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Israel Recalls Caracas Envoy After Chavez Compared State to Hitler

By Reuters

Israel has recalled its ambassador to Caracas following comments made by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez comparing Israel to Hitler, the Foreign Ministry said Monday. Spokesman Mark Regev said "We are concerned at the attitude of Venezuela... They have allied themselves with the most extreme elements in the region." In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV last week, Chavez criticized Israel for its attacks on Lebanon and the Palestinians, comparing its operations to those of Hitler.

Israel Threatens Stepped-up Attacks


Defense Minister Amir Peretz warned Monday that the IDF would step up attacks in Lebanon if a draft resolution presented by the U.S. and France to the United Nations Security Council fails to pass.

Speaking to the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee Monday afternoon, Peretz was adamant that Israel would operate throughout Lebanon in order to end the Katyusha rocket attacks on Israel's northern communities. He said that diplomatic initiatives are continuing, but made it clear that military operations would also move ahead.

"The IDF will operate anywhere in Lebanon and we will take over Katyusha launch sites in order to minimize the fire," said Peretz. "We are at one of the critical junctions of the war and we are no longer referring to it as a military operation," he said. "The most important decision before us is curbing the Katyusha fire."

The UN Security Council was expected to vote Tuesday on the draft resolution that calls for a ceasefire. However, the vote was delayed late Monday evening in deference to a request from France. It will not be held until at least Wednesday, possibly even later in the week, according to media sources.

The resolution leaves IDF troops in place until the Lebanese army, backed by a supplemented UNIFIL force, can take over to enforce the peace. In addition, it specifies that Israel must refrain from military "offensives" but also says that the Jewish State has the right to defend itself.

Despite Lebanese pleas for a ceasefire, Hizbullah chief terrorist Hassan Nasrallah, backed by Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, continues to refuse to end the fighting until IDF soldiers withdraw from Lebanese soil.

Israel accepted the resolution, albeit with little enthusiasm for the use of UNIFIL forces rather than a separate multi-national peacekeeping force.

Hizbullah Backs Decision to Deploy Lebanese Army in South

By Ha'aretz

Lebanon will deploy its army in the south of the country after the Israel Defense Forces' withdrawal from the area, the Lebanese cabinet agreed Monday night, in a decision supported by all the ministers present, including the five Shi'ite ministers who represent Hizbullah and Amal.

The decision marks the first time since 1982 that the Lebanese government has decided to impose its sovereignty in the south of the country.

Political sources in Jerusalem said in response to the Lebanese cabinet decision that Israel was waiting to see how the decision fit in with the Security Council deliberations. The proposal, the sources said, was outlined in an interview Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora gave to The Washington Post on Monday.

For the purpose of the deployment, the Lebanese defense minister Monday announced the mobilization of reservists. All Lebanese soldiers who were discharged in the past five years will be called up for duty.

Reports say that the Lebanese army will call up some 15,000 reservists for deployment in the south. They will be mobilized August 10-16, in keeping with orders published in Lebanon on Monday.

Three IDF Soldiers Killed Monday in Bint Jbeil


IDF censors released information that three IDF paratroopers were killed in action Monday during battles with Hizbullah terrorists in the southern Lebanese village of Bint Jbeil.

One soldier, 22-year-old Staff Sergeant Malko (Moshe) Ambao of Lod was killed Monday morning in a fierce exchange of gunfire with Hizbullah terrorists. Two other soldiers were killed when an anti-tank missile hit their Merkava tank a few hours later. All three of the victims were paratroopers. Three IDF soldiers were also lightly wounded in the Monday afternoon battle. Fourteen terrorists were killed.

A total of 14 soldiers have been killed since July 12th in the battles at Bint Jbeil, located in the central/east sector of southern Lebanon a few miles from the border with Israel. Monday's battle was the second time IDF troops have fought with terrorists in the village, a Hizbullah stronghold.

The number of victims since the current war began now stands at 104, including 60 soldiers, 38 civilians, and six Israelis killed in Gaza, Sderot and the Shomron. Fifteen of the civilians killed by the Hizbullah-fired rockets were Muslim and Christian Arabs and Druze.

Unmanned Hizbullah Drone Shot Down by IAF


The Israel air force shot down an unmanned Hizbullah drone over Israeli territorial waters on Monday evening near the Krayot suburbs north of Haifa.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Locker said that the drone was picked up early by a northern radar station and was downed northwest of Haifa.

The IDF honed in on the drove as it was launched in Lebanon, at around 7 p.m. Less than 10 minutes later F-16 jets downed the drone which flew at a low altitude over the sea at a speed of approximately 94 miles per hour.

According to a Channel 10 TV report, the drone (also known as "pilot-less aircraft, or PAC") shot down by the IAF was carrying about 100 pounds of explosives. Air force officials denied the report and insisted the drone was not carrying explosives.

The IDF has been waiting for such an opportunity, said a source quoted by Army Radio. The terrorist organization sent drones over Israeli airspace twice in the past year, with both returning to Lebanese territory unharmed.

Israel often uses PACs to gather intelligence and check progress of IDF troops during battles with terrorists. Hizbullah sent its first unmanned drone, the "Mirsad 1" over Israeli territory two years ago in November 2004.

"You can load the Mirsad plane with a quantity of explosives ranging from 40 to 50 kilos [88-110 lbs –ed.] and send it to its target," said Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Nov. 2004. "Do you want a power plant, water plant, military base? Anything!"

