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Poles to Rename Auschwitz
Israel News Faxx Services

The site of the Auschwitz death camp is to be renamed. Poland's Culture Ministry said Wednesday that, in line with a United Nations decision, the most notorious site of World War II's Jewish genocide would be changed to stress Nazi responsibility. Auschwitz Concentration Camp, a U.N. heritage site, will be renamed the Former Nazi German Concentration Camp of Auschwitz, the ministry said in a statement. Poland had lobbied the UN for the name change in hope of distancing Polish citizens from the masterminds of the Holocaust.

Hizbullah Leader Demands Massive Prisoner Exchange for Captured Israeli Troops

By VOA News, Israel National News & Ha'aretz

An eighth IDF soldier died of his wounds Wednesday night in the wake of a massive attack by Hizbullah terrorists on civilians and soldiers at the northern border with Lebanon.

The soldier, 19-year-old Sergeant Nimrod Cohen of Mitzpeh Shalem, tried to pull his buddies out of a burning tank. Cohen belonged to the Nahal Brigade.

IDF tanks and ground troops entered Lebanon after two IDF soldiers were captured and eight killed in an attack on Israel's northern border Wednesday. The army and air force called up reserves. The reserves were called up to participate in air strikes on terrorist targets in Lebanon.

Late Wednesday morning a full IDF division received "Order 8s" - immediate emergency call-up orders for reservists. By Wednesday evening IAF reservists were also called to active duty.

The counter-attack came in the wake of a massive multi-pronged assault in which the Hizbullah terror group launched a series of attacks on Israeli military positions and northern towns Wednesday morning. Katyusha rockets slammed into northern Israel, threatening communities along the border, while heavy artillery shelled targets in Israel as well.

An Israeli tank drove over a landmine, killing four soldiers instantly, with a fifth, Nimrod Cohen, later dying of his wounds after trying to pull his buddies out of the burning tank.

In addition, three soldiers were killed when their armored jeep was attacked. Two more soldiers in the same jeep, also wounded, were taken captive by the terrorists and transported to a remote location. Their whereabouts and condition remain unknown at this time.

Channel 10 reported Hizbullah has demanded the release of 9,000 imprisoned terrorists, forming a united front with the kidnappers of Cpl. Gilad Shalit in their demands. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded that Israel holds the Lebanese government fully accountable for the attacks and welfare of the soldiers.

The Israel Air Force planes bombed bridges leading northward from Lebanon's southern border in order to prevent the movement of the kidnappers. Meanwhile IAF helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles combed the air above Lebanon searching for the captured soldiers as well.

Israeli bombers were spotted early Wednesday afternoon flying over the Lebanese capital of Beirut. Massive shelling by IDF artillery on both land and sea was reported – striking at least 17 targets across southern Lebanon, including a bridge. Two Lebanese civilians and one Lebanese soldier were killed in the attack. IAF aircraft later struck a terrorist base reportedly linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine near the city of Sidon.

Residents in the northern communities of Nahariya and Kiryat Shemona were ordered by the IDF into shelters and "secure rooms" for the night. Throughout the evening, IDF ground forces continued to search the area in an effort to gather the remains of their comrades.

Defense officials sought approval for a much wider offensive which was discussed at Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's emergency Security Cabinet session Wednesday evening. The full cabinet met shortly after, and Olmert was set to meet with Knesset opposition leader, Likud party Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu. Sources in the IDF Chief of Staff's office quoted Chief of Staff Dan Halutz as calling for Lebanon's infrastructure to be reverted back 50 years. Olmert called the attack "an act of war" by a sovereign nation.

This is the first time the IDF has launched a large-scale re-entry into Lebanon since then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak initiated a unilateral IDF retreat from the region in May, 2000. Since then, Hizbullah has kidnapped three IDF soldiers, launched several cross-border attacks and fired missiles at northern Israeli towns. The group has thousands of missile batteries deployed all along the border facing Israel.

The leader of the Lebanon-based Hizbullah said Israel would not be able to free two captured Israeli soldiers through military action, only through a prisoner exchange. Hassan Nasrallah told reporters in Beirut the captured Israeli soldiers are being held in a secure place, far away from the border region where they were nabbed. He warned that Israel will not get them back by using force.

