History Expects the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

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. (ANI)

Israelis Trample Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

60% of the 10,500 protesters treated for injuries in Gaza were shot by Israeli forces in the legs

KateDecember 14, 2018

In Gaza protests, Israeli troops aim at the legs

GAZA CITY, Gaza (AP) 9 Dec by Todd Pitman — Israeli forces deployed along the volatile border with the Gaza Strip have fired live rounds at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters ever since demonstrations against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza began in March. And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other — the legs. The Israeli army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. The military says it opens fire only as a last resort, and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint. Still, 175 Palestinians have been shot to death, according to an Associated Press count. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions. Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392, or roughly 60 percent, have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters. The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them….

Gaza City (Asia Times) 12 Dec by Mohammed Dahman — When Palestinian cycling champion Alaa al-Daly rode to the eastern edges of the Gaza Strip earlier this year to join a demonstration against a decade-long Israeli blockade, he had no idea it would end with the loss of his leg and career. The 21-year-old athlete had finished his training early on March 30 and cycled over to join thousands in a march along the Israeli-occupied border zone … Daly says the Israeli authorities on multiple occasions have prevented him from traveling abroad to compete in cycling competitions, and so a central demand of the “Great March of Return” – an end to the blockade – resonated with him.  The 2018 Asia Games were coming up in August in Jakarta, and Daly was eager to represent his people.  On that first day of the protests, he recounted, “I was on my bike, about 250 meters from the barbed wire, when suddenly a bullet from an Israeli sniper stationed at the border hit my right leg.”  The gunshot was only the first shock for Daly. In the span of eight days following the injury, doctors performed eight operations on Daly in an attempt to save his leg. Finally, they found themselves with no choice but to amputate it, shattering the cyclist’s hopes to ever return to his beloved sport, which he had been perfecting since childhood.

The Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative was held for the fifth time this year for Palestinians with special needs in the besieged Gaza Strip. The table tennis tournament held today was attended by nearly 50 players – both male and female – from a range of clubs. The majority of the players had been injured by Israeli occupation forces. The Rachel Corrie Gaza Sport Initiative is an annual project, consisting of the Rachel Corrie Ramadan Football Tournaments and the Rachel Corrie Tournament for Athletes with Disabilities. The Tournament for Athletes with Disabilities helps connect those with disabilities to the broader Palestinian society, affirms the place of the disabled in Gaza, and provides an avenue of accomplishment and fun in the sphere of athletics.

Iran and the Shi’a Horn

A United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle patrolling in southern Lebanon on the border with Israel is parked next to a poster showing Hassan Nasrallah, on December 9, 2018. Ali DIA / AFP

Analysis From Lebanon to Iraq: Iran’s New, Hybrid Threat to Israel

Amos Harel16:13

The pro-Assad axis saw great strategic success in 2018 – but Tehran has also suffered failures ■ The state of the Israeli army’s ground forces is a divisive issue Netanyahu will have to address

Operation Northern Shield, to locate Hezbollah’s tunnels under the Lebanese border, is entering its second week. So far the Israel Defense Forces has reported the discovery of three tunnels, and the excavations are continuing at several other sites along the border. This engineering effort is expected to take more than a month, and even then the army will probably have to make changes regarding preparedness at the border fence.

Benjamin Netanyahu, in his dual role as prime minister and defense minister (among his other ministries), arrived this week for a second visit to the area, where he threatened Hezbollah. (Like when he said in September that if Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah „confronts us, he’ll get a crushing blow that he can’t even imagine.“)

But it was clear that the tour was also for domestic consumption. The prime minister is preparing for Israel’s next general election due within a year, and his frequent meetings with officers and soldiers provide an ideal setting for his journey to the ballot box.

In an article last week on the website Israel Defense, Col. (res.) Pesach Malovany, a former senior official in Military Intelligence, mentions a propaganda film released by Hezbollah in 2014. The organization promised “to free Bi’ina, Deir al-Asad and Majdal Krum,” three Arab villages in the Galilee, and presented an attack plan based on no fewer than 5,000 fighters.

