Gaza confict: Slows down smuggling biz

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RAFAH, Egypt — In this run-down, dusty town that straddles the border of the Gaza Strip, a long-thriving smuggling operation through tunnels has nearly come to a halt because of the violence between Israel and Hamas.

In the past week, Israeli airstrikes have destroyed many of the underground channels that connect Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt as part of its operation to stop the seemingly relentless rocket attacks against Israeli cities and towns.

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Gaza Strip: Cease-fire brings hope

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GAZA – Honking horns filled the streets and celebratory gunfire burst across Gaza City as people celebrated a cease-fire Wednesday night and what they believe were successes for Hamas.

"We can say this has been a real effort by people doing their duty," said Youssef al-Zahar, who manages civil defense services in the Gaza Strip.

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Middle-East talks: Shaky start for cease-fire

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JERUSALEM — A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas was announced Wednesday after days of bloody fighting and deaths on both sides.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr announced the cease-fire, which took effect at 2 p.m. ET.

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Israeli army: Hamas military tap power of social media

Turkmenistans voters assail lack of choice in election-WashingtonTimes

When the Israeli Defense Force first announced it had killed top Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari last week, Twitter was its medium of choice.

Using the Twitter handle @IDFspokesperson, the IDF communications tweeted a photo of Jabari with the word "Eliminated" stamped across his face, along with a list of his alleged offenses. The IDF also uploaded a video of the attack that killed him to YouTube.

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Israeli's reservists: Ready and eager to fight

Turkmenistans voters assail lack of choice in election-WashingtonTimes

TEL AVIV, Israel -- For the reserve forces, there is no reservation.

Over the past week, the Israeli government has called up more than 75,000 reservists as part of Operation Pillar of Defense. Students, teachers, businessmen are all changing back into their familiar green uniforms – and they are doing it with eagerness.

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Middle East: Fresh violence

Turkmenistans voters assail lack of choice in election-WashingtonTimes

JERUSALEM -- Western diplomats arrived in the Middle East to try to push forward cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas that might lead to a long-term peace as fighting raged on both sides of the border.

Israeli tanks and gunboats pummeled targets in Gaza in what appeared to be a last-minute burst of fire, while at least 200 rockets were fired into Israel. As talks dragged on near midnight, Israeli and Hamas officials, communicating through Egyptian mediators, expressed hope that a deal would soon be reached, but cautioned that it was far from certain.

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Gaza City: Peace might be a possibility

Turkmenistans voters assail lack of choice in election-WashingtonTimes

GAZA CITY -- Egypt's president said a cease-fire agreement was close to stopping "Israeli aggression" as Palestinians fired more rockets at Israel on Tuesday, including one toward Jerusalem that exploded outside the city.

Morsi issued his statement to reporters in the city of Zagazig, the Egyptian state news agency MENA reported. He said negotiations between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers will yield "positive results" today but would not elaborate.

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Israelis say: Cease-fire no good unless terror ends

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BEERSHEVA, Israel — Israelis in the towns and villages that have been getting struck by hundreds of rockets fired from Palestinians in Gaza said Sunday they are wary of cease-fire talks if they don't end the terror people have been living with for years.

Lior Amar, 24, who works at a Beersheva sunglasses store, has had to run for cover multiple times a day this past week as megaphones blast warnings of incoming missiles. "Seven, 10, even 12 sirens a day," she said.

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Gaza City: Residents bury victims of airstrikes

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GAZA CITY —- At the al Magazi refugee camp in Gaza, a convoy of four ambulances pulled in with the bodies of nine men, all Hamas members killed in Israeli airstrikes.

Residents of the camp greeted the convoy with the green flags of Hamas and a mixture of pride and sorrow for the dead. They chanted "God is great, death to Israel."

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Gaza conflict: Israel targets Islamic National Bank

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GAZA CITY -- Israeli aircraft on Tuesday pounded the headquarters of the bank Hamas set up to evade international sanctions on its rule, as diplomats worked toward a ceasefire agreement. The strike on the Islamic National Bank was part of an escalating Israeli assault against Gaza militants meant to quell rocket attacks on Israeli cities.

Hamas leaders said during cease-fire talks that they would not end the rocket attacks unless Israel ended a blockade of Gaza borders that it maintains to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

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Egyptian authorities: No cease-fire talk until Hamas stopped firing rockets

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GAZA CITY — An Israeli envoy was in Cairo on Sunday for talks on a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as both sides kept up a barrage of attacks.

Palestinians in Gaza continued to fire rockets into Israel, and Israeli jets pounded homes and installations of targeted terrorists.

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Israel's action: Gaza rockets cease after Hamas launchers pounded

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip —The Israeli military widened its range of targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday to include the media operations of the Palestinian

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territory's Hamas rulers, sending its aircraft to attack two buildings used by both Hamas and foreign media outlets.

The fresh wave of strikes come a day after Israel hammered the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to take out rocket launchers that have enough range to strike cities that have never seen missiles from the Palestinian territory.

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Middle East Experts: Hamas hopes to take over

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - The desire of the Palestinian faction Hamas to become the pre-eminent defender of the Palestinian cause above its hated rivals Fatah is why it forced Israel into a battle despite the massive damage it will cause the Gazan people, experts say.

