Tuesday, 20 November 2012

JTHJ earns Rs 60.39 crore in four days

Politics Of Status Quo
THE five-yearly congress of China's Communist Party that ended with the unveiling of the new leadership recently has - albeit unwittingly - told the rest of the world a lot about the challenges facing the last major state ruled by a Communist Party. The outgoing leader, Hu Jintao, opened the meeting on ...
IS RICE COOKED?
OUR Rice is better than your Rice. That's the argument Democrats are aggressively making against Republicans. And it's true. Condi Rice sold her soul. Susan Rice merely rented hers on the talk shows one Sunday in September. Ambitious to be secretary of state, Condi jilted her mentor, Brent Scowcroft, who publicly opposed the Iraq invasion ...

NO TEXT AVAILABLE


PLEASE REFER TO THIS LINK
NO TEXT AVAILABLE
NO TEXT AVAILABLE

Final Twilight dawns with $30 million from late-night shows

Politics Of Status Quo
THE five-yearly congress of China's Communist Party that ended with the unveiling of the new leadership recently has - albeit unwittingly - told the rest of the world a lot about the challenges facing the last major state ruled by a Communist Party. The outgoing leader, Hu Jintao, opened the meeting on ...
IS RICE COOKED?
OUR Rice is better than your Rice. That's the argument Democrats are aggressively making against Republicans. And it's true. Condi Rice sold her soul. Susan Rice merely rented hers on the talk shows one Sunday in September. Ambitious to be secretary of state, Condi jilted her mentor, Brent Scowcroft, who publicly opposed the Iraq invasion ...

NO TEXT AVAILABLE


PLEASE REFER TO THIS LINK
NO TEXT AVAILABLE
NO TEXT AVAILABLE

Marion Cotillard plays an amputee in Rust and Bone

KRISTIN HOHENADEL

NYT SYNDICATE

MARION Cotillard was barefaced and sleepy eyed. “I just woke up,” she said, and did not quite stifle a yawn as she ordered room-temperature still water in a restaurant across from Central Park.

This 37-year-old French actress had been on something of an American journey.

Her flight from Los Angeles had been diverted to Detroit the night before thanks to a nor’easter. And upon landing in New York she made a beeline for Shake Shack, devoured two burgers and promptly took a nap that had made her slightly late for a conversation about her latest film, Rust and Bone, being released on Friday by Sony Pictures Classics. Co-written and directed by the French auteur Jacques Audiard, it also stars the up-and-coming Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts.

After winning an Oscar for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose in 2007 (the first Academy Award for a French-language performance), Cotillard has been catapulted into mainstream American moviegoing consciousness with turns in films like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris and the latest Batman installment, The Dark Knight Rises, while retaining her art-house cred in Europe.

She has caught the eye of the fashion crowd with Vogue covers, red-carpet appearances and a Lady Dior campaign, and in France she and her partner, the actor and director Guillaume Canet, are often referred to as a Gallic Brangelina. But she went unnoticed in the crowded Manhattan restaurant.

Rust and Bone was a critical and box office success in France and is already earning Oscar buzz for Cotillard. In the film she plays Stephanie, an angry, inscrutable orca trainer at Marineland in Antibes, France, who loses both her legs from the knees down in a freak accident with one of the killer whales, a tragedy that transforms her from the outside in, as she becomes deeply involved with a struggling single father and former boxer named Ali (Schoenaerts).

Audiard, who adapted the screenplay with Thomas Bidegain by combining stories in a collection by the Canadian writer Craig Davidson, has made an over-the-top-sounding tale into an understated meditation on the happiness that comes from opening yourself to love.

After seeing the film at the Cannes Film Festival, Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times that “the movie worked me over, then won me over.” Learning how to move her body to make the amputation look convincing ended up being the least challenging physical aspect of preparing for the role, Cotillard said. She took swimming lessons to strengthen her technique during breaks in filming The Dark Knight Rises in Pittsburgh and spent a week at Marineland learning how to direct the whales. But she only briefly watched videos of amputees to figure out how to move her limbs. It helped that they were seamlessly altered using digital technology. (She wore green knee socks during the shoot.) “I realised pretty quickly that I didn’t really need to watch those videos because it suddenly happened to my character that she lost her legs, and she learns in the moment how to live with that,” she said, speaking in French. “I put myself in the skin of someone without legs, and suddenly I totally forgot the lower part of my legs.” For the filmmakers it wasn’t important to capture what an amputee might look like as if they were shooting a documentary. Cotillard chose to use a cane after her character is fitted with prosthetic legs, for example, something a real-life amputee might have no need for, but which was a visual cue to remind the audience of her condition.

But it turned out that for Cotillard the bigger challenge was putting herself into the emotionally groundless state that Stephanie initially finds herself in.

“In the beginning of the film she is empty, she doesn’t know who she is or why she’s alive,” Cotillard said. “She is numb.” She added later: “It’s as if she were drugged. I have never experimented with hard drugs, but I’ve been at certain moments of my life in a state of shock close to something where you lose your footing, your sense of reality. I think that’s the gift of the actor, the ability to put ourselves in a state.” Audiard said by phone that he knew after seeing La Vie en Rose that he would work with Cotillard one day.

“What touched me about her was her capacity to forget herself,” he said, “to really compose a character.” Cotillard said, “I adore my own life, more and more I love being myself, but I love this work of totally changing personalities, of creating someone radically different from myself.” But she said she was no longer the person who was haunted by Edith Piaf for eight months after shooting stopped. “I want to go profoundly into my roles,” she said. “If not, what’s the point? But I don’t think that will happen to me again. My life has changed.

In a totally organic manner, when I went home to the hotel after shooting Rust and Bone, I had my baby, and suddenly the separation between my life on set and off the set was very easy to make. Because at the time he was about 5 months old, he was a tiny little baby who needed me entirely, not me and my work.” Nevertheless, “I think Stephanie has moved me more than any character I’ve ever played,” she said. “She rediscovers the carnal, sexuality, love.

Everything is very positive in the tragedy she faces.” Audiard said that Cotillard’s schedule didn’t allow much time for them to consult before shooting, so he did more takes than usual. “She had worked on the character herself, and it was new for me to be confronted with the ideas of an actor without having participated,” he said.

To find the right emotional pitch, they did eight takes of the scene in which she wakes up in the hospital. “It seemed to me that Marion had a very, very tragic take on the character in the beginning,” Audiard said. “But she reminds me of a silent film actress.

