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Hamas Breaks Ceasefire with Israel
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Hamas' armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, carried out its first attacks since a tentative November truce on Monday, shooting an Israeli utility worker near the border and launching two mortar rounds at soldiers.

"The Qassam Brigades announce its responsibility for shooting a Zionist (Israeli) and firing two mortar bombs against a gathering of Zionist soldiers near Karni crossing," the statement by Hamas' armed wing said, warning that "our strikes against the enemy will continue." 

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office slammed the shooting as a "terror" attack.
The Israeli electricity company employee had been on duty near the Karni commercial crossing between Israel and Gaza when he was shot, Israeli rescue services said.

This attack overshadows the nascent unity government, declared two days ago, between Hamas and Fatah.

US: partial contact with new Palestinian gov't

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack spoke out on Monday, revealing that contact would be maintained by the US with certain non-Hamas parties of the new Palestinian government, said on Monday.

"Our position is that we are not going to suspend contacts solely based on an individual's membership in the national unity government. We are going to take a look at that on a case-by-case basis," McCormack told reporters at a news briefing.

Washington has consistently been in contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas who is determined forge a lasting peace settlement with Israel.

McCormack further confirmed Palestinian fears that the United States would keep its international ban on financial aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority due to its refusal to recognize Israel, to put down arms and respect previous Palestinian-Israeli accords.

In response to the new Palestinian government, Stephen Hadley, US President George W. Bush's national security adviser, announced Sunday that Washington would refuse all dealings with the new Palestinian government lest it give up violence and fully recognize Israel.

"We will not deal with this government until it accepts those principles," he said. "We'll be watching obviously for the words and deeds of this government."

(China Daily via agencies, Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2007)

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