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Record 7,423 US bombs dropped in Afghanistan in 2019: report

United States forces in Afghanistan have dropped a record number of bombs this year more than at any other time in at least 10 years, according to the US Air Force. The US has dropped 7,423 bombs on targets in Afghanistan in 2019, marking a rise from the 7,362 munitions released in 2018, the US…

Record 7,423 US bombs dropped in Afghanistan in 2019: report

United States forces in Afghanistan have dropped a record number of bombs this year more than at any other time in at least 10 years, according to the US Air Force.
The US has dropped 7,423 bombs on targets in Afghanistan in 2019, marking a rise from the 7,362 munitions released in 2018, the US Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT) said in a report released on Monday.
The figure represents a dramatic increase in bombings in Afghanistan in contrast to 2009 when 4,147 bombs were dropped under former President Barack Obama.
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The US has now ramped up air bombings since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 as Washington removed a requirement that said the targets should be “proximate” to US or Afghan forces in order to prevent civilian casualties.
The United Nations and rights groups have repeatedly expressed concerns over the increase in air raids across the country by US and Afghan forces that have resulted in a dramatic rise in civilian casualties. 
On Sunday, at least seven civilians, including three children were killed in government air raids in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province that triggered protests from residents.

Earlier this month, more than 60 civilians were killed or wounded in a US drone attack targeting a top Taliban splinter-group commander in the western Afghanistan province of Herat.
Resolute Support, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement that it launched “a defensive air strike in support of Afghan forces”, with a spokesman confirming US participation in the operation.
In October, UN said it had credible reports of US air attacks on alleged Taliban drug laboratories resulting in the death of at least 30 civilians, including children. The US-led mission in Afghanistan quickly disputed the claim.
The raids targeted 60 sites in Farah Province and neighboring Nimruz Province. 
In the first half of 2019, 717 civilians were killed by government forces, including US, representing a dramatic increase of 31 percent from a year earlier, the UN reported last year.
The spike in hostilities comes as the US and the Taliban continue to push for a possible agreement that would see US troops withdrawing from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.
Multiple sources close to the talks said the Taliban had agreed to scale down attacks against US forces and Afghan government forces. The US demands a ceasefire from the group before any agreement could be finalised.
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Israel bombs Gaza after rocket fire follows UAE, Bahrain deals |NationalTribune.com

The Israeli military carried out a series of air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday after rockets were fired into Israel during a “normalisation” of ties signing ceremony with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the United States.  According to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a site in…

Israel bombs Gaza after rocket fire follows UAE, Bahrain deals |NationalTribune.com

The Israeli military carried out a series of air raids on the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday after rockets were fired into Israel during a “normalisation” of ties signing ceremony with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in the United States. 
According to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a site in Beit Lahiya in the northern strip. They also targeted areas in Deir al-Balah, a city in central Gaza, as well as parts of Khan Younis in southern Gaza. No casualties were reported.
By Wednesday morning, 15 rockets had been fired into Israel wounding two people, according to the military.
Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, warned Israel it “will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct”.
“We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression,” it said in a statement.
Without naming specific factions, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in Gaza said in response to the Israeli air raids, the “resistance” fired rocket salvoes at Israel.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign US-brokered normalisation deals

Earlier on Wednesday, the Israeli army in a statement said it carried out 10 air strikes against positions belonging to Hamas in response to rockets being fired into Israel.

