History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New York Earthquake 1884

Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Last Failed Attempt to Avoid Nuclear War (Revelation 16)

European diplomats mount last-ditch effort to stop US scrapping INF treaty

1987 treaty has kept nuclear weapons out of Europe

Trump announced withdrawal from deal with Russia in October

Julian Borger in Washington

Sun 18 Nov 2018 03.00 EST

Last modified on Sun 18 Nov 2018 10.52 EST

European officials are seeking to act as intermediaries between Russia and the US in the hope of salvaging a cold war-era arms control treaty that Donald Trump has threatened to scrap.

However, the diplomats involved are not confident of success in the effort to save the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. Although they have the support of senior officials in the US defence and state departments, they face opposition from the White House, particularly from the national security adviser, John Bolton.

Nor is it clear whether Moscow is interested in a deal. The collapse of the INF would leave the Russian military free to deploy short- and medium-range nuclear missiles along its borders with Nato in Europe, and in China.

It would be hard for the US to benefit militarily from the treaty’s demise, as it would need allied states to offer launch sites for its missiles if they were to be deployed within range of Russia and China – and it is far from clear what country would offer its territory and thus make itself a target.

Yet Trump’s abrupt declaration at a political rally in Nevada on 20 October that he was going to pull the US out of the treaty, without informing allies, has focused criticism on Washington rather than Moscow. European officials have asked for time to make a last-gasp attempt to rescue the treaty, which they see as a key pillar of arms control in Europe.

They have sought to persuade their American counterparts that US abrogation of the treaty – without giving Russia a final opportunity to come into compliance – could further undermine global support for the US, and allow Moscow to escape the full blame for the treaty’s breakdown.

“The US administration needs to take the Europeans with them,” a European diplomat said. “It’s important that if the agreement fails it is clear to everyone that it is the Russians’ fault. I think the administration gets this.”

Trump will meet Vladimir Putin and the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires at the end of this month, but it is not clear that the issue will be raised. Bolton told Putin when they met in Moscow in October that Trump had made up his mind to dump the treaty, which has kept nuclear missiles out of Europe for more than three decades.

US confirms withdrawal from nuclear arms treaty with Russia

The US has been accusing Russia of violating the treaty for more than four years, through the development and deployment of a new ground-launched medium-range missile. Nevertheless, Trump’s declaration of intent on October 20 to pull the US out of the treaty marked a sharp break in US policy, which until then had been to ratchet up pressure on Russia, in part by the US announcing plans to develop its own counterpart missile, to use as a bargaining chip.

The declaration took the defence and state departments by surprise. A cabinet-level meeting to discuss policy on the INF scheduled for 15 October was scrapped without explanation by Bolton, officials said.

Russia has denied its new weapon violates the INF restrictions banning nuclear missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500km. It also accuses the US of breaking the treaty on the grounds that launchers for interceptors in the Aegis ground-based missile defence system in Romania and soon to be deployed in Poland, could be used for an offensive cruise missile.

John Bolton, Donald Trump’s national security adviser, scrapped an interagency meeting to discuss the treaty last month. Photograph: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

Russia has so far not agreed to allow inspections of its new missile or suggested any compromise involving the Aegis missile-defence system. The US has also been uncompromising. In the last discussions between Washington and Moscow on the INF, in June, the US arms control ambassador, John Ordway, passed on a US demand for a freeze in Russian deployment of its new missile.

According to sources familiar with the Russian account of the talks, Ordway’s terms also included a requirement for Moscow to admit it had violated the treaty, a condition the Kremlin was almost certain to refuse.

The state department confirmed Ordway’s meeting with a Russian delegation, but declined to provide further details.

Under the terms of the treaty, it would take six months for a US withdrawal to take effect, from the date of Washington’s formal notification of its intention to withdraw. But in the month since Trump’s declaration in Nevada, no such notification has been made.

The under secretary of state for arms control and international security, Andrea Thompson, told journalists on Thursday that no decision on timing had been made and appeared to suggest the president had not yet made a final decision on withdrawal.

“We’re in the middle of the interagency process. I don’t want to get ahead of it. Know that everyone involved with this is all hands on deck and getting information so that the president has everything that he needs to make the next decision,” Thompson said. She added that the US was sharing intelligence with Nato allies to help build support for the US case on the INF.

“The bottom line is they support us. They ask for more information. Obviously, the intelligence is key on showing partners and allies the continued violations. And we’re talking through next steps, and that’s the important thing, that it’s a collaborative process whether it’s with Nato partners or here at home, that we’re getting input for next steps to make sure that there is no gap between us as – when the president makes his decision.”

A group of US, Russian and German nuclear weapons experts, known as the Deep Cuts commission issued a statement on Sunday, warning of the dangers of allowing the INF to break down, and arguing for another effort to negotiate a compromise.

“The repercussions of a collapse of the INF treaty would be tremendous: it could trigger a new arms race, significantly increase the risk of nuclear escalation, further undermine political relations between the United States, Russia and Europe,” the commission said.

“We believe the United States and Russia should exhaust all cooperative options to solve the INF treaty crisis instead of scrapping the treaty.”

The Rise of the Antichrist (Revelation 13)

Muqtada al-Sadr: Iraq’s militia leader turned champion of poor

Shia leader’s appeal to the disenfranchised and the low voter turnout factored into his alliance’s surprise victory.

by Arwa Ibrahim

17 May 2018

Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr surprised the world when his Sairoon Alliance captured more parliamentary seats than any other party or alliance in Iraq’s parliamentary elections, in a remarkable comeback after being sidelined for years by Iranian-backed rivals.

Once known as a staunch anti-American militia leader, al-Sadr has rebranded himself in recent years as a patriotic champion of the poor and an anti-corruption firebrand.

This rebranding, along with the low voter turnout of only 44.52 percent, were, according to analysts, the main factors that enabled Sairoon – an alliance between the Sadrist Movement and Iraq’s Communist Party – to win six of Iraq’s 18 provinces, including Baghdad.

Although final results are yet to be released, most of the country’s politicians have accepted the tally so far, which has seen Sairoon win more than 1.3 million votes, winning 54 out of 329 parliament seats. Without an outright majority, al-Sadr will still need to build an alliance with other blocs to form the new government.

Unlike Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi – an ally of both the United States and Iran – al-Sadr’s positioning against dominant pro-Iran Shia blocs and away from the US is likely to rock established interests in Iraq.

‘Man of the poor’

By projecting himself as an Iraqi nationalist and mixing his resistance to US presence in the early 2000s with Shia religiosity – as the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, a highly regarded scholar throughout the Shia Muslim world – al-Sadr became a figurehead for many of Iraq’s poor Shia Muslims.

Since 2003, his followers have provided healthcare services, food and clean water across many parts of Iraq’s poor suburbs and especially in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad named after his father. Al-Sadr’s militia has since acted in Sadr City almost unhindered by US and Iraqi forces to influence local councils and government. This established his zealous following among the young, poor and dispossessed.

Similarly, Sairoon’s 2018 election campaign used anti-corruption rhetoric and focused on cutting across sectarian platforms, appealing to frustrated Iraqis who complained about their political elite’s systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption.

Iraq has been ranked among the world’s most corrupt countries, with high unemployment, poverty and weak public institutions.

“For a couple of years, Sadr has been arguing against the level of corruption in the government,” which, according to Talha Abdulrazaq, an Iraq expert at the University of Exeter’s Strategy and Security Institute, attracted “the predominant demographic of Shia, working-class neighbourhoods” in the six provinces that voted for Sairoon.

While top politicians in suits voted in Baghdad’s Green Zone on May 12, al-Sadr cast his ballot at a school in a poor district of Najaf, a hub for Iraq’s Shia communities. Footage of him dressed in his trademark turban and robe reinforced his image as a maverick who appeals to the disenfranchised.

According to Abdulrazaq, al-Sadr’s alliance with Iraq’s Communist Party also worked in his favour.

“The communists are well organised on a grassroots level which allowed the bloc to mobilise,” said Abdulrazaq, highlighting the long history of partnership between Iraq’s Shia and communist groups. According to him, many of the communist movements’ recruits have been Shia Arabs.

Fanar al-Haddad, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, agreed: “Sadr has always appealed to the Shia working class and his alliance with the communists chimed into the image of a reformer and someone who wants to bring in new blood.”

Voters in Baghdad complained that most candidates running were part of the same elite. They told Al Jazeera that they were in search for “new faces and wanted change”.

In contrast to other blocs, Sairoon Alliance offered the voters new candidates, including the likes of Muntadhar al-Zaidi – a journalist famed for hurling a shoe at former US President George W Bush during his visit to Baghdad in 2008.

Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr cast his vote for the parliamentary election at a polling station in Najaf [Reuters]

Low voter turnout

In addition to his grassroots appeal, the low voter turnout, which was 15 percent less than in 2014, worked in al-Sadr’s favour, according to analysts.

“While Sadr has a support base that is fairly solid and inelastic – unlike other party leaders, the result is equally a function of the low turnout for his rivals,” said al-Hadad.

The majority of Iraqis did not vote, partly due to an online boycott campaign spearheaded by activists.

Meanwhile, with millions of predominantly Sunni internally displaced persons (IDPs) unable or uninterested to vote, “the results were skewed in Sadr’s favour”, said Abudlrazaq, who explained that the millions of IDPs in urgent need of basic assistance “have had more important things to think about than voting”.

With Iraq having more than 2 million people displaced since 2014 and living in IDP camps, Sunni leaders demanded that the elections be postponed until these communities could return to their homes. Their appeals were not addressed.

Although the government set up 166 polling stations in 70 camps for internally displaced persons, IDP voters reported facing difficulties, which left few able to cast their ballots.

Shifting alliances

Al-Sadr did not stand as a candidate himself, so he will not head the new government, although his alliance will have a big say in the composition of the as-yet unclear future government

Domestically, al-Sadr’s eyes seem to be set on forging alliances with a variety of blocs to fight corruption and allow for an independent, non-sectarian government of technocrats, according to a Tuesday address made by his spokesman, Saleh al-Obeidi.

But he appears to wish to stay away from two groups heavily aligned with Iran, the former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition and Hadi al-Ameri’s Fateh Coalition.

Al-Sadr posted a tweet on Monday expressing a willingness to work with a number of parties – among those he named were the Shia-aligned al-Hikma bloc, the Sunni al-Wataniya bloc, and newly established Kurdish parties.

For its part, Iran publicly stated it would not allow his bloc to govern, which has led many observers to believe that Tehran is likely to try and isolate or fragment al-Sadr’s power.

“Iran will try to work on the fact that Sadr’s coalition includes communists which is a weakness if Iran tempts them away from the alliance, reducing his [al-Sadr’s alliance] majority,” said Abdulrazaq.

For other analysts, however, al-Sadr’s victory may not upset Iranian influence over Baghdad as much as it will the US’ influence.

Unlike Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an ally of Washington and Tehran, Muqtada al-Sadr is an opponent of both countries. [AFP]

According to Mahan Abedin, an expert on Iranian politics: “On balance, Tehran is not displeased [with the results]. It wanted Abadi – who Iran perceives as America’s man – weakened, and they got that.”

Unlike al-Abadi, an ally of Washington and Tehran, al-Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shia majority into power.

“Also, a corollary is the relative rehabilitation of [former Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki who is now back in the fold,” added Abedin.

Al-Maliki, who led Iraq between 2006 and 2014 and headed the State of Law Coalition for the 2018 election, was a staunch ally of Iran. For years, the Iraqi army and police under al-Maliki acted as a sectarian militia against the country’s Sunni minority.

“Another key Iranian objective is to defeat or undermine US plans. Both Sadr and Fateh [a pro-Iran coalition led by Hadi al-Ameri and which came in second in the election] are useful for that.

“These elections have [therefore] reinforced the dominion of the Shia state in Iraq, [so] in terms of influence and operations, Iran, as always, is the key power broker,” explained Abedin

But for the US, which sent US presidential envoy Brett McGurk to Erbil following the vote, the situation might be a little more tricky.

Al-Sadr has been a staunch opponent of the US. He spearheaded a number of political movements in Iraq that directed attacks on US troops in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion.

He set up the Mahdi Army, which posed such a threat to US forces that they were instructed to kill or capture him.

Although US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in an interview on Tuesday that the US would respect and “stand with the Iraqi people’s decisions”, the US had hoped al-Abadi would win another term in office.

US acceptance of the results, according to al-Haddad, therefore depends on the kind of government that will be formed.

“It [al-Sadr’s victory] is not the best scenario for the US. The US will push for Abadi’s premiership, and if Sairoon form a coalition with Abadi’s Nasr Coalition and Abadi heads the next government, that would work well for the US.”


Tel Aviv Threatened Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Security personnel check a damaged house in the Israeli city of Ashkelon following a rocket attack from Gaza, November 12, 2018.

Hamas threatens to hit Tel Aviv in response to next Israeli aggression

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has pledged to target Tel Aviv next time should Israel attack the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Speaking at a memorial service for the Palestinians killed in recent clashes with Israeli soldiers in the city of Khan Yunis on Friday, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar warned Israel not to test the resistance group again.

