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EGYPT RESEALS GAZA BORDER

The flood of people rushing to buy Egyptian goods slows to a trickle.

Egyptian police sealed Gaza's border with huge metal spikes and shipping containers Sunday, restoring a tight blockade after a breach that allowed hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to cross freely for 12 days.

Gaza's Hamas rulers are demanding new border arrangements that would give it a say in administration. But that looks doubtful, with the international community opposed to any role for the Islamic militant group in running the crossing.

Gaza residents settled back into their dreary closure routine after joyous days of freedom and shopping that flooded the territory with sheep, smoked herring and fuel from Egypt.

"We're back to the same siege and the same problems," said Alaa al-Astal, 33, a security guard at a Gaza university.

Egypt warned Hamas against trying to open the border by force again, as it did on Jan. 23.

"Egypt is a respected state. Its border cannot be breached and its soldiers should not be lobbed with stones," said Suleiman Awwad, spokesman for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The border breach temporarily relieved a seven-month blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized Gaza by force in June.

The opening briefly boosted the popularity of Hamas, as hundreds of thousands of blockade-weary Gazans rushed to Egypt's border region, stocking up on supplies.

On Sunday, the traffic slowed to a trickle as helmeted Egyptian border guards with plastic shields blocked the remaining border openings, allowing only Gazans and Egyptians who found themselves on the wrong side of the border to return home.

Bearded Hamas police worked in tandem with the Egyptians, trying to keep the crowd back. It was a marked change from several days ago, when uniformed Hamas men thwarted Egyptian attempts to reseal the border.

ISRAELI FIRE: Israeli forces opened fire across the Lebanese border Sunday, killing one person and wounding another, Lebanese security officials said. The Israeli military said it was responding to fire apparently from drug smugglers on the Lebanese side.

FAST FACTS

Barak stays put after war report

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that he would not pull his Labor faction from the government over its handling of the 2006 war against Hezbollah guerillas, an announcement that removed any immediate threat to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's tenure. The final report of an official investigation into the war, released Wednesday, did not single out Olmert for criticism, enabling his supporters to call the findings an exoneration and making it harder for Barak to break with the prime minister.

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