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Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

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Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”
That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.
His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Nations Inch Closer to War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel and Gaza inch closer to war after Tel Aviv rocket attack – Vox

Alex WardMarch 25, 2019 1:10 pm

Israel and Gaza inch closer to war after a rocket attack and a forceful response

“Both sides might inadvertently plunge themselves into a new a war” if they don’t step back from the brink, said an expert.

• By Alex Ward

• on March 25, 2019 1:10 pm

A general view shows a damaged house after it was hit by a rocket in the village of Mishmeret, north of Tel Aviv on March 25, 2019.

Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Israel and Gaza have been on the brink of war for months — and it’s possible Sunday night’s actions will push them closer to that outcome.

Rockets allegedly fired from Gaza hit a home in central Israel, north of Tel Aviv, injuring seven. It’s the second time in less than two weeks that the area has come under attack, a rarity since most rockets from Gaza target Israel’s south.

A woman in her 60s suffered injuries, including shrapnel wounds, and three young children were also hurt, according to Israel’s emergency response team. “This is a complex incident that miraculously has concluded with only light to moderate injuries,” said Eli Bin, the team’s director who was at the scene, in a statement.

The Israeli military blames Hamas — a Palestinian Islamist political organization and militant group that has governed Gaza since 2007 — for the strike. Hamas, however, says it isn’t responsible, and an unnamed Hamas official told AFP on Monday that the rocket could have streaked toward Tel Aviv due to “bad weather.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently in the US to meet with President Donald Trump and who had planned to make a speech at a pro-Israel lobbying group conference in Washington, said he will cut his trip short and cancel the speaking engagement to deal with the incident.

“There has been a criminal attack on the State of Israel and we will respond forcefully,” Netanyahu, who also holds the role of Israel’s defense minister, said on Monday. “In a few hours I will meet with President Trump. I will return to Israel immediately afterward.”

The Israeli military says it has already started to strike targets in Gaza in what could be the most forceful attack on the territory in recent memory.

On March 14, just hours after rockets were fired at Tel Aviv, Israel hit around 100 targets in Gaza, including an underground rocket manufacturing site and drone development center pertaining to Hamas.

This time, Israel has already sent two brigades to Israel’s south and plans to call up thousands of reservists. Since many of those reservists are in Israel’s army, it’s therefore possible that the country plans to launch a ground invasion of Gaza very soon. And Netanyahu has no incentive to back down, experts say, especially since he faces a tough reelection fight on April 9.

Put together, the already sky-high tensions between Israel and Gaza will likely only grow — and a major conflict could come next.

“Both sides might inadvertently plunge themselves into a new a war” if they don’t step back from the brink, tweeted Center for a New American Security Middle East expert Ilan Goldenberg on Monday.

Israel and Hamas have fought wars before

Gaza is a tiny, densely populated strip of land located between Israel, the Mediterranean Sea, and Egypt. Approximately 25 miles long and six miles wide, it is home to an estimated 1.9 million Palestinians.

In 1967, Israel occupied Gaza and the West Bank during the Six-Day War. (Gaza had formerly been under Egyptian control.) From then until 2005, Israeli military authorities controlled Gaza in the same way they control the West Bank today.

Israel has instituted a blockade of the flow of commercial goods into Gaza, on the grounds that Hamas could use those goods to make weapons to be used against Israel. Israel has eased the blockade over time, but the cutoff of basic supplies like fuel still does significant humanitarian harm by restricting access to electricity, food, and medicine.

It’s unclear why Hamas has reportedly been launching rockets lately in the direction of Tel Aviv. One prevailing theory is that the group is facing protests due to its poor governance of Gaza, and the rocket attacks are meant as a distraction to put the focus on Israel.

Hamas and other Gaza-based militants have fired thousands of rockets from the territory at Israeli targets. Israel has launched a number of military operations in Gaza, including an air campaign and ground invasion in late 2008 and early 2009, a major bombing campaign in 2012, and another air and ground assault in 2014.