She is very, very expressive. The dialogue becomes secondary. We can almost do without it.” Schoenaerts said by phone: “I saw her looking for how can I make this scene better, in every scene. She constantly questions herself to get the best of herself and knows how to be in the here and now, which is a very vulnerable state of being.” “Her accident is the beginning of a rebirth,” she said, “and I had in my head during all those scenes that this was the birth of a little baby.” Cotillard said that Audiard’s working method kept the co-stars alert.

“Once he stopped a scene and said: ‘How dramatic are you? Dramatic, dramatic, dramatic! It’s boring!”’ she recalled. “We laughed, and it could seem a bit rude, but he was right. We were happy to have someone with that kind of genius to help us avoid going in the direction of things that are perhaps realistic but are not at all cinematic. And that’s why he’s a great director.” She said that he often had them shooting scenes that weren’t in the original script or trying radically opposed interpretations of the same scene, experimentation that she was happy to embrace. “I love the possibility of finding a moment that will be more than authentic,” she said, “that will have a bit of magic and poetry.” After a busy year Cotillard said she had no projects planned until next summer, though she isn’t ruling anything out. “I feel less like I have something to prove, but I still have things to prove to myself,” she said. “I’d love to do a comedy, for example. There are still plenty of risks to take. But I don’t know if I’ll be an actress my whole life. Nothing can ever be taken for granted in this metier. It makes you very exposed and that can be violent.

I’m strong but also fragile, and sometimes it’s not easy to be exposed to judgment, and to play with your emotions, to go searching inside yourself to make yourself naked to the world.”

Chelsea, Shakhtar hope to win in CL today

AFP

TURIN (ITALY) CHELSEA can qualify for the next round of the Champions League with a win at Juventus on Tuesday, although the defending champions need to overturn a dismal record in their previous eight visits to Italy and quickly move on from a domestic loss to West Bromwich Albion.

The London club’s only success when visiting Serie A clubs came with a 4-0 group win over Lazio in 2003, when Frank Lampard scored the final goal. The other seven matches resulted in four losses and three draws.

Group E is tight, with Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea leading with seven points each and Juventus one point behind. Danish club Nordsjaelland is last with one point.

Shakhtar can also advance on Tuesday with a win at Nordsjaelland, while Juventus needs points against Chelsea to be sure of keeping its hopes alive. “We’re on the same level as the European champions,” Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said. “Juventus has earned the respect of any opponent.” Juve was held to a 0-0 draw by Lazio on Saturday but is still four points clear at the top of Serie A
“We’ve got the utmost respect for (Chelsea). They’re a team that has been at the top for 10 years, but I think Juve has what it needs to win, and the 2-2 draw in London shows that,” added Buffon, who has never won the Champions League รณ coming closest when losing on penalties to AC Milan in the 2003 final.

In their first meeting this season, Chelsea went ahead 2- 0 with two goals from Brazilian midfielder Oscar, but Juve equalised with scores from Arturo Vidal and Fabio Quagliarella.

Quagliarella could pair with diminutive forward Sebastian Giovinco in attack this time, with Mirko Vucinic still recovering from the flu.

Midfield maestro Andrea Pirlo is fully rested after missing the Lazio game through suspension.

Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo rested Juan Mata, Ramires, Oscar and Branislav Ivanovic for the 2-1 loss to West Brom on Saturday.

They will all return, while Ashley Cole is also likely to be back after an ankle injury.

Captain John Terry is out for three weeks with a knee injury.

British papers have reported that Di Matteo is battling to save his job after the squad’s recent run of poor results.

Chelsea is looking to avoid becoming the first reigning champion to fail to qualify for the knockout stage, and faces defending Premier League champion Manchester City this weekend.

“They are two massive games coming up,” said Di Matteo, who will grab extra attention in his return to Italy.

“We’ve got players with a lot of experience. We’ve been in this position before but, for some reason, November for our club is a bad month and it seems to again be the case this year. We have to try and address that.” Meanwhile, Shakhtar also struggled over the weekend, losing to Arsenal Kiev 2-0 for its first loss in the Ukrainian league this season. The defeat ended a 15-match winning streak in the league.

Nordsjaelland earned its only point with a 1-1 draw at home against Juventus.

“The Danish club is dangerous at home,” Shakhtar striker Eduardo said.

“An uneasy game awaits us, but we want to advance to the next round therefore we must win.”

Sadd posts 7th straight win

IKOLI VICTOR

DOHA AL SADD Sports Club extended its unbeaten run to seven Qatar Stars League match with a hard fought 2-1 win over Al Wakrah at the Al Sadd Stadium on Monday.

The result lifted Al Sadd to an unassailable 21 points, eight points ahead of its closest rivals Lekhwiya followed by Rayyan in third place.

It was Al Wakrah’s second consecutive loss, which leaves them with 11 points and fifth in the QSL table.

Khalfan Ibrahim of Al Sadd continued his good form, scoring his sixth goal of the season in the 15th minute of the match.

The striker had a sight of goal and shot the ball from outside the box to beat goalkeeper Hassan Idris. Raul Gonzalez and Mamadou Niang played their part in the goal, with Niang credited with the assist.

In the second half Wakrah took advantage of some mixup in the Sadd defence to level the score with a goal from Ahmed Kahil in the 51st minute.

Algerian defender Nadir Belhadj made the victory certain scoring a goal in the 57th minute with a shot from the edge of the box to beat Idris for the second time.

Elsewhere, Rayyan compounded the woes of Al Kharaitiyat with a 2-1 victory at the Al Khor Stadium. Jarallah Ali scored two goals in the second half before Yahia Kebe reduced the deficit in added time. Jarallah scored in the 72nd and 92nd minute for Rayyan and Kebe scored in the 93rd.

Kharaitiyat is yet to win a QSL match this season and sits at the bottom of the QSL table after seven matches.

In another QSL fixture on Monday, Al Gharafa returned to winning ways as it rallied from behind to beat Al Khor 2- 1 at the Thani Bin Jassim Stadium.

The opening half ended goalless, and in the second half Brazilian Julio Cesar scored from the penalty spot in the 61st minute. Another Brazilian Diego equalised for Gharafa in the 70th minute and Fahid al Shammari made sure all three points are secured, when he added the second with twelve minutes remaining on the clock.

The result lifted Gharafa to seventh on the league table with 9 points, while Al Khor is stuck at 6 points and dropped to the ninth position.

Khor was awarded a penalty kick in the 59th minute through an incursion on Madson, who was fouled inside the box, and Julio Cesar took the kick to the right of goalkeeper Qasem Burhan, who dived to the left.

