More Rocket Attacks Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Hamas hits building in Israel, threatens more rocket attacks

PlayThe Associated Press

Hamas and other militant groups said Tuesday they had accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire to end two days of intense fighting with Israel that had pushed the sworn enemies to the brink of a new war.

The sudden announcement brought relief to a region that had been paralyzed by hundreds of Palestinian rocket attacks in southern Israel and scores of Israeli airstrikes on targets in the Gaza Strip. But it did not address the deeper issues that pushed Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers toward their latest violence and left doubts about international efforts to forge a broader truce agreement.

Those efforts had appeared to be making progress in recent days as Israel allowed Qatar to deliver financial aid to the cash-strapped Hamas government, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he wanted to avert an “unnecessary” war in Gaza. Hamas, in turn, had scaled back its mass protests that have led to weekly bloodshed along the Israeli border.

But hours after Netanyahu spoke Sunday, an Israeli commando unit on an undercover mission was caught behind enemy lines in Gaza by Hamas militants. Their discovery set off a battle that led to the deaths of seven militants and an Israeli officer, and triggered the heaviest barrage of rocket fire since a 2014 war.

The Israeli military said that Palestinian militants fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel in a 24-hour period, while it carried out airstrikes on 160 targets in Gaza. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed, and 26 people were wounded. In Israel, a 48-year-old Palestinian laborer was killed in a rocket strike on an apartment building where he was staying. Nearly 30 people were wounded, three critically.

With air raid sirens wailing throughout southern Israel and the explosions of airstrikes thundering in Gaza, the sides had appeared to be headed to what would have been their fourth war in a decade.

But late Tuesday, Hamas and other military groups issued a joint statement saying they had accepted an Egyptian cease-fire.

Terms of the deal appeared to be modest. Daoud Shehab, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad militant group, said each side would promise quiet in exchange for quiet.

“It’s a mutual commitment to the cease-fire,” he said. “From our side, we responded positively to the Egyptian endeavor on the condition that the occupation does the same.”

The announcement set off celebrations in Gaza City as Hamas supporters declared victory.

At a demonstration staged in the rubble of Hamas’ TV station, demolished by an Israeli airstrike, crowds chanted the name of Hamas’ military wing. Shops reopened and cars jammed the streets. Israeli reconnaissance drones continued to buzz overhead.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas official, expressed Hamas’ commitment to the cease-fire but warned that “our hands are on the trigger” if Israel violates the agreement.

In Israel, officials had no comment on the cease-fire claim even as dozens of protesters in the rocket-battered town of Sderot chanted “Disgrace!” at what they saw as the government’s capitulation to militant violence. But after nightfall, both the rocket attacks and Israeli airstrikes had stopped.

The announcement came shortly after Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet ended a seven-hour discussion on the rising tensions in Gaza.

The Cabinet said it had ordered the military to “continue operations as needed.” Israel’s Channel 10 TV reported deep divisions among the participants, with several hard-line ministers reportedly opposed to another cease-fire with Hamas.

Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel’s existence, seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Israel and Egypt immediately imposed a blockade on Gaza to contain Hamas. The blockade has ravaged Gaza’s economy, and Israel refuses to lift it unless Hamas disarms, a demand the militants reject.

The standoff has produced repeated rounds of violence, including indiscriminate Gaza rocket fire at Israeli towns and cities and punishing Israeli military offensives, but Hamas remains firmly in control. Netanyahu’s apparent reluctance to launch a full-scale war reflected the lack of good choices at his disposal.

Israel Ziv, a retired general who once commanded the Israeli military’s Gaza division, said Netanyahu was running out of options for dealing with Hamas.

“Either we come to a settlement or there’s an all-out campaign. Nothing in the middle is going to make a difference,” he said.

Tuesday’s cease-fire did not appear to address any of the underlying issues, including the blockade and Hamas’ vast arsenal of rockets, and it was unclear whether U.N. and Egyptian efforts toward a broader deal might resume.

U.N. and Egyptian mediators had been making progress in recent weeks toward informal understandings between Israel and Hamas that would ease the blockade in exchange for ratcheting down the border protests.

Demonstrators each week approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israeli snipers have killed about 170 people, most of them unarmed. Israel says it is defending its border against attackers, but it has come under heavy international criticism for shooting unarmed people.

In recent days, Israel allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of unpaid workers.

A diplomatic official said the cease-fire included an “understanding” to return to a 2014 cease-fire that promised some relief for Gaza in exchange for quiet.

The official said he expected a return to the situation before the latest burst of violence and for mediators to resume their efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at U.N. headquarters that “we are grateful for the Egyptians who are mediating.”

The U.N. Security Council scheduled closed consultations on the Hamas-Israel clashes later Tuesday at the request of Kuwait and Bolivia, U.N. diplomats said.

