Whether Israel and Hamas were in a fight to the finish appeared uncertain, but the former struck a new blow Thursday with a rocket attack in Gaza City that killed another wanted radical. It was the fourth incident of violence between the two in 24 hours. The casualties included Yasser Taha, his wife, their small daughter, and four others. Hamas warned foreigners to leave Israel immediately for their safety and vowed to target "every Zionist occupying our land." For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his cabinet he'd hunt Hamas militants "to the bitter end" and called Palestinian leaders "crybabies" for professing an inability to stop radical groups by force. Left, a guard checks the identity papers of an Arab on a bus in Jeru-salem after Wednesday's bombing by Hamas. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 9.)
Further rallies against the hard-line Islamic leadership of Iran will not be tolerated, protesters in the capital were warned after a second night of clashes between hundreds of youths and police. But supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on "the pious" not to involve themselves after an incident in Tehran in which dozens of vigilantes on motorbikes chased and beat demonstrators, some of them seriously. Analysts suggested the two protests, unlike those seen previously, were ominous because they appeared spontaneous and unorganized.
Peace negotiations between the government of Liberian President Charles Taylor and the main rebel faction fighting to oust him were to resume Thursday, with mediators seeking an immediate truce. But the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy have said they'll stop fighting only if Taylor's troops stop attacking first. Meanwhile, the president told a news conference that Liberia will have no peace until his indictment as a war criminal is dropped by a UN tribunal.
Eighty cracks have been discovered in the face of China's huge Three Gorges Dam and are serious enough to cause leaking if not repaired carefully, the government acknowledged. The dam already is criticized for the potential disaster that an accident could cause since it is in a densely populated area. In another rare admission, officials also said the land onto which hundreds of thousands of people were relocated because of the dam is of poor quality.
An overwhelming "yes" vote is expected today in the Czech Republic in a national referendum on membership in the European Union. Analysts said momentum for an expanded EU appears unstoppable, with voters in Hungary, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta, and - most recently - Poland already having approved membership.