In the summer of 2014, three Israeli students were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, a Palestinian-controlled territory. Once authorities found the bodies under rocks in an open field, Israeli officials blamed Hamas for the deaths and vowed to seek revenge.

Thus began the last time Hamas and Israel fought a war — and it was a brutal seven-week fight.

Israel started launching airstrikes on Gaza, and Palestinians responded by firing rockets into Israel. Then on July 17, 2014, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, in part to close down tunnels that allowed Hamas to secretly enter Israel and attack the country. Ground fighting led to a spike in Palestinian casualties, which went from a few hundred quickly into the thousands.

The conflict eventually ended in August, with both sides agreeing to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire. Israel said it would relax the blockade on Gaza; Hamas declared that it won the war. More than 2,100 Palestinians and 71 Israelis were killed, while over 10,000 people — mostly Palestinians — sustained injuries.

That war was bad, but a new one could be worse.

That’s because the United States — and the Trump administration in particular — is very closely aligned with Israel. Should Israel choose to drop even more bombs and send ground troops into Gaza, Washington might let it happen with little criticism.

Which means that not only could a war break out, it could be much more bloody and dangerous than before.

Law Amendment Opens Iraq to Iranian Hegemony

Law amendment would open Iraq to Iranian influence, say opponents

By JULIA ALTMANN/THE MEDIA LINE

The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahidi has proposed a controversial amendment that would allow foreigners who legally enter and reside in the country for at least a year to apply for citizenship.

Current law stipulates a residency requirement of at least 10 years, and the sharp reduction called for in the proposal led many legislators to reject the idea, although a spokesman for the speaker of parliament said there would likely be a vote to return it to the government for review.

The proposal came as a surprise to the Iraqi public, which set social media ablaze. Many took to Twitter to express their displeasure, citing fears of significant changes in demographics and suspicions of foreign influence. Adding fuel to the fire were various media outlets that incorrectly reported the amendment as having become law.

Supporters claim that the proposed amendment would bring justice to thousands of Kurds who were stripped of their citizenship and uprooted by Saddam Hussein in 1980. Opponents argue that it would make the country an Iranian puppet.  

“I do not think a demographic change is the aim of the [proposed] law, which would require tens of years of work – an amount of time that no Iraqi party has,” Ceng Sagnic, coordinator of the Kurdish Studies Program at the Tel Aviv-based Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, told The Media Line.

Bilal Wahab, the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, concurred, adding that the bill itself states that the granting of citizenship is not geared towards altering the demographics of the country.

“That’s the key political point here,” Wahab related to The Media Line. “Iranian influence is a more realistic threat than demographic change.”

Against the backdrop of the proposed modification is Iraq’s Interior Ministry, which has lacked a fulltime minister since elections last summer.

Disagreements between two major political blocs – the nationalist-populist Islah, headed by Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the reform-reconstructionist al-Binaa, headed by Iran-backed militia leader Hadi al-Amiri – have prevented a nomination. The post, being filled on an interim basis by Mahidi, is considered a highly coveted position, given that it oversees policing, border control and local governates, as well as matters concerning citizenship.

Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are likely to benefit from the new law,” Sagnic said.

He explained that “thousands of foreign militia members are currently in Iraq” and that while they “cannot make a demographic change,” they are sufficient in number “to further strengthen [Shiite fighters] in the Iraqi security apparatus once they become naturalized citizens, hold government positions at mid-level institutions and receive legalized payments.”

Wahab, however, feels there is an economic side to the proposal that could benefit Iran, which has again fallen under crippling sanctions since the Trump Administration withdrew last year from a multilateral nuclear deal aimed at containing the Islamic Republic’s atomic program.

“Rumor has it in Iraqi circles that Iran is interested in getting its agents in Iraq citizenship to serve…Iranian interests,” he explained. “As Iran tries to make its economy more resilient by opening Iraqi businesses and bank accounts, [these agents] will be able to send money to their accounts in Iran.”

Earlier this month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani made his first official visit to Iraq. The three-day trip was aimed at expanding economic ties with Baghdad, an effort viewed by experts as being aimed at mitigating the effect of the renewed sanctions. The visit is also seen as a message from Tehran to Washington that the Iran-Iraq relationship remains strong.

Indian Point remains shut before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Indian Point remains shut down a week later, unclear when reactors will be up and running

Indian Point totally shut down since Friday while workers address malfunction at Unit 2

THOMAS C. ZAMBITO | ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER JOURNAL NEWS | 2:31 pm EDT March 18, 2019

• Indian Point’s Unit 2 shut down Friday after a malfunction in an electric generator

• Unit 3 was already shutdown for its last refueling before it shuts down in 2021

• This is the first time in recent years that both reactors have been down at the same time

Indian Point has failed to generate power in three days, following a malfunction in one of the nuclear plant’s reactors Friday that forced a shutdown, the Journal News and lohud.com has learned.

Federal safety regulators say Unit 2’s unexpected shutdown was caused by a malfunction in an electric generator.

This is not the first time both reactors were without power at the same time but it is the first time in recent years.

The shutdown, also called a scram, occurred while Unit 2’s sister reactor, Unit 3, had already been powered down for its 20th and final refueling before it shuts off for good in April 2021.

State officials say the shutdowns have not impacted the state’s power supply.

Work to replace the fuel rods at Indian Point 3 as well as the replacement, refurbishment and testing of equipment is underway as part of routine maintenance of the nuclear reactor in Buchanan on Mar. 20, 2017.

RICKY FLORES/THE JOURNAL NEWS

Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, alerted the state Department of Public Service about the situation and the department is monitoring the issue.

“At this time, the Department does not have any concerns about the facility’s safety,” spokesman James Denn said. “There is also no impact on the reliability of New York’s power system.”

The reactors generate electricity for homes, businesses and public facilities in Westchester County and New York City

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s resident inspectors for Indian Point were summoned to Unit 2’s control room around 3 p.m., Friday, after being alerted that there had been a shutdown.

No immediate safety concerns were identified. Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, was trying to fix the problem Monday.

“Entergy is troubleshooting the exact cause of the scram, which may have been caused by a fault in the main electric generator,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said. “Our Resident Inspectors will continue to follow up on those assessments.”

Unit 3 was shut down twice in September following a water leak in a backup cooling system and a steam leak discovered on the non-nuclear side of the building. Entergy said neither leak led to a release of radiation and public safety was never threatened.

Unit 3 was shut down March 11 as workers began removing spent fuel so they could begin adding enough fuel to power the reactor through 2021.

Refuelings or outages take place every two years in March, a time of year when electricity demand is at its lowest, ahead of the summer months when air conditioners run around the clock.

Entergy invested $70 million in the effort, which brings some 900 out-of-state workers into the lower Hudson Valley for several weeks while they assist Entergy’s 1,000-person workforce at the Buchanan plant.

In addition to replacing fuel, workers will replace pumps and motors and perform maintenance on diesel generators.

In January 2017, Entergy announced its intention to close, citing market pressures caused by the low price of natural gas as well as protracted litigation with the state of New York.  Unit 2 will be shut down next year.

The shutdown is expected to have a lingering impact on Buchanan, the town of Cortlandt and the Hendrick Hudson School District, which rely heavily on the plant’s property tax revenues to balance their budgets from year to year.

Tony Vitale, an Entergy vice president and the company’s top-ranking executive at Indian Point, said the company continues to invest in plant safety and reliability.

“Our dedicated employees, whether they have worked at the site for four years or 40 years, are focused on making the last refueling our best ever,” Vitale said. “The nearly 60-year history of safe and reliable operations at the site is our legacy.”

A Lack Of Vigilance Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

Faults Underlying Exercise Vigilant Guard

Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment

Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009

This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults.

The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said.

“In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said.

This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday.

Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director.

“A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault.

Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added.

Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage.

“It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi.

The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added.

“You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said.

Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents.

Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.”

“I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said.

Training concluded Thursday.

