Israel Pounds Hamas Outside the Temple Walls (Rev 11:2)

An Israeli army tank patrols along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Jack GUEZ/AFP)

IDF shells Hamas post following gunfire from Gaza

Netanyahu warns Palestinian terror group that Israel will respond harshly to ‘any display of aggression’

An Israeli army tank patrols along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (Jack GUEZ/AFP)

An Israel Defense Forces tank on Thursday shelled a Hamas post in the northern Gaza Strip after Palestinian gunmen fired on an Israeli military position along the border fence, the army said.

No Israeli soldiers were injured by the gunfire, the military said. Hebrew-language media said the target was an IDF pillbox, