Israeli Withdrawal to End before Inaugural

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CBNNews.com - JERUSALEM, Israel - After declaring a cease-fire in Gaza this weekend, Israel now says its forces will be out of Gaza in time for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration as U.S. President Tuesday.

Olmert: Our Goals Have Been Achieved

Israel's security cabinet voted for the unilateral cease-fire Saturday, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the nation that the goals in Gaza had been achieved

He added that Israel would suspend its military operation if Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel.

There is little doubt that Israel dealt Hamas a severe blow in Gaza, killing hundreds of its operatives and destroying many tunnels used to smuggle weapons. But some fear the military gains could be lost if Hamas is allowed to recoup and rebuild.

Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu met Sunday with residents of Sderot who have faced eight years of Hamas rocket fire. He warned that Israel will have to contend with Hamas again.

"Well, it's not over," Netanyahu stated. "It's very clear that Hamas is still here and that we'll have to remove this threat. I think facing this Hamas terror and Hezbollah terror and the backing of Iran, one thing we must not show is weakness."

Hamas Declares 'Heavenly Victory'

Meanwhile, Hamas declared its own week-long ceasefire in order to allow Israel's military to leave Gaza.

In a statement broadcast on Al Jazeera, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh declared a "heavenly victory" over Israel.

It is clear Israel's leaders felt pressure to leave Gaza before the Obama administration takes over in Washington.

Many Israeli soldiers believe their mission was incomplete because they are leaving without their comrade, Corporal Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped in Gaza two-and-a-half years ago.

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