* IAF steps up Gaza Strip air strikes The IAF on Thursday bombed a building in the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, reportedly killing seven people, including senior Hamas leader and cleric Sheikh Nizar Rayyan, and injuring thirty others.
* Nizar Rayyan considered successor of Ahmed Yassin Sheikh Nizar Rayyan, 52, a senior Hamas leader and cleric, was killed along with several others on Thursday when an IAF aircraft dropped a bomb on the eight-story Jabalya apartment building he lived in, the IDF said.
* Czechs take over leadership of EU The Czech Republic has taken over the rotating presidency of the European Union, and immediately grappled with a potential crisis.
* FM: There's no humanitarian crisis At a Paris meeting, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told her French counterpart Bernard Kouchner on Thursday that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Israel Radio reported.
* Iraq takes control of Green Zone Iraq has taken control of security in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone after a UN mandate for troops expired.
* Egyptian MP: Hamas abandoning Gazans Stepping up the rhetoric in what has escalated into an all-out verbal war between Hamas and Egypt over the Gaza government's perceived responsibility for the devastating results of Operation Cast Lead, a senior Egyptian parliamentarian on Thursday accused Hamas leaders of abandoning the Palestinians of Gaza to their fate.
* Slovakia becomes eurozone member Slovakia has become the 16th member of the eurozone - the second former communist country to join the grouping.
* China finds major dinosaur site Scientists in China say they believe a group of dinosaur fossils discovered in the east of the country could be the largest collection ever found.
* Draft UNSC resolution on Gaza rejected The Security Council held an emergency meeting on New Year's Eve on an Arab request for a legally binding and enforceable UN resolution that would condemn Israel and halt its military attacks on Gaza.
* Pope says economic crisis needs more than quick fix Pope Benedict ushered in the New Year on Thursday by appealing for solidarity worldwide to fight global poverty made worse by the financial crisis.