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News from Israel: Fearing more Hizbullah rocket attacks, Israel moved most of the flammable agents that had been stored in Haifa. The Homefront Command said Wednesday its troops had taken most of the petrochemicals and other combustible liquids away from Haifa's strategic port for storage at an undisclosed location, out of Hizbullah rocket range.

IDF Wages Ground-Battles on Three Fronts

By Ha'aretz, VOA News &

The IDF fought fierce ground battles on three fronts Wednesday, chalking up many operational successes. Two soldiers fell in the line of duty battling Hizbullah forces and nine others were wounded, two moderately.

The fighting with Hizbullah forces went on for several hours at the Israel-Lebanon border, near the Israeli town of Avivim - opposite the Lebanese village of Marun A-Ras, which was turned into a Hizbullah stronghold after Israel's hasty withdrawal from the region in 2000.

IDF Special Forces entered the area late Tuesday night and found a large stockpile of Hizbullah weapons and munitions. Hizbullah terrorists had been hiding out and opened fire on the troops, killing the two soldiers moments before they themselves were killed. Their comrades then began shooting mortar shells at the area, making evacuation of the wounded and fallen soldiers difficult.

Several hours later, the IDF foiled an attempt by Hizbullah to infiltrate into the northernmost Israeli town of Metula. An Israel Air Force helicopter opened fire on a cell of militants that had been identified as it set out from a Hizbullah position near the border.

More than 60,000 Lebanese have fled southern Lebanon and the IDF issued an order Wednesday evening calling on all 300,000 Lebanese living south of the Litani River to evacuate their homes. Hundreds of thousands of south Lebanon residents were expected to evacuate the area. The IDF broadcast its warning from an Arabic-language radio station in Israel.

The IDF has been putting special efforts into destroying long-range Zilzal missiles and launchers, capable of striking Tel Aviv with much larger missiles than have struck Israel so far. Many of the launchers are hidden in densely-populated areas. Overall, the IDF says more than 1,000 terrorist targets have been hit so far, including 180 Katyusha and long-range rocket launch-sites.

In a development that could place Tel Aviv within the sites of Arab missile-launchers from the couth, a Katyusha rocket was fired from Gaza toward the western Negev. The rocket landed in Kibbutz Bror Hayil.

The IDF continues to carry out operations in Gaza aimed at locating kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and preventing the launching of rockets at Israel's southern towns. Six Arabs were killed in clashes as the IDF entered the Mughazi slums coastal region. Five IDF soldiers were wounded.

Meanwhile, Israel Air Force warplanes dropped bombs late Wednesday on a bunker in south Beirut where senior Hizbullah leaders were thought to be, the Israel Defense Forces said.

IDF officials said dozens of aircrafts dropped 23 tons of explosives on the bunker. The officials said top Hizbullah figures were thought to be there, possibly including Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Hizbullah said in a statement on Thursday that none of its leaders were killed during the strike. "Hizbullah denies that any of its leaders or personnel were (sic) killed during the latest the southern suburb." Israel has said that one of the objects of its offensive in Lebanon is to eliminate Hizbullah leaders.

According to General Staff estimates, it is possible to greatly intensify the scope of the attacks against the Hizbullah rockets, with special emphasis on their longer-range weapons, as well as strikes against senior members of the group's operational arm.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz told senior IDF officers Tuesday that attacks against Hizbullah would continue "without letup and time limit."

On the eighth day of Israel's military campaign in Lebanon Wednesday, the Lebanese death toll passed 300, almost all civilians. As the Israeli blockade of Lebanon continues, there are concerns about a looming humanitarian disaster.

Lebanon's minister of economy and trade, Sami Haddad, told reporters it was the single deadliest day since the Israeli military offensive began a week ago. "We are really facing a humanitarian disaster. The estimate is that we have around half a million refugees. Today the death toll is 55; it's the highest number of casualties, civilian casualties in any one day. This brings the total number killed to more than 300 people," he said.

Lebanon was still rebuilding from its disastrous 15-year civil war when the latest crisis erupted. The economy was booming, and the country looked solidly on the road to recovery.

Meanwhile, the evacuation of foreigners from Lebanon continued. The evacuations have been chaotic and slow, sparking many complaints. Thousands of people clutching their passports massed at the Canadian rendezvous point, and several passed out from heat exhaustion after standing in the burning sun for hours, waiting for their names to be called. One family piled their luggage in the middle of the street and sat down, blocking traffic in protest.

The vast majority of the people who are leaving on chartered ships and military vessels are Lebanese citizens with dual nationalities. Their Western passports are allowing them to escape the Israeli bombardment and whatever chaos might follow.

For the first time Wednesday, the Israeli military bombed a residential area that is not Shi'ite. They blew up a well-drilling truck in the Beirut neighborhood of Achrafiyeh, a Christian area with no Hizbullah presence whatsoever. Some nearby residents and political analysts said they believed the point was to drive a wedge between Christians and Muslims, or to send a message to the country's most influential Christian leader, General Michel Aoun, who has allied himself politically with Hizbullah.

The Bush administration says it stands with the international community in wanting an end to bloodshed along the Israeli-Lebanese border, but only when the groundwork for a lasting cessation of hostilities has been laid. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the United States is attempting to balance immediate concerns for the loss of innocent life with the long-term goal of forging a solution that will prevent future conflicts.

"Hizbullah and their backers have dragged innocent people into the current situation, so Secretary Rice's view, President Bush's view, I think a view that is widely shared, is [that] you want to arrive at a cessation of violence," said McCormack. "But you want that cessation of violence to unfold in such a way that you have a solution whereby the world, the region does not end up in the same place it is right now three weeks from now, three months from now, three years from now."