Gharafa pressed in search of a goal to restore parity, got a deserved equaliser from Tardelli in the 70th minute.

Within eight minutes, Gharafa got a corner kick and the resultant cross saw goalkeeper Baba Jibril beaten to the ball by Fahid as the ball sailed into the net in the 78th minute.

Four minutes were added by referee but the Gharafa defensive quartet of Bilal Mohammed, Hamed Shami, George Kwasi and Ali Mohannadi held their own against the Brazilian attacking pair of Cesar and Sergin.

Czechs record historic win in Davis Cup final

AP

PRAGUE IT’S a job for two when the Czechs win Davis Cup finals.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek gave the Czech Republic the title for the first time as an independent nation by beating Spain 3-2 in the final on Sunday. Each spent about 10 gruelling hours on court, playing the opening singles, teaming up for the doubles and then completing the reverse singles.

Ivan Lendl and Tomas Smid did the same when Czechoslovakia defeated Italy 4-1 in the 1980 final.

“They’ve been our inspiration, our idols. They’re the legends and now we’re joining them,” Stepanek said after clinching the title with a 6-4, 7-6 (0), 3-6, 6-3 upset victory over Nicolas Almagro in the last reverse singles.

Stepanek dropped to the court in disbelief before teammates Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol, Ivo Minar and captain Jaroslav Navratil jumped on him.

“I’m living a dream,” said Stepanek, who wept openly.

This is a moment we’ll never forget.” The Czechs’ quest for the Davis Cup began in the 2007 World Cup playoff against Switzerland in Prague, with Stepanek and Berdych teaming up in doubles against Roger Federer and Yves Allegro. The pair saved a match point before going on to win the match and ultimately the series, starting the journey to this title.

“We’ve been dreaming about it since the series against Switzerland,” Stepanek said. “Whatever it takes in the Davis Cup, we’ll go through it.” Although Berdych rarely plays doubles, the two now have an excellent record of 12-1 in the Davis Cup.

On Sunday, the 37thranked Stepanek was the outsider against his 11th-ranked opponent. But he stuck to his attacking game on the fast indoor carpet at the O2 Arena, winning 41 points at the net.

“I was playing very aggressive today; I wanted be the one who is active, who is controlling the game,” Stepanek said. “It paid off, even though I lost the third set. I had no doubt I was on the way.”

India rout England in first Test

PTI

AHMEDABAD INDIA broke through the stubborn England resistance with a morning burst of five wickets before surging to a comprehensive nine-wicket victory in the opening Test for a 1-0 lead in the four-match series on Monday.

Needing 77 runs to record their first win at this venue in seven years on a crumbling and dusty pitch, India achieved the target when they made 80 for one 15.3 overs after lunch with more than half a day to spare.

Openers Virender Sehwag (25) and Cheteshwar Pujara (41 not out), who scored a double hundred in the huge first innings total of 521 for 8 declared, polished off the major part of the target by adding 57 runs in only 9.5 overs.

Earlier, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha prised open the victory door for the hosts when he broke through England’s resolute batting by packing off overnight batsmen Matt Prior (91) and Alastair Cook (176) in 12 balls to virtually bring the visitors to their knees.

The two had kept England afloat on Day 4 with a determined partnership which had helped the visitors avoid an innings defeat and had raised their hopes of even saving the game. The pair remained unconquered on Day 4 with the visitors on 340/5, an overall lead of 10 runs.

Ojha’s 2/18 burst in 11 overs was complimented by Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Zaheer Khan who grabbed a wicket each as England slumped from 356/5 to 406 all out in just over 16 overs and in 113 minutes of play on Day 5
Ojha, who grabbed 4/120 in the second innings to add to his superb haul of 5/45 in the first, emerged as the most successful bowler from the game.

Pujara, who made an unbeaten 206 in the first essay and opened the innings in place of a bereaved Gautam Gambhir, was the most successful batsman for India.

In the second innings, Pujara and Virat Kohli (14 not out) steered Indian home without being separated.

Sehwag was caught just inside the long on rope by Kevin Pietersen off Graeme Swann after striking one four and a six in his 21-ball knock.

Kohli hit the winning run, a four off Swann, 51 minutes after lunch to seal victory while Pujara remained unconquered after facing 51 balls and striking eight fours.

The victory broke the seven-year winless run for India at this ground. The team had last won at Motera in December 2005, Sri Lanka being the losing side.

This was also their fourth win here in 12 encounters and their fifth in the last six Tests played at home going back to last season’s triumphant series against the West Indies.

The two teams will now proceed to Mumbai for the second Test at the Wankhede Stadium commencing on November 23, to be followed by the third and last Tests at Kolkata (December 5-9) and Nagpur (December 13-17).

England’s first innings collapse for 191 against Ojha and Ashwin was the root cause of their massive defeat though they fought back well through captain Alastair Cook who batted for a marathon 560 minutes spread over three days.

But once Ojha broke the partnership between Cook and Prior at 356, the England resistance started dwindling and the captain’s dismissal virtually ended it though the last three wickets put on 41 runs.

The visitors were all out seven minutes before the scheduled lunch interval, prompting an early break.

Ojha dealt the crucial blows on England in the space of only 12 balls, breaking the stubborn sixthwicket stand between Cook and Prior.

Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Zaheer Khan polished off the tail in style to leave the hosts a small target to chase.

Ojha finished with 4/120 after a fine morning spell of 2/18 in 11 overs.

The visitors lost their last five wickets for the addition of 66 runs in 26.3 overs.

After being frustrated by Cook and Prior since the afternoon session on Day 4, Ojha dismissed the two in superb fashion by deceiving both with his turn off the bowlers’ rough to prise open the doors of victory for India before lunch.

Yadav then packed off England vice captain Stuart Broad for 3 to leave the visitors tottering at 378/8 in their second innings, in effect 48/8 having conceded a 330-run first innings lead to the hosts.

Zaheer Khan ended the England innings by having Tim Bresnan (20 in 75 minutes) caught at short extra cover by substitute fielder Ajinkya Rahane.

On Day 5, Ojha dislodged Prior by accepting the return catch and then struck the biggest blow to the English hopes by clean bowling Cook.

Sada to inaugurate Arabal 2012 tomorrow

ASIF IQBAL

DOHA

ARABAL, the conference dedicated to the Arab aluminum industry, will officially be inaugurated in Doha on Wednesday by Minister of Energy and Industry His Excellency Mohammad bin Saleh al Sada.