Israeli Jets Hit Targets Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Ruth Eglash

Reporter covering Israel and the Palestinian territories

March 25 at 11:14 AM

 

JERUSALEM — Israeli military jets began striking targets in the Gaza strip Monday in response to earlier rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave that hit a family house near Tel Aviv, injuring seven Israelis and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cut short a visit to Washington.

The Israeli leader, who arrived in Washington on Sunday, announced he will return to Israel immediately after meeting with President Trump at the White House Monday morning.

“This was a criminal attack on the State of Israel, and we will respond with force,” said Netanyahu, who is also the defense minister, in a short video clip from Washington. He said he had been briefed by the heads of Israeli security and that he would return to conduct Israel’s response.

Netanyahu, who is in the midst of a fierce battle for reelection with Israelis going to the polls in less than 15 days, was also scheduled to give a keynote address at the annual AIPAC policy forum conference Tuesday morning and participate in a celebratory state dinner with Trump at the White House Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s main rival in the April 9 national election, did take center stage at AIPAC. The former military chief of staff introduced himself Monday morning to a U.S. audience, delivering a speech that both commended the prime minister for deciding to return home to deal with the security escalation and calling for unity.

“If we want hope, we must have unity; if we want security, we must have unity; Throughout history the only way we have won is by being united! Unity is our past, and unity must be our future!,” he told a welcoming crowd.

In Israel, the military announced it was reinforcing troops in the area with two additional brigades, one infantry and one armored, and calling up “a limited number” of reservists for specialist units. It said Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza, was directly responsible for firing the rocket.

Later the army announced it was blocking all routes adjacent to the security fence with Gaza and called on farmers in the area to stop their work.

Images from the scene of the rocket strike showed the house which was badly damaged, its roof caved in. Mika Lifshitz, a military spokeswoman, said it was hit by a self-manufactured rocket with a range of around 75 miles. She said Israel’s antimissile protection system, the Iron Dome, protects the area, but could not comment on whether it was deployed.

Robert Wolf told reporters if his family had not gone into a bomb shelter in time, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, daughter and two young grandchildren would have surely been killed in the blast that destroyed their home.

“This is the real price, and I just paid it,” he said. “I nearly lost my family. If we hadn’t got to bomb shelter in time then I would be burying my entire family.”

Paramedic Assi Dvilanski, who was one of the first responders to arrive on the scene, said the family house was fully destroyed, with its roof completely blown away.

“It’s a miracle that no one got killed,” he said. He described treating family members at the scene for burns and injuries consistent with explosions before transferring them to a hospital.

Reuven Hazan, professor of political science at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the rocket attack and an escalation in tensions with Hamas could be damaging to Netanyhu politically.

“Unlike in previous elections, this is the first time Netanyahu is facing a party that is led by people who are more prominent than him on security issues,” Hazan said. Two of the other top leaders in Gantz’s Blue and White party are former military chief of staffs.

“When it comes to diplomatic relations, no one can beat Netanyahu,” said Hazan. “He came to Washington because he wanted to focus on his status of almost being on par with the leader of the free world, who this week gave him a foreign policy bonus of the Golan Heights announcement, but now he is not staying like Benny Gantz, and he realizes that this security situation could go either way.”

Eran Lerman, vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and a former deputy director at the National Security Council, said Netanyahu faces a “delicate challenge.”

“When there was intensive rocket fire on the southern area that borders Gaza, Israel found a workable modus vivendi, involving transfer of Qatari money to Hamas, if Netanyahu now reacts aggressively, then people will say the blood of those in the center of the country is thicker than in the south. If he does not respond, then he’ll be criticized for not doing anything in the face of brazen provocation,” he said.

Netanyahu has been criticized by members of his own government coalition for being too soft on Hamas. In November, he agreed to a mediated cease-fire with the group after a spate of rocket attacks from Gaza toward communities in southern Israel. His political opponents have also criticized Netanyahu’s decision to allow Qatar to deliver $15 million a month into Gaza to pay salaries of Hamas civil servants.

