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/ 14 May 2008

Bush arrives in Israel as scandal clouds peace hopes

United States President George Bush arrived in the Middle East on Wednesday to celebrate Israel’s 60th birthday and try to energise peace efforts complicated by a corruption scandal that could topple Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. A smiling Olmert and his wife, Aliza, greeted the president and First Lady Laura Bush at a red-carpet ceremony at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport.

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/ 12 May 2008

Gaza ‘a disaster for everybody’

Gaza’s population has been reduced to a ”subhuman existence” where basic humanitarian needs are going unmet in the face of rapidly deteriorating conditions, according to a senior United Nations official. An Israeli economic blockade on the Gaza Strip has produced shortages of fuel and basic supplies and has closed most private businesses and pushed up poverty rates.

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/ 2 May 2008

Israel urged to end blockade of Gaza as talks begin

Israel will be urged on Friday to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip to avert a humanitarian disaster as the Middle East ”quartet” meets to consider the state of the faltering peace process. Oxfam and five other United Kingdom aid agencies are calling for the quartet to end its ”complacency” by putting the ”highest diplomatic pressure” on Israel.

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/ 22 April 2008

Clinton: US could ‘totally obliterate’ Iran

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton warned Tehran on Tuesday that if she were president, the United States could ”totally obliterate” Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel. Clinton said she wanted to make clear to Tehran what she was prepared to do as president in hopes that this warning would deter any Iranian attack.

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/ 17 April 2008

UN chief alarmed at violence in Gaza

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday expressed grave concern at the mounting violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and urged all parties to show restraint. "The secretary general is gravely concerned at the escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel," his press office said in a statement.

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/ 16 April 2008

Cameraman among 20 killed in Gaza clashes

Three Israeli soldiers and 17 Palestinians, one a cameraman for an international news agency, were killed on Wednesday as troops backed by helicopters stormed into the Gaza Strip. Fadel Shana (23), a Reuters cameraman, was critically wounded when a missile hit his vehicle in the central Gaza Strip.

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/ 6 March 2008

Aid groups say Gaza conditions worst since 1967

British humanitarian agencies on Thursday said the situation in the Gaza Strip was the worst in 40 years and urged the European Union to hold talks with Hamas. ”The situation for 1,5-million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is worse now than at any time since the beginning of the Israeli military occupation in 1967,” the eight NGOs said in a joint report.

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/ 2 March 2008

UN slams Israel after bloody day in Gaza

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for using ”excessive” force in the Gaza Strip and demanded a halt to its offensive after troops killed 61 people on the bloodiest day for Palestinians since the 1980s. The 1,5-million Palestinians crammed into the blockaded, 45km sliver of coast, enjoyed a relative respite early on Sunday from Israeli air strikes and raids.

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/ 7 February 2008

Hamas rejects Abbas truce offer

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offered to help negotiate a ceasefire as Israel pounded Gaza on Thursday, killing seven people days after a suicide bombing claimed by Hamas rulers. Hamas promptly rejected the offer, with spokesperson Fawzi Barhum branding it a ”blackmail attempt against the Palestinian people”.

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/ 2 January 2008

Death toll in Arab-Israeli conflict fell in 2007

The number of Israelis and Palestinians killed in the Middle East conflict dropped last year but human rights abuses continued, a leading Israeli human rights group said on Tuesday. The number of Israeli casualties was at its lowest level since the start of the second intifada in 2000, reflecting a growing sense of security within Israel.

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/ 23 December 2007

Olmert rules out ceasefire, strikes on Hamas continue

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, on Sunday ruled out ceasefire negotiations with the Islamist movement Hamas and said his military was fighting a ”true war” against armed groups in Gaza. He warned of further Israeli military strikes in the days ahead which he said were intended to prevent Palestinian militants from firing makeshift rockets into Israel.

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/ 8 December 2007

Israel not ruling out unilateral strike on Iran

Senior Israeli officials warned on Friday that they were still considering a military strike against Iran, despite a fresh United States intelligence report that concluded Tehran was no longer developing nuclear weapons. Although Israel says it wants strong diplomatic pressure put on Iran, it is reluctant to rule out the threat of a unilateral attack.

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/ 25 September 2007

Ahmadinejad spars with academics in NY

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with an United States university president who called him a ”petty and cruel dictator” at a forum on Monday where Ahmadinejad criticised Israel and the US and said Iran was a peaceful nation. Ahmadinejad also said in an appearance at Columbia University that Iran’s nuclear programme was purely peaceful.