The 16th edition of the aluminum conference has special significance as it will be held in the backdrop of the Arab Spring and its impact on industry and investment, and the rise of Chinese aluminum market.

Launched in 1983 by the initiative of Kuwait Aluminum Company, the conference till 2011 was a biennial event.

However, in 2011 it was decided to make it an annual gathering due to the growing importance aluminum industry.

“This year’s conference will include several topics, panel discussions and workshops focused on the aluminum sector at the local and global levels. It will also be hosting some of the leaders of the sector including experts,” Qatalum’s Public Relations and Communication Director and Head of the Preparatory Committee Ibrahim Jasem Fakhri told newsmen.

According to Fakhri the Arabal 2012 represents a platform where large number of experts, industrialists and stakeholders gather to promote the sector, raise awareness, and open the door for everyone to share experiences and information and enhance communication between various stakeholders.

The number of registered participants has exceeded 600 representing more than 140 companies from over 45 countries, he said.

GDI signs $34 million boat deal with Dolphin Energy

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA

GULF Drilling International Limited (GDI) announced the signing of a contract valued at an estimated $34 million to provide Lift Boat Services to Dolphin Energy Limited over a sixteen month period.

The self-propelled jack-up unit will provide accommodation, maintenance and platform support to Dolphin’s DOL 1 and DOL 2 platforms. The vessel is scheduled to start operations in January of 2013 and will continue under the primary term of the contract through April of 2014. Dolphin has the option to extend the term of this contract up to eight more months.

The contract was signed by Dolphin Energy’s General Manager Adel Albuainain and Gulf Drilling International Chief Executive Officer Ibrahim J al Othman in Doha on Monday.

After pursuing this complimentary line of business for several years, GDI has secured its first Lift Boat contract. The Lift Boat sector in Qatar is still in its infancy but the demand for these specialised services is expected to grow as the benefits derived from their usage become more widespread.

GDI aims to be the premier provider of Lift Boat services in Qatar. The Dolphin contract is viewed as a significant milestone for GDI and a stepping stone for future Lift Boat business.

GDI is looking for opportunities to source additional Lift Boat vessels to meet the growing demand.

Albuainain said, “We would like to congratulate GDI for being appointed and look forward to working with the team to implement the scope of work.” GDI CEO Ibrahim J al Othman said, “The Lift Boat segment is one that we have been seeking to develop for several years. We welcome the opportunity to work with a customer like Dolphin Energy and look forward to having a long and mutually successful association with them.” While in the process of expanding its drilling fleet through the addition of three new built jack-up rigs and two new built land rigs, GDI also added a jack-up accommodation barge to its portfolio. A multiyear contract valued at an estimated $82 million to provide jack-up accommodation barge services for another operator in Qatar was concluded earlier this year and GDI is hopeful of adding more jack-up accommodation barges to its fleet in order to keep pace with the growing demand that is seen for these services.

Thyssen seeks binding bids for US, Brazil mills

REUTERS

FRANKFURT

THYSSENKRUPP will open its books to remaining prospective bidders for its US and Brazilian steel mills and ask them to make binding offers for the loss-making plants, the company said on Monday.

ThyssenKrupp said in May it was considering all options for the mills, including a partnership or a sale, to halt losses there and concentrate on its European business. The plants were supposed to give it a foothold in the Americas but have struggled with rising costs and weak demand.

“In the second phase that has now been started, selected bidders will be given the opportunity to analyse the plants in a so-called ‘due diligence’ and to make binding offers,” the German steel and technology group said in a statement.

It reaffirmed that the two steel mills which comprise its Steel Americas unit could be sold in a bundle or separately.

Two people close to the process told Reuters last week that second-round offers were due last week and the field of bidders for the mills was down to around half a dozen.

They said at the time that US Steel and rival Nucor were still in the running, as were Japanese groups JFE Steel Corp and Nippon Steel, and Brazil’s CSN. Final bids were due next month, the sources said.

South Korea’s Posco, China’s Baosteel and Brazilian iron ore miner Vale, which owns just over a quarter of ThyssenKrupp’s Brazilian plant, are not bidding. It was not clear whether ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, was still in the running. ThyssenKrupp Chief Executive Heinrich Hiesinger has said he would want to sell the mills separately for at least their combined book value of 7 billion euros ($9 billion), a target that analysts have viewed with scepticism.

Sources told Reuters last month that ThyssenKrupp asked bidders to resubmit their offers because it deemed the initial bids too low. US-based AK Steel Holding Corp has also said it might be interested in the two steel mills.

Steel Americas, the division that includes both sites, posted an adjusted loss before interest and tax of 778 million euros for the nine months to the end of June and is reportedly heading for a full-year loss of more than 1 billion euros.

Statoil resumes production at North Sea’s Troll C platform

AFP

OSLO

NORWEGIAN oil group Statoil has resumed part of production from an important North Sea platform which was suspended last week, cutting national daily oil output by 8 percent, the company said on Monday.

Production was halted on the Troll C platform on November 15 after a routine inspection found corrosion in the tank of a gas treatment system.

Pumping operations were resumed during the night between Saturday and Sunday, Statoil said in a statement.

A temporary fix, which involves re-injecting untreated gas into the reservoir, means production will reach “around 70 percent” of the platform’s maximum capacity, it added.

“The duration of the repair work has not yet been clarified,” the company said.

The facility would normally produce about 120,000 barrels of oil and 10.5 million cubic metres (371 million cubic feet) of natural gas per day. The volumes include oil and gas from the Fram field, which is connected to Troll C
Norway produced 1,473 million barrels of oil per day in October. According to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country is the world’s seventh largest exporter of oil and the second largest exporter of gas.

Troll C is one of three production facilities in the Troll field, the Scandinavian country’s largest gas reserve.

Statoil holds a 30.58 percent stake in the project, together with publicly owned Petoro (56 percent), Anglo-Dutch Shell (8.1 percent), France’s Total (3.7 percent) and USbased ConocoPhillips (1.6 percent), according to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate.

The adjacent Fram field is covered by a separate production license, held by Statoil (45 percent), US oil major ExxonMobil (25 percent), and France’s GDF Suez and Idemitsu of Japan (15 percent each).

No oil shortage despite Iran sanctions: IEA

REUTERS

CANBERRA/SYDNEY

WORLD oil markets are well supplied despite the loss of nearly 1 million barrels a day of crude from Iran following sanctions by the United States and European Union, the head of the International Energy Agency (IEA) told Reuters on Monday.

