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Ziad Al Bandak, Palestinian Official, Visits Auschwitz Memorial

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WARSAW, Poland -- An adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the memorial at the German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz on Friday to pay respect to some 1.5 million camp victims, mostly Jews.

Ziad al-Bandak, a Christian who advises Abbas on Christian affairs, visited prisoner blocs, gas chambers and a crematorium in the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, which the Germans built and operated in southern Poland during their World War II occupation of the country.

It was a rare visit by a Palestinian to the camp. In 2007, the Palestinian and Israeli ambassadors to Poland made a joint visit to the memorial.

Al-Bandak, who came at the invitation of a private Polish foundation promoting tolerance, laid flowers at the Death Wall in Auschwitz, where Polish resistance fighters were summarily executed and placed a light at the monument to the camp's victims.

From 1940-45, some 1.5 million people were killed in the camp's gas chambers or died of starvation, disease and forced labor in inhuman conditions.

Last year, a large delegation of Muslim dignitaries from Morocco, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq visited the camp.

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