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The Media Line Daily News Focus

1. SYRIA ANNOUNCES MONDAY WITHDRAWAL…Syria is expected to complete its withdrawal from Lebanon on Monday. The Syrian presence in Lebanon began some 30 years ago, with Damascus effectively controlling its neighbor for most of the time since then. Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad made the surprising announcement of the pullback days after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri earlier this year. While international investigations into the killing continue, many experts outside of Syria say they believe Damascus was behind the bomb that ended Al-Hariri’s life.

2. HIZBULLAH RENEWS ATTACKS ON ISRAEL…Israeli forces on the country’s northern border say they came under fire from Hizbullah positions in southern Lebanon several times on Sunday. There were no reports of injuries. The Media Line analysts say the strike came at a significant moment. The terrorist organization is backed by Iran and Syria and has been very critical of the international pressure on Damascus, which led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. Hizbullah is demanding Israel withdraw from a small piece of land which borders Syria and Lebanon. However, the United Nations says Israel has fully withdrawn from Lebanon.

3. ISRAEL: ATTACKS CONTINUE IN GAZA…Israel says there were at least 10 separate attacks on Israeli civilian and military positions in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. So far Jerusalem has instructed the Israel Defense Forces not to retaliate, despite the growing number of Palestinian attacks in recent days. Palestinian sources say those launching the strikes are either working independently or belong to armed terror organizations that were not party to the Palestinian factions’ cease-fire understanding.

4. P.A. REMOVES TOP OFFICERS…Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud ‘Abbas has forced retirement on several top figures in the Palestinian military. It is the latest in a series of moves aimed at cleaning up operations, making them more efficient and less corrupt. Among those on their way out is the late Yassir Arafat’s nephew Mousa and head of intelligence Amin Al-Hindi. The Media Line analysts say so far ‘Abbas has preferred to tackle changes in the Palestinian Authority and is delaying confronting Hamas and Islamic Jihad to a later date.

5. ISRAEL’S FORMER PRESIDENT DIES…Israel’s former president Ezer Weizman died on Sunday after a lengthy illness. Known for his sometimes overly honest views, Weizman will be best remembered for effectively building the Israeli Air Force and leading it to victory in the 1967 War. Weizman was defense minister when Israel and Egypt made peace.