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At least 21 people have been injured in an explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv, in what one Israeli official described as a “terrorist attack”.

After the incident, near a military headquarters, huge blasts were heard in Gaza – an apparent Israeli strike on the football stadium.

Eleven people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday, the health ministry said.

Efforts to broker a truce between the Hamas movement and Israel continue.

After eight days of exchanges of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now in Cairo for talks with the Egyptian president.

Earlier, Hillary Clinton and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held talks in the West Bank with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Militants in Gaza have been firing more rockets at Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Ofir Gendelman said on his Twitter account that the explosion was caused by a bomb and that it was a “terrorist attack”.

Of the 21 injured, three were suffering from moderate to light injuries – including shrapnel wounds and burns – and were undergoing surgery, a spokesman for the Ichilov medical centre in Tel Aviv said.

Six had already been released and the rest were suffering from anxiety, he said.

The bus was reportedly passing the military headquarters in the city at the time of the blast.

Police believe a bomb was planted on the bus and they are still searching for a suspect.

At least 21 people have been injured in an explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv, in what one Israeli official described as a terrorist attack

At least 21 people have been injured in an explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv, in what one Israeli official described as a terrorist attack

Hamas, the Islamist movement which has governed Gaza since 2007, has praised the attack but has not said it was behind the blast.

Celebratory gunfire reportedly rang out in Gaza when local radio relayed news of the attack.

A series of massive explosions in Gaza, in an apparent Israeli strike on the sports stadium have been reported. Reports from Gaza say the stadium has in the past been used a site to launch rockets.

According to Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, the last bomb attack in Tel Aviv was in April 2006, when a suicide bombing on a restaurant killed 11.

The bus blast comes on the eighth day of the current flare-up in violence between Israel and militants in Gaza.

Some 147 Palestinians and five Israelis have been killed.

Other sites hit in Gaza included a banker’s villa, tunnels to Egypt used by smugglers and a media office, said to be linked to Hamas, that was situated two floors above the Agence France-Presse office in Gaza City.

The IDF said 62 rockets fired by militants from Gaza had hit Israel so far on Wednesday, while another 20 were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system.

The latest violence will further complicate ceasefire discussions taking place in the region.

The two international mediators are both expected to hold talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi in Cairo.

In the West Bank, Ban Ki-moon expressed “profound concern” at the civilian casualties in Gaza and also called on militants to end immediately their “indiscriminate attacks on Israeli population centres”.

Hillary Clinton held talks with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem before heading to Cairo.

Officials from Hamas had suggested on Tuesday that a truce would come into effect at midnight, but Israel later said it had not agreed to a text.

Israel’s demands include no hostile fire of any kind from Gaza and international efforts to prevent Hamas from re-arming, while Hamas is demanding an end to the blockade on Gaza and targeted killings by Israel.

Israel launched its current offensive a week ago with the killing of Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari. The Israeli government says his assassination, and the subsequent offensive, is designed to end rocket fire from Gaza.

Israel has troops massed along the Gaza border but says it is holding off on a possible ground invasion as talks continue.

Ceasefire demands

Israel

  • No more hostile fire from Gaza
  • International moves to stop Hamas rearming
  • Prevent militants crossing to Sinai Peninsula
  • Extended period of quiet for southern Israel

Hamas

  • End to Israeli “aggression”
  • End to blockade of Gaza
  • No more targeted killings by Israel

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At least 26 people have died in the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces kept up air strikes they say are aimed at stopping rocket attacks into Israel.

Fewer rockets have been launched, but Israeli towns are still being hit.

Ninety-five Palestinians and three Israelis have died in six days of violence, the latest including a militant group commander.

Efforts to secure a ceasefire continue, with a senior Egyptian official saying there are “encouraging signs”.

Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of the Islamist movement Hamas which controls Gaza, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested a ceasefire but that it was up to Israel to stop the war that, he said, it had started.

Israel immediately denied making any such request, Reuters news agency reported.

Khaled Meshaal said that a truce was possible in Gaza, as was further escalation of the conflict.