"In any case, any military operation will not lead to the recovering of those captives," he said. "The only possible way is through indirect negotiations and then an exchange," adding that Israel must agree to release 9,000 prisoners it is holding.

Nasrallah said the Israelis would meet fierce resistance, cautioning the new Israeli cabinet members that they should talk to their predecessors about the dangers of military action in Lebanon. But he denied that Hizbullah was trying to provoke a war. "We do not want escalation in the south. That is not our intention. We do not want to lead Lebanon into war. We do not want to lead the region into war." But he also said that his group, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, would jump at the chance to capture more Israeli troops.

In Jerusalem, Olmert called the abduction "an act of war" and rejected negotiation. He said he holds the Lebanese government responsible for the soldiers' safety. The prime minister promised the Israeli response would be restrained but "very painful."

The Hizbullah chief tacitly acknowledged that some Lebanese factions would not approve of the group's actions, and he made several pointed comments calling for solidarity and cooperation. He called on the Lebanese government to act with what he called "patriotic responsibility."

The Lebanese government has denied any involvement in the abduction of the two Israeli soldiers and called for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss what it calls Israel's "aggressive" response.

The United States Wednesday demanded the immediate release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Lebanese Hizbullah terrorists, and said it holds Iran and Syria responsible for the new outburst of Middle East violence. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has telephoned leaders in the region to try to ease the crisis.

State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, as did a White House colleague, cited the past history of support for Hizbullah by Syria and Iran, and said it is time that the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora faced up to the challenge to the country's sovereignty posed by Hizbullah.

At the United Nations, Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman submitted a formal complaint to Secretary-General Annan describing the kidnapping of the two Israelis as an act of war.

He told reporters Israel sees the Lebanese government as the responsible party, given its unmet obligation under Security Council resolution 1559 to take control of the border and prevent such attacks. But the Israeli envoy said Hizbullah's foreign sponsors are also to blame:

"One cannot disregard the blood-stained fingerprints and the twisted minds of Iran and Syria, who are the main perpetrators, harborers, financiers and initiators of terror in this world," said Gillerman. "And what we've seen today is another escalation in the activity of the axis of terror, of Iran, Syria, and the Hizbullah which is threatening not only the stability on the northern border, not only Israel, but the whole region and the world."

In Damascus, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa denied his country had a role in either the Lebanon or Gaza abductions and blamed Israel for the attacks. Sharaa said Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories provokes the Lebanese and Palestinian people and that is why he said there are resistance groups among both populations.

Al-Hayat: This is How Cpl. Shalit is Being Held

By Ha'aretz

An Arabic newspaper published in London claims to reveal details of the conditions under which kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit is being held by Palestinian Authority terrorists in Gaza.

According to a report published in the Wednesday edition of the Saudi-backed, London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, the Israeli soldier is being held in isolation, somewhere underground, in the Gaza region. Even those gunmen assigned to guard Shalit have no contact with the outside, except in emergency situations, the newspaper said, adding that even that contact is carried out without the use of telephones or electronic communication.

The Al-Hayat report described the location of the kidnapped soldier as completely isolated. His captors are without cellular phones and their movements are well concealed from outside eyes. Among those who have contact with Shalit, according to the London newspaper, is a medical professional, who is treating the soldier for injuries suffered at the time of his capture.

Shalit was taken captive on June 25th, when Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees attackers tunneled under a Gaza perimeter fence and struck an IDF military base in Kerem Shalom. Two soldiers were killed in the attack.

Sometime within eight days after his capture, a member of an Egyptian security delegation to the Palestinian Authority visited Shalit. A PA doctor was also reported to have treated him. Other reports of observers having seen the abducted soldier turned out to be false.

According to unidentified sources quoted by Al-Hayat, the visit by the Egyptian official was an Israeli condition for opening negotiations with Hamas over Shalit's release. However, the Israeli government has repeatedly stated publicly that it would not negotiate with terrorists, saying that such a course would invite more kidnappings in the future.

In his first public appearance since the Israeli soldier was taken captive in Gaza, Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said, "Our goals and our morals command us to keep the soldier alive." He called Shalit "a prisoner of war" and said that "international conventions and laws should be applied to his case." Mashaal praised the attack that led to the capture of the IDF soldier as "a heroic operation," which united Palestinian Authority Arabs "in a way that they had not been in the past."

Mashaal also declared, "Our people are united on the insistence to swap the captured soldier with prisoners in the jails of the Zionist enemy. It's impossible to release the soldier without getting something in return. This would be humiliating for the Palestinians."

IAF Planes Level PA Foreign Ministry in Gaza City

By Ha'aretz

A bomb dropped by an Israel Air Force plane destroyed the Palestinian Foreign Ministry building in Gaza City early Thursday, witnesses said.

The bomb collapsed the building and caused widespread destruction in the area. The Palestinian foreign minister is Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. At least three people were injured in the strike, which took place after 1:30 a.m. local time (6:30 p.m. EDT). Houses in the area were badly damaged by the force of the blast, and the third and fourth floors of the foreign ministry building were destroyed. A mother, her five children, a senior Hamas official and 11 armed terrorists were among the dead.

Since early Wednesday morning, 23 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since as the IDF expanded its operation in Gaza, entering the central Strip for the first time since it began its offensive there two weeks ago.

The IAF struck at the home of a Hamas activist in Gaza City before dawn Wednesday, killing seven people and wounding top Hamas commander Mohammed Deif, Palestinians said.

The seven dead were all members of the same family - two parents, including senior Gaza Hamas figure Dr. Nabil al-Salmiah, and their five children - Palestinian hospital officials said. Rescuers said four other people were still missing and at least 24 people were wounded.

"We know he [Deif] was injured, but not to what degree," said an IDF spokeswoman, without giving details as to the source of the information. "He was in the building," she said. Despite a denial from a spokesman for Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing, Palestinian sources confirmed Deif was moderately wounded.

The Shin Bet security service has been trying to nab Deif for more than 10 years. Following Israel's assassination of Hamas military wing chief Salah Shehadah in 2002, Deif has been considered to head both the Hamas military wing and Israel's most wanted list. Deif's involvement in a number of terror attacks, dating back to suicide bus bombings in 1995 and 1996 made him a well-known figure in Israel.

Deif, 36, was born in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He was active in the first Intifada and was jailed briefly in Israel, where he met Fatah activist Mohammed Dahlan. The two kept in touch even after Dahlan was appointed as head of preventive security in Gaza.

Deif managed to avoid arrest during most of the period when the Palestinian security establishment was pursuing and arresting Hamas activists from 1996-2000. Some attribute this to his connections with Dahlan. There were even rumors that he had escaped to Egypt. Deif was detained briefly in 2001.

Meanwhile, six other Palestinians were killed in separate incidents in Gaza on Wednesday, as the IDF troops moved into central Gaza just after midnight.

Three terrorists were killed in the afternoon by an IAF missile while trying to plant explosives near Kissufim; an Islamic Jihad murderer was killed in the early afternoon by an IDF artillery shell near Dir el-Balah; a Palestinian security officer was killed early Wednesday morning in an exchange of fire between IDF forces and armed Palestinians; and a Hamas man died in another pre-dawn air strike near Khan Yunis.

An IDF spokesperson said the Hamas activist al-Salmiah, his wife, and their five children were killed by an IAF missile targeting high-level Hamas commanders in their house who were discussing future attacks on Israel at the time.

Nervous Hamas officials carefully inspected the bodies being brought into the hospital but refused to comment. Abu Anas al-Ghandour, commander of Hamas' armed wing in northern Gaza, was also moderately wounded. Army Radio said he was involved in the Palestinian raid at Kerem Shalom in which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped. Raed Sayed, the head of Hamas' military wing in Gaza City who was in a vehicle outside the house at the time of the strike, apparently escaped. His condition is unknown.

From the force of the blast, the three-story structure collapsed, burying people under the rubble. The family killed in the strike was on the house's upper floor. Hamas activists said additional victims might be buried in the basement. Hamas official Ismail Radwan pledged to hit back at Israel. "It was a terrible, bloody massacre, and the Zionists will pay a heavy price for it," he said.

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