Neither Hamas nor Islamic Jihad immediately claimed responsibility for launching the rocket, though a Hamas official told the group’s al-Aqsa television station the rocket was fired as a result of “natural factors.” It was unclear what factors he was referring to.

One anonymous Hamas official told news agency AFP it could possibly have been caused by “bad weather.”

In Gaza, the factions were bracing for a harsh response from Israel. A joint statement from Gaza’s resistance movements said Monday “any possible Israeli escalation in the Gaza Strip would be met by an immediate response.”

Tensions in the impoverished strip have been high in recent weeks as residents have taken to protesting extreme poverty, and Hamas has been criticized for heavy-handed tactics in cracking down on the unrest. Gaza has faced a sea, land and air blockade by Israel for more than a decade, and Egypt, which is its neighbor to the south, has also sporadically imposed such restrictions.

Saturday marks one year of weekly deadly protests by Gaza residents at the border fence with Israel. Dubbed the Great March of Return, the protests were initially intended to help win international recognition of the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes, which sit within Israeli territory and ease restrictions on the Strip.

Hamas had used the march as a tool to ramp up pressure on Israel amid stalled cease-fire talks brokered by Egypt and the United Nations that would have allowed more investment in Gaza. In recent days, it has sent flaming balloons into Israel, according to the Israeli military. The group had agreed to stop such actions under an interim deal that allowed Qatari money into the enclave, which expires in weeks.

But domestic pressure has been building against Hamas, and analysts say the strain increases the need for the militants to deflect attention back toward Israel. In recent weeks, protests against the dire living conditions in the Strip have been suppressed by the group, whose security forces have used batons and live ammunition to break up demonstrations.

Roughly 75 percent of Gazans are registered by the United Nations as refugees, descendants of an estimated 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes when Israel was created in 1948. Many still live in one of Gaza’s eight refugee camps, according to a U.N. assessment.

A recent U.N. report found that some 189 Gazans were killed by Israeli forces during 2018. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry criticized Israel’s rules of engagement in dealing with the protesters and said the majority of the Palestinians killed “did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious injury to others when they were shot.”

Israel has said the protests, which are ongoing, are particularly violent and could act as a cover for Hamas to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.

Although rocket launches from Gaza are not unusual, Monday’s rocket strike was the second time this month to target the major city of Tel Aviv. Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day conflict in the summer of 2014.

Earlier this month, following reports of two rockets fired toward Tel Aviv from Gaza, the Israeli military responded by striking more than 100 targets in the coastal Palestinian enclave.

No injuries or damage to properties were reported on March 14 when the two rockets hit near Tel Aviv, but rocket sirens were activated, sending thousands of Israelis in the most populous part of the country into bomb shelters.

In a follow-up assessment, the Israeli military said it believed Hamas was responsible, and Israeli media reported later that the Army’s initial assessment was that the group launched the rockets by mistake.

Morris reported from Washington.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

The Montague Tube, which sustained severe damage during Hurricane Sandy.

MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

How the Beast from the Sea Lied to US

Iraq: How we were lied into war

Eric S. Margolis /24 Mar 2019 / 19:15 H.

SIXTEEN years ago, the US and Britain committed a crime of historic proportion, the invasion and destruction of Iraq. It was as egregious an aggression as Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland.

Large numbers of Iraqi civilians died from 2003 to 2007. Iraq’s water and sewage systems were bombed, causing widespread cholera. The UN estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result. Madeleine Albright, US secretary of state, said it was “a price worth paying”.

But not so much for the 4,424 US soldiers killed in Iraq, or the 31,952 wounded, many with devastating brain and neurological injuries. Nor for US taxpayers who forked out over US$1 trillion for this botched war and are still paying the bill hidden in the national debt.

In 2003, Iraq was the most advanced Arab nation in social welfare, health, education, military power, and industrial development. But it was run by a megalomaniac, Saddam Hussein, who had been helped into power and sustained in his long war against Iran, by the US, Britain and their Arab satraps.

When Saddam grew too big for his britches, Washington lured him into invading Kuwait, another American-British oil satrapy. A hue and cry went out from Washington and London that Iraq had secret nuclear weapons that threatened the world. War, thundered US-British propaganda, was urgent and necessary.

