- Major city under fire
- Peace talks continue in Jerusalem
Rockets and mortar rounds pounded southern Israeli residents on Wednesday (Sept. 15) as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met in Jerusalem for the second round of peace talks this month.
Gaza-based Palestinian terrorists launched at least a dozen projectiles; two reportedly landed in Ashkelon, a coastal Israeli city with a population of about 110,000. There were no reports of injuries.
In response, the Israel Defense Forces targeted tunnels that run under Gaza's border with Egypt. Israel maintains Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist organizations use the passageways to smuggle weapons and terrorists in and out of the Palestinian coastal enclave. 
No one has claimed responsibility for the latest attacks but Iran-backed Hamas, which controls Gaza, did say it carried out two terror attacks on the eve of the Sept. 2 launch of peace talks.
A new Palestinian video, said to be created by Hamas, offers a view of what Palestinian terrorists think of the ongoing peace process. The clip culminates with the Palestinian takeover of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Much of the funding for Hamas activities emanates from Iran.  which also injects money into the coffers of the South Lebanon-based Hezbollah. 
From 1993-2006, Iran's financial support of Hamas was estimated at $30 million annually. It has increased to several hundred million annually since then. Since Hamas' January 2006 electoral victory, funding has increased significantly. In April 2006, Iran pledged $50 million in aid to Hamas. In November 2006, Iran donated $120 million to Hamas.
Iran has provided Hezbollah with weapons, funding, guidance, and intelligence, giving more than $200 million to Hezbollah annually in addition to an estimated $300 million after Israel's defensive war with Hezbollah in 2006.
Wednesday's barrage from Gaza occurred as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was chairing talks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Clinton said she was "well aware of the obstacles that stand in the way of peace," but added that she is convinced "this is the time and these are the leaders."
Israeli President Shimon Peres told Clinton that peace "can be achieved. It must be achieved," Peres made the remarks as they spoke to reporters at his official residence.
The U.S. secretary of state repeated Washington's apparent desire for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a secure, democratic Jewish state.
Clinton is slated to hold talks with Jordan's King Abdullah in Amman before leaving the region.
U.S. special envoy George Mitchell will travel to Syria and Lebanon on Thursday to update their leaders on the peace process.
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Affiliation: Ariel Sharon's Chief of Staff, public face for Sharon during the 2004 withdrawal negotiations and the diplomatic delegate for negotiating with U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Field: Peace Negotiations.
Affiliation: Former Head of Bureau and Policy Coordinator of Israel's Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak; peace negotiations co-chief negotiator in 1999-2001 at the Camp David summit and the Taba talks; Served under the late PM Yitzhak Rabin, as delegate to the 1994-5 Interim Agreement negotiations.
Field: Peace Process; Israeli Politics
Affiliation: President, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs; former principal foreign policy advisor to Ariel Sharon; former Israeli ambassador to UN
Fields: Israeli and global Jewish affairs; foreign policy; conflict management/conflict resolution
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Affiliation: Former deputy minister of foreign affairs; former member of Knesset;
Principal Research Fellow and Director of the National Security and Public Opinion Project at the Institute for National Security Studies; author of "National Security Decision making: The Israeli Case"
Fields: Israeli public opinion and attitudes, specifically regarding national security and the peace process; Israel-U.S. Relations; Israel-Palestinian conflict
Tel.: 011-972-3-640-0400, ext. 469; 011- 972-50-380-8849
Dr. Tal Becker (background only)
Affiliation: Senior policy advisor to Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006-2009; lead negotiator in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations during the Annapolis peace process.
Field: Israel Foreign Affairs; Peace Process
Field: US-Israel Relations
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Ambassador Zalman Shoval
Affiliation: Ambassador to the U.S. from 1990-1993 and 1998-2000, Former Deputy Foregin Minister
Field: US-Israel Relations
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Affiliation: Veteran diplomatic correspondent, The Jerusalem Post
Fields: Jewish residents of the West Bank; Israeli popular attitudes towards the settlements
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Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi (USA)
Founder and President of The Israel Project (TIP). Mizrahi meets regularly with top Israeli leaders such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Ambassador Michael Oren, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon and many others. She recently returned from meetings in Ramallah with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Chief Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiator Saeb Erekat.
Tel: +1 202 857 6644 / +1 202 365 0787 (cell)
Marcus Sheff, Executive Director of The Israel Project's Israel Office
Eli Ovits, Director of Communications, TIP-Israel
In the United States
Affiliation: Director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Fields: Arab-Israeli relations; peace process; U.S. policy; Middle East democratization; Israeli politics; the Palestinians
Tel.: 202-452-0650 (office)
Affiliation: Executive Director, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise
Fields: U.S.-Israel relations; Israeli politics; Arab-Israeli conflict; Middle Eastern politics
Aaron David Miller
Affiliation: Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center
Fields: U.S.-Middle East relations; Arab-Israeli negotiations; Arab world and Palestinian politics; Israeli politics
Web site: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=sf.profile&person_id=166535
Prof. Yoram Peri
Affiliation: Director, Joseph and Alma Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies, University of Maryland; Former political adviser to late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; former editor-in-chief of the Israeli daily Davar newspaper
Fields: Israeli domestic politics; peace process
Web site: http://www.israelstudies.umd.edu/director.html
"South under attack; IDF strikes Gaza," Yediot Aharonot, Sept 15, 2010, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3954408,00.html
"Palestinian terrorist infiltrators killed; IAF targets terror tunnels in Gaza Strip," Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, May 21, 2010, http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Hamas+war+against+Israel/Palestinian_terrorist_infiltrators_killed-IAF_targets_terror_tunnels_21-May-2010.htm
"Peace Talks to Commence in Shadow of Second Hamas Terror Attack," The israel Project, Sept 2, 2010, http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/c.hsJPK0PIJpH/b.672631/apps/s/content.asp?ct=8629517
"Fact Sheet: Iran's Support of Hamas," The Israel Project, http://www.theisraelproject.org/site/c.hsJPK0PIJpH/b.5400613/k.5FFD/Fact_Sheet_Iran8217s_Support_of_Hamas.htm
"Hezbollah as a strategic arm of Iran," Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center
at the Center for Special Studies (C.S.S), Sept 8, 2006, http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/iran_hezbollah_e1b.htm
Cahsman, Greer Fay, "Hillary Clinton and Shimon Peres: A special friendship," The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 15, 2010, http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=188157