According to the film, the units would progress in four spearheads, from Nahariya in the west to Misgav Am in the east, with a fifth force in reserve. Cover would be provided by a heavy barrage of rockets launched by Hezbollah at the Galilee.

Israeli officials at the time dismissed this as mere psychological warfare. Even now it’s hard to imagine how Hezbollah would be able to transfer so many troops, sometimes underground in relatively narrow and short tunnels, without being discovered. Interestingly, the size of the forces that was mentioned is quite similar to the estimated number of fighters in Hezbollah’s Radwan special forces unit. When you add the tunnels that were recently revealed, it’s easier to understand how Hezbollah is thinking about the next battle.

Hezbollah’s steps are part of a change in Iran’s plans. In recent months Iran’s military intervention in Syria, including the weapons smuggled to Hezbollah in Lebanon, has ebbed due to Russian pressure.

At the same time, Moscow has pressured Israel to go easy on its air strikes in Syria since the Syrians‘ accidental downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane in September. This week the Russians finally agreed to receive a military delegation from Israel, headed by the chief of the General Staff Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva, but the IDF is reluctant to state that this signals an end to the crisis.

Amid the difficulties of operating in Syria, Iran is increasing its efforts in the two neighboring countries. In western Iraq it’s deploying long-range missiles that are capable of striking Israel as well. In Lebanon it’s trying to build factories that will let it improve the precision of Hezbollah’s older rockets. These efforts are accompanied by a dispute regarding the Iranian regime’s priorities for investment, in light of increased sanctions by the United States and a protest by everyday Iranians due to the deteriorating economy.

Since the discovery of the tunnels, the General Staff has made sure to clarify that despite the media’s preoccupation with the precision-missile project, Hezbollah apparently has only a few dozen high-precision rockets capable of striking less than 50 meters (160 feet) or so from their target.

The Iranians have yet to achieve the “industrial” capability of a swift conversion to precision missiles in Lebanon. The smuggling of weapons on flights from Iran to Beirut is also being done on a small scale, far smaller than what was tried in the weapons convoys on Syrian soil.

In the north, 2018 saw a major strategic success of the axis that supported the Assad regime in Syria – a renewed takeover of most of Syrian territory and a restabilization of the government. But the Iranians also suffered failures; one is a slowdown of their efforts to entrench themselves militarily in Syria, because of Israel’s strikes in April and May. The other is the exposure of Hezbollah’s tunnel plan.

That doesn’t mean that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, will lay down his arms in 2019. Israel must assume that Iran will try to attack it on other fronts. At the moment, it seems this will happen in Lebanon, with the precision-missile factories the main issue.

If in the future Tehran believes that it has a reason to attack Israel, perhaps due to American efforts to combat Iran’s nuclear programs and missiles, it’s hard to believe it will leave Hezbollah out, as it did in the confrontation with Israel in Syria this year.

In light of the billions that the Iranians have invested in Lebanon, the day will come when they demand that Nasrallah provide a better return for their money. A senior defense official, in a meeting with his European counterparts, recently said that it will be hard to maintain the quiet in Lebanon for another year.

Analysis

„We’ll try to neutralize the tunnels and remove them from the equation, but the precision-missile project remains a problem for us,“ he reportedly said. „Iran is trying to build a missile system in Iraq and Syria, in addition to the rockets it has already provided to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to Palestinian organizations in Gaza. For us it’s too much; the Iranians have to leave Syria entirely. It’s not enough to keep them 60 or 80 kilometers [50 miles] from the Israeli border.“

Unprecedented challenge

The Israeli rhetoric against Iran in the past decade has focused on the nuclear program. But the 2015 nuclear agreement and the lifting of the sanctions against Iran that ensued (some of which were recently renewed when Washington abandoned the agreement) have clarified the progress of Iran’s other efforts: to develop long-range missiles and increase its influence in the region.

The conventional military threat against Israel has waned with the collapse of the Syrian army and Israel’s closer ties with Egypt. On the other hand, the combined, hybrid threat that Iran is developing from many directions and with many means is a challenge Israel hasn’t faced in the past.

