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Israel strikes Gaza Strip 140 times as fresh war looms

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Gaza :The Israeli military has carried out over 140 strikes against the Gaza Strip, threatening another full-scale military offensive against the blockaded coastal enclave amid escalating tensions there.
The Israeli army said that it had pounded more than 140 targets in Gaza belonging to the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement.
The attacks came after around 150 rockets were fired from Gaza into the occupied territories from late Wednesday into Thursday, the Israeli military added.
It further claimed that the Israeli missile system Iron Dome had intercepted 25 rockets out of the 150 rockets, which activated sirens in the occupied territories over 125 times.
Hamas claimed responsibility for the fresh rocket attacks into the occupied lands, saying it was avenging the deaths of two fighters killed in an Israeli tank fire in Gaza on Tuesday.
“In response to Israel aggression, the Palestinian resistance has launched a large number of rockets in recent hours at the enemy,” Hamas said. “There was a promise [to respond] and now it has been fulfilled.”
Two Hamas members are killed in yet another Israeli military attack against the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Hamas military wing, Ezzeddin al-Qassam Brigades, identified the victims of Tuesday’s Israeli strike as Ahmed Murjan and Abdel-Hafez al-Silawi.
Meanwhile, a senior Israeli army official told Israeli daily Haaretz on Thursday that Tel Aviv is approaching a new war on Gaza.
“We don’t see the end of the escalation. We are closing in on operation in Gaza,” he said.
Another Israeli official warned Hamas against further escalation in the region.
“The way things continue to play out is significant. Hamas will understand in the coming hours, as in the past months, that this is not the direction it wants to chose,” he was quoted as saying on the army[‘s Twitter account.
Top Israeli army officials and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Netanyahu are expected to meet at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv amid the latest uptick in Gaza tensions.
Netanyahu will hold talks with Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman, army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, head of the Shin Bet spy service Nadav Argaman and Meir Ben-Shabbat, head of the National Security Council.
Israel carries out regular attacks on Palestinians in Gaza under the pretext of hitting Hamas targets.
The Gaza Strip has been under an inhumane Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.
Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests demanding the right to return for the Plaestinains driven out of their homeland.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, marking the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which this year coincided with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.
Nearly 160 Palestinians have been killed and some 17,500 others wounded in the fresh wave of violence, according to the latest figures released by the Palestinian Health Ministry.


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International

Pakistan doesn’t do ‘a damn thing’ for US:Trump

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Washington: President Donald Trump defended his administration’s decision to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid to Pakistan, saying the country does not do “a damn thing” for the US and its government had helped Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city.

Referring to Laden and his former compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Donald Trump in an interview to Fox News said, “You know, living – think of this – living in Pakistan, beautifully in Pakistan in what I guess they considered a nice mansion, I don’t know, I’ve seen nicer.”

The compound was demolished shortly after US Naval Special Warfare Development Group forces, in a daring helicopter raid, killed Laden there in 2011.

“But living in Pakistan right next to the military academy, everybody in Pakistan knew he was there,” he added.

“And we give Pakistan USD 1.3 billion a year. … (Laden] lived in Pakistan, we’re supporting Pakistan, we’re giving them USD 1.3 billion a year — which we don’t give them anymore, by the way, I ended it because they don’t do anything for us, they don’t do a damn thing for us,” he said.

The ties between the two countries strained after Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in August last year, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.

In September, the Trump administration cancelled USD 300 million in military aid to Islamabad for not doing enough against terror groups active on its soil.

Trump also said that he has plans to visit Iraq and Afghanistan to meet American troops stationed there.

“Well, I think you will see that happen. There are things that are being planned. We don’t want to talk about it because of — obviously because of security reasons and everything else,” he said.

Trump has been criticized by his political opponents for not visiting either Afghanistan or Iraq in the first two years of his presidency.

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California wildfire death toll rises to 77

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Chico (US) : Authorities say one more set of human remains has been found, bringing the total number killed in a devastating California wildfire to 77.

A state incident report released says the flames destroyed more than 10,500 homes.

Over a thousand names remain on a list of those unaccounted for after the so-called Camp Fire swept through the rural town of Paradise on November 8. Authorities stressed that many of those may be safe and unaware they have been reported missing.

