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Israel hits Gaza as conflict flares after West Bank clashes

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Israel hits Gaza as conflict flares after West Bank clashes

Israeli jets struck Gaza overnight on Friday in retaliation for two rockets fired by Palestinian militants, further escalating tensions after one of the worst days of violence in the occupied West Bank in years.

The rockets fired from Gaza overnight set off alarms in Israeli communities near the border with the southern coastal strip controlled by the Islamist movement Hamas but there were no reports of casualties.

The cross-border fire came after an Israeli raid on a refugee camp in the West Bank on Thursday that killed at least nine Palestinians, including militant gunmen and at least two civilians, the highest single-day death toll in years.

Another man died in a separate incident in al-Ramm outside Jerusalem, bringing the Palestinian death toll so far in 2023 to at least 30.

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The raid, the latest in a near-daily series of clashes in the West Bank over the past year, came days before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to visit Israel and the West Bank.

The months of violence, which surged after a spate of lethal attacks in Israel last year, have drawn fears the conflict could spiral out of control, triggering a broader confrontation between Palestinians and Israel.

The US State Department issued a statement on Thursday saying it was “deeply concerned” with the violence in the West Bank and urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict.

In Gaza, large rallies were planned for the afternoon following Friday prayers.

In the aftermath of Thursday’s raid, the Palestinian Authority, which has limited governing powers in the West Bank, said it was suspending a security cooperation arrangement with Israel that is widely credited with helping to keep order in the territory and preventing attacks against Israel.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who returned to power this year at the head of one of the most right-wing governments in Israel’s history, said Israel was not looking to escalate the situation, although he ordered security forces to be on alert.

The Israeli Defence Force said Friday’s air strikes in Gaza targeted an underground rocket manufacturing site and a military base used by Hamas.

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Ukraine sharply boosts delivery of drones to armed forces

Ukraine sharply boosts delivery of drones to armed forces

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Ukraine sharply boosts delivery of drones to armed forces

Ukraine has delivered three times more drones to its armed forces so far this year than in the whole of 2023, a top commander said, as Ukrainian forces accelerate the use of unmanned craft in the war against Russia.

“This process continues and will only grow,” said Colonel Vadym Sukharevskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s drone forces.

Ukraine, which has been fighting off a full-scale Russian invasion for nearly 26 months, is seeking to ramp up its domestic arms manufacturing and use of innovative technologies to compete against its much larger and wealthier enemy.

He was speaking at an exhibition on Saturday showcasing Ukrainian-made unmanned vehicles for land, sea and air, electronic warfare systems and armoured vehicles.

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Ninety-nine percent of drones used by the Ukrainian military are produced domestically, Sukharevskyi said.

“It’s no secret that our resource limitations in artillery are compensated by drones, such as FPVs (first-person view) and (bomber) drop drones,” he told reporters, referencing an imbalance of artillery firepower between Ukraine and Russia which analysts put at six to one in Russia’s favour.

As the Ukrainian military is outgunned and outmanned on the battlefield, Moscow’s forces have been increasing pressure along the entire frontline and making gradual gains.

The increased use of drones by both sides has been shifting the conflict away from the battlefield to strikes on each other’s military, energy and transport infrastructure.

Ukrainian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), used to hit targets inside Russia in recent months, can now hit targets more than 1,200 km (750 miles) away, Sukharevskyi said.

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Tesla will lay off more than 10% of its workforce.

Oleksandr Kamyshin, Ukraine’s Minister of Strategic Industries, said Ukrainian weapons manufacturers had fuelled both military and economic progress in the country.

Ukraine’s booming military-industrial complex grew GDP by 1.5% in 2023, a significant chunk of the total GDP growth last year of around 5%.
Kamyshin said he was confident that figure would double to 3% of GDP growth this year. But he warned Ukraine’s government could not afford to buy up all its domestic weapons production.

Ukraine was in discussions with international allies about the purchase of weapons for Ukraine from Ukrainian makers to cover the financial shortfall, he said.

“I am convinced that we will start purchases from Ukrainian manufacturers with foreign funds in the new future,” he said. 

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Aseefa Bhutto Zardari sworn in MNA

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari sworn in MNA

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Aseefa Bhutto Zardari sworn in MNA

Aseefa Bhutto Zardari was sworn in as a member of the National Assembly.

NA Speaker Ayaz Sadiq administered the oath.

During the session, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari provided headphones to Aseefa Bhutto Zardari to reduce the noise disturbances as PTI MNAs raised slogans calling for the release of the PTI founder.

Following Aseefa Zardari’s swearing-in, PPP members also chanted slogans in support of the Bhutto family like ‘jiye Bhutto’. 

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

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British jets shot down Iranian drones, PM Sunak says

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that British military jets shot down drones launched by Iran in its attack on Israel and called for “calm heads to prevail” to avoid an escalation of the conflict.

“I can confirm that our planes did shoot down a number of Iranian attack drones,” Sunak told broadcasters.

“If this attack had been successful, the fallout for regional stability would be hard to overstate. We stand by the security of Israel and the wider region, which is of course important for our security here at home, too. What we now need is for calm heads to prevail.”

Sunak was due to join discussions between Group of Seven leaders later on Sunday.

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“It’s important that we coordinate with allies and we’ll be discussing next steps at that moment,” he said

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