———

Federman reported from Jerusalem. Associated Press correspondent Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Bob Hennelly

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Escalation Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Why the latest Israel-Gaza conflict is escalating

By Eric Stober

National Online Journalist, Breaking News  Global News

Missile hits Israeli bus traveling near Gaza border

An unusually timed and likely undesired killing of a Hamas commander has caused an Israel-Gaza conflict that is escalating to levels not seen since 2014 because of the political need to save face, experts say.

On Sunday, Israel killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip during a botched undercover operation, causing an escalation of rocket fire from both Gaza and Israel. Six other Palestinian militants and an Israeli colonel were also killed in Israel’s operation.

Hamas has since fired at least 300 rockets into Israel, one of which hit a bus, while Israel has responded with its own fire, striking Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station and killing three Palestinian gunmen.

The timing of the conflict is unusual, given ceasefire talks between Gaza and Israel were reportedly progressing, leaving experts to conclude that Israel botched the operation and the conflict was unintentional.

“This operation was more meant for intelligence gathering, locating people who might be held in the Gaza Strip, not to assassinate, especially given the recent efforts to reach a ceasefire,” said Costanza Musu, a professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa, citing international analysis for her reasoning.

The Hamas commander that was killed had a “mid-range” level of command, and the Israeli military has denied it was an assassination attempt. Musu says it is unlikely there would be authorization to assassinate him, given his level of command.

Israel and Gaza were reportedly making progress in their ceasefire talks in recent weeks, but Musu says the ceasefire was being negotiated for “pragmatic” reasons, and the two sides still have fundamentally different objectives that make lasting peace difficult. This is why the rapid escalation in the midst of these talks is somewhat understandable, although it is a “big setback” for the ceasefire, Musu said.

Rex Brynen, a political science professor at McGill University, says it is “farcical” that Israel would be engaged in such a high-risk activity while the country was working toward a ceasefire with Gaza.

“It was very strange timing. You would have thought (Israel) would have calmed down risky actions like that when it seems the ceasefire is coming along,” Brynen said.

But Musu explains that a lot of these types of intelligence operations happen, the only difference is that they’re not botched and they’re not reported so the public doesn’t know when they occur.

Now that the public does know about this operation — and it led to a death that, by all accounts, wasn’t intentional — both sides are trying to save face, and the operation has been politicized.

“Hamas wants to make a point: ‘You can’t do this, we’ll fire back.’ And Israel wants to make the point: ‘You can’t fire rockets at us,’” Brynen said. “At the moment, both sides are trying to cow the other to back down.”

Brynen says there is currently a political climate in Israel that causes politicians to talk tough, as public opinion is geared against Hamas — and the same in Gaza towards Israel — meaning politicians will have to “ride it out for a little.”

Although the domestic politics will push toward escalation, strategic calculations will push towards de-escalation, he said.

That is because a large effort to go into Gaza is very strongly opposed by the military, Musu said, due to the risk of high civilian casualties in the high-density area. Musu also points out that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently gave a talk in Paris where he said he opposed invading Gaza.

Brynen says things could go either way with the escalation, especially if the rockets hit civilians. So far he has been “impressed” with the amount of firepower Hamas has shown, which he says is greater than in the past.

The Weakening of Babylon the Great

U.S. military edge has eroded to ‘a dangerous degree,’ study for Congress finds

Shane Harris

November 14 at 12:01 AM

The United States has lost its military edge to a dangerous degree and could potentially lose a war against China or Russia, according to a report released Wednesday by a bipartisan commission that Congress created to evaluate the Trump administration’s defense strategy.

The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition.

While endorsing the strategy’s aims, the commission warned that Washington isn’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently to put the vision into practice, risking a further erosion of American military dominance that could become a national security emergency.

At the same time, according to the commission, China and Russia are seeking dominance in their regions and the ability to project military power globally, as their authoritarian governments pursue defense buildups aimed squarely at the United States.

“There is a strong fear of complacency, that people have become so used to the United States achieving what it wants in the world, to include militarily, that it isn’t heeding the warning signs,” said Kathleen H. Hicks, a former top Pentagon official during the Obama administration and one of the commissioners. “It’s the flashing red that we are trying to relay.”

The picture of the national security landscape that the 12-person commission sketched is a bleak one, in which an American military that has enjoyed undisputed dominance for decades is failing to receive the resources, innovation and prioritization its leaders need to outmuscle China and Russia in a race for military might reminiscent of the Cold War.

The military balance has shifted adversely for the United States in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, undermining the confidence of American allies and increasing the likelihood of military conflict, the commission found, after reviewing classified documents, receiving Pentagon briefings and interviewing top defense officials.