As I knew from covering Iraq for many years, it had no nuclear weapons and no medium or long-range delivery systems. What it did have was a laboratory at Salman Pak staffed with British technicians producing lethal toxins for use against Iran. I discovered this secret operation and reported it. Meanwhile, the Iraqis were threatening to hang me as an Israeli spy.

I watched with disgust and dismay as the US and Britain launched massive broadsides of lies against Iraq and those few, like myself, who insisted Baghdad had no nuclear weapons.

Almost the entire US and British media were compelled to act as mouthpieces for the George Bush/Tony Blair war against Iraq, trumpeting egregious lies designed to whip up war fever. US media, supposedly the tribune of democracy, became lie factories, putting even the old Soviet media to shame.

The New York Times led the charge, along with the three main TV networks. I was in Iraq with its star correspondent, Judith Miller, who became a key agent of the pro-war campaign. So too the Murdoch press in Britain and Fox News. When the BBC tried to question the torrent of lies about Iraq, it was crushed by Tony Blair. A leading British nuclear expert who questioned the nuclear lies was murdered. Iraq was polluted by US depleted uranium shells.

Journalists like me were intimidated or marginalised. I was dropped by a leading US newspaper, a major Canadian TV chain, and by CNN for whom I had been a regular commentator. I was told the Bush White House had given orders, “get rid of Margolis”. My sin: insisting Iraq had no nuclear weapons and was not threatening the US. Things became so absurd that the story went out that Saddam had “drones of death” that were poised to attack America.

Of the US media, only the McClatchy chain and Christian Science Monitor reported the war honestly. Nearly all the rest of America’s TV talking heads brayed for war. Most are still there today, demanding war against Iran.

Who was behind the war? A combination of big oil, which wanted Iraq’s vast reserves, and the Israel lobby, which wanted to see Iraq destroyed by US power. The Pentagon was taken over by pro-war neoconservatives: Wolfowitz, Feith, Rumsfeld.

George Bush, an ignorant fool, was putty in the hands of vice-president Dick Cheney, a pro-war megalomaniac. The CIA played along. Even the respected former general, Colin Powell, made a fool of himself before the UN by claiming Iraq had hidden weapons. It had chemical weapons, all right, but we had the receipts to show they came from the US and Britain.

No one in the US or Britain ever faced trial for war-mongering and killing vast numbers of people. The lying media escaped well-deserved censure. As for the lying politicians who brought on this disaster, they blamed poor intelligence and bad luck. Those few who opposed the war of aggression remain sidelined or silenced.

Eric S. Margolis is a syndicated columnist. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

Iran Prepares to Nuke Up (Daniel 8:4)

U.S. Says Iran Poised to Resume Work on Nuclear Weapons

Trump administration levels charges as Treasury and State Departments sanction more than two dozen Iranian officials

Iran’s Ministry of Defense unit responsible for developing nuclear weapons is based in Tehran.PHOTO: ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/SHUTTERSTOCK

By Ian Talley

Updated March 22, 2019 10:32 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Iran’s Ministry of Defense unit responsible for developing nuclear weapons is poised to restart work and is using front companies to buy materials from Russia and China that could be used to reactivate its banned bomb program, U.S. officials alleged Friday.

The Trump administration leveled the charges as the Treasury and State Departments sanctioned more than two dozen Iranian officials, scientists and alleged front companies connected to the Tehran-based Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, or SPND, as it is known by its Farsi initials.

The sanctions and accompanying revelations are designed in part to step up pressure on Europe and others to back Washington’s plan to toughen a 2015 nuclear accord the U.S. pulled out of last year. And by threatening to penalize any individuals or companies around the world that deal with the blacklisted entities, the Trump administration is trying to cut off access to the tools and the expertise needed for a nuclear-weapons program.

Iran denies it has ever sought nuclear weapons, although a United Nations report in 2015 found it had a coordinated weapons program until 2003 and continued parts of the activities until 2009.