Israel, UAE and Bahrain sign US-brokered normalisation deals

The rockets were fired at the same time as Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain signed agreements at the White House in Washington to establish diplomatic relations.
Palestinians, who seek an independent state that includes the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.
The latest rocket fire from Gaza came after a month of armed groups in the strip stepping up incendiary balloon attacks against Israel, which responded with nighttime air raids against Hamas.
Since 2008, Israel has waged three wars on the Gaza Strip. Israel has long said it holds Hamas responsible for all violence from Gaza, while Hamas says Israel is responsible for the state of anger and pressure inflicted on Gaza’s residents because of the continued siege.
Since 2007 Israel has imposed a crippling blockade on Gaza’s two million residents. The Gaza Strip has a population of two million, more than half of whom live in poverty, according to the World Bank.
Anti-normalisation rallies
While many Israelis welcomed the Gulf state accords, in Sderot’s main square, resident Yehuda Ben Loulou said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “should first solve the main problem in Gaza”.
Netanyahu “goes to easy countries with whom we have no problems. They sign agreements. But what about Gaza?” said Ben Loulou, 59.
The normalisation moves by the UAE and Bahrain with Israel prompted demonstrations in the Palestinian territories on Tuesday.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against the coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Hebron, and in Gaza.
Hundreds also took part in a demonstration in Ramallah, home of the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The Palestinian leadership wants an independent state based on the de facto borders before the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and annexed East Jerusalem.
Arab countries have long called for Israel’s withdrawal from already illegally occupied land, a just solution for Palestinian refugees and a settlement that leads to the establishment of a viable, independent Palestinian state in exchange for establishing ties with it.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Tuesday the Gulf deals will “not achieve peace in the region” until the US and Israel acknowledge his people’s right to a state.
Abbas warned “attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and its leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, will have dangerous consequences”.
In Gaza, protesters trampled on and set fire to placards bearing images of the leaders of Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.
Hamas and Israel last month reached a Qatari-mediated ceasefire deal and revived a fragile 18-month truce. The group has joined the PA in condemning the UAE and Bahraini accords as a “betrayal” of their cause.
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Israel bombs Gaza after warning Hamas it risks war |NationalTribune.com

Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip for the eighth consecutive night after alleging that Palestinians had fired a rocket into southern Israel. The latest attacks came as Israel warned Hamas – the group that governs the Strip – it was risking “war” by failing to stop incendiary balloons being launched across the border. Hamas security…

Israel bombs Gaza after warning Hamas it risks war |NationalTribune.com

Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip for the eighth consecutive night after alleging that Palestinians had fired a rocket into southern Israel.
The latest attacks came as Israel warned Hamas – the group that governs the Strip – it was risking “war” by failing to stop incendiary balloons being launched across the border.
Hamas security sources said Israeli warplanes and drones struck several facilities that belong to the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the movement.
The Israeli army air raids and artillery attacks caused severe damage to security posts and wounded several people, sources said. No deaths were reported.

My only contact with family in Gaza is a small WhatsApp group where we share news, food pictures and conversations. For the past few hours, all what I read there is news about constant Israeli attacks. “It felt like an earthquake”, my sister commented as she heard one attack.
— Malaka (@MalakaShwaikh) August 18, 2020

In a statement released shortly before midnight (21:00 GMT), the Israeli military said “fighter jets and [other] aircraft struck additional Hamas military targets in the Gaza Strip”.
“Earlier tonight, a rocket was fired and during the day, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” it said. “During the strike, a military compound belonging to one of the special arrays of the Hamas terror organisation was struck.”
Egyptian security officials shuttled between the two sides in a bid to end the flare-up, which has seen more than a week of rocket and fire balloon attacks from Gaza and nightly Israeli reprisals.
‘Not a game’
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin issued a warning to Hamas during a visit to firefighters in the area who said they were called out to 40 blazes caused by Palestinian incendiary balloons on Tuesday.
“Terrorism using incendiary kites and balloons is terrorism just like any other,” Rivlin told them, according to a statement from his office.
“Hamas should know that this is not a game. The time will come when they have to decide … If they want war, they will get war,” said Rivlin, whose post is largely ceremonial.

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
A Hamas source told AFP news agency talks were held with an Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Monday before it left the territory for meetings with the Israelis and the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.
The Egyptian delegation was expected to return to Gaza after those talks were concluded, the source added.
Power cut may hit health centre
Israel banned fuel imports into Gaza on August 12 as part of punitive measures over the launch of incendiary balloons from the Strip, banned fishing off Gaza’s coast, and closed the Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing – cutting off deliveries of fuel to the territory’s sole power plant.
Power had been in short supply even before the shutdown, with consumers having access to electricity for only eight hours a day. That will now be just four hours a day using power supplied from the Israeli grid.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned on Wednesday that halting Gaza’s only power plant would create problems in the health sector.
The ICRC said on Facebook the reduction of the daily electricity supply from eight hours to three or four hours increased the burden on hospitals, which already operate precariously in Gaza.
Underlining that the power cut will make it difficult for people to access water, it said environmental problems could also arise.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been crippled by an Israeli blockade that has deprived its roughly two million people of vital commodities including food, fuel, and medicine.
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