The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the report said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”

In its list of 32 recommendations, the commission urged the Pentagon to explain more clearly how it intends to defeat major-power rivals in competition and war. It assailed the strategy for relying at times on “questionable assumptions and weak analysis” and leaving “unanswered critical questions.”

Eric Edelman, a top Pentagon official during the Bush administration, who co-chaired the commission along with retired admiral Gary Roughead, said the report wrestled with the consequences of years of ignored warnings about the erosion of American military might.

Russia and China have “learned from what we’ve done. They’ve learned from our success. And while we’ve been off doing a different kind of warfare, they’ve been prepared for a kind of warfare at the high end that we really haven’t engaged in for a very long time,” Edelman told Michael Morell, the former acting director of the CIA and a fellow member of the commission, during an episode of Morell’s podcast, “Intelligence Matters.”

Edelman said people had lost sight of how complicated the international security environment had become for the United States, and argued that for a lot of reasons the American public and Congress haven’t been as attentive to the urgency of the situation as they should be.

The commission argued that despite a $716 billion American defense budget this year, which is four times the size of China’s and more than 10 times that of Russia, the effort to reshape the U.S. defense establishment to counter current threats is under-resourced. It recommended that Congress lift budget caps on defense spending in the next two years that in the past have hobbled the military’s ability to plan for the long term.

“It is beyond the scope of our work to identify the exact dollar amount required to fully fund the military’s needs,” the report concluded. “Yet available resources are clearly insufficient to fulfill the strategy’s ambitious goals, including that of ensuring that (the Defense Department) can defeat a major-power adversary while deterring other enemies simultaneously.”

The call for even more robust defense spending comes as the Democrats take over the House and seek rollbacks of key Pentagon programs. It also comes after the White House instructed the Pentagon to pare back its planned budget for the coming year by some 4.5 percent, or about $33 billion, after the federal deficit increased sharply following last year’s tax cut.

White House national security adviser John Bolton recently said he expected the defense budget to remain relatively flat in the coming years, as the administration seeks to cut discretionary spending, and suggested the Pentagon would need to reshape the military with funds derived from cuts to other areas.

Money saved from planned Pentagon reforms will prove insufficient to make the kind of investment the military needs to execute the new national defense strategy, the commission found. It also said Congress should look at the entire federal budget, including entitlement spending and tax revenue, to put the nation on more stable financial footing, rather than slash defense spending.

To counter Russia and China, the commission said the Navy should expand its submarine fleet and sealift forces; the Air Force should introduce more reconnaissance platforms and stealth long-range fighters and bombers; and the Army should pursue more armor, long-range precision missiles and air-defense and logistical forces.

In its recommendations, the report advocated seeing through the modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and putting a top Pentagon official in charge of developing additional air and missile defenses.

Another area of focus for the commission was innovation.

It described current Pentagon acquisition programs as too risk-averse, and urged the Defense Department and Congress to create a new category of pilot programs aimed at “leap-ahead” technologies that could serve as breakthroughs to help retain American military dominance.

The report also resurfaced questions about the civilian-military divide that arose after retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis took over as defense secretary, thanks to a vote in Congress that waived a requirement for military officers to be out of uniform for 10 years before serving in that role.

In his nearly two years as secretary, Mattis has relied more on current and former military officers for expertise than his recent predecessors have.

Without singling out Mattis, the commission warned that “responsibility on key strategic and policy issues has increasingly migrated to the military,” and urged Congress to exercise oversight to “reverse the unhealthy trend in which decision-making is drifting increasingly toward the military on issues of national importance.”

Violence Erupts Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Monday after dozens of rockets were fired from the Palestinian territory into Israel. Clashes which erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in Gaza late Sunday had threatened to derail efforts to restore calm to the Palestinian enclave after months of unrest.

At least two Palestinians were killed in Gaza on Monday. Seven were killed in the overnight clashes, one of whom was a local commander for Hamas’s armed wing. One Israeli army officer was also killed. At least six Israelis were injured later on Monday when dozens of rockets were fired from Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short a trip to Paris to commemorate the end of World War I to rush home as tensions rose.

Israeli operation goes wrong

Israel stressed its Sunday operation was an intelligence-gathering mission and “not an assassination or abduction.”

The statement from Israeli military spokesman Ronen Manelis signalled that the mission did not go as planned and resulted in the clash, which Palestinian security sources said included Israeli air strikes.

An Israeli ground operation to kill or abduct militants inside the Gaza Strip would be rare.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the blockaded enclave, and its armed wing, spoke of a “cowardly Israeli attack” and an “assassination”, vowing revenge.

Hamas’s armed wing said an Israeli special forces team had infiltrated near Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip in a civilian car. Israeli air strikes followed when the operation failed, it said in a statement.

