More Treading Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israeli jets bomb Gaza after mortar shells fired from strip

JERUSALEM — Israeli jets on Tuesday bombed targets in the Gaza Strip hours after militants from the territory fired more than 25 mortar shells toward communities in southern Israel in what appeared to be the largest single barrage since the 2014 war.

The Israeli military said no one was hurt and that most of the shells were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, though one landed near a kindergarten shortly before it opened.

The high volume of projectiles came as tensions have been running high in recent weeks following the deaths of over 100 Palestinians from Israeli fire during mass protests along the border. Israel says it holds Gaza’s Hamas rulers responsible for the bloodshed.

“Israel will exact a heavy price from those who seek to harm it, and we see Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following the barrage.

Shortly after that warning, Israeli jets began dropping bombs on what security officials in Gaza said was an Islamic Jihad militant training site. Smoke was seen rising near the town of Deir al-Balah in the coastal strip, and the Israeli military said the explosions there were related to its activity. No injuries were reported.

The Israeli military said it carried out over 35 airstrikes on seven sites across Gaza, including an unfinished tunnel near the city of Rafah that crossed under the border into Egypt.

The sudden surge in violence brought back memories of the devastating 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. That round of fighting began with tit-for-tat attacks on both sides and escalated into a full-blown war that inflicted heavy damage on Gaza.

“We are prepared for a great variety of scenarios,” said the army’s chief spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis. “The way the coming days look will depend on the choices of the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Islamic Jihad was believed to be behind the mortar fire, which appeared to be retaliation for the deaths of three of its fighters in an Israeli airstrike earlier this week. But Israel believes Hamas, a larger Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, gave Islamic Jihad a green light to strike.

“We are sticking to the right of return as well as responding to the Zionist crimes,” said Khaled al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza who also has helped coordinate the past two months of border protests.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, said the “resistance is capable of hurting the occupation and it proved this today by responding to its crimes.”

Elsewhere in Gaza, two fishing boats carrying students and medical patients set sail out of Gaza City’s port, aiming to reach Cyprus and break an 11-year naval blockade that Egypt and Israel imposed after Hamas seized power in Gaza. Hamas acknowledged it was mostly a symbolic act.

The expedition would be a new way of challenging the blockade but also raises the possibility of more confrontation and violence. Israel bars Gaza boats from going more than six miles (10 kilometers) into the Mediterranean Sea.

Organizers said they lost contact with the ships when they were 12 nautical miles from shore, but it wasn’t clear whether it was due to a technical issue or seizure by the Israeli navy. It also marks eight years since Israeli commandos raided a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, killing nine pro-Palestinian Turks and sparking an international outcry against the blockade.

In southern Israel, angry residents complained about how vulnerable they felt after 15 years of rocket fire and threats from neighboring Gaza, which will likely put pressure on the government to retaliate.

Adva Klein, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza, said she only got about two hours of sleep because of the frequent incoming fire and the warning sirens. Other residents reported machine gun fire from Gaza.

“It’s been a really scary morning,” said Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim.

Regional councils near the Gaza border instructed residents to remain close to bomb shelters. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman convened the top military brass at his Tel Aviv headquarters to discuss the situation.

“Hamas and Islamic Jihad have already paid a heavy price and the bill has just been served to them,” Lieberman said.

The border area has been tense in recent weeks as the Palestinians have held mass protests aimed in large part at lifting the blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized power in 2007.

Israeli fire has killed more than 110 Palestinians, most of them during the Hamas-led protests, which climaxed on May 14. The bloodshed has drawn strong international criticism, with rights groups saying Israel’s use of live fire is illegal because in many cases it has struck unarmed protesters who did not pose an imminent threat to Israeli soldiers.

Israel says it is defending its border and nearby communities. It accuses Hamas of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of protests, and using civilian demonstrators as human shields. Hamas has vowed to continue the border rallies.

Associated Press writer Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, contributed to this report.

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

The Sixth Seal Will Be On The East (Revelation 6:12) Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes

Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances

Released: 11/6/2012 8:30:00 AM

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”

This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.

“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.

In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.

Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

The Antichrist Still Needs Iran’s Support

New Iraqi government will again require Iranian blessing

Al Monitor

If Haider al-Abadi retains the Iraqi premiership, he will have done so with Iran’s blessing. Iran and Iraq have maintained good relations throughout Abadi’s tenure. Abadi owes Iran and the Popular Mobilization Units, including those backed by Tehran, for their decisive role in responding to the ill-fated Iraqi Kurdish referendum last year, a huge win for Abadi.

Abadi may not be the first choice among Iran’s leaders, but they have a well-established working relationship. Abadi also depends on Washington, but Tehran will likely be the last stop on the road to a new government in Iraq.

Expect Iran to ask for some shift in Iraqi statements toward the United States as its tax on a final deal. Given the more aggressive US approach to Iran’s “malign behavior,” Tehran will be sure that the next Iraqi government makes a point — somehow, some way — that Baghdad will not be squarely in the American camp. Abadi, while seeking to preserve strong ties with the United States, has also said that Iraq should not be an arena for US-Iran conflict.

There’s no question that the surprise showing of the Sadrist movement with 54 seats represents progress toward an independent Iraqi identity, including perhaps a more youthful demographic. In second place, however, came Iran’s preferred group, the Fatah Alliance, with 47 seats. Abadi’s Victory Alliance came in third with 42.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which received 25 seats, may see a comeback in Iraq depending on Iran’s good offices and some type of arrangement with Abadi. The Kurdistan Regional Government hosted a conference on economic relations with Iran a week before the Iraqi elections.