Morale in Gaza was high and anyone who attacked the Palestinians would be “buried”, he added.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has said an Israeli ground invasion would have “serious repercussions”, saying Egypt would never accept it “and neither will the free world”.

At least 26 people have died in the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces kept up air strikes

At least 26 people have died in the Gaza Strip as Israeli forces kept up air strikes

Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that he was ready to expand the operation, after Israel authorized the mobilization of up to 75,000 army reservists.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they targeted about 80 sites overnight into Monday alone, including militant-owned buildings, weapons storage facilities and police stations, bringing its total to 1,350 sites targeted since Wednesday.

Strikes continued on Monday, with a leading figure in the militant group Islamic Jihad, named as Ramez Harb, killed as a building housing media workers was targeted.

One of the overnight blasts destroyed a Hamas police headquarters.

Gaza militants launched 32 missiles into Israel on Monday, of which four were intercepted, said the IDF. One hit a school in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. Classes had already been cancelled. Another hit a house. There are no reports of casualties.

At least nine children were killed in Gaza on Sunday – the bloodiest day so far – and TV reports showing horrific images of their burned and bloodied bodies have been fuelling Palestinian anger.

In one strike, nine members of the family of Hamas policeman Mohamed Dalou were killed – four of them children.

The army’s chief military spokesman, Yoav Mordechai, told Israel’s Channel 2 TV that the intended target of the strike had been Yehiya Rabiyah, the head of Hamas’s rocket-launching unit, but that there had been “civilian casualties”.

Later, the IDF said the house had been targeted because it was thought Yehiya Rabiyah might be hiding there but officials did not know whether he was inside at the time of the attack.

Egypt has been leading efforts to broker a peace deal, with both senior Israeli and Hamas officials in Cairo for talks. An Egyptian official said he hoped to be able to make an announcement on Monday or Tuesday.

Since the conflict began, 877 rockets were fired towards Israel – 570 hit Israel and 307 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system, the IDF says.

Before the recent offensive, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

But the aerial and naval bombardment is its most intense assault on the territory since Israel launched a full-scale invasion four years ago.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, a year after winning a decisive victory in general elections. Israel withdrew from the strip in 2005 but maintains a blockade around it.

Israel, as well as the United States and the European Union, regards Hamas as a terrorist organization.

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President Barack Obama defended Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, but he warned that escalating the offensive with Israeli ground troops could increase the death toll and undermine any hope of a peace process with the Palestinians.

“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” Barack Obama said at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia.

“If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that’s preferable,” he said.

“It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”

Barack Obama’s comments came as Israel’s campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza blasted into its fifth day. Israel is at a crossroads of whether to launch a ground invasion or pursue Egyptian-led truce efforts, and Barack Obama sought to clearly defend the U.S. ally’s military rights while pushing for a halt in the violence.

From Thailand, Barack Obama also defended his decision to go to Myanmar, also known as Burma. He will be the first U.S. president to visit the country, which is moving from a brutal reign toward democracy, but still holds political prisoners and is living with ethnic violence.

Barack Obama defended Israel's airstrikes on the Gaza Strip

Barack Obama defended Israel’s airstrikes on the Gaza Strip

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Sunday that Israel was prepared to significantly expand its military operation in Gaza. Barack Obama has been lobbying Benjamin Netanyahu along with the leaders of Egypt and Turkey to try to halt the crisis – including stopping rocket strikes on Israel.

He said Israel was justly responding to “an ever escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory, but in areas that are populated. And there’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders”.

Barack Obama also said Palestinians will have no chance to pursue their own state and a lasting peace with Israel as long as rockets are fired into Israel. He said he hoped for a clearer process over the next 48 hours – showing how much the Mideast conflict had intruded on his diplomatic mission to Asia.

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An Israeli strike on a home in Gaza has killed at least 10 people, officials say, as Sunday became the deadliest day since Israel launched an operation against Hamas militants this week.

The strike targeted a Hamas official and that a number of children were killed.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel is ready to expand its operation.

