Militants launch rocket at Israeli city

(AP) - Palestinian militants in Gaza launched a rocket Tuesday at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, causing no injuries but threatening to upset a recent period of calm.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had left Ashkelon a short time before the rocket hit.

It landed in an open area south of the city of 120,000 people, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

The attack came during a lull in intense fighting between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza that recently left three Israelis and 120 Palestinians dead, including dozens of civilians.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a tiny militant group, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack. But Israel held Gaza's Hamas rulers responsible.

"Hamas controls Gaza and they are responsible for every missile fired from Gaza into Israel. We have no illusions as to the extreme and hateful agenda of Hamas," said government spokesman Mark Regev.

During the recent fighting, dozens of rockets hit Israel every day, including many that targeted Ashkelon. It was the first time the coastal town was heavily bombarded by Palestinian militants.

Israel ended an offensive in Gaza last week, and militants scaled back their rocket fire. Egypt has been serving as a mediator between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers, but both sides denied there was an official cease-fire in place.

Palestinian attacks on Israelis, along with ongoing Israeli construction in areas claimed by the Palestinians, have strained the latest U.S. peace push in the region. With U.S backing, the sides hope to forge a final agreement by the end of the year.

The lead Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qureia, said Tuesday that Israel has endangered the struggling peace process with a new plan to build hundreds of homes in disputed east Jerusalem and in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem. The plans also have received harsh international criticism.

"These violations could lead to the destruction of the peace process," Qureia told reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah. "Instead of focusing on the peace process, (Israel) focuses on settlement expansion."

Qureia said he would raise the matter with retired U.S. Lt. Gen. William Fraser III, the American envoy in charge of monitoring implementation of the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. Fraser is scheduled to hold his first joint meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Friday, Palestinian officials said.

The Palestinians claim the West Bank and east Jerusalem - areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war - as parts of a future independent state.

Israel annexed east Jerusalem immediately after the war and says it is entitled to build anywhere in the city. Olmert has declared a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank, but allowed construction to proceed in areas he hopes to retain under a final peace agreement.

Regev, the Israeli spokesman, said that 350 planned homes in the West Bank settlement of Givat Zeev are in an area Israel intends to keep, but also said Olmert couldn't have halted the construction even if he wanted to since the project was first approved in 1999.

"We would have faced serious legal problems from the developers" if the government tried to block the project, Regev said.

Olmert has been under heavy domestic pressure to allow settlement activity to proceed. Shas, an ultra-Orthodox party in his coalition, has threatened to topple Olmert's fragile government if he makes too many concessions to the Palestinians.

Roi Lachmanovitch, a spokesman for Shas leader Eli Yishai, said their party had pressured Olmert to allow the Givat Zeev construction to resume.

In a radio interview, Yishai said the party is pushing a new plan to build 800 homes in east Jerusalem in response to last week's shooting attack that killed eight students at a Jewish seminary in the city.

Yishai said the new homes would be built next to the Palestinian neighborhood where the shooter lived as a symbolic response to "the murder of eight saints who died to sanctify God's name."

Haim Oron, a dovish opposition lawmaker, accused Yishai of "preventing any chance of moving forward in a peace process."

The U.S., EU, and Egypt have all criticized the latest Israeli settlement construction.

The road map, the basis of the peace talks, sets out a staged process leading to an independent Palestinian state. As initial steps, it calls on Israel to freeze all settlement activity and requires the Palestinians to dismantle militant groups.

Neither side has met its obligations, and talks have repeatedly run into trouble since their launch at a summit in Annapolis, Md., last November.