Israel has said it has no intention of halting strikes on Hizbullah positions until the group's ability to launch attacks on Israel is eliminated, and the United States has shown no appetite to publicly pressure Israel to cease military operations, at least for now.

The Bush administration notes that the international community has placed blame for the crisis squarely on Hizbullah. McCormack said Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region have a role to play in ending the conflict by pressuring Syria and Iran to halt their support of Hizbullah.

The U.S. House of Representatives, following similar action by the Senate, is expected to unanimously approve a strong resolution supporting Israel in its conflict with Hizbullah and Hamas. Lawmakers say such defense includes conducting operations both in Israel and the territory of nations posing a threat to it, under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

The resolution notes Lebanon's failure to disarm and disband the Hizbullah under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559 and it blames Iran and Syria for supporting terrorist activities against Israel.

Hizbullah Katyushas Kill Three, Including 2 Children, in Arab Nazareth

By Ha'aretz &

The police department reported that the number of fatalities in Nazareth as a result of Wednesday afternoon's Katyusha attacks on the city has risen to three.

Two Israeli-Arab children, ages eight and 10 years old, were killed immediately in the Hizbullah assault that also sent 135 people to the hospital in Nazareth.

The two brothers, Rabiya Abed Taluzi and Mahmoud Abed Taluzi were killed instantly by the Katyusha missile that struck the street, in which they were playing, near their home. The deaths bring the number of Israelis killed by Hizbullah rockets since the fighting began to 15.

The eighth day of rocket fire was one of the worst yet, with Hizbullah bombing dozens of towns in the north, including Haifa, Safed, Nahariya and Afula. The rockets targeting Nazareth and Afula appeared to be 220-millimeter Syrian rockets.

The siblings were killed by a direct hit from a rocket in the yard of their family home in Nazareth on their way to visit their uncle in a nearby house, the Israel Defense Forces said. It was the first time the town had been attacked. Upper Nazareth, the mainly Jewish town adjacent to predominantly Arab Nazareth, was hit over the weekend.

Some friend and relatives gathering to mourn the Taluzi boys said that even though the brothers were killed by a Hizbullah rocket, they should be added to the list of Lebanese casualties. "The Israeli government is to blame for the incident," said a Nazareth resident near the house of mourning. "The Israeli aggression must stop."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Nazareth Mayor Ramez Jareysi after the rocket strike and offered him any assistance he needs. Olmert and Vice Premier Shimon Peres sent their condolences. "The rockets don't distinguish between Arabs and Jews, and Nazareth will receive assistance like any other town," Peres said.

World Reactions: Israel is Right, and Talk of World War III


World leaders meeting in a suburb of the Russian city of St. Petersburg at the G-8 summit have come down squarely on Israel's side. They called for Hamas and Hizbullah to return the Israeli soldiers they are holding captive and for the cessation of rocket attacks on Israel - as conditions for Israel's cessation of its offensive on Lebanon.

The G-8 is a self-proclaimed Group of Eight industrialized nations, namely, the U.S., Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan.

Canada took a surprisingly pro-Israel approach when Prime Minister Stephen Harper told reporters before the summit that Israel "has a right to defend itself," and that Israel's offensive in Lebanon was a "measured" manifestation of that right. He clearly blamed the current warfare on Hamas and Hizbullah.

In response to calls for a more "proportionate" Israeli response to Hizbullah and Hamas, an Israel Radio correspondent in Washington quoted observers who said that such a response would have to include indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians, just as both terrorist groups have done. Israel should therefore be commended for not acting "proportionately," the observers say.

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has described the Israel-Lebanon-Hamas warfare as part of the beginning of World War III. The Republican Congressman from the southern state of Georgia, speaking on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, mentioned a series of locations in which the west and Muslim terrorists are clashing.

Noting the "question of the survival of Israel," as well as bombs in India, the war in Afghanistan, the "Iran/Syria/Hamas/Hizbullah alliance," the "war in Iraq funded largely from Saudi Arabia and supplied largely from Syria and Iran," and Muslim terrorist threats in Britain and the United States, as well as the missiles from North Korea, Gingrich concluded, "I mean, we… are in the early stages of what I would describe as the third world war."

"Frankly," Gingrich said, "the Israelis have every right to insist that every single missile leave south Lebanon, and the United States ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hizbullah as a military force."

"The threat to the United States," Gingrich said, "is an ideological wing of Islam that is irreconcilable to modern civilization as we know it throughout most of the world. The United States and her allies face a long war with this irreconcilable wing of Islam."

Iranian President: West Uses Holocaust as Pretext


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has again expressed doubts over the true extent of the Holocaust and called it a pretext by the West to gain domination over the Middle East.

"Some of the Western countries had for centuries followed the aim to dominate the region (Middle East) and used the pretext of the Holocaust for preparing the grounds to realize this aim," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

"Why do you claim that six million were killed in the Holocaust? Let us make a research - maybe 10 million were killed," he said sarcastically during a meeting with high school students. "Not allowing any research proves that there is a problem and something is fishy," added the president.

On Saturday the Iranian president had compared Israel's government to Adolf Hitler and said that "just like Hitler, the Zionist regime (Israel) is just looking for a pretext for launching military attacks."

"This regime (Israel), which claims that Hitler has committed huge crimes, is now acting just like him," he said, referring to Israel's offensive against Lebanon. Ahmadinejad last year termed the Holocaust a "myth."

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