Israel’s military had not confirmed those details.

Gaza’s health ministry said seven Palestinians were killed.

Palestinians sit at the remains of a building that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip

The dead included a local commander for Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the brigades said in a statement. He was identified as Nour Baraka.

Five others were also Al-Qassam members, while the seventh was a member of a separate militant alliance known as the Popular Resistance Committees, according to Gazan security sources.

Israel’s army confirmed one of its officers was killed and another was injured.

“During an (Israeli) special forces operational activity in the Gaza Strip, an exchange of fire evolved,” the army said in a statement.

“At this incident, an IDF officer was killed and an additional officer was moderately injured,” it added, referring to the Israel Defense Forces and identifying the officer only by his rank, lieutenant colonel, and the first letter of his name, M.

Nascent cease-fire threatened

Netanyahu, who had been attending World War I commemorations in Paris, arrived back home on Monday and was to convene a meeting of security chiefs.

The clash comes after months of deadly unrest along the Gaza-Israel border, which had appeared to be calming.

Recent weeks have seen Israel allow Qatar to provide the Gaza Strip with millions of dollars in aid for salaries as well as fuel to help ease an electricity crisis.

Netanyahu had earlier defended his decision to allow Qatar to transfer the cash to Gaza despite criticism from within his own government over the move, saying he wanted to avoid a war if it wasn’t necessary.

Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu’s education minister and right-wing rival, compared the cash flow to “protection money” paid to criminals.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had opposed transferring the money to Hamas.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008, and recent months of unrest have raised fears of a fourth.

Deadly clashes have accompanied major protests along the Gaza-Israel border that began on March 30.

At least 227 Palestinians have since been killed by Israeli fire, the majority shot during protests and clashes, while others died in tank fire or air strikes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed in that time.

Egyptian and UN officials have been mediating between Israel and Hamas in efforts to reach a long-term truce deal.

On Friday, Palestinian civil servants began receiving payments after months of sporadic salary disbursements in cash-strapped Gaza, with $15 million delivered into the enclave through Israel in suitcases by Qatar.

A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments, Gaza authorities said, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas.

Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to Palestinians wounded in clashes along the Gaza-Israel border.

The Gulf emirate has also started buying additional fuel for Gaza’s sole power station, allowing outages to be reduced to their lowest level in years.

Russia Now Threatens the German Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system drives through Red Square in Moscow, on May 7, 2015, during Victory Day parade rehearsals. The Kremlin’s development of the short- to medium-range Novator 9M729 missile threatens the Cold War-era INF Treaty. Photo: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images

Russia Has Deployed Nuclear Missiles That Can Reach Germany, Claims Lithuania Foreign Minister

On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 – 10:54

Russia has been violating an international arms control agreement for years, the foreign minister of Lithuania has claimed, giving Moscow the ability to fire banned nuclear weapons at targets as far away as Berlin.

Linas Linkevicius told Deutsche Welle the Kremlin has been ignoring the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty for some time, leaving all of central and eastern Europe at threat from Russian missiles.

The treaty was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, banning ground-launch nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges from 500 kilometers (310 miles) to 5,500 kilometers (3,417 miles). This forced the superpower foes to remove roughly 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles from the front lines, eliminating a dangerous element from the Cold War equation.

But in recent years, Vladimir Putin is believed to have overseen an expansion of short- and medium-range weaponry, likely even deploying missiles to Russia’s western frontiers and Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

The medium-range nuclear-capable Novator 9M729 missile—known to NATO as the SSC-8—is the catalyst for the impending treaty collapse. Little information about the weapon has been released by the U.S., but a 2016 State Department report alleged that its range fell within the bracket banned by the INF Treaty.

Linkevicius explained to Deutsche Welle: “We all understand that all these arms control agreements are very important. But a very important condition is that all parties must comply. So if not, something should be done in order to force them to. So far, all the calls and the criticism have had no effect.”

The minister said Lithuanians were seriously concerned about missile proliferation in Russia. “When Russians are talking about balance, about adequate responses, it’s by no means adequate because we do not have defense capabilities. And we’re not going to be aggressive. But this is really not a move for confidence building.”

“And by the way, these missiles can reach not just Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius, but also Berlin,” Linkevicius added. “And they’re nuclear-capable. So I believe it’s really an escalation measure.”

Last month, President Donald Trump said he would withdraw the U.S. from the INF Treaty, citing consistent Russian non-compliance. “Russia has violated the agreement,” the president told reporters after a rally in Nevada. “They’ve been violating it for many years and I don’t know why President [Barack] Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out.”

“We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” he added. “We’re the ones that have stayed in the agreement and we’ve honored the agreement but Russia has not unfortunately honored the agreement so we’re going to terminate the agreement, we’re going to pull out.”