Israeli jets overfly Auschwitz in tribute

THREE Israeli F-15 jets piloted by descendants of Holocaust survivors flew over a former Nazi concentration camp yesterday.

The fly-past over the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in Poland was devised as a tribute to the memories of Holocaust victims.

"It's a protest against the inhumanity of the Nazis on Polish territory," said Israel's ambassador to Poland, Shevach Weiss.

"It's a tribute to the ashes of those who were killed here."

During the fly-over, the blue Star of David painted on the planes was visible on the ground, where 200 Israeli soldiers stood to attention at the former Birkenau death camp, adjacent to Auschwitz.

The Auschwitz Museum, which maintains the grounds of the former Nazi death camp, complained the show of military might was an inappropriate way to commemorate the victims.

Mr Weiss expressed regret about the protests, but said those who objected "do not understand what happened in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp".

"Officers do not fight here, they cry here," he said.

Both the Israeli military and Foreign Ministry defended the fly-past, citing co-operation between Israel and Poland to remember the more than one million people who perished at Auschwitz-Birkenau, the vast majority of them Jews, from 1940 until its liberation in January 1945.

In all, six million European Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

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