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World Briefing / Jerusalem

2 rockets hit Israel; more talks planned

February 09, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Two rockets fired by Palestinian militants struck southern Israel, the Israeli military said, violating an informal truce even as Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers appeared to hurry closer to a long-term cease-fire deal two days before Israeli elections.

The Gaza Strip's strongman, Mahmoud Zahar, was in Syria, consulting with his Hamas bosses about the truce talks, while Israel's defense minister warned Israelis that they would have to pay a painful price as part of any deal. The flurry of activity came just two days before Israelis elect a new government expected to take a harder line in talks with the Palestinians.

The Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said negotiations would continue in Cairo on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Israel last month unilaterally ended a blistering, three-week offensive in Gaza, meant to stop years of rocket fire on southern Israeli communities. Nearly 1,300 Palestinians were killed, according to Gaza health officials, and the Jewish state said 13 Israelis also died. Vast areas of Gaza were destroyed or heavily damaged. Hamas announced its own cease-fire the same day.

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