“I advise Israel not to try and test us again. This time you did not have a lot of casualties and you managed to rescue your special forces,” he said. “You should not try again, because next time you will have to release thousands of prisoners.”

Sinwar also warned that the next time Israeli forces entered the Gaza Strip, they would only return via a prisoner exchange for “thousands of prisoners.”

Last week, Gaza witnessed its worst flare-up of violence since the 2014 war. It began with an Israeli commando raid and a spate of deadly airstrikes against Gaza.

The Israeli aggression triggered retaliatory rocket attacks by Palestinian resistance groups into the southern parts of the occupied territories. Hamas fired more than 460 rockets at the occupied lands in less than 24 hours.

The clashes ended on Tuesday after an Egypt-brokered ceasefire took effect in Gaza.

The truce was criticized by some Israeli officials and led Avigdor Lieberman to step down as the minister of military affairs. The resignation, which could bring about early elections in the occupied lands, was hailed by Hamas as “an admission of defeat” and a “political victory” for the Palestinian resistance.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Sinwar noted that he had spoken to Muhammad Deif, the leader of Hamas’s military wing the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

“Deif asked me to say that Tel Aviv and Gush Dan (the greater Tel Aviv area) are next. The first barrage to hit Tel Aviv will surprise Israel,” he said.

Sinwar further waved out a handgun with a silencer seized from the Israeli forces during their recent raid on Gaza.

“Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open,” he pointed out. “Whoever tests Gaza will find only death and poison. Our missiles are more precise, have a greater range and carry more explosives than in the past.”

The Hamas leader also stressed that the latest Israeli permission for the delivery of aid and fuel to Gaza would not make the Palestinians sell their blood.

“What did the Israeli leadership think when it allowed in fuel and Qatari funds? … That we would sell out our blood for diesel and dollars? They’ve been disappointed, and their goals have failed,” he said.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.

It has also witnessed a fresh wave of tensions since March 30 when “The Great March of Return” protests started.

The Tel Aviv regime carries out regular attacks on the coastal enclave under the pretext of hitting positions belonging to Hamas.

More Rockets Launched From Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)


One Killed as 370 Rockets Launched From Gaza Hit Israel’s South; IDF Strikes Strip

Or Kashti13.11.2018 | 08:26

Iron Dome intercepts some 100 rockets ■ Sirens sound as far as Dead Sea ■ Around 70 Israelis wounded, two of whom seriously ■ IDF strikes over 100 Gaza targets ■ Four Palestinians said killed

Day 3 updates: Why Hamas’ missile attack on Israeli bus actually shows it’s not looking to spark full-on Gaza war ■ Why Netanyahu will do almost anything for a Gaza cease-fire (and it has nothing to do with peace)

■ Some 370 rockets launched from Gaza

■ Bus hit, Israeli severely wounded

■ One civilian killed by Gaza rockets, Some 70 said injured

Iron Dome intercepts around 100 projectiles

■ Israel strikes over 100 targets in Strip

Palestinians say three killed

The Israeli army is reinforcing Armored Corps and infantry units near the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, its spokesperson said. The Israel Air Force struck over a hundred Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets on Monday overnight, including a munitions warehouse, weapons factory and a military compound and Hamas’ Public Security offices, said the spokesperson.

Hamas’ military wing spokesman said Monday that Be’er Sheva and Ashdod would be targeted next if “Israel persisted in its aggression.” The Islamic Jihad echoed the statement, saying Gaza factions have the capacity to continue their offensive.

A 40-year-old man was killed after a house was hit by a rocket in the southern Israeli town Ashkelon late Monday night. Two women who were in the same building at the time of the incident are said to be in critical condition.

The fatality is reportedly a man from the West Bank Palestinian city of Hebron, not an Israeli citizen as initially suggested by local media. His identity is yet to be fully confirmed. He was the first casualty in Israel from this round of aggression with the Strip.

The victim was found by other civilians buried in the rubble an hour after police and firefighters had already left, in what neighbors described as a “terrible failure” to locate him.

Rescue operations at the building had identified a 60 year old woman, unconscious with blast wounds and multiple injuries, around 40 minutes after the house was hit, but had altogether missed the other casualties.

The other victims were spotted by a man who had come to take pictures of the damage one hour after the hit.

Israel came under a heavy barrage of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip on Monday, a day after a flare-up in which an Israeli sure officer and seven Palestinians were killed.