Hundreds of volunteers are sifting through ash and debris, searching for human remains before expected rains complicate their efforts. The predicted downpours could wash away telltale fragments of bone, or turn loose, dry ash into a thick paste that would frustrate the search.

The fire was 65 per cent contained Sunday.

Crews searching for remains of people after the devastating Northern California wildfire are stepping up their efforts ahead of rains forecast for later this week that could complicate their work.

A team of 10 volunteers along with a cadaver dog were examining burned houses Sunday in a Paradise neighbourhood looking for victims.

They’re focusing on vehicles, bathtubs and mattress springs that would indicate a charred bed.

If no remains are found, the team leaves a note in orange spray paint near the home.

Rain would help suppress the fire but could also complicate the search and recovery effort. Officials say ash that is now dry and easy to dust off would turn into paste, making it harder to uncover remains.

The National Park Service says all but one of 13 mountain lions being tracked in Southern California mountains have been accounted for following a devastating wildfire.

As of Friday, the only missing mountain lion was one dubbed P-74, a young male born last year.

In addition, all four bobcats that the agency monitors via GPS have been located in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Los Angeles.

Officials have again increased the number of homes and other structures burned by a huge Southern California wildfire.

The figure rose Sunday to 1,130 buildings destroyed – many of them homes – and 300 damaged. The tally is continuing.

Firefighters are making progress against the blaze that broke out November 8 and tore through communities west of Los Angeles from Thousand Oaks to Malibu.

More evacuees have been allowed back in their homes and the 151-square-mile (391-square-kilometer) blaze is now 88 percent contained.

California’s governor is expressing optimism that President Donald Trump will support the state as it deals with raging wildfires.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” airing Sunday that the Republican president has “got our back” and has pledged to continue to help.

Trump initially blamed state officials for poor forest management in exacerbating the fires and threatened to cut off federal funding. He’s since signed an emergency declaration and toured the devastated areas Saturday with Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom.

Brown also suggested in the CBS interview that the wildfires will make believers of even the most ardent climate change skeptics “in less than five years” and that those living near forests might need to build underground shelters to protect them from wildfires going forward.

Pope Francis has prayed for victims of California’s wildfires and freezing weather on the US East Coast.

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Trump refuses to hear tape of Khashoggi killing

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Washington: US President Donald Trump said that while Turkey has shared with US an audio purported to be of the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, he has no plans to listen to the recording.

“We have the tape. I don’t want to hear the tape. No reason for me to hear the tape,” the president told interviewer Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

When Wallace asked him his reason, Trump replied: “Because it’s a suffering tape, it’s a terrible tape. I’ve been fully briefed on it, there’s no reason for me to hear it,” reports Efe.

Khashoggi, who was a columnist for The Washington Post, died on October 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, where he had gone to obtain documents enabling him to marry his Turkish fiance.

Weeks later, the Saudi government acknowledged that he was killed inside the consulate and last Thursday, the kingdom’s attorney general that he would seek the death penalty for five of the 11 suspects charged in connection with the journalist’s death.

In a press conference in Riyadh, Saud al-Mojeb insisted that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Sultan, had not had any prior knowledge of the operation, whose original aim was to bring Khashoggi back to Riyadh.

Long a member of the Saudi establishment, Khashoggi became estranged from the government as a result of his criticism of the crown prince and had been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2017.

Al-Mojeb said the investigation had shown that Khashoggi died after being restrained and injected with a tranquiliser following a fight inside the consulate.

US media have reported that the CIA concluded Mohamed bin Salman — known as MbS — was ultimately behind Khashoggi’s death.

Trump, who described the media accounts as “very premature,” wondered aloud Sunday whether the truth of who ordered the operation may never be known.

“Well, will anybody really know? All right, will anybody really know? But he (MbS) did have certainly people that were reasonably close to him and close to him that were probably involved,” the president told Fox News.

He pointed to the measures the US government announced Thursday against 17 Saudi Arabian officials for their alleged role in the Khashoggi murder, including Saud al-Qahtani, a chief adviser to MbS.

“You saw we put on very heavy sanctions, massive sanctions on a large group of people from Saudi Arabia. But at the same time we do have an ally and I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good,” Trump said.

The president reiterated that in personal conversations with the crown prince, MbS had repeatedly denied involvement in the killing.

“He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago,” Trump said.

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