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Egypt NGOs Offices Raided in Foreign Funds Probe

Egyptian police raided more than a dozen offices belonging to local and foreign rights groups on Thursday, as part of an investigation into alleged illicit foreign funding, an official statement said, drawing sharp criticism from Washington.

At least two U.S. rights groups -- the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) -- are being targeted by the operation, judicial sources said.

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At Least 39 Killed in Syria despite Observer Mission

Regime forces fired on protesters at a protest hub near Damascus and killed at least 39 people around Syria on Thursday, even as peace monitors spread out across the country, activists said.

Fourteen people were shot dead in several restive Damascus suburbs, 10 in the central flashpoint province of Homs, 13 in the central province of Hama and two in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Local Coordination Committees, the main activist group spurring protests on the ground, said.

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Mossad Chief: Iran May not be 'Existential Threat' to Israel

The head of Israel's Mossad spy agency has said a nuclear Iran might not pose an "existential threat" to the Jewish state, in remarks reported Thursday by Haaretz newspaper.

"Does Iran pose a threat to Israel? Absolutely," the daily quoted Mossad chief Tamir Pardo as telling a group of Israeli ambassadors.

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Yemen Army Rockets Kill 6 Qaida Suspects

Yemen's army killed six suspected al-Qaida militants in a Katyusha rocket attack on their hideout in the restive southern city of Zinjibar, an official said on Thursday.

"The army carried out heavy shelling using Katyusha rockets on a house in Zinjibar's east where al-Qaida militants were gathered to plot attacks on army units... killing six," said the official in the adjacent town of Jaar.

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Rocket Fired from Gaza after Israeli Air Raids

Palestinian militants fired a rocket at southern Israel on Thursday morning, hours after Israeli warplanes attacked "terror sites" inside the Gaza Strip, the army said.

"A rocket fired from Gaza exploded in an open field in the Eshkol region," a military spokesman told Agence France Presse.

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U.S. Urges Syria to Allow Full Access to Monitors

The U.S. State Department on Wednesday urged Syria to allow Arab monitors to observe as many anti-regime protests as possible and provide unfettered access to members of the opposition.

However, it said it was premature to comment on the first day of monitoring on Tuesday, unlike France which said the monitors were denied the chance to see the reality in the flashpoint city of Homs, where many civilians have been reported killed.

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Jordan Urges End to Syria Violence, Blames Israel for Peace Impasse

Jordan on Wednesday urged an end to "killing" in Syria, and called for reforms in its northern neighbor, where the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died in a crackdown on dissent.

"Killing in Syria must stop and the promised reforms must be implemented without delay," Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said in a lecture at the Royal Jordanian National Defense College.

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Berlin Discusses Activist's Beating with Syrian Envoy

The German foreign ministry said it was holding talks with Syria's ambassador to Berlin Wednesday regarding accusations that the regime's secret services had attacked an opposition member in Germany.

A ministry spokesman said its political director would discuss with Syria's envoy the beating of a local Green party politician of Syrian origin, Ferhard Ahma, at his home early Monday.

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France Says Arab Observers Not Allowed to See 'Reality' in Homs

Arab League observers have not been allowed to determine the real situation in Syria's protest hub of Homs and should return for the full picture, the French foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

"A few Arab League observers were able to be briefly present in Homs yesterday. Their presence did not prevent the continuing of the bloody crackdown in this city, where large demonstrations were violently repressed, leaving about 10 dead," ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.

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Israel Okays 130 Homes in East Jerusalem

Jerusalem municipality on Wednesday approved plans for another 130 housing units in Gilo, a settlement neighborhood in the annexed eastern sector of the Holy City, a city councilor told Agence France Presse.

Pepe Alalu of the left-wing Meretz party said the district planning committee had given the green light to a project to build 130 homes in three 12-storey tower blocks on the eastern outskirts of Gilo which lies just a few kilometers north of Bethlehem.

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