An anti-tank missile launched from Gaza hit a bus in southern Israel, severely wounding a 19-year-old soldier.

The soldier was evacuated to Soroka Medical Center in Be’er Sheva along with the 25-year-old driver, who suffered from shock.

The projectiles fired from the Strip hit Israel in a number of locations, including in Sderot, where several people suffered light injuries from shrapnel, and Netivot, where a house took a direct hit. Israeli emergency services said a total of nine people sustained light injuries from shrapnel.

Late on Monday night, the Magen David Adom said overall they treated 53 injured Israelis, of whom two in critical conditions, one moderately injured, 23 injured lightly from glass shrapnel, blast injuries, smoke inhalation and from running to protected areas, and 27 people suffering from stress symptoms.

The figure referred to events prior to the deadly hit in Ashkelon and more rocket attacks from Gaza overnight and, with increased intensity, in the early morning on Tuesday.

The Israel Defense Forces said the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted around 100 out of some 370 launches from Gaza. Most of the rockets exploded in open areas. Rocket sirens sounded in southern Israeli communities throughout the late afternoon and evening on Monday, including in Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon, and near the Dead Sea, and continued on Tuesday.

The IDF launched a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip in response to the multiple rounds of rocket fire. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, three people were killed and several were wounded in the strikes.

The army said Tuesday morning it struck more than 100 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets using jets, attack helicopters and tanks. Targets included three attack tunnels, military compounds, observation posts, weapon manufacturing sites and launch sites.

The IDF said it also struck Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV studios in Gaza City. Reports in Gaza said the Israel Air Force fired warning missiles before striking the building, which was evacuated prior to the attack.

“The station broadcasts harsh incitement against Israel and its citizens, showing methods on how to carry out attacks against civilians and soldiers,” the IDF’s Spokesperson said in a statement.

Shortly later, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories addressed Gaza’s residents in a Facebook post in Arabic. Hamas has “crossed a red line,” COGAT wrote, adding that Israel will intensify its response.

Reports from Gaza said senior Egyptian intelligence officials are involved in efforts to reach a cease-fire.

‘Dangerous and reckless’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deliberated the escalation on the southern border at the IDF’s headquarters in Tel Aviv with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and senior members of the defense establishment and the IDF.

A diplomatic source said “operational decisions were made” and that the security cabinet will reconvene on Tuesday. Sources estimate that while Israel will respond to the flare-up harshly, the possibility to restore calm shall remain.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said that “Hamas is leading the Gaza Strip towards destruction” and will feel the full force of the IDF’s response in the coming hours. According to the IDF, Hamas evacuated its headquarters and several of its outposts before the first rocket was launched from Gaza at Israel.

In a joint statement, the Palestinian factions warned Israel that if its “aggression continues in response to the rocket fire – which was a response to yesterday’s attack in Khan Younis – the Palestinian factions will escalate the rocket fire and the range into Israel.”

Islamic Jihad issued a separate statement later on Monday evening, saying: “Israelis won’t be secure as long as Palestinians aren’t and playing with the lives of Palestinians will not be without a cost.” Earlier, Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge Sunday’s operation.

The Palestinian factions also commented on the attack on a bus, saying that “the factions’ fighters succeeded in attacking a bus full of soldiers with a Kornet missile.” The statement claimed the attack resulted in the death and injuries of the soldiers on the bus. The IDF, however, said in a statement that only one soldier was wounded.

Meanwhile, UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov’s office tweeted that the UN is “working closely with #Egypt & all concerned to ensure that #Gaza steps back from the brink. The escalation in the past 24hrs is EXTREMELY dangerous & reckless. Rockets must STOP, restraint must b shown by all! No effort must be spared to reverse the spiral of violence.”

EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret also tweeted in response to the escalation: “Following with great concern the situation and the indiscriminate firing of rockets towards the south of Israel. Attacks on civilians are unacceptable and need to stop. Everyone must step back from the brink.”

Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, denounced Hamas in response, tweeting: “terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war. These rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks.”

Earlier, Palestinians reported an Israeli artillery strike on the northern Gaza Strip, near a Hamas position. No injuries were reported.

The latest escalation comes a day after a 41-year-old Israeli officer was killed and another was moderately wounded during an operation in the southern Gaza Strip.

At least seven Palestinians were killed, including a commander in Hamas’ military wing. Hamas claimed that six of the casualties were part of its organization.