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Nov. 17, 2012 at 9:33 AM
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Israel hits Hamas HQ amid fear of invasion

JERUSALEM, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Israeli says it destroyed the headquarters of Hamas leaders Saturday in a wave of air strikes as the conflict entered its fourth day.

Since Israel killed Hamas' military chief on Wednesday, at least 38 Palestinians and three Israelis have died, the BBC reported.

Overnight strikes are reported to have killed at least eight Palestinians, including three members of Hamas' military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Some 200 sites in Gaza were hit overnight, said Israeli military spokeswoman Avital Leibovich. Targeted were rocket launchers, weapons warehouses and smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

Strikes on Gaza came in waves as militants continued to fire rockets into Israel. Gaza City was hit with a series of large explosions about 3 a.m. local time, followed by another string of attacks about two hours later in which a number of Hamas office buildings were hit.

The Palestinian Cabinet headquarters were leveled as well as Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's office. The Ministry of the Interior, a police compound and a Hamas training facility also were targeted, CNN reported.

Israeli tanks and armored vehicles Saturday joined Israeli soldiers gathering near the Gaza border, raising the specter of a ground invasion. The Israel military said 30,000 troops were being mobilized and 75,000 reservists have been called up.

A new Iron Dome anti-missile battery, which has been successful in intercepting many rockets fired from Gaza, was installed in Tel Aviv Saturday, Israeli military officials said.

A Tunisian delegation visiting Gaza on Saturday reiterated the North African country's "unconditional solidarity" with the Palestinians.

Obama urges House GOP to 'come on board'

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Saturday Congress must work together to extend middle-class tax cuts and avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

"Four years after the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, our economy is growing again and creating jobs. But we have much more to do. Our task now is to build on that progress. Because this nation only succeeds when we've got a growing, thriving middle class," Obama said in his weekly Internet and radio address.

"Soon, we face a very clear deadline that requires us to make some big decisions on jobs and taxes; on investments and deficits. Both parties voted to set this deadline. And I believe both parties can work together to make these decisions in a balanced and responsible way."

The president said there are "two pathways available" when it comes to taxes.

"If Congress fails to act by the end of the year, then everybody's taxes automatically go up -- including the 98 percent of Americans who make less than $250,000 a year. Our economy can't afford that right now. You can't afford that right now. And nobody wants that to happen.

"The other path is for Congress to pass a law right away to prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of anyone's income. That means all Americans -- including the wealthiest Americans -- get a tax cut. And 98 percent of Americans, and 97 percent of all small-business owners, won't see their income taxes go up a single dime," the president said.

"All we need is for Republicans in the House to come on board," he said, noting the Senate already has passed a bill and Democrats in the House are ready to pass one, too.

"We shouldn't hold the middle class hostage while Congress debates tax cuts for the wealthy. Let's begin our work by actually doing what we all agree on. Let's keep taxes low for the middle class. And let's get it done soon -- so we can give families and businesses some good news going into the holiday season."

Obama said he sat down with congressional leaders Friday to discuss ways to reduce the deficit, strengthen the economy and protect the middle class. He said the meeting was "constructive" and everyone agreed "we need to come together, find solutions and take action as soon as possible."

Senator: Bipartisan work can solve debt

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Finding ways to pull the United States back from the so-call "fiscal cliff" is "a test we cannot fail," a New Hampshire Republican senator said Saturday.

Delivering the weekly GOP media address, Sen. Kelly Ayotte urged both Democratic and Republican leadership to work together to find a solution to the nation's "out of control deficits" that include entitlement reform and new revenue.

"Washington can't keep ducking the tough decisions," Ayotte said. "And the 'fiscal cliff' we're headed toward provides an opportunity for both parties to change our country's irresponsible spending path."

She noted that decade-long tax rates will expire by the first of next year, triggering across-the-board spending cuts.

Failure to stop the combination of tax hikes and spending cuts could throw the country back into recession, she said. "This is a test we cannot fail."

Both parties, she said, can agree to tax reform that generates new revenue without raising taxes.

"One thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option. And any effort to address our fiscal crisis without including entitlement reform can't be taken seriously," she said.

In urging bipartisanship, Ayotte said, "for the good of the nation, now is the time for both parties to bring their best ideas to the table."

Labor wins 3 by-elections in Britain

LONDON, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- The British Labor Party picked up a seat in Parliament and held on to two of its own in three by-elections.

The seat in Corby in Northamptonshire was up for grabs Thursday because novelist Louise Mensch, who won a narrow victory in the 2010 general election, decided to join her husband, manager of Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers, in the United States. Andy Sawford, the Labor candidate, won by 7,700 votes, almost four times Mensch's margin of victory, The Financial Times reported.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron called the defeat a "classic mid-term result."

But Sawford and Labor leader Ed Miliband, who joined him in Corby, hailed the vote as a sign of things to come. Sawford said it was a "damning verdict on Cameron's betrayal of the British people."

The Liberal Democrat candidate came in fourth behind the United Kingdom Independence Party in another blow to the governing coalition.

In Manchester Central, where Labor candidate Lucy Powell replaced a Labor MP who ran for police commissioner, the Conservative candidate received less than 5 percent of the vote. The Liberal Democrat share of the vote dropped sharply, the Times said.

Stephen Doughty won in Cardiff South and Penarth, keeping the Welsh district in the Labor fold.

The one Labor defeat Thursday was in Bristol, where an independent won the mayoral race.

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