Brent crude has stayed above $100 a barrel for most of this year due to concerns over supply disruptions after the United States and Europe slapped sanctions on Iran in a bid to force Tehran to abandon its controversial nuclear programme.

“Well supplied. Yes, that’s consistent (with what we’ve been saying),” Maria Van der Hoeven, executive director of the IEA said when asked about global oil supplies.

She was in Canberra to attend a World Energy Outlook presentation to academics, officials and lawmakers.

Supply was sufficient despite the efficacy of the US and European sanctions in choking Iran’s oil exports, she said.

“More than one million barrels a day are not coming onto the market — one million barrels a day of Iranian oil — so (the sanctions) are working,” van der Hoeven added.

Soaring energy costs prompted the United States to talk of releasing strategic petroleum reserves (SPR) as one option to dampen prices earlier this year, a move that was opposed by IEA and some member nations.

A spike in tensions in the Middle East in the past few days, following air strikes by Israel on the Gaza strip and Palestinian rocket attacks, has for now had no impact on the IEA’s outlook for oil market fundamentals, she said.

Investors fear the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could draw in Middle East producers and threaten oil flows from the region, which supplies more than a third of the world’s crude.

January delivery Brent gained 75 cents to $109.70 a barrel by 0610 GMT on Monday, as Middle East tensions added to concerns about supply from the region.

The IEA advises industrialised nations on energy policy and represents 28 oil importing countries.

Separately on Monday, van der Hoeven told a conference in Sydney that lower US natural gas prices due to a boom in shale gas were unlikely to bring down prices in Europe or Asia.

The United States has yet to start exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG).

How much gas it will eventually export is the subject of debate among politicians, some of whom believe exports should be limited to ensure the country’s domestic economy benefits from the shale boom.

Benchmark US gas prices fell as low $2.50 per mmBtu (million British Thermal Units) in June, while gas prices in Europe were running at around $10 per mBtu and in Asia at $16 to $18 per mBtu, van der Hoeven said.

“Let’s be honest, a price of $2.50 mBtu as we’ve seen in the United States doesn’t cover all costs, so it’s impossible to have prices like this in other parts of the world,” van der Hoeven told the annual Australian Institute of Energy national conference.

Pakistan envoy hosts dinner for visiting defence minister

L N MALLICK

DOHA PAKISTAN’S Ambassador to Qatar HE Muhammad Sarfraz A Khanzada hosted a dinner banquet in honour of Pakistan’s Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Khalid Shameem Wynne, at his residence in West Bay area recently.

Besides embassy officials, Sheikh Ali bin Abdulla Thani al Thani, a senior member of Qatari royal family and Abdul Basit al Shuaibi, CEO, International Islamic Bank also attended the banquet.

Qamar and Wynne arrived in Doha to take part in the multi-national exercise Ferocious Falcon 3 held in Qatar under the leadership of Qatar Armed Forces.

They also attended a seminar for senior commanders and chiefs of staff during their visit.

SDC, RAF in pact to train non-profit sector workers

JOSEPH VARGHESE

DOHA THE Social Development Center (SDC) has signed an agreement with Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah’s Foundation for Humanitarian Services (RAF) to provide educational and training resources to individuals working in the nonprofit sector.

The agreement was signed by Administration and Finance Manager at SDC Fahad Abdulqader al Amri and Chairman of Community Service Department at RAF Dr Yahya bin Hamad al Nuaimi.

Under the agreement, RAF’s Center for Training and Civil Society Studies will design personal development plans and training programmes based on the needs of organisations engaged in humanitarian work in Qatar.

The RAF center will also be responsible for coordinating and managing the training courses and the SDC will provide the venues for all training and development sessions.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Amri said the agreement would provide personal development opportunities to individuals interested in the non-profit sector, particularly humanitarian and charitable causes.

He said: “For non-profit organisations, human resources are the real capital. By helping to strengthen the knowledge base, skills, and capacities of those interested in this field with RAF’s support, we strive to enhance the quality of human resources available in the non-profit sector.” On his part, Nuaimi said the agreement would further enhance the Center for Training and Civil Society Studies’ ability to provide programmes that would help more Qatari individuals to reach their full potential according to the RAF’s vision and the Qatar National Vision 2030.

He said individuals aspiring to work for social and humanitarian causes would benefit from professional training courses and practical work opportunities.

By partnering with organisations like RAF, the SDC seeks to further its main objective – promoting the role of the family unit in society as well as maintaining its social and economic cohesion and stability. It also works actively to train and enable individuals to succeed in the careers they choose to pursue. Through its various collaborative activities with its partners, the SDC aims to raise awareness about specialised training and personal development, preparing society to face the challenges and changes that affect its components and values.

Sheikha Moza launches Qatar library project

MOHAMED KHOULAIDI

DOHA HER Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser on Monday launched the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development’s (QF) new Qatar National Library (QNL) project.

HH Sheikha Moza unveiled the project in the presence of the QNL project team and a number of international guests.

The launching of QNL coincided with the 23rd Conference of the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information titled ‘KNOW’, which opened on Sunday.

Speaking on the occasion, HH Sheikha Moza said, “We are pleased to embark on building a new, world-class Qatar National Library.

The library’s vision of building a bridge between Qatar’s heritage and future demonstrates the significant role the QNL will play in unlocking human potential as Qatar builds a knowledge-based economy. A modern and dynamic national library for the country is essential in reaching this goal.” Earlier in his welcome address, Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al Kuwari said: “The launch of the Qatar National Library coincides with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Dar-al-Kutub (Qatar Books Library), which opened in Doha in 1962. The new library will play an important role in preserving our heritage and archives. At the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, we are working to sustain as well as develop our heritage.” QNL Project Director Dr Claudia Lux said, “Under the visionary leadership and inspiring direction of Her Highness Sheikha Moza, we are proud to announce the development of a project, which will be a strong digital library and a virtual reference desk.” Chairman of the Arab Federation for Libraries and Information Dr.

Hassan al Surayhi highlighted the role of governments, private sector, information agencies and education institutions in establishing a knowledge- base community.

Designed by the world famous architect Rem Kooulhaas, the new QNL will officially open in 2014.

The library will operate a Qatar Reference Service system and provide access to over 60 online databases and websites and will have over 300 computers, wi-fi and multi-media production studios.

The QNL will partner with British Library to digitise 500,000 records relating to Qatar. An ‘e-hub’ at the library will make millions of electronic books and documents accessible to the users through mobile phones and other handheld devices.

