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Gunfire and Rockets Shatter Gaza Cease-Fire


GAZA-ISRAEL: Israeli warplanes have launched new attacks against Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip, putting further stress on a cease-fire already punctured by Hamas rockets and exchanges of gunfire.
The Israeli military says today's (Sunday's) airstrikes were aimed at the rocket launchers that had fired six rockets at the town of Sderot several hours after Israel's unilateral cease-fire went into effect (at two in the morning local time, 0000 UTC).
Israeli troops and Hamas militants also clashed in northern Gaza. Israel says its troops came under attack, then returned fire with the help of the Israeli air force.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had announced an end to the Gaza offensive Saturday, saying Israel had achieved all its goals. But he also said Israeli forces will remain in Gaza while long-term plans are worked out, and that they would respond if attacked.

GAZA-ISRAEL DIPLOMACY:World leaders are set to discuss ways to establish a lasting truce in the Gaza Strip when they meet today (Sunday) in Egypt.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will host U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as well as leaders from Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Turkey.
They are also expected to talk about helping Gaza begin recovery efforts.
On Saturday, the U.N. secretary-general hailed Israel's declaration of a unilateral cease-fire and called on Hamas to stop its rocket fire. He said urgent humanitarian access for Gaza's residents is an immediate priority, and that the United Nations is ready to act.

US INAUGURATION TRAIN: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama called on Americans to unite to fix the nation's problems, as he took a ceremonial train ride to Washington (Saturday) ahead of his inauguration Tuesday.
Mr. Obama addressed crowds Saturday in the cities of Philadelphia (, Pennsylvania),Wilmington (, Delaware), and Baltimore (, Maryland).
Mr. Obama noted that the country is facing serious challenges -- such as war and a struggling economy -- but he said the time has come for Americans to work together to improve the country.

GUANTANAMO DETAINEES: The U.S. Department of Defense says it has released six detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, transferring four of the men to Iraq, one to Algeria and one to Afghanistan.
The department statement said the release of the men is a "demonstration of the United States' desire not to hold detainees any longer than necessary."
Aides to President-elect Barack Obama say he will issue an order to shut down the detention facility, which still holds about 245 individuals, within days after his swearing-in Tuesday.

RUSSIA-EUROPE GAS: Russian Prime Minster Vladimir Putin says gas supplies to Europe will resume shortly after Russia and Ukraine agreed on a deal to resolve their energy crisis.
Mr. Putin made the announcement Sunday after talks in Moscow with his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko.
It is not immediately clear exactly when the gas supplies will resume.
Ms. Tymoshenko said she and Mr. Putin have asked the Russian and Ukrainian energy companies to draw up agreements to sign.

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