Olmert Meets with Spokespeople to Sharpen PR Message

By Ha'

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Sunday with some 50 spokespeople from the Foreign Ministry, the Israel Defense Forces, the Prime Minister's Office and other government agencies to instruct them on the principal messages that they should be delivering in appearances before the foreign media.

"Our enemy is not Hizbullah, but Iran, which employs Hizbullah as its agent," he told them at the meeting, the first of its kind.

He also urged the spokespeople "not to be ashamed to express emotion and appeal to feelings" and to emphasize Hizbullah's attacks and the damage that Israel's home front has suffered. "When Israel kills civilians, it views this as a failure. When Hizbullah kills civilians, they see this as a success," he stressed.

Israel, Olmert said, did not choose to go to war; rather, the war was forced on it. However, he added, Israel's situation would have been even worse had the war broken out a few years later, since Hizbullah's military capabilities would have been even better. "In the future, they might have had far better quality weapons than they do today."

Responding to criticism of his predecessors, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, for allowing Hizbullah's build-up to proceed unimpeded, Olmert said: "If Israel had attacked two or three years ago, with no cause, would we have enjoyed internal consensus and international support?"

"The strategic surprise of this war was Israel's determined response," he continued. "[Hizbullah leader Hassan] Nasrallah and Iran did not expect us to react in this way." The IDF, he added, "never promised that it would destroy all the missiles, or that it would employ the air force alone. But our maximum advantage is in the air, so we needed to employ this first."

Brig. Gen. Yossi Bidetz, head of Military Intelligence's research division, told the group that Hizbullah has a "hard core" of 1,000 to 1,500 fighters, and "if you hit 200 of them, that's a real blow to this cadre."

Olmert said that he had ordered the intelligence services to make all information that would not endanger national security available to the spokespeople.

Report: Hizbullah's Christian 'Shields'

By Christian Solidarity International.

A U.S. Christian group is accusing Hizbullah of using Christian villages in Lebanon to shield its military operations against Israel.

Christian Solidarity International said in a news release that Hizbullah, a Shia Muslim group supported by Iran, in southern Lebanese Christian villages, such as Ain Ebel, Rmeish, Alma Alshaab and others are being used by Hizbullah terrorists for launching missile attacks.

"Hizbullah is repeating the same pattern that it practiced against Israel in 1996," says former South Lebanese Army commander, Col. Charbel Barkat. "Hizbullah is hiding among civilian populations and launching attacks behind human shields."

A Christian from the village of Ain Ebel, who is nameless because he fears retribution by Hizbullah, discovered Hizbullah terrorists were setting up a launcher to fire Katyusha rockets from the rooftop of his home. Ignoring his pleas to stop, they fired the missiles. He immediately gathered his family and fled home, which indeed was bombed and destroyed 15 minutes later by an Israeli air strike.

In addition to having their homes commandeered for launching Hizbullah's attacks, there have been attempts to obstruct Christians from fleeing their villages. On Saturday, July 28, Hizbullah fighters fired upon Christians fleeing Rmeish with their families, wounding two, according to Christian sources in south Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Sami El-Khoury, president of the World Maronite Union, said that reports on Christian support for Hizbullah are misleading. "Contrary to Western press reports, indicating high percentages of Christian support for Hizbullah, 90 percent of Christians, 80 percent of Sunni and 40 percent of Shiites in Lebanon oppose Hizbullah," says El-Khoury.

Israeli Jet Fighters Patrols Over Central Cities


Immediately after IDF forces reported downing a Hizbullah drone, jets and combat helicopters began hovering at low altitude in central Israel Many citizens reported high activity by planes and helicopters over coastal the Sharon area.

For long hours jets hovered over central cities. The IDF has said that the air force activity is normal.

Shlomi Shai, 30, told Ynet: "I got home from work in Tel Aviv, and from the minute I got home I heard planes hovering over the house, really low. I've never heard planes at this altitude. It's not pleasant, it's worrying. IF there are planes here, it's a sign something happened," said Shai.

The Alfa family of Netanya said that close to 8 p.m., for two hours, planes flew at a low altitude: "I thought there were a few options: Either they are practicing to attack a target which resembles Tel Aviv, and Tel Aviv is a model for the Air Force, or they are carrying out an exercise for bringing down a Zelzal missile, or they are chasing after a drone. My one year-old son was also looking and together we watched the planes circling the area," the father said.

Israel Banned From Hosting Int'l Soccer Games

By Ha'aretz

Israel has been banned by soccer's European governing body from hosting international games until further notice due to the war with Hizbullah terrorists in the north.

UEFA, stated in a letter sent to the Israel Football Association on Monday that all games scheduled for play on Israeli soil "shall be played outside of Israeli territory," because European soccer teams are unwilling to travel to the Jewish state due to security concerns.

The ruling means that Israeli teams will not be allowed to host soccer matches at home, but will still be held responsible for finding alternative sites for their games.

At least two Israeli teams are affected by the decision. Maccabi Haifa will be forced to find a new location for an August 22nd match against Liverpool. The first game of the series, to be held on Wednesday, is to be hosted by the British team. Liverpool coach Rafa Benitze said it was "totally unacceptable" to travel to Israel for the second game.

Betar Jerusalem is also affected by the ruling. The club is scheduled to play Romania's Dinamo Bucharest on August 24 in a match that was to be held in Jerusalem.

"The UEFA administration shall continue to monitor the safety and security situation in Israel," said the letter. "This decision is final."

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