In addition to providing access to significant digital heritage collection about Qatar, the QNL will also introduce the Gulf and Arab science online portal. The platform will be launched using digitised material from the British Library’s Indian Office Archive as well as its famous oriental manuscripts.

Four competing Arab films screened for mediapersons

AILYN AGONIA

DOHA FOUR Arab films competing at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival (DTFF 2012) were presented to the media at a press conference on Monday.

The competition features seven narratives, seven documentaries, and 13 short films.

The documentary Embers, is a touching tribute of its director Tamara Stepanyan to her grandmother, also named Tamara, whom she considers her inspiration. It also serves as the director’s journey to rediscover her home country Armenia.

“I am missing my grandmother and I am missing Armenia. Through this documentary I was rediscovering my own country. It started about my grandmother and ended as a dialogue of two generations,” Tamara said.

According to her, working on the film made her more involved with the life and journey of her grandmother.

Michele Tyan, co-producer of the film, stressed the challenge of editing such a personal documentary. She said the challenge lay in being sensitive to the feelings of the director and making sure it was captured by the movie’s tempo.

Another documentary, The Lebanese Rocket Society, takes viewers on a historic journey to Lebanon during the 60s when it launched Middle East’s first rocket.

“We found a postal stamp in a library and conducted research based on that. The 12-year research took us to the era when Lebanon launched the region’s first rocket,” according to director Khalil Joreige.

Joanna Hadjithomas, codirector of the film, said the movie is not just a product of research but a pride of Lebanon and a meaningful contribution to history.

Meanwhile, the narrative, Asham: A Man Called Hope, offers viewers an unconventional romantic theme. It tells the stories of six couples during the January 25 Revolution in Cairo.

Director Maggie M Morgan shared the difficulty in choosing the lead actors for the project. She said the film required actors who were open-spirited to complement the theme. The director stressed that the movie should not be classified as political. “The movie is not at all political, as it is human. In the film’ no one is condemning Mubarak”, she said.

The last film presented during the press conference was Professor, directed by Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud.

The story revolves around the life of a professor and his extra-marital affair with a student jailed for her political views. Through the characters, Mahmoud examines the state of human rights in Tunisia during the 70s.

“The movie was funded by Tunisia’s Ministry of Culture during the former regime. We started working on it six months before the revolution.

The delay in the release of the film has nothing to do with the political transition in Tunisia but has to do with economic and administrative reasons,” the director said.

He said there were no modifications to the movie. He also mentioned the generous support of the Doha Film Institute in seeing the project through.

The Arab Film Competition Award ceremony will be held at the Al Rayyan Theatre on Thursday.

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK DOHA DOHA Film Institute (DFI) Head of Film Financing Paul Miller and Media Finance Advisor Hal Sadoff chaired a panel discussion on Investment Strategies in the Global Film Industry on Sunday, hosted by Miramax, to discuss how films are financed and the changing nature of studio verses independent film production.

The session at the St Regis Doha was held to engage Qatar’s business leaders, to inform and inspire them regarding new ways of becoming involved in the growth of Qatar’s national film industry.

In opening remarks, Chairman and Managing Director of al khaliji HE Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal bin Thani al Thani, one of Qatar’s most influential business figures, said: “There is a deep interest in cinema and the development of the film industry in Qatar. DFI is fulfilling the vision of developing a local film culture.” Going on to discuss how Qatar is looking to diversify the economy in the region, Sheikh Hamad also stated that a unique opportunity for media stakeholders exists in the region due to the acceleration in growth of the global film market. “I’m positive the panel will inspire businesses to invest in local, regional and global films but its not just about business. Film can also inspire and drive social change and address important issues and subjects that can influence culture.” DFI CEO Abdulaziz al Khater said: “DFI is focused on working with partners from across the spectrum of creative industries to help build a sustainable film industry in Qatar. This is about revitalising the cultural story of the Middle East and the Arab world. Cinema is a powerful platform for telling stories, and through our financing initiatives we are extending our support to the regional talent.” Speaking at the event, Miller said: “This is about understanding and realising the film industry as potentially lucrative and a business to invest in. DFI cannot fulfil its mission alone without the support of financiers, banks and lawyers. Together we can help to shape the Doha film industry.” Sadoff gave an overview of the Hollywood studio sector and the independent film sector and said it was a very exciting time for the independent film business.

“Actors and directors are not working as much as Hollywood is focussing on big tentpole movies with fewer releases each year. So more actors and directors are available to the independent film sector and want to work.

This means we can make more commercial movies at a lower cost with a higher value of talent.” Key findings from the session included: n The global movies and entertainment market had total revenues of $90.1 billion in 2011.

n Box office sales were the most lucrative for the global movies & entertainment market in 2011, with total revenues of $33.6 billion, equivalent to 37.3 percent of the market’s overall value.

n The performance of the market is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 0.6 percent for the five-year period 2011 - 2016, which is expected to drive the market to a value of $93 billion by the end of 2016.

n A five percent growth rate is anticipated in the Middle East region.

n There is significant growth in the film sector in such emerging markets as China, India, South America and the Middle East.

n New technology is creating new forms of film distribution outside of traditional cinema exhibition.

n The development of cable and satellite services and the VOD market makes it easier for consumers to access content in new and engaging ways.

Three Japanese films to be screened today

MoI trains officers for leadership roles

TRIBUNE NEWS NETWORK

DOHA THE 32nd leadership training course for top-level officers has started at Leaders’ Training Centre in Police Training Institute. The course is being held between November 18 and December 13 and is being attended by 20 officers from different departments of the Ministry of Interior (MoI). It is being conducted in cooperation with the British International College.

The training course aims to equip the officers with modern techniques needed to mould them as ideal policemen who can deal with rapid changes and keep pace with them to combat all forms of crime. It also contributes to achieving one of the objectives of the strategy of the Ministry of Interior— to prepare and qualify human resources to address present and future challenges.

The sessions will cover security concepts needed to raise strategic awareness and qualification of officers to become leaders in their respective field of action. The topics will be covered under three basic themes - self-development, development of others, and leadership development and development of teams.

Yemen president vows to stand by transition deal

AFP SANAA YEMENI President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi on Monday stressed his commitment to ensuring the success of the political transition in his country, during a speech in Sanaa attended by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Hadi, during a ceremony to celebrate the first anniversary of a power transition agreement which saw former strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh stepping down, also vowed that legislative elections would be held on schedule in February 2014.

He urged political parties in Yemen to “overcome differences” and demonstrate “cohesion and understanding” to pave the way for national dialogue.

The dialogue was scheduled for mid-November but has not yet begun, with no reason for the delay and no new date announced.

