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Israel launches dozens of Gaza strikes as fighting enters second week

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2021)

Israel launched dozens of air strikes on Gaza and Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave fired rocket barrages at Israeli cities as fighting spilled into a second week on Monday amid mounting international calls for a ceasefire.

But there was no sign of any imminent end to the most serious hostilities in years between Israel and the Hamas Islamists who rule the densely-populated enclave, where 2 million Palestinians live, Reuters reported.

Roads, security buildings, militants’ training camps and houses were bombed in Israeli attacks that seemed to be focused on Gaza City, witnesses said. The sound of explosions echoed in many part of the Palestinian enclave overnight.

The Israeli military said that after rockets were fired at the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon, its fighter jets struck nine residences belonging to high-ranking Hamas commanders. Some of the homes, it said, were used for weapons storage.

There were no immediate reports of casualties on either side of the border.

World concern had already deepened after an Israeli air strike in Gaza that destroyed several homes on Sunday and which Palestinian health officials said killed 42 people, including 10 children, and persistent rocket attacks on Israeli towns, Reuters reported.

Injecting more urgency into Washington’s calls for calm, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter: “All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately”, after he spoke with Egypt’s foreign minister about ongoing violence in Israel, Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting on Sunday, the United States said it has made clear to Israel, the Palestinians and others that it is ready to offer support “should the parties seek a ceasefire”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s campaign in Gaza was continuing at “full force”, and that deterrence had to be achieved to prevent future conflict with Hamas, Reuters reported.

“We are acting now, for as long as necessary, to restore calm and quiet to you, Israel’s citizens. It will take time,” Netanyahu said in a televised address after his security Cabinet met on Sunday.

The Gaza Health Ministry put the death toll since the hostilities flared at 197, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten people have been killed in Israel, including two children, Israeli authorities say.

Hamas began its rocket assault last Monday after weeks of tensions over a court case to evict several Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, and in retaliation for Israeli police clashes with Palestinians near the city’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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More than a dozen dead in coalition strikes on Yemen’s Sanaa

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(Last Updated On: January 18, 2022)

An air strike killed about 14 people in a building in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, residents said on Tuesday, during strikes across the city launched by the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi group, Reuters reported.

The alliance strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa followed an attack claimed by the Iran-aligned Houthis on Monday on coalition partner the United Arab Emirates, in Abu Dhabi, in which three people were killed.

The coalition also said it intercepted eight drones launched toward Saudi Arabia on Monday.

Early on Tuesday, the coalition said it had begun air strikes against strongholds and camps in Sanaa belonging to the Houthi group, Saudi state media said.

According to Reuters the strikes appeared to be the deadliest since 2019 on Sanaa.

The strike that killed about 14 people, according to initial estimates, was on the home of a former military official.

It killed him, his wife, his 25-year-old son, other family members and some unidentified people, a medical source and residents told Reuters.

Coalition strikes around the city had killed a total of about 20 people, the deputy foreign minister for the Houthi administration, which holds much of northern Yemen, said on Twitter.

Houthi-run Al Masirah TV said strikes had damaged houses, killed at least a dozen people and wounded about a dozen.

The UAE has armed and trained Yemeni forces that recently joined fighting against the Houthis in Yemen’s energy-producing regions of Shabwa and Marib.

Monday’s Houthi-claimed attack on two sites in the UAE set off explosions in fuel trucks, killed three people and ignited a blaze near Abu Dhabi airport, read the report.

In response, the UAE said it reserved the right to respond to “terrorist attacks and criminal escalation”.

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Pakistan PM and Russia’s Putin discuss Afghanistan in phone call

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin discussed Afghanistan over the phone on Monday and both agreed that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was key to regional stability.

According to a press release issued by Imran Khan’s office, the prime minister told Putin “that a peaceful and stable Afghanistan was pivotal for regional stability. Afghanistan was facing dire humanitarian and economic challenges and support of the international community to the people of Afghanistan at this critical juncture remained vitally important”.

The statement also noted that Khan underscored the importance of the release of Afghanistan’s financial assets for addressing the dire needs of the Afghan people.

“The Prime Minister underscored that Pakistan’s bilateral relationship with Russia was on an upward trajectory, with an increased focus on trade and economic ties and energy cooperation,” the press release stated, adding that the premier reiterated the government’s resolve for early realization of the Pakistan Stream Gas Pipeline Project.

Both leaders also agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in different areas, including Afghanistan and increase high-level exchanges.

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N.Korea fires two ballistic missiles from Pyongyang airport, S.Korea says

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2022)

North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) on Monday from an airport in its capital city of Pyongyang, South Korea’s military reported, the fourth test this month to demonstrate its expanding missile arsenal.

Japan also reported the launch, with chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno condemning it as a threat to peace and security, Reuters reported.

In less than two weeks, nuclear-armed North Korea has conducted three other missile tests, an unusually rapid series of launches. It said two of them involved single “hypersonic missiles” capable of high speed and manoeuvring after launch, while a test on Friday involved a pair of short-range ballistic missiles fired from train cars.

Monday’s launch appeared to involve two SRBMs fired east from Sunan Airfield in Pyongyang, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

North Korea used the airport to test fire the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) in 2017, with leader Kim Jong Un in attendance.

The missiles fired on Monday travelled about 380 km to a maximum altitude of 42 km, the JCS said in a statement.

Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missiles appeared to have landed in the ocean near North Korea’s east coast, Reuters reported.

“It is self-evident that the aim of North Korea’s frequent missile launches is to improve their missile technology,” he told reporters.

“The repeated launching of North Korea’s ballistic missiles is a grave problem for the international community, including Japan,” Kishi added, noting that the launches were a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from all ballistic missile development.

The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command said it assessed that the launch did not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, but “these missile launches highlight the destabilising impact of (North Korea’s ) illicit weapons programme”.

The pace of testing and the different launch sites suggests that North Korea has enough missiles to feel comfortable expending them on tests, training, and demonstrations, and helps reinforce its deterrent credibility by emphasizing the volume of its missile force, said Mason Richey, a professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, Reuters reported.

North Korea has not tested its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) or nuclear weapons since 2017, but after denuclearisation talks stalled in 2019, it began unveiling and testing a range of new SRBM designs.

Many of the latest SRBMs, including the hypersonic missiles, appear designed to evade missile defences. North Korea has also vowed to pursue tactical nuclear weapons, which could allow it to deploy nuclear warheads on SRBMs.

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