Gaza militants continue to fire rockets at Israel, with injuries reported in towns including Ashkelon and Ofakim.

Sources on both sides say attempts to reach a ceasefire are continuing.

At least 21 people are reported to have been killed in Gaza by Israeli bombardments so far on Sunday. Of the total, at least nine were children and at least four were women, Gaza health officials said.

This brings the death toll in Gaza since Israel launched its Operation Pillar of Defence on Wednesday to 67, the officials said.

Three Israelis were killed on Thursday.

Diggers were trying to scoop rubble from flattened buildings and with rescuers frantically trying to find survivors.

The man targeted was Mohamed Dalou. Hamas said eight members of his family also died, including a number of children, along with two other people.

Hamas’s military wing later said in a statement: “The massacre of the Dalou family will not pass without punishment.”

The casualties were taken to Shifa hospital, where earlier our correspondent had seen injured children brought in, one covered in blood.

The hospital went from organized calm to frantic chaos as doctors tried to dress wounds. One nurse broke down in a corner and colleagues tried to comfort her.

Seven homes belonging to Hamas officials have been targeted by Israeli strikes on Sunday.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that 76 missiles fired from Gaza had hit Israel on Sunday, while 37 were intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defence system, including at least one over Tel Aviv.

The Israeli ambulance service reported two people were seriously injured, with 10 moderately or lightly hurt.

Israel’s state radio reported that a volley of 10 rockets had been fired at Ashdod, with three falling in a residential area and seven people treated for shock.

One rocket from Gaza made a direct hit on a residential building in Ashkelon, causing injuries and damage.

Another rocket hit a car in Ofakim, causing injuries, the IDF said.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza had been stepped up again at about 02:00 a.m.

Israeli media reported that the head of Hamas’s rocket-launching unit, Yehiya Bia, had been killed in a strike.

Two media buildings were struck in Gaza City, injuring eight Palestinian journalists, one of whom had to have a leg amputated.

Among those using the buildings were a Hamas television channel, al-Quds TV, as well as Sky News and ITN.

The World Health Organization says hospitals in Gaza are now overwhelmed with casualties and short on supplies.

Palestinian officials say a number of people are still missing under rubble and the total of injured since Wednesday is now 560.

Steps are continuing to try to reach a ceasefire.

Egyptian security officials said a senior Israeli official had arrived in Cairo for talks but Israel has made no comment.

President Barack Obama, speaking on Sunday, said Washington was “fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself”.

Benjamin Netanyahu said at a cabinet meeting on Sunday that Israeli soldiers were ready “for any activity that could take place”.

“We are exacting a heavy price from Hamas and the terrorist organizations and the Israel Defense Forces are prepared for a significant expansion of the operation,” he said.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has said an Israeli ground invasion will have “serious repercussions”, saying Egypt would never accept it “and neither will the free world”.

The Arab League, which met in emergency session in Cairo, is sending a delegation of foreign ministers to Gaza on Tuesday.

Before the recent offensive, Israel had repeatedly carried out air strikes on Gaza as Palestinian militants fired rockets across the border.

But the aerial and naval bombardment is its most intense assault on the coastal territory since Israel launched a full-scale invasion four years ago.

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the world to draw a “clear red line” over Iran’s nuclear programme.

In a speech at the UN, Benjamin Netanyahu said time was running out to stop Tehran from having enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb.

Israel and Western countries suspect Iran is seeking such a capability. Tehran says its programme is peaceful.

Earlier, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas asked the General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinians’ UN status.

Benjamin Netanyahu told delegates at the annual meeting of the assembly that Iran could have enough material to make a nuclear bomb by the middle of next year, and a clear message needed to be sent to stop Tehran in its tracks.

In a speech at the UN, Benjamin Netanyahu said time was running out to stop Tehran from having enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb

In a speech at the UN, Benjamin Netanyahu said time was running out to stop Tehran from having enough enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb

“Red lines don’t lead to war, red lines prevent war,” he said.

“Nothing could imperil the world more than a nuclear-armed Iran.”