The politicking in Iraq is revealing the nuances in Muqtada al-Sadr’s positions toward both the United States and Iran. Ali Mamouri explains that Sadr “insists that he is independent, [and] is sending messages to both the United States and Iran that he will not adopt policies that threaten their interests inside Iraq.”

“In the past years, Sadr’s political behavior has varied,” he writes. “He has toned down the critical voice he once used against the United States. He has criticized the United States occasionally, but he hasn’t threatened the US presence in Iraq as part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State. Sadr did not even hint at the possible formation of a military force outside the state to resist the United States, as he did in 2004 and 2008. The Mahdi Army has been completely disbanded.”

Mamouri adds, “In a phone call with a senior member in Sadr’s office in Najaf, Al-Monitor learned that Sadr is not willing to form or even support any forces against the US presence, but he will probably work through the Iraqi legislative system to legally expel all foreign forces, including the United States. The source who spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity insisted that Sadr rejects using violence against US forces, as they are in Iraq by request of the Iraqi government.”

The oft-repeated enmity between Sadr and Iran may also be overstated, despite Sadr’s outreach to Saudi Arabia, as well as differences with Tehran over Syria. “Sadr does not have a military force fighting in Syria, unlike most Iraqi military factions loyal to Iran,” Mamouri continues. “The latter have been fighting inside Syria alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for years now. Sadr, for his part, has opposed the presence of any Iraqi force outside of the country and criticized those defending Assad’s regime, calling on the Syrian president to step down to pave the way for a democracy in Syria.”

Sadr has already met with Fatah Alliance leader Hadi al-Amiri and Dhiaa al-Asadi, the director of Sadr’s political office, “said in a televised interview on al-Mayadeen channel, ‘We have a steady relationship with Iran,’ stressing that the ‘Sadrist movement and its partners will not yield to the US will.’ Iranian Ambassador Iraj Masjedi did not attend the meeting held between the region’s ambassadors and Sadr last week. Asadi said Sadr’s office sent an invitation to the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad, but he apologized and said he couldn’t make it. Masjedi said, ‘The relations between Iranian officials and Sadr are friendly and brotherly. Many of those officials, including Qasem Soleimani, harbor great feelings of friendship for Sadr.’”

Iran is staking its claim as the final arbiter of government formation and influence in both Iraq and Lebanon in order to thwart US pressure. In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s role will come under even greater scrutiny, not only as a result of US sanctions, but also the lag in international donor funds, which are conditioned on reforms that will largely depend on the role and policies of Hezbollah, backed by Iran.

Another barometer of US pressure on Iran will be whether China, the world’s largest oil importer, insists its oil purchases be paid in yuan as a means to undercut US sanctions. This could all be part of the broader negotiations in US-China trade or a potential major crack in the US sanctions regime.

Another concern for the Trump administration could be French President Emmanuel Macron’s call for “European financial sovereignty” while seated with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum May 25. Macron may be seeking to bless Russia as the “go-to” mediator between Israel and Iran, as we reported here two weeks ago, in order to re-establish some Eureopean Union influence given the more aggressive US approach to Iran.

The Anniversary of the Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Nuclear tests’ anniversary today


The Nation

LAHORE – The nation is marking 20th anniversary of nuclear tests with national zeal and fervour on Monday (today).

The day, popularly dubbed as Youm-e-Takbeer, is celebrated every year on May 28 to commemorate the historic event when the country officially went nuclear in response to nuclear tests conducted by India.

With demonstration of atomic capabilities, Pakistan became the first nuclear power of Islamic and 7th world power under the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who stood firm in the face of international pressures and lucrative offers of aid to abandon the plan to conduct the tests.

As a result of the nuclear explosions, the nation had to endure economic sanctions imposed by the international community but it stood by its principled stand on the issue of achieving national deterrence.

To mark the day, special prayers will be offered for peace, progress and prosperity of the country. Various ceremonies and seminars will be organised in which eminent scientists, intellectuals, defence analysts and notable personalities will pay tributes to the team of nuclear scientists who did raise Pakistan’s strategic status in the comity of nations and signified the principle of self-reliance.

Radio Pakistan and television channels will broadcast special programmes in which defence analysts, journalists, educationists, and intellectuals will participate and highlight significance of the day.

Meanwhile, President of PML-N and Chief Minister of Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif has congratulated the nation on the occasion of Youm-e-Takbeer.  In his message on this occasion, Shehbaz Sharif said that 28 May holds a significant position in Pakistan’s political and defence history.

On this day, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif engraved a new history by pushing aside all the pressure and making nuclear explosions possible. He said that the credit of making Pakistan a nuclear power goes to the fascinating and courageous leadership of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif who rejected foreign aid and made defence of the country unconquerable by going through nuclear explosions. He added that pride of whole nation was boasted up at May 28, 1998 with this remarkable achievement of Pakistan. Youm-e-Takbeer is the day of celebration for the Pakistani nation and Muslims around the world, because today, Pakistan emerged as the first Muslim nuclear power on the map of the world, he added.

CM said that Pak army and other law enforcement agencies have rendered enormous sacrifices in the war against terrorism and marked a new history of courage and valour. Shehbaz Sharif on the occasion of this memorial and historic day paid tribute to those brave soldiers who have played a great role in making the defence of motherland supreme. “Today we have to reiterate the pledge that we will neither let down out country nor will we be hesitant to offer any sacrifice for the sovereignty and security of Pakistan”, he observed.