collapse, adding that the Sudanese government trusts the African mediator.

Sudan and South Sudan have signed an agreement to end the disputes between them on issues of borders, oil revenues and the Abyei area after South Sudan declared its independence. In an interview with the Sudan News Agency, the culture and information minister said that the Israeli attack on Sudan targeted the country’s resources, adding that the next war will be a war for water. Sudan has accused Israel of firing missiles on a factory in Al-Khartoum. Israel remains silent regarding these accusations.

Israel Threatens to Launch Wide Military Operation in Gaza

Al-Ayyam daily, Ramallah, Nov 13 2012

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will not accept the ongoing missile attacks from Gaza and will stop them. During a meeting with foreign ambassadors in the Ashkelon area, Netanyahu said that Israel has the right and the duty to defend its people, adding that a million Israelis have to take to shelters within 15 seconds to escape rockets fired by Palestinians. Netanyahu reportedly told the ambassadors, “I don’t know if your governments are ready to accept this reality, but I am not willing to accept it.” An Israeli army official announced that at least 12 rockets had fallen on Israel on Monday, and that the air strikes carried out Sunday night hit artillery storage facilities and an artillery position. Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced that Israel is closer than ever to launching a wide military operation in Gaza to stop the Palestinian missile attacks.

Abu Qatada Released On Bail

Al Quds Al Arabi daily, London, Nov 13 2012

 

Sky News Network said that the British authorities will release the Palestinian-Jordanian clergyman Omar Othman, known as Abu Qatada, on Tuesday on bail after he appealed a decision to hand him to Jordan, where he faces terrorism charges. The Immigration Appeals Court in London decided that Abu Qatada, described by a British judge as the right hand of late Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden, should not be sent to Jordan for trial. Sky News said that the release of Abu Qatada was due to the failure of the attorneys representing the British home secretary to keep him under arrest. The Home Office announced its strong opposition to the decision, having already acquired guarantees from Jordan regarding how to treat Abu Qatada and the legal procedures that will be followed during his trial.

Egypt to Investigate Tantawi Over Court Budget

Al Dostour daily, Amman, Nov 13 2012

Egypt’s Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud has ordered a probe over court spending brought against Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Military Council that ruled Egypt after the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak, until five months ago. A former member of parliament, Mohamed Al Omda, brought the case, saying that there was an increase of at least $4.09 million in the court’s 2012-2013 budget over the previous year, Al Ahram newspaper reported. Al Omda said the budget for 2012-2013 contained unexplained rises in salaries, benefits and other allocations to the Supreme Constitutional Court, and that the 2011-2012 budget was also significantly higher than the previous fiscal year. “The budget of the Supreme Constitutional Court for fiscal year 2012-13 shows unjustified increases in remuneration and other expenses; the budget for 2011-2012 was also significantly higher than the previous year,” Al Omda said.

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