He said sanctions passed over the past seven years had not affected Tehran’s programme. “The hour is very late,” he told delegates.

“The Iranian nuclear calendar does not take time out.”

He said he was convinced that faced with a “clear red line, Iran will back down”.

He added that he was confident the US and Israel could chart a common path on the issue.

On Tuesday, in his own address to the General Assembly, US President Barack Obama stressed the US would “do what we must” to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear arms.

However, while the Obama administration has not ruled out a military option, it says sanctions and multilateral negotiations with Iran must still be given time to work.

Earlier this month, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was not prepared to commit to drawing “red lines”.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Western countries of nuclear “intimidation”.

“Continued threat by the uncivilized Zionists [Israel] to resort to military action is a clear example of this bitter reality,” he told the General Assembly.

In his own speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas focused largely on the Palestinians’ UN status, saying he would continue to seek full membership.

But he said negotiations had begun with “regional organizations and member states” aimed at adopting a resolution making Palestine “a non-member state of the United Nations during this session”.

“In our endeavor, we do not seek to delegitimize an existing state – that is Israel – but rather to assert the state that must be realized – that is Palestine.”

Currently, the Palestine Liberation Organisation only has “permanent observer” status. Last year, a bid for full-member status failed because of a lack of support at the UN Security Council.

The change would allow Palestinians to participate in General Assembly debates. It would also improve their chances of joining UN agencies and the International Criminal Court.

Last year, Palestinians joined the UN cultural agency Unesco, despite Israeli and US opposition.

Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his country’s opposition to “unilateral declaration of statehood”.

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Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said would respect an Israeli decision to use military force to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, according to one of his aides.

Mitt Romney, who is in Jerusalem, is expected to pledge closer ties between the US and Israel if he is elected.

President Barack Obama has focused on using sanctions to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

The first leg of Mitt Romney’s trip, in London, was marred by controversy.

After talking of “disconcerting” signs in London’s preparations for the Olympic Games, Mitt Romney backtracked and predicted a “very successful” Olympics.

On Sunday morning Mitt Romney held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Mitt Romney held talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres

Mitt Romney held talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres

He told Shimon Peres he shared Israel’s concern about the development of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, saying: “The threat it would pose to Israel, the region and the world is incomparable and unacceptable.”

Mitt Romney will give a speech later on Sunday near Jerusalem’s Old City in which he is expected to say it is “unacceptable” for Iran to have the “capacity” to develop nuclear weapons.

“If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing the capability, the governor [Mitt Romney] would respect that decision,” his foreign policy adviser Dan Senor told reporters ahead of the speech.

After his meetings with Israeli officials, he went to Jerusalem’s Western Wall, one of Judaism’s holy sites.

Mitt Romney will be hoping that burnishing his pro-Israel credentials will help him among key constituencies in a tight race with Barack Obama, analysts say.

Mitt Romney says Barack Obama has undermined Israel and supported its enemies.

The Republican presidential hopeful is also scheduled to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, though not Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

While not explicitly ruling out military intervention, President Barack Obama’s policy has emphasized non-military means of putting pressure on Iran.

Mitt Romney is highly critical of the international talks taking place which might lead to Iran being allowed to enrich some uranium. Mitt Romney wants zero enrichment.

In his speech on foreign policy, Mitt Romney will say he hopes the military option on Iran can be avoided but that it should not be taken off the table.

Mitt Romney says this is the best chance of focusing the minds of Iranian leaders on finding a peaceful solution.

A source in Mitt Romney’s campaign said he also agreed with those who worried the Arab spring could turn into an “Islamist winter”.

 

Explosion of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in the eastern Bulgarian city of Burgas has killed at least seven people, Israeli officials say.

More than 30 people were also injured when the bus exploded at Burgas airport, by the Black Sea.

Witnesses told Israeli TV that someone boarded the bus and a huge explosion immediately followed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later accused Iran of being behind the explosion.

“All the signs lead to Iran,” he said in a statement.

“Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror.”

