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1. AL-QA’IDA WEBSITE CLAIMS ATTACK ON ISRAEL…This week’s Katyusha rocket attacks against civilian targets in northern Israel were the work of Al-Qa’ida, according to the website which purports to represent the terrorist organization in Iraq. Israel initially said it believed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command could well have launched the strike and leading Lebanese politicians blasted Palestinians living in Lebanon for being behind the attacks. If Al-Qa’ida was indeed involved, it is thought this is the first time it has launched a direct attack towards Israeli soil.

2. ISRAEL, ‘ABBAS FEAR END OF TRUCE…As the year draws to a close so does the end of the self-declared truce announced earlier this year by armed Palestinian organizations. The only major movement to ignore the truce has been Islamic Jihad, which staged a suicide bombing in the Israeli coastal city Netanyah earlier this month. Senior officials in Jerusalem and in the Palestinian Authority are now speaking of their fear that Hamas may decide to back out of the truce come January 1. Analysts say there could well be a correlation between Hamas’ decision to largely observe the truce and international pressure for the movement to disarm prior to the January 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections in which it is participating.

3. SAUDI AUTHORITIES READY FOR HAJJ…With days remaining before the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia kicks off, the country’s authorities are finalizing security and safety measures. In previous years the Hajj has been dogged by tragedies, including fatal stampedes. They now have to contend with a new threat from terrorists. Earlier this week several police officers and armed men were killed and wounded during a gun battle in the kingdom. Millions of pilgrims from around the world are already in Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, with many more expected to arrive from the Middle East over the next few days.