Iranian officials didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. officials aren’t saying the SPND is currently working to nuclearize Iran’s weapons program. But Sigal Mandelker, Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, and Christopher Ford, assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, said the unit’s activities suggest Iran’s government still has its eye on nuclear weapons, and isn’t simply seeking a civilian nuclear program, as Tehran contends.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran is complying with the terms of the 2015 accord. The Trump administration, however, cited restrictions on the IAEA’s ability to inspect all sites as among reasons it decided last year to leave the deal. The exit marked a major reversal in Washington’s Iran policy as the White House reimposed economy-wide sanctions on Iran in an effort to pressure Tehran into signing a more stringent nuclear deal and expanding the scope to include the country’s broader security stance.

The SPND inherited Iran’s original nuclear-weapons program, the AMAD program, and is run by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the sanctioned former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps brigadier general and physicist viewed by many as the father of the country’s nuclear-weapons program, U.S. officials say. The unit was sanctioned by the Obama administration in 2014 for its alleged efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

“They continue to operate in ways that mean the intellectual wealth of that program continues to be able to function,” Ms. Mandelker said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Ford, of the State Department, said in an interview with the Journal that the SPND’s continued existence “highlights the problem of Iran’s ongoing preparation to reconstitute its whole weapons program, if it chooses to.”

“They are doing everything they can to keep in existence a virtual turnkey capability to get back into the weaponization business…at a moment’s notice,” he said.

Several of the SPND’s alleged front companies sanctioned Friday by the U.S. have been active in recent years, according to a Journal review of export records, including after Iran signed the 2015 deal.

In September 2017, one of those firms, Tehran-based Kimiya Pakhsh Shargh Co., imported special equipment for transporting radioactive material like iridium-192 from Russia. That was one of four shipments that year, and nearly six dozen since 2012, all from the same Russian company to an address in Tehran immediately next door to a government “forensic medicine” office, according to shipping data provided to the Journal by the trade database, Import Genius. The firm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

U.S. officials, along with many Iran watchers and nuclear-weapons experts, say that while radioactive isotopes have legitimate medical uses, they also can be used in weapons programs, including for testing equipment.

According to an analysis of Iranian nuclear records seized by Israel in a raid that was disclosed in 2018, Iran has long sought to break the AMAD program into covert and overt segments. The analysis, published by the Institute for Science and International Security and co-authored by a former top IAEA official, said the archive of information shows Iran sought to transfer the more overt parts of the AMAD program to research institutes and universities, where it could plausibly claim activities to be civilian in nature.

Some of Friday’s sanction targets were derived from the archive, the administration said, without elaborating.

The Treasury Department said the Kimiya Pakhsh Shargh firm is subordinate to the SPND, taking direction from senior unit officials. And several of the targeted officials, including Jalal Emami Gharah Hajjlu, a weapon-systems engineer for the newly blacklisted missile-tech firm Shahid Karimi Group are former AMAD officials, Treasury said.

Another sanctioned Iranian firm called Pulse Niru has sought to provide financial, material and technological support for the SPND, Treasury said, procuring equipment and advanced technologies from Chinese, Russian and foreign suppliers.

Trade records show the company has imported equipment at least twice from a Russian firm called Russian Technology Group 2, whose website said it specializes in electrical products needed for neutron generators, devices that can ignite nuclear-chain reactions with a burst of atomic particles.

Other sanctioned companies and associated officials include Shahid Karimi Group, which works on missile and explosives technology; Shahid Chamran Group, specializing in electron acceleration; and Shahid Fakhar Moghaddam Group, which has worked on radiation monitoring, explosion simulators and neutron-monitoring systems, Treasury said.

The firms and individuals could not be reached or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Taken collectively, the broad spectrum of capabilities within this group…is the expertise that it takes to develop nuclear weapons,” Ms. Mandelker said.

Mr. Ford said keeping the former AMAD officials employed in fields with dual-use materials and technology—which has both civilian and military capabilities—preserves the skills of Iran’s nuclear and advance-weapons scientists.

