Palestinian terrorists in Gaza targeted cities, towns, and farming regions in southern Israel with waves of rockets throughout Friday and Saturday, setting off air raid sirens and injuring eight peopleNinety two rockets - Qassams and the longer-range Grads - were fired by midday Saturday at civilian regions. Of those, the Iron Dome anti-rocket system intercepted 25 projectiles heading directly into city centers in Ashdod, Be'ersheba and Ashkelon. Sixty seven rockets exploded in Israeli territory, most of them in open fields. The barrage came after the IAF foiled a major terror attack, killing the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair Qaisi.
Police bomb squad units moved from one explosion site to another seeking to ensure that the fallen rockets did not pose a further threat to the public.
The rocket barrages tapered off at around 3 a.m., but resumed again on Saturday morning, when air raid sirens rang out in Be'ersheba and Ashdod.In addition to the major southern cities, terrorists targeted Israeli communities in the Eshkol Regional Council, Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, and other rural communities close to Gaza.The IDF Home Front Command instructed all civilians living within 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip to behave cautiously and ensure that they were never far from a designated safe room and away from windows.
Another barrage of rockets was fired from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on Saturday morning. The Iron Dome system intercepted a number of rockets over Be'er Sheva. Rocket warning sirens also sounded in Ashdod.
The IDF places responsibility for the escalation on Hamas.
In Gaza, 12 Palestinians have reportedly been killed since Friday in IAF strikes. Most of the dead were Islamic Jihad operatives. Islamic Jihad said it has launched 23 Grad rockets and 22 Qassam rockets. The Popular Resistance Committees has also said that it has launched rockets at Israel since Friday.
On Friday night, IAF aircraft struck six targets in Gaza: two weapons manufacturing sites and two rocket launching sites in northern Gaza, a weapons manufacturing site in central Gaza, and a terror activity center in southern Gaza.
Also overnight, the IAF targeted a terrorist in central Gaza and six terrorist cells in northern and central Gaza as they prepared to launch projectiles at Israel, the IDF said.
On Friday, eight people in Israel were wounded by rocket fire and some damage was reported.
On Friday afternoon, the Israel Air Force launched a strike in Gazaand killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhir al-Qaisi, who was believed to be planning a large terror attack on Israel's southern border.
Senior IDF officials that met regarding the ongoing escalation in southern Israel said on Saturday that the IDF will respond forcefully to any rocket attack against Israeli civilians.
The officials also noted the successes of the Iron Dome system, which has intercepted 25 rockets since the beginning of the escalation on Friday evening.Speaking in Beersheba, Vilnai added that the situation in the south will become more clear in the near future. "We will know in which direction this escalation is headed by the evening," he said. "At this point it is up to the other side."
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu) said that no terrorist is immune from Israeli strikes in Gaza. "All terrorist leaders in the Gaza Strip, including those of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Resistance Committees, are potential targets," he said.
Ayalon added that "Israel's southern residents will not stay at the mercy of Hamas - the government of Israel will not accept this situation. Terrorist infrastructure will be destroyed and terrorist leaders will be hit."
The Quartet of Middle East negotiators - the United States, Russia, the United Nations and European Union - will meet on Monday to discuss the long-stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the United Nations said Friday.The UN press office said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov would meet at UN headquarters ahead of a special UN Security Council session on the Arab Spring uprisings.
Ban Ki-moon said in Jerusalem last month that Israel and the Palestinians were running out of time to solve their conflict and ought to give the highest priority to resuming peace talks.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as a condition for negotiations, has demanded that Israel agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has refused to accept that request and has balked at the Palestinians' demands to freeze settlement activities on lands the Palestinians want for a future state.
Relations with the US and China, climate change, poverty eradication, crisis management and counter-terrorism are to be the top priorities of the EU's new diplomatic corps, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton told her stable of 136 ambassadors at a behind-closed-doors meeting in Brussels on Wednesday (1 December).The speech, given at a regular annual gathering of EU envoys in the European Commission headquarters, doubled as a low-key launch ceremony for the European External Action Service (EEAS), which formally began life the same day.
The sessions, which began on Wednesday and will last until 5pm Brussels time on Friday, also saw speeches by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, European Parliment head Jerzy Buzek and two of Ms Ashton's top managers - French EEAS secretary general Pierre Vimont and Irish EEAS administration chief David O'Sullivan. EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy is to speak on Friday, along with Ms Ashton's two deputy secretary generals, Helga Schmid and Maciej Popowski. Commissioners Kristalina Georgieva (aid), Karl de Gucht (trade) and Stefan Fuele (enlargement) are also in the line-up.
Mr Barroso' speech urged the ambassadors to be "more assertive" in "co-shaping" the global agenda.
Mr O'Sullivan's catchphrase was that the EEAS will stamp the union's "footprint" on the world."There is a very exciting atmosphere. We feel like we are the builders of the new foreign service of the EU."In a related development, Ms Ashton's office on Thursday named 57-year-old Italian crisis management specialist Agostino Miozzo as her right-hand-man in charge of civilian and military crisis-response planning. The post reports directly to Ms Ashton and stands above the still-to-be-named head of the EU's intelligence-sharing bureau, the Joint Situation Centre.
Germany wants to reignite a debate over creating an EU constitution to strengthen the bloc's ability to fight off financial troubles and counter-balance the rising influence of emerging economies, Germany's foreign minister said on Friday.
Guido Westerwelle said the bloc's Lisbon treaty, drafted after Dutch and French voters rejected a proposed constitution in 2005, was not enough to keep European decision-making structures effective.
"We have to open a new chapter in European politics," Westerwelle told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Copenhagen. "We need more efficient decision structures.""I think we have to reopen the debate about a European constitution again," he said. "We have a good treaty, but we need a constitution ... There are new centers of power in the world."German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble had said in November that his country wanted to see changes to the EU's Lisbon Treaty by the end of 2012 in order to lay the foundation for a common fiscal policy in the bloc.
Just few days ago the EU has released an amazing 1 minute video meant to unite Europeans against foreign possible threats. Some newspapers, such as the Daily Mail for example accused the video of being racist but with EU’s 100 million (official) to 200 million (unofficial) non-European immigrants, the EU is anything BUT racist. Most Europeans countries opened their doors to foreigners in the 60′s, most of them coming from the Middle East and Africa. The situation in Europe is summed up quite well in this video. And in this situation, an official unity/solidarity promo-video for native Europeans is more than welcomed.