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Hezbollah Hits Haifa, Bombardment Continues

Posted: July 13, 2006

In the latest dangerous escalation of cross-border attacks against Israel, Hezbollah rockets fired at the city of Haifa heavily damaged an apartment building, wounding at least three people.

The attack came on day six of the fighting, and one day after a devastating Hezbollah attack that killed eight and wounded more than 20 when a rocket fired from southern Lebanon struck the Haifa train station.

Hezbollah, the Syrian and Iranian backed terrorist organization, has fired hundreds of rockets since capturing two Israeli soldiers in an unprovoked cross-border raid.

The soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah were identified by the Israel Defense Forces as Ehud Goldwasser, 31, of Nahariya, and Eldad Regev, 26, of Kiryat Motzkin.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has described the Hezbollah attacks and kidnappings as "an act of war." The Israeli response marks the first incursion into Lebanon since Israel's historic withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000.

U.S. President George W. Bush blamed the violence on Hezbollah, calling it a "group of terrorists who want to stop the advance of peace."

"Israel has a right to defend herself," President Bush said in Germany.

The latest violence was spurred by the kidnapping of Cpl. Gilad Shalit last month by Palestinian terrorists who tunneled under the Gaza-Israel border.

The status of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, and his whereabouts remain unknown.  The Israeli army continues its offensive in Gaza in search of the missing soldier.

Palestinian terrorists, including members of the military wing of Hamas, tunneled under the border fence in the southern Gaza Strip on June 25 and fired on an Israeli army tank before returning across the border with Shalit, who was wounded in the attack.

The Popular Resistance Committees, a terrorist group with close ties to the Palestinian government led by Hamas and one of three groups who participated in the raid, claim that the soldier is being held "in a secure place that the Zionists cannot reach."  But to date they have released no information about the soldier, his whereabouts, or his condition.

The attack on the Israeli military installation, which is within Israel's pre-1967 borders, was the latest in a series of attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.  The unrelenting attacks, including the shelling of southern Israeli towns, have continued despite Israel's complete withdrawal from settlements and Army posts within Gaza in August 2005.

The terrorist groups responsible for Shalit's abduction have demanded the release of all jailed Palestinian women and children under 18 in return for information about the kidnapped soldier.  Prime Minister Olmert has rejected the demand.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has met with leaders of the Hamas-led government and urged them to push for Shalit's release, and some Hamas spokesman have expressed sympathy for the kidnapped soldier.  But the Hamas government has failed to clearly denounce the attack or to call for the prisoner's release, and Hamas leaders have issued contradictory statements on the situation.

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Background: Attacks on Israel's Northern and Southern Borders

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Israel Today: Living in a National Crisis (7/17/06)

Gaza Operation: Holding Hamas Accountable

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