That signals Tehran’s strategic intentions, Mr. Ford said, and is why the U.S. is pushing its allies and other signatories to the 2015 deal to back a new nuclear accord that doesn’t give Iran the ability to enrich weapons-grade nuclear material after 10 years, the agreement’s so-called sunset clause.

“It should tell you something about the importance of absolutely precluding any capability of the Iranians to take advantage of the conditions,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, Iran will be able to rapidly build out the size and scope of the nuclear-materials program.

“All of these things would have perfectly set them up with an extraordinarily short breakout time,” Mr. Ford said, referring to the time it takes to enrich enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon.

Write to Ian Talley at ian.talley@wsj.com

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israeli forces kill two Palestinians at Gaza protests

Ministry of Health says 62 Palestinians also wounded by Israeli forces in 51st weekly protest in besieged enclave.

22 Mar 2019 GMT+3

Two Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces during the weekly Friday protests in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to officials.

Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for the health ministry, said the two male demonstrators – aged 18 and 29 -were shot in separate incidents near the Israeli fence east of the Gaza Strip.

Jihad Harara was shot in the head east of Gaza City, while the older man, Nidal Shatat, was hit in the chest near the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, al-Qidra wrote on Twitter.

At least 62 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces, al-Qidra said, adding that there were at least three instances in which medical personnel and ambulances were directly targeted by Israeli tear gas at the encampments set up along the fence.

Ali Jadallah, an Anadolu Agency photojournalist, was reportedly among those wounded and was transferred at a nearby hospital for treatment.

The Israeli army did not comment on the deaths but said “approximately 9,500 rioters and demonstrators” gathered in various locations, “hurling explosive devices, hard objects and rocks” at troops.

Troops were “firing in accordance with standard operating procedures”, a spokeswoman said.

‘Use of excessive force’

Also on Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council condemned Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters in Gaza, and called for perpetrators of violations in the enclave to face justice.

On the final day of a four-week session, the Geneva-based forum adopted a resolution on accountability, brought by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation. The measure was backed by 23 states in favour, with eight voting against and 15 abstaining. One delegation was absent.

The resolution called for cooperating with a preliminary examination opened by the International Criminal Court in 2015 into alleged Israeli human rights violations.

The measure was based on a report by a UN inquiry which said that Israeli security forces may have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in killing 189 Palestinians and wounding more than 6,100 at weekly protests last year.

“The targeting of civilians is a serious matter that should not be condoned,” Ibrahim Khraisi, Palestine’s ambassador said, citing the report’s findings. The toll included 35 Palestinian children, two journalists and medical workers, he added.

More than 250 protesters have been killed since Palestinians began holding regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone in March of last year.

Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were ethnically cleansed from in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Israel Strikes Hamas Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

FILE PHOTO: An air defense system activated by Israeli forces explodes over the northern Gaza Strip, January 10, 2009. \ YANNIS BEHRAKIS/ REUTERS

Israel Strikes Hamas Outposts After Charges Hurled Over Gaza Border Fence

Rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol Regional Council an hour before the strike as a result of the explosives being thrown

Haaretz

The Israeli Air Force struck two Hamas outpost in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday after several charges were hurled over the border fence, the Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson’s Unit said.

Rocket sirens blared in the Eshkol Regional Council an hour before the strike as a result of the explosives being thrown. No casualties or damage was reported.

The Gaza Health Ministry said four were wounded in clashes with Israeli forces along the border on Saturday, one of whom was in critical condition.

Earlier Saturday, the Israeli army said it struck cells that launched incendiary balloons toward Israel from the southern Strip.

According to Palestinian reports, three were wounded in the first attack, which targeted an area east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza.

Two Palestinians were killed Friday during protests along the Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Strip.

The two were identified as Nedal Abed Alkareem Ahmed Shatat, 29, and 24-year-old Jehad Monier Khaled Harara.

One of them was shot in the chest  while protesting east of the al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the report by the ministry said, and stated that 55 other Palestinians were wounded in the clashes.