More than 30 people were also injured when the bus exploded at Burgas airport

More than 30 people were also injured when the bus exploded at Burgas airport

The Israeli foreign ministry said in a statement: “There are six bodies on the scene – one critically wounded died at the hospital and two seriously injured are in intensive care. Thirty more people are being treated.”

It said the bus was carrying tourists from a charter flight that arrived from Israel.

Wednesday’s blast came on the 18th anniversary of a deadly attack on a Jewish community centre in Argentina. Israel blamed Iran for that attack – a claim denied by Tehran.

Israeli officials said passengers from a Tel Aviv-Burgas flight boarded the bus shortly after 17:00 local time.

“We don’t know if it was a terror attack. We do know it was an explosion,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

Two buses standing nearby were also damaged.

“I arrived at the airport about half-an-hour after the explosion, and saw three buses completely burnt out – just the metal bars were left,” Bulgarian journalist Dobromir Dovkacharov said.

“There were crowds of people around, very distressed. One man said he saw decapitated heads. Others spoke of body parts flying through the air,” he added.

More than 40 people are reported to have been on the bus. Local officials say the death toll could rise further.

Burgas airport has now been closed and flights are being diverted to Varna.

In January there were reports that Israel had asked Bulgaria to tighten security for Israeli tourists travelling by bus.

This followed a reported discovery of a suspicious package found on a bus with Israeli tourists travelling from Turkey to Bulgaria.

Israeli tourists have been targeted in attacks in a number of countries around the world.

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran, the peace process and Egypt.

Hillary Clinton will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as President Shimon Peres and other officials.

She was in Egypt over the weekend, where she met new President Mohammed Mursi.

Hillary Clinton is expected to share her impressions of the new Egypt with Israeli officials.

She will tell officials in Jerusalem that Egypt’s President Mohammed Mursi reiterated in private what he has said in public – that Egypt will abide by all its international agreements.

Those agreements include a peace treaty with Israel.

Israel said to be anxious about the rise of Islamists in neighboring Egypt after the ousting of Hosni Mubarak, who was a long-time American ally.

Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran, the peace process and Egypt

Hillary Clinton has arrived in Israel for talks expected to focus on Iran, the peace process and Egypt

On her trip to Cairo, Hillary Clinton met President Mohammed Mursi and, separately, the head of Egypt’s top military council, Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi.

The president has been in conflict with the military council, which ruled the country after Mubarak was forced out, over parliament’s dissolution.

On Saturday, Hillary Clinton told Mohammed Mursi that the situation required “compromise and real politics” but also voiced support for a “full transition to civilian rule”.

The secretary of state also encouraged Mohammed Mursi to live up to promises to protect the rights of women and minorities, and to preserve the peace treaty with Israel.

In her talks with Field Marshal Mohamad Hussein Tantawi on Sunday Hillary Clinton discussed the transition of power to the newly elected president and stressed the need to protect the rights of all Egyptians, US officials said.

Speaking later at the newly re-opened US consulate in Alexandria, Hillary Clinton said: “I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot.”

Hillary Clinton also held meetings with leading women, the Coptic Christian community and young entrepreneurs in Egypt.

She said: “Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority. It is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed on a deal with Israeli opposition Kadima party, avoiding the early general election he had sought.

Kadima’s recently-elected leader, Shaul Mofaz, is set to be named deputy PM.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu said their new coalition wanted a “responsible” peace process with the Palestinians and “serious” talks about Iran’s nuclear programme.

The move came as parliament debated its dissolution before an election Benjamin Netanyahu had planned for September.

Kadima is currently the biggest party in the Knesset, but recent polls have suggested the number of seats it holds could be halved.

The new coalition will have a majority of 94 – one of the biggest in Israeli history.

President Shimon Peres welcomed the deal as “good for the people of Israel”.

According to an outline of the deal, Kadima would back Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party in return for changes to the so-called Tal Law, which allows ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students to defer military conscription.