The transition deal, sponsored by the United Nations and Yemen’s oil-rich Gulf neighbours, was signed in Riyadh on November 23, 2011, after months of antigovernment protests and deadly clashes between proand anti-Saleh troops.

The pact brought Hadi to power for an interim two-year period in a single-candidate vote.

It also called for a national dialogue where all parties, including the opposition, youth groups and northern rebels are to come together to agree on a new constitution and on formalities for a presidential and parliamentary vote.

Hadi has repeatedly urged all parties in Yemen to join the critical talks, but the Southern Movement, an influential alliance of groups seeking autonomy or independence for the south, said on October 3 it would not attend.

Ban told the meeting that national dialogue must be open to all Yemenis including representatives from the country’s various regions.

Visiting the impoverished country for the first time, Ban held talks with Hadi on his arrival and was later to meet ambassadors from the five permanent Security Council members and envoys from neighbouring Arab Gulf monarchies, a local diplomat said.

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary General Abdullatif al Zayani also re-affirmed the support of the Gulf monarchies to the transition in Yemen.

Late on Sunday, Zayani discussed with Hadi “ongoing preparations for the national dialogue conference which will start soon,” according to state news agency Saba.

Syria opposition bloc to be based in Egypt

AFP CAIRO THE NEWLY formed Syrian opposition bloc that has received Arab and international backing is to be based in Egypt, its head Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib told MENA news agency on Monday.

“It has been decided that the Syrian National Coalition will have its headquarters in Egypt,” Khatib was quoted as saying after talks with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr.

Amr said Egypt was willing to “offer any assistance to the coalition in the coming phase”.

The National Coalition was formed last week after extensive talks in Doha, Qatar, one of the six Gulf states that have officially recognised it as the representative of the Syrian people, along with France and Turkey. The Arab League has recognised the alliance as “the legitimate representative of the Syrian opposition”.

The coalition aims to present a united front to the international community and is lobbying for weapons and cash to help it topple the regime of President Bashar al Assad. But the main Islamist rebel groups in Aleppo has rejected the bloc and instead called for an Islamic state.

Khatib said the coalition — which brings together 14 groups including the powerful Syrian National Council — would work to include all the holdouts. He said the National Coalition would be holding a meeting in Cairo “within 10 days” and “we will listen to our brothers who have not joined this coalition”. “Many positive steps have been taken... we will talk to brothers for the sake of the Syrian people,” Khatib said.

21 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes, toll 98

AFP GAZA CITY ISRAELI airstrikes killed 21 people in Gaza on Monday, raising the overall death toll to 98 on the sixth day of the relentless bombing campaign.

In the latest raids, one person was killed when Israeli warplanes hit the Shuruq tower media centre in Gaza City, which houses major Palestinian and international media outlets, among them official Hamas broadcaster Al Aqsa TV. It was the second time the building had been hit in as many days and left another three people injured, the Hamas-run ambulance service said.

Elsewhere, two more people died in bombing in Nusseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, medics said. There was no immediate information on the identities of any of the victims.

Also during the afternoon, one person was killed and another two wounded when a missile struck a car just north of Gaza City, medics said.

There were no immediate details on identity of the victims.

Medics also said 22-yearold Ramadan Mahmud died of injuries suffered in Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza on Sunday.

Another three people also succumbed to injuries sustained in the violence, but the health ministry could not immediately provide details on their identities.

Elsewhere, a missile hit a motorcycle east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, killing two men and critically wounding a child who was with them, Gaza’s ambulance service said.

The two were named as Abdullah Abu Khater, 30, and Mahmud Abu Khater, 32.

An earlier strike on Qarara in the same area killed two farmers, Ibrahim al-Astal and Obama al-Astal, medics said.

In a strike on southern Gaza City, a car was hit, killing one man and injuring another three, officials said, naming him as 23-year-old Mohammed Shamalah.

Shortly before that, three people were killed in a strike on a car in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, all of them from the same family: Amir Bashir, Tamal Bashir and Salah Bashir.

Early in the day, two women and a child were among four killed in a strike on Gaza City’s eastern Zeitun neighbourhood — Nisma Abu Zorr, 23, Mohammed Abu Zorr, five, Saha Abu Zorr, 20 and Ahid al- Qatati, 35.

And medics said another man had been found dead in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, naming him as Abdel Rahman al Atar, a 50-year-old farmer.

QR2.2bn Qapco unit to be opened today

ASIF IQBAL

DOHA THE Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani will inaugurate Qatar Petrochemical Company’s (Qapco) QR2.2 billion new low-density polyethylene plant (LDPE 3) at Mesaieed Industrial City (MIC) on Tuesday.

The plant will increase Qapco’s output of low-density polyethylene to 700,000 metric tonnes per annum, with LDPE 3 making up nearly half of it.

Testing and commissioning of the plant were completed in mid-August this year.

The foundation stone of the LDPE 3 plant, which will have an annual capacity of 300,000 tonnes, had been laid by the Heir Apparent His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani in 2009.

Qapco has at present two LDPE production lines which together produce about 400,000 tonnes per annum. With the plant going on stream, the combined annual production capacity of polyolefins, which includes LDPE and linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), will go up to 1.15 million tonnes per annum.

“The LDPE 3 facility represents the culmination of our efforts towards the accomplishment of our mission to become a regional leader both in production and distribution of ethylene and polyethylene,” Qapco Vice-Chairman and CEO Mohammed Yousef al Mulla said in a statememt.

Low-density polyethylene is a tough, durable and flexible plastic polymer, an indispensable material for packaging applications all over the world.

The engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project was awarded to German company Uhde through an international tender for the project.

Qapco, one of the leading ethylene and polyethylene producers in the Middle East, was established in 1974 as a joint multinational venture to utilise the associated and non-associated ethane gas from petroleum production in line with the industrialisation plan of Qatar.

Qapco, which commenced commercial production in 1981, is owned jointly by Qatar Industries with 80 percent share and Total Petrochemicals of France with 20 percent share. IQ is controlled by Qatar Petroleum which has a 70 percent share in it. The remaining 30 percent stake is held by the public.

Qapco products reach more than 4,500 customers in 85 countries through its extensive marketing network in strategic markets of the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and the Far East.

Qatar to invest €1bn in Italy, set up €2bn JV

REUTERS

DOHA QATAR agreed on Monday to invest as much as €1 billion ($1.3 billion) in Italian companies, aiding efforts by Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti to breathe life into a weak economy.