Hamas has risen relatively quickly from a small offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian territories to the ruling regime in Gaza and among the most prominent propagators of radicalism among the Palestinian people.

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Gaza talk:Obama with Netanyahu

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President Barack Obama spoke separately to Israeli and Egyptian leaders Friday night as violence escalated in Gaza, and Israel signaled a possible ground invasion.

Rockets landed outside of Jerusalem and two struck near Tel Aviv on Friday night, panicking people who have normally been outside the range of the missile attacks coming from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

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Muslim Brotherhood: Mobilizes protests against Israel

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CAIRO – Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets Friday protesting Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, waving Palestinian flags across the Egyptian capital and demanding the Egyptian government cut ties with Israel.

"We're here today to say to Israel: Go to Hell," said Mustafa Kamel from a Cairo neighborhood called Imbaba at a demonstration outside Al-Azhar Mosque that was planned by the Muslim Brotherhood. "Muslims are strong. In Egypt, we refuse Israel and the politics of America."

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Gaza strip: Gazans scramble as punishing ground war looms

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GAZA CITY — Many Gazans lined up for bread and fuel Friday while others hunkered at home, bracing for a possible ground war from Israel over the relentless barrage of rockets Hamas has been firing across the border.

"Everything has changed completely over the past few days," said Sukrit Kapoor, a lawyer. "People are very, very worried. They have been stocking up on food supplies and so on to make sure they are prepared for the worst.

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Gaza strip: Israel calls up troops

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israel began moving troops toward the Gaza Strip on Thursday and authorized the call-up of reservists for a possible ground invasion of the Palestinian territory.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that he had authorized the army to draft reserve forces of as many as 30,000 troops for possible ground action following the firing of nearly 200 rockets into southern Israel on Thursday.

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Gaza's attack: Hamas official killed

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JERUSALEM — Israelis in southern Israel prepared for a possible widening conflict Wednesday following the killing of the head of the military wing of Hamas.

The government told Israelis living within 25 miles of Gaza to stay close to shelters in case Hamas terrorists launch another wave of rockets. Over the weekend, 200 were fired into the country.

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Moroccan movie: “Hercule Contre Hermès"

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ASILAH, Morocco — A few kilometers south of Tangier, near the port town of Asilah, lies the wide golden beach of Sidi Mghait. It is a peaceful place, overlooked by the simple farmhouse of a peasant family, a luxurious modern villa built by a wealthy European businessman, and a small mosque, the burial place of a Muslim holy man who gave the place its name.

Appearances here are deceptive. The beach and its hinterland are the focus of a 10-year clash over land, rights and cultures that has been chronicled in a documentary, "Hercule Contre Hermès," by Mohamed Ulad, a French film director and producer who was born in Morocco.

Read more at The New York Times

Gaza strikes: Israelis are frightened

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KIBBUTZ KFAR AZZA, Israel – Lital Ben-Oved was helping her 8-year-old daughter, Hadar, get ready for school when her cellphone buzzed with the text message dreaded by everyone in southern Israel.

The "Red Alert" from Israel's Home Front Command warned people "to remain within 15 seconds" of a bomb shelter. She grabbed Hadar and ran to the bedroom of her three children, a safe room reinforced with concrete.

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Egypt constitution: Too strict or too permissive?

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CAIRO – Islamic law will be part of the new Egypt. The question is, how strict will it be?

Portions of the draft constitution revealed in recent days have caused worry among women and religious minorities that the text may restrict their rights and behavior. Yet Egyptians who desire adherence to the seventh-century laws of the Muslim prophet Mohammed are not pleased.

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Egypt's government: 'Night Law' to brace for economic impact

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CAIRO — In the late 1700s, Fahmy Ali Al-Fishawy established what became Egypt's most prominent coffee shop in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz was one among dozens of novelists, artists, politicians and even presidents who regularly sipped their mint tea and smoked water pipes at the historical, arabesque-styled cafe.

For more than 200 years, Al-Fishawy café, which is listed in almost every Egypt tourist guidebook, never closed before dawn or as long as customers continued to scent the air with fruit-flavored water pipe smoke. But as of December, Al-Fishawy and every other café and restaurant in Egypt will be forced to shut down at 2 a.m. while shops will have to close at midnight.

Read more at Al Monitor

Deteriorating Security: Sinai tunnel trade and its disruption

b_179_129_16777215_00_images_ARA_news_syr120723aa002.jpegRAFAH, Sinai — Every few days, an armored vehicle rolls past the entrance to Abou Yasser's clothing shop in this city that straddles the border between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, the police and military unaware of how he really makes a living.

Read more at Al Monitor

U.S. journalist: Has gone missing in Syria

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BEIRUT -- Austin Tice is quick to warm up to anyone he encounters, friends say, and it is perhaps that ease of trust that got the 31-year-old American freelance journalist into trouble.

Tice, a second-year law school student at Georgetown University and former Marine, set off for Syria in May to try his hand in journalism after reading about the challenges journalists were having getting into the country.

Read more at USA Today

Syrian opposition: New group recognized by Gulf council

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ANTAKYA, Turkey – The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council says it has recognized the new broad-based Syrian opposition group as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people.

Monday's statement is the first formal recognition for the newly united opposition group that seeks to topple President Bashar Assad.

Read more at USA Today

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