It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in February.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed on a deal with Israeli opposition Kadima party, avoiding the early general election he had sought

PM Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed on a deal with Israeli opposition Kadima party, avoiding the early general election he had sought

Secularists say the Tal Law is unfair, but small religious parties – which are crucial to Benjamin Netanyahu’s present coalition – want ultra-Orthodox youths to continue to be allowed to opt for religious study over military service.

Labour party leader Shelly Yachimovich has condemned the deal, saying it is a “pact of cowards.”

“This is the most ridiculous zigzag in the history of Israeli politics,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Four months ago Shaul Mofaz publicly called Benjamin Netanyahu a “liar”, saying he had leaked an inaccurate quote in his name.

In March, he publicly pledged never to join Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

In addition to becoming vice PM, Shaul Mofaz will also join Netanyahu’s inner circle – previously known as the Forum of Eight, and will become a member of the security cabinet.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing administration had been scheduled to remain in power until October 2013.

He earlier announced plans to bring elections forward after disagreements with a junior coalition partner.

Opinion polls suggest Likud could win at least a quarter of the Knesset’s 120 seats if the elections were held in the autumn.

The polls are not very accurate or trustworthy in Israel, but Benjamin Netanyahu is, by some stretch, the most popular politician.

Benjamin Netanyahu must be credited with leading one of the country’s most stable governments of recent times.

He says the main issues in any election would be, as ever, security, including now the threat from Iran, and relations with the Palestinians.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an early general election in Israel in four months’ time.

The vote is expected to take place in September, a year before he is required by law to seek a new mandate.

Benjamin Netanyahu leads a centre-right coalition which includes his own Likud, and the Labour party of Ehud Barak.

He has been prime minister since 2009. Opinion polls suggest that he is by some distance the most popular politician in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an early general election in Israel in four months' time

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for an early general election in Israel in four months' time

Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of party workers in Tel Aviv that he didn’t want “a year and a half of political instability accompanied by blackmail and populism”.

After listing the accomplishments of his government, Benjamin Netanyahu said he would like to lead a broadly based coalition after the election.

 

President Mahmoud Abbas has declared three days of mourning after at least eight Palestinian children have been killed in a collision between a school bus and an Israeli lorry on a road in the West Bank.

The school bus was carrying children as young as five or six on their way to Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.

The vehicle overturned on impact and burst into flames. More than 30 children were injured, and there are fears the death toll may rise.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed his sorrow and offered assistance.

The bus is believed to have been carrying up to 50 children at the time of the crash, which happened on a busy road junction.

At least one report said a teacher had also been killed.

At least eight Palestinian children have been killed in a collision between a school bus and an Israeli lorry on a road in the West Bank

At least eight Palestinian children have been killed in a collision between a school bus and an Israeli lorry on a road in the West Bank

In a broadcast, President Mahmoud Abbas described the accident as a horrific national disaster and said all flags would fly at half-mast.

“The toll so far shows that more than 10 children have died and scores of injured are receiving treatment in various medical centres in the West Bank,” he said.

The higher figure of the number of dead has not been confirmed.

The children were apparently travelling from their school in the West Bank village of Anata when the two vehicles collided, head-on, according to reports.

The lorry driver, an Israeli-Arab, was injured.

Dr. Ahmad Bitawi, director of Ramallah Hospital, said five children and a teacher had been pronounced dead at the hospital, while a further 54 people injured in the crash were treated there, Reuters news agency reported.

Some of the survivors were also taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah University Hospital.

“It is an ugly, unbelievable, terrible accident; it shakes the feelings of the whole world because it includes babies,” Adham Al-Hindin, uncle of two injured children, told Reuters.

The road conditions in the area were “pretty treacherous” following heavy rain overnight and the accident had happened during morning rush hour.

Shalom Galil – an Israeli paramedic at the scene – also said the adverse weather conditions appeared to have been a factor.

He said the steep road where the crash happened had been affected by oil. “We assume that either the bus or the truck slipped and crashed into each other.”

Shalom Galil said Israeli and Palestinian emergency services had worked closely together at the scene.

“Palestinian firefighters were involved. As far as I could see, there was full co-operation between the firefighters of Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian firefighters.”

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