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Israel To Press Hamas In Gaza

Hamas fired seven rockets Into Israel Sunday as fighting between Hamas and Fatah flared back up after a week of relative quiet between them.

The Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli towns coincided with the recent spike in Hamas-Fatah fighting in Gaza. Likewise, observers have looked to internal Hamas-Fatah ceasefires as potential indicators of Israeli operational tempo against Hamas terrorists. But Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Hamas-Fatah ceasefire agreements will not dictate Israeli operations in Gaza, saying that Israel will pursue Hamas in the future regardless of internal Palestinian ceasefires or subsiding attacks on Israel. "I will not commit to coordinating our behavior with Hamas actions, either it opens fire or halts its fire. Even if there were an internal cease-fire in Gaza, and if such an agreement held, it would apply to the [Palestinian] factions only," Olmert said.

Israeli operations in the West Bank recently have netted several key terrorists from Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Operations against Hamas in Gaza - primarily airstrikes - have been more deadly. While Israel has approved IDF ground operations in Gaza, the Associated Press reported that "a major thrust into the densely populated coastal strip is not in the works."

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad was in London for talks on kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Hamad said that Hamas' PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh had met several times with the journalist in Gaza recently. Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), and al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist cell in Gaza, is demanding the release of al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Qutada, imprisoned in Jordan for his involvement in a 2004 chemical bomb plot in Amman.

US, Iran Talk in Baghdad; Iran Claims 'Upper Hand'

American and Iranian diplomats met face to face in Baghdad for a four-hour talk on Iraq. At the meetings, Iran claimed to seek a stable and unified Iraqi state. US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker said, "They laid out aims and goals similar to our own policy. The problem lies with the Iranians not bringing behavior into line with their own policy.''

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed US diplomat present who also noted that Iran's goals as stated in the meeting were "very close to our own." He then added, "What we would obviously like to see, and the Iraqis would clearly like to see, is an action by Iran on the ground to bring what it's actually doing in line with its stated policy."

In an editorial published in Iran's state-run Tehran Times Monday, it is being touted by the regime domestically that Iran has gained the upper hand with regards to relations with the United States and American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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