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IDF Air Strike Hits Hamas Prime Minister's Office

By MSNBC, & VOA News

An Israeli helicopter gunship fired a missile into a Hamas office in Gaza City early Monday (Israel time), witnesses said, just hours after Israel's prime minister ordered the army to intensify operations to free a captured soldier.

The army said it hit a meeting place for terrorists from a rival organization. It was unclear if there were any casualties.

Israeli aircraft on Sunday attacked the empty office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas with two missiles. Haniyeh's Gaza City offices went up in flames after an IAF helicopter attacked the building.

"They have targeted a symbol for the Palestinian people," said Haniyeh as he gazed at the smoking ruins. Visiting his demolished office, Haniyeh accused Israel of arrogance, and said nothing would break the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat said Israeli actions are harming diplomatic efforts to win the release of the soldier. "Military solutions will produce violence," Erekat says. "Violence will breed more violence, bullets will breed more bullets and hatred will generate more of the same."

Hours later, at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will do whatever it takes to win the release of the kidnapped soldier. "We will strike at anyone who harms the citizens of Israel," Mr. Olmert said. "No one will be immune."

Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said Israel is targeting what he called the "Hamas terrorist regime," and not innocent civilians. "We make a clear differentiation between the local population, who is in need of humanitarian assistance, and we are going to insure that they continue to get that humanitarian aid and assistance.".

Israel has rejected demands by the kidnappers to free 1,500 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captive soldier. And the army is poised to launch a ground assault on Gaza, if the soldier is not released.

The PA security militia created by Hamas was also struck, as well as another building used and occupied by armed terrorists. IAF fire killed one terrorist and injured a second.

A car carrying four Islamic Jihad operatives in Gaza City was also targeted, but the four terrorists escaped the vehicle, which was not directly hit by the missile. Arab sources reported two bystanders wounded by the explosion.

IDF troops continued artillery fire at targets in both northern and southern Gaza over the weekend. Some 350 shells were fired at Kassam launch sites in northern Gaza overnight Friday. Troops moved into the northern town of Abasan on Saturday afternoon.

IAF air strikes hit seven main roads in central Gaza, for two reasons: to further hamper the movement of Shalit's abductors, and to disrupt the ability of terrorists to supply and launch Kassam rockets from northern Gaza.

Shelling in the south in particular was aimed at preventing terrorists from transporting kidnapped hostage 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was captured by terrorists during a raid on an IDF outpost a week ago.

Despite media reports that Shalit is alive and in good condition, Israel has not received any evidence that this is so. Shalit was reportedly treated for three wounds, including a shoulder injury and a stomach wound.

PA deputy minister of prisoner affairs Ziad Abu Zen told reporters at a news conference in Ramallah on Saturday that Shalit "has three wounds… I guess

Israel's vice-premier Shimon Peres told CNN's Late Edition his government believes Hamas, which heads the Palestinian authority, is waging what he described as "an undeclared war of terror against Israel."

"They've become responsible for the firing of rockets on Israeli settlements, out of Gaza, and endangering the lives of innocent people," said Peres. "And secondly, they took hostage an Israeli soldier, while penetrating our sovereignty and our land, despite of the fact that we have left Gaza completely. Now we feel like we have to defend ourselves."

Peres said releasing the soldier would lead to an end to Israeli retaliation, which has included repeated air strikes against Palestinian targets.

"If they release the soldier, the operation can be over in a moment's time," he said. "It's up to them. But they cannot keep the soldier as a hostage and then complain. By the way, when it comes to electricity, we checked beforehand. If the hospitals have generators to supply necessary electricity to people who are in hospital, we wouldn't bomb otherwise."

Government: `No Idea' Where Kidnapped Soldier is Being Held

By Ha'aretz

The defense establishment has "no idea" where kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is being held by Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, government sources in Jerusalem said Sunday night. And this lack of critical information is preventing an IDF rescue operation from being carried out.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will consult on Monday with Defense Minister Amir Peretz and senior commanders in the IDF and Shin Bet domestic security service. They will discuss the continuation of Operation Summer Rains in the Gaza Strip and possible ways to rescue Shalit.

Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin said earlier Sunday that the kidnapping affair is liable to continue for an extended period of time but added that Hamas understands a live IDF soldier is a valuable asset.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Diskin added that last week's kidnapping of an Israel Defense Forces soldier on the Gaza border was a significant achievement for Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees.

Diskin said Hamas is nevertheless weakening and is paying for its role in the kidnapping of Shalit with Israeli arrests of its parliamentarians and cabinet ministers. The affair is a catalyst for new Israeli rules of engagement versus Hamas, he said.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz told the cabinet that military action alone would not secure the release of Shalit from his abductors.

Head of Military Intelligence Amos Yadlin said Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas was surprised by the kidnapping. Yadlin said, however, that there is no evidence Haniyeh is making efforts to expedite the release of Shalit.