Heavy rocket barrages against civilians and strategic infrastructure, an attempt at a land grab on the border, cyberwarfare and electronic warfare, an option of opening a secondary front in Gaza, the big question of how Russia will behave – all these elements appear in the scenarios that the General Staff has practiced in recent years.

Are the ground forces, which are still partly based on a large contribution by reservists, ready for more extreme scenarios? That’s one subject of the debate with the Defense Ministry ombudsman, Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brik. Brik isn’t being attacked for his ungentlemanly style and sweeping statements, but apparently the public slap in the face by his reports has triggered a positive process of investigations in the IDF and at the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

When the generals stop feeling offended, the army will discover that it’s not a bad idea to investigate itself occasionally. And the managers of large organizations tend to discover that reality is less glamorous than their high opinion of themselves.

In the army, opinions about the ground forces are divided. Have the steps by Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot to bring the IDF up to par been sufficient? Some people believe it’s lagging by decades. Eisenkot challenged the political leaders in the summer of 2015 when he published documents on IDF strategy; he tried to force the politicians into a deeper discussion on the army and its future.

In fact, from the few statements by Netanyahu on this question in recent months, it’s clear he envisions an army even more dependent on the air force, technology and intelligence. The ground forces, and the reservist system in particular, are liable to remain far behind. The prime minister, in his role as defense minister, will have to find time to discuss these controversies in depth during the first half of the coming year, when Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi takes over as chief of staff.

Israelis Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Two Israelis shot dead in West Bank attack as Hamas claims earlier attacks

Ruth EglashJERUSALEM —

December 13 at 10:51 AM

Violence broke out in the West Bank on Thursday as two Israeli soldiers were shot dead, the Palestinian driver in an alleged car-ramming attempt was killed and two Palestinians suspected of earlier attacks were gunned down by Israeli forces.

Hamas claimed that both of those Palestinians were its operatives, threatening a delicately forged cease-fire deal between Israel and the militant group.

One had been accused of involvement in a drive-by shooting Sunday, which wounded seven Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman whose prematurely born baby later died. The other, suspected of killing two of his Israeli co-workers, had been on the run for nine weeks.

There were no assertions of responsibility for Thursday’s incidents, and the Israeli military declined to comment on whether it believed that Hamas was also responsible.

Israeli forces sealed off checkpoints around the Palestinian city of Ramallah and carried out a large-scale manhunt for the perpetrators of Thursday’s shooting, which occurred at a bus stop near the Israeli settlement of Givat Assaf. The Palestinian assailant in the alleged car-ramming attack was fatally shot at the scene, the Israeli army said.

The uptick in violence increases pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act more aggressively against Hamas. He was already facing widespread criticism for agreeing to a cease-fire with Hamas after a barrage of rockets from Gaza last month and allowing millions of dollars of cash to enter Gaza to pay salaries. Israeli security officials have said the group is trying to expand its presence in the West Bank.

By sundown, street demonstrations had broken out in Jerusalem and the West Bank, with West Bank settlers protesting outside Netanyahu’s residence and stone-throwing Palestinians clashing with Israeli forces in Ramallah.

In response to the violence, Netanyahu’s office said that he had decided to legalize thousands of settler homes built illegally in the West Bank. He also requested that Israel’s attorney general take legal steps to facilitate the construction of 82 residential units in the West Bank settlement of Ofra.

In addition, he ordered the “accelerated demolition of terrorists’ homes” and “increased administrative detention” — incarceration without charges or trial — for suspected Hamas militants in the West Bank.

“Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us — will pay with his life,” Netanyahu said in a statement. “Our enemies know this and we will find them.”

Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said that Israeli settlers were carrying out revenge attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank, shooting at houses, destroying vehicles and throwing stones in the presence of soldiers, who did nothing to intervene.

“As justified as their anger may be regarding recent attacks on innocent civilians, it is unconscionable that civilians would take the law into their own hands,” the group said.

The Israeli military named the dead soldiers as Sgt. Yovel Mor Yosef, 20, and Cpl. Yosef Cohen, 19. They were both posthumously promoted. A third soldier was critically injured when the gunman, who was not alone in his car, exited his vehicle at the bus stop before fleeing toward Ramallah, said Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli army spokesman.

