While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, May 12

Smoke rises from a building after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 11, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Dozens dead as Israel and Hamas escalate aerial bombardments

Hostilities between Israel and Hamas escalated on Tuesday, raising the death toll in two days to 30 Palestinians and three Israelis, with Israel carrying out multiple air strikes in Gaza and the Islamist militant group firing rockets at Tel Aviv.

A 13-story residential Gaza block collapsed after one of several dozen air strikes. Late into the night, Gazans reported their homes shaking and the sky lighting up with near-constant Israeli strikes.

Israelis ran for shelters in communities more than 70km up the coast amid sounds of explosions as Israeli interceptor missiles streaked into the sky.

Israel said hundreds of rockets had been fired by Palestinian militant groups.


Biden says nearly half of world leaders asking US for Covid-19 vaccine help

US President Joe Biden said Tuesday that almost half the world's leaders have contacted him, asking for US help in obtaining Covid-19 vaccines.

"Every country in the world is now looking at us to provide for their lack of capacity to produce and/or have vaccines," Biden said in a virtual meeting with US state governors.

"I literally have, virtually 40 per cent of the world leaders calling and asking, can we help them," Biden said. "We're going to try."


Iran has enriched uranium to up to 63% purity: IAEA report

"Fluctuations" at Iran's Natanz plant pushed the purity to which it enriched uranium to 63%, higher than the announced 60% that complicated talks to revive its nuclear deal with world powers, a report by the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

Iran made the shift to 60%, a big step towards nuclear weapons-grade from the 20% previously achieved, last month in response to an explosion and power cut at Natanz that Teheran has blamed on Israel and appears to have damaged its enrichment output at a larger, underground facility there.

Iran's move rattled the current indirect talks with the United States to agree conditions for both sides to return fully to the 2015 nuclear deal, which was undermined when Washington abandoned it in 2018, prompting Teheran to violate its terms.


Belgium to ease more Covid-19 restrictions from June 9

Belgium plans to ease nearly all lockdown measures from June 9 provided the country's vaccination campaign keeps up its momentum and the number of people in intensive care units remains under 500, the government said on Tuesday.

The plans to reopen mark a turnaround for Belgium, home to Nato and the European Union headquarters.

It has one of the world's highest per capita death rates from Covid-19, but its vaccination drive is now among the most efficient in the bloc.


Man City crowned Premier League champions as Leicester win at Man United

Caglar Soyuncu's second-half goal saw Leicester beat Manchester United 2-1 on Tuesday in a result that confirmed Manchester City as Premier League champions and strengthened the Foxes' bid for a place in the Champions League.

Pep Guardiola's City side, who missed the chance to seal the title when they were beaten 2-1 by Chelsea on Saturday, are 10 points clear of United, who also have three games left.

It is City's third Premier League title in five seasons under Guardiola and their fifth in the last 10.


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