Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “further intensify attacks on Hamas” in the Gaza Strip after talks with his defence chiefs.

Netanyahu says the Palestinian militants would “pay a heavy price” for their rocket attacks on Israel.

Israel’s military says Hamas had fired 72 rockets at Israeli cities on Wednesday, after dozens of air strikes were carried out in Gaza overnight.

Some 40 Palestinians are reported to have died in the recent hostilities.

The officials say half the casualties were civilians, a number of them women and children.

Hamas has warned that all Israelis are now targets.

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Iraqi security forces have found the bullet-riddled bodies of 53 men in a mainly Shia area south of Baghdad.

The men, who were bound, blindfolded and had wounds to the head or chest, were found in a field outside Hamza al-Gharbi, a town in Babil province.

It was not immediately clear who the victims were or why they were killed.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has alleged that Kurdish-controlled Irbil province is becoming a haven for the jihadist-led Sunni rebels.

However, he provided no evidence to back up the claim.

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Russia has charged a female Ukrainian army pilot with complicity to murder two Russian journalists.

Nadiya Savchenko was reportedly fighting in a volunteer battalion against pro-Russian separatists near Luhansk in east Ukraine.

Last month she took part in an attack on a rebel checkpoint where two Russian TV journalists were fatally wounded.

Ukraine has accused Russia of abducting her and has demanded she be released and allowed home.

Ukrainian government forces are currently battling rebels in the east and have recaptured several large towns in recent days.

More than 1-thousand people, both civilians and combatants, are believed to have been killed since the uprising began in April.

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