Hours later a car attempted to ram soldiers at a checkpoint in al-Bireh, northeast of Ramallah, the army said. Palestinian television said the man, 60-year-old Hamdan Tawfiq, had failed to stop for soldiers as he suffered from hearing problems.

The incident came just a day after the baby of a 21-year-old pregnant woman shot in the chest in Sunday’s attack died after being delivered early by emergency Caesarean section.

The gunman suspected in the shooting fled the scene and evaded Israeli authorities for three days until he was killed Wednesday night, the military said. Hamas later asserted responsibility and hailed the attacker, Saleh Barghouti, as a “martyr” alongside Ashraf Naalwa, accused of killing his Israeli co-workers Oct. 7.

“The flame of resistance in the West Bank has not and will not be extinguished until the occupation is defeated from our entire land, and we regain our rights in full,” Hamas said in a statement. It called the Israeli killings of the two men a “crime.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, described the killings of the Palestinians as “summary executions” and criticized the “rampage” by settlers.

Netanyahu’s decision to enter a cease-fire with Hamas last month after a botched Israeli raid led to the worst bout of rocket fire since the 2014 Hamas-Israel war dented his security credentials. His defense minister quit in protest, leaving the government on the brink of collapse.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation in the choked-off, 140-square-mile strip has become a security concern for Israel, which has been negotiating with Hamas to bring about calm. As part of that effort, Israel has been allowing Qatar to send $15 million in cash into Gaza each month to pay the salaries of civil servants.

Yonatan Fighel, senior research analyst at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya and a former military governor in the West Bank, is among many within Israel’s security establishment who believe that the government’s policy is misguided.

“By giving attention to Hamas, enabling Qatar to pour money into Gaza to create silence there, at the same time the Israeli government is weakening the Palestinian Authority,” he said, referring to the Palestinian body headed by Mahmoud Abbas that governs parts of the occupied West Bank.

“They are weakening the moderates and encouraging the extremist,” Fighel said.

[Israel says monitoring social media has cut lone-wolf attacks. Palestinians are crying foul.]

The Palestinian Authority has also opposed Israel’s direct negotiations with Hamas over the situation in Gaza. A statement issued by Abbas’s office said Israel’s “repeated raids into cities, incitement against the president and the absence of horizons for peace are what led to this unacceptable rise in violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which the two sides are paying the price.”

The attacks pose a challenge to Israeli military forces operating in the West Bank. Israeli authorities have had some success in tackling lone-wolf attacks and larger-scale attacks, but appear to have struggled with the emergence of small cells funded and supported at a distance by Hamas and other groups.

Yoram Schweitzer, head of the Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict Program at the Institute for National Security Studies, said Israeli security services had warned in recent months of an increase in attempted attacks in the West Bank. The last few attacks were likely part of that activity, he said.

“They are the ones that succeeded,” Schweitzer said. “It is an effort by Hamas to instigate some unrest in the West Bank, as well as on the southern front.”

Hazem Balousha in Gaza contributed to this report.

Russia Sends Nukes to Caribbean

FILE – In this file photo taken on Friday, Sept. 12, 2008, Russia’s strategic bomber Tu-160 or White Swan, the largest supersonic bomber in the world, lands at Engels Air Base near Saratov, about 700 kilometers (450 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia. The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have arrived in Venezuela, a deployment that comes amid soaring Russia-U.S. tensions. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, File) (AP)

Russian nuclear-capable bombers fly over Caribbean Sea

December 12, 2018 at 3:33 PM CST – Updated December 12 at 3:53 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown over the Caribbean Sea during a 10-hour training mission.

A pair of Tu-160 bombers arrived at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry said they were escorted by Venezuelan fighter jets during part of the training mission on Wednesday to practice interaction.

The Tu-160 is capable of carrying conventional or nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with a range of 5,500 kilometers (3,410 miles).

The Russian bombers‘ deployment came as Russia-U.S. relations have worsened because of the allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and other issues.

Russia has bristled at U.S. and its NATO allies deploying troops and weapons near its borders.