Italy has joined a growing list of European states looking to tap Qatar’s vast wealth to support national industries that are struggling to finance their way out of recession.

A joint venture between Italy’s strategic investment fund and state-owned Qatar Holding will invest in sectors including food, fashion and luxury goods, furniture and design, tourism and leisure, the Italian fund said in a statement on Monday.

The venture will have capital of up to €2 billion ($2.5 billion) provided equally by both partners over the first four years, according to the agreement signed during Monti’s visit to Qatar.

The “IQ Made in Italy Venture” will start with €300 million of capital.

“We have four or five ideas (for investment in Italy) we are studying at the moment,” Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani said at a news conference without elaborating.

Qatar is also preparing to sign another agreement with Italy worth €1 billion aimed at small and medium- sized enterprises, the premier said, adding that Qatar would participate in half that amount.

Monti’s visit to the Gulf was partly aimed at attracting new investment both for Italian sovereign bonds and for companies which have had serious problems raising capital as the financial crisis has squeezed bank balance sheets and cut off lending.

“It’s significant that Italy now seems to be proactive in attracting long-term institutional investors and this venture with Qatar clearly signals that,” said Rachel Zeimba, senior analyst and sovereign wealth fund expert at Roubini Global Economics in London.

“It is not clear if the investments are restricted to listed companies alone but it proves that Qatar sees long-term value in sectors such as food and fashion in the country and wants to play in on these themes,” she said.

The PM said Monti’s reform drive since taking office a year ago had helped the Italian economy and been an important step in strengthening its overall economic system.

“We believe Italy is a significant partner for Qatar in Europe,” he said.

Monti, called in to head an unelected technocrat government a year ago at the height of the financial crisis, has faced growing speculation about his political future after elections expected in March.

PM calls for immediate Gaza truce

AFP

DOHA PRIME Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs HE Shiekh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor al Thani called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza on Monday, as Israel and militants in the Palestinian enclave traded fire for a sixth day.

The prime minister described the events in the Gaza Strip as “unacceptable” and called on both sides to commit to a ceasefire.

“We are for a return of calm.

But this must happen clearly and no side must be allowed to continue to assassinate or initiate side battles,” he said. “A truce must be observed from both sides,” the prime minister said.

“A ceasefire must quickly be reached to allow the peace process to begin as soon as possible,” he told reporters according to an official translation. The premier also called for “lifting the oppressive blockade on Gaza.” The prime minister was addressing a joint news conference with his Italian counterpart Mario Monti, in Doha on Monday.

As fighting continued on Monday, ceasefire efforts gathered steam, with senior Hamas officials in Cairo saying Egyptian-led talks on Sunday with Israel were “positive” but now focused on the need to guarantee the terms of any truce.

Monti said his government was in contact with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority, as well as the Emir His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and the PM.

Meanwhile, Israeli aircraft struck crowded areas in the Gaza Strip and killed a senior militant with a missile strike on a media centre on Monday, driving up the Palestinian death toll to 96, as Israel broadened its targets in the 6-day-old offensive meant to quell Hamas rocket fire on Israel.

Escalating its bombing campaign over the weekend, Israel began attacking homes of activists in Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

These attacks have led to a sharp spike in civilian casualties, killing 24 civilians in just under two days and doubling the number of civilians killed in the conflict, a Gaza health official said.

The rising toll came as Egyptian-led efforts to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas got into gear. With the two sides far apart, the leader of Hamas took a tough stance, rejecting Israel’s demands that the militant group stop its rocket fire. Instead, he said, Israel must meet Hamas’ demands for a lifting of the blockade of Gaza.

“We don’t accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor,” he told reporters in Egypt. “We want a cease-fire along with meeting our demands.” Hamas fighters have fired hundreds of rockets into Israel in the current round of fighting, including 75 on Monday, among them one that hit an empty school. Twenty rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile battery, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. Rockets landed in open areas of Beersheva, Ashdod, Asheklon. Schools in southern Israel have been closed since the start of the offensive Wednesday.

Overall, the offensive that began on Wednesday killed 96 Palestinians, including 50 civilians, and wounded some 720 people, Gaza heath official Ashraf al Kidra said. Among the wounded were 225 children, he said.

On the Israeli side, three civilians have died from Palestinian rocket fire and dozens have been wounded.

An Israeli rocket-defense system has intercepted hundreds of rockets bound for populated areas. In Monday’s violence, an Israeli airstrike on a highrise building in Gaza City killed a leading militant in Islamic Jihad, the group said in a text message to reporters.

A number of foreign and local news organizations have offices in the building, which was also struck on Sunday. A passer-by was also killed, medics said.

Islamic Jihad, a smaller sister group to Hamas, identified the dead militant as Ramez Harb, a senior figure in its military wing, the Al Quds Brigades. Thick black smoke rose from the building.

Paramedics said several people were wounded.

Before dawn Monday, a missile struck a three-story home in the Gaza City’s Zeitoun area, flattening the building and badly damaging several nearby homes. Shellshocked residents searching for belongings climbed over debris of twisted metal and cement blocks in the street.

Egypt is trying to broker a cease-fire with the help of Turkey and Qatar. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and a delegation of Arab foreign ministers were expected in Gaza on Tuesday.

However, Israel and Hamas appeared far apart in their demands, and a quick end to the fighting seemed unlikely.

A senior Egyptian official told The Associated Press that Hamas and Israel were each presenting Egypt with their conditions for a cease-fire.

“I hope that by the end of the day we will receive a final signal of what can be achieved,” said the official, who is familiar with the indirect negotiations.

He said Israel and Hamas are both looking for guarantees to ensure a long-term stop to hostilities. The official says Egypt’s aim is to stop the fighting and “find a direct way to lift the siege of Gaza.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the indirect negotiations. But Mashaal said Gazans were prepared to keep fighting. Gaza’s demand is not a halt to war. Its demand is for its legitimate rights,” including a stop to Israeli attacks, assassinations and a lifting of the blockade, Mashaal said. “Let those who started this crazy war stop it, on our conditions,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a related development, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the UN on Monday of failing to act over the deadly Israeli air bombardments of Gaza, calling Israeli a “terrorist state” that “massacres innocent children”.

He accused the UN Security Council of “turning a blind eye” to the suffering of Muslims across the world and called for “sincere action” to end Israel’s strikes on Gaza, where 90 Palestinians died since violence erupted on Wednesday, while three Israelis have been killed in militant rocket fire.

The international community is watching “as Israel violently massacres innocent children in Gaza,” Erdogan said in Istanbul.