Israeli Food and Gasoline Stream into Gaza


The Olmert government has ordered the opening of the Karni Crossing, to "prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza." Terrorist kidnappers in Gaza have been holding IDF Cpl.. Gilad Shalit for a week.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz gave the order just hours after talking with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who expressed her concern at the gave situation of the Gaza populace.

Israeli media did not report whether Rice provided any practical advice as to how to obtain the soldier's release. The media reported only that Peretz had asked her to pressure Syria, which is hosting Hamas terrorist leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus. Mashaal is the man calling the shots in the abduction of the Israeli soldier.

The crossing will be opened for four days during the coming week, allowing 600 trucks laden with food and medicines to enter Gaza. In addition, a gas terminal at Nachal Oz will be opened for the use of the Arab public in Gaza.

Olmert said again Sunday that he has no interest in hurting the Palestinian population, but that if it is hurt - which he implied would occur - it is the fault of Hamas.

Originally, when Shalit was first abducted in a full-scale military operation by Hamas gunmen who tunneled underground to an IDF base, Olmert said that if he was not released within 48 hours, Israel would not allow food and gas into Gaza and would cut off electricity.

Meanwhile, Egypt's mediation efforts to bring about Shalit's release appear to have failed. Egypt had proposed an immediate release of Shalit, in exchange for an Israeli promise to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for a release in the future of terrorists. The Israeli promise, which Egypt would guarantee, would stipulate the release not only of women and young terrorists, as the Hamas-affiliated Popular Resistance Committees have been demanding - but others as well.

Neither Hamas nor Israel appears to agree to the initiative. For one thing, it is not clear who in Hamas is making the decisions, as PA Chairman Nahmoud Abbas said.

In addition, some Hamas spokesmen have said that an Israeli promise to Egypt is not sufficient. Israeli officials say that it will not negotiate for the release of Shalit. "Surrender today is an invitation to the next terror attack," Olmert said Sunday. However, some reports are that Israel might be willing to release the Hamas politicians who were arrested last week, in exchange for Shalit.

The Almagor Terror Victims Association has called on Olmert to take the offensive. In a letter to him, the organization suggested that Israel should threaten to kill murderous terrorists in Israeli prisons if Shalit is harmed. The letter encourages Olmert to stand strong and not give in to the kidnappers' demands.

IDF historian Meir Pa'il totally dismissed a theory that if Israel gives in to Hamas demands, terrorists will kidnap more Israelis. "It's important for every soldier and Israeli to know," Pa'il told Voice of Israel Radio, "that if he is taken captive, we'll do everything to redeem him."

Rock `n Roll at Dimona Nuclear Plant


For the first time ever, family members were allowed inside gates of the Dimona nuclear plant to attend an annual party and catch a glimpse of the top secret site

They have lived with their spouses for decades but have never seen their place of work. Las week, for the first time eve, families of employees of the Dimona nuclear plant were permitted to enter the highly restricted grounds to attend a festive party. The event included entertainment by singer Pablo Rosenberg, who was forced to undergo a strict security check before being allowed access to the site.

Since the nuclear plant was built roughly 50 years ago, partners of Dimona employees have complained they were never permitted even a peak into the place where their spouses spend the majority of the day. Up until now, all requests to enter the site, one of the most highly secretive locations in Israel, were categorically turned down.

But two weeks ago, all of that changed. For the first time, spouses were allowed to participate in an annual party in honor of employees who have been working at the plant for over 40 years. Generally, the celebration is held at a hall in Be'er Sheva, but this year Uri Tzemach, a member of the workers' committee, had the idea to hold the event on the manicured lawns of the nuclear plant, and management agreed.

The plans grew complicated when workers asked to invite a performer to the event. After employees agreed on Pablo Rosenberg, the senior security officer interfered and carried out a scrupulous background check on the singer and his backup musicians.

"For years I've been trying to imagine what my husband's place of work looks like," one of the attendees said. "I was very excited when the bus crossed through the gate and we entered the grounds of the plant. As soon as we arrived, they took our cell phones away, so we wouldn't - God forbid - take pictures," another spouse related. "The truth is, it was fun. Four hours without being bothered by ringing."

Musician Pablo Rosenberg summarized his own experience there: "Besides the famous dome, they didn't let me see anything," he recounted. "Throughout the visit the only place we were allowed was the site of the show, in the plaza facing the cafeteria. They stuck all sorts of stickers to my shirt and I felt important. In the middle of the performance, we ate dinner in the cafeteria. I've never seen such a clean and spotless place in my life. The stainless steel on the ventilators was sparkling as if it was installed yesterday.

"What impressed me the most was the people that work in the plant. Nice, friendly, full of humor. I told them, `Everyone thinks the people that work here are creatures with thick glasses and antennae on their heads that work in tunnels underground, but you guys are great. After meeting you all, I definitely think the people of Israel can sleep soundly,'" Rosenberg said.

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