Iranian gov't has one-month deadline to suspend implementation of NPT Additional Protocol
Iranian gov't has one-month deadline to suspend implementation of NPT Additional Protocol
Iran hopes for economic revival of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh - Vice President Jahangiri
Iran hopes for economic revival of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh - Vice President Jahangiri
Jeyhun Bayramov expresses condolences to his Iranian counterpart
Jeyhun Bayramov expresses condolences to his Iranian counterpart
Loading Bars
Latest
Bezos' Blue Origin taps former Pentagon, NASA officials for new advisory board
Ford announces 580 mln USD investment in Argentina
Cement price up in Uzbekistan due to decrease in production volumes
House seen backing bill that could block Chinese firms from U.S. securities markets
Lebanon central bank can keep subsidies for only two more months
Nigerian troops kill 5 gunmen, rescue nine hostages
Israeli archaeologists discover 2,000-year-old game dice
Tesla CEO says he is open to friendly deal with rival carmaker
Uzbekistan’s export of furniture products to Italy down
Iran increases exports from Gilan Province
Kazakhstan’s freight transportation operator opens tender to buy spares
FAA issues new first air certificate for Boeing 737 MAX since 2019
Number of Kyrgyzstan’s recoveries from COVID-19 reaches 64,711 with 560 new ones
Georgia to participate in discussion on Black Sea security at NATO Foreign Ministerial
Bahar Azadi gold coin price rising in Iran
Turkey to start COVID-19 vaccination drive after Dec. 11
COVID-related restriction may complicate procedures for car registration in Georgia
Euronews prepares reportage from Azerbaijani Aghdam liberated from occupation (VIDEO)
AP highlights aspects of Armenian Armed Forces withdrawal from districts of Azerbaijan
Israeli airline conducts 1st commercial passenger flight to UAE
Humiliating prisoners of war is not characteristic of Azerbaijani people - State Security Service
Quarantine regime to affect some investment projects of Kazakh national oil company
Equal number of Russian, Turkish personnel to work in center to control ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh
Georgian IT sector to arouse investor interest
Azerbaijani marine infantry personnel return to place of permanent deployment (PHOTO)
Delivery process of logistic support assets for peacekeeping contingent in Azerbaijan continues (PHOTO/VIDEO)
Georgian economy sees decrease due to COVID-19 lockdown
Return of Lachin district by Azerbaijan has not only important political, but also economic significance - Georgian expert
AP publishes article highlighting political success of Azerbaijan over Karabakh conflict
Foreign trade operations between Azerbaijan and Poland up
Georgia reveals details of Fourth Stage of Anti-Crisis Plan
Azerbaijani Culture Minister gives interview to France 24
Gradual liberalization of wholesale and retail electricity markets defined in Georgia
Import of aluminum by Azerbaijan up
Georgia approves volume of external debt planned for 2021
Development of well-functioning gas hub to diversify Georgia’s gas market
Uzbekistan, Belarus eye signing mutual tourism dev’t agreement
Demand for tobacco products in Azerbaijan may decline amid pandemic crisis
UAE based company to grow cannabis in Uzbekistan’s Syrdarya region
Fiat brand to electrify 60% of its models by end-2021
Azerbaijani Finance Ministry auctions state medium-term bonds
Georgian hazelnut-producing company faces with complex logistics
Iranian Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on December 2
Number of phishing attacks on Azerbaijani web sites down
European culture to have new dimensions with Lachin's liberation - US expert
Enagas working on 12 projects in hydrogen developments
Spanish Enagas moving towards more sustainable energy model
Azerbaijan's mortgage fund puts up new bond tranche for auction
Georgia names number of beneficiaries of discount cards under agro-diesel promotion program
World Bank helps Georgia to purchase equipment in its fight against coronavirus
Italy decreases crude petroleum oil import from Kazakhstan year-on-year
Azerbaijan's minister of transport meets UK ambassador
Municipality of Italy's Milan adopts document in support of Azerbaijan
Ganja teenager won a bronze medal at the International Olympiad in Informatics!
Production at Azerbaijan’s Kursangi, Garabagli fields adjusted under OPEC+ deal
Georgia reveals Top-5 insurance companies by car insurance premiums
Israeli startups raised over $900m in November
Afrosiyob Palace hotel in Uzbekistan’s Samarkand region put up for auction
Absolute volume of mortgage loans in Azerbaijan grows in 10M2020
Kazakhstan creating e-maps of farmlands to support farmers
Projects linking Turkmenistan with South Caucasus may be of great interest to Belgium - ambassador
Georgia sees increase in persimmon and caraway seeds export
Uzbekistan meets criteria for participation in GSP+, EU commission says
Kazakhstan-based ArcelorMittal Temirtau JSC looks to expand export supplies
Azerbaijan increases production of construction materials
BP PETROLLERİ A.S. reduces aviation fuels exports
First VP Mehriban Aliyeva congratulates Azerbaijani people on liberation of Lachin (PHOTO)
Georgia sees increase in volume of overdue loans
Kazakhstan, Russia eye increasing mutual flights
SHELL & TURCAS PETROL A.S. reduces petroleum products’ sales in Turkey
UK retailer Debenhams to be liquidated
Pfizer-BioNTech seek EU emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccine, target December rollout
Iran reveals its COVID-19 data for December 1
Georgian Stock Exchange launches debut depositary notes
Ukraine to launch new flights to Azerbaijan
Employment in Iran's Zanjan Province increases
Uzbek-Korean JV announces tender for spare parts
Gas supply projects for Kazakh cities to help improve social conditions of citizens
Azerbaijanis in Switzerland protest against 'Le Temps' newspaper of succumbing to Armenian provocation
Wheat cultivation increases in Iran
OPEC+ likely to reach compromise to delay increase in production
Give city of Marseille to Armenians, change its name, create second state for them there - President Aliyev to French Senate
Baku Textile Factory to produce millions of face masks during December 2020
Total amount of transactions on Turkmen State Commodity Exchange for November 2020
Georgia reports 3,759 new cases of coronavirus
We are back Lachin! - Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry
EU supports Georgia in strengthening electricity market reforms
Pensions to increase in Georgia from January 1
Singapore Cooperation Enterprise to support e-commerce dev't in Kazakhstan
Azerbaijan confirms 4,426 new COVID-19 cases, 1,995 recoveries
Azerbaijan's volume of deposits in national currency edges up
Iranian gov't has one-month deadline to suspend implementation of NPT Additional Protocol
Current average cotton yield in Azerbaijan exceeds last year's - Agriculture Ministry
Import of defense industry products by Georgia from Turkey up
More private Turkmen companies manufacture dairy products
Uzbekneftegaz JSC opens tender for IT services
Pilot cargo transportation between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan carried out via digital procedure
Uzbekistan's Kafolat Insurance Company shows solid financial performance amid coronavirus lockdowns
Georgian Phazis Oil Company implementing Kulevi high-technology oil refinery project
AzerTelecom’s digital infrastructure project along bottom of Caspian Sea discussed at “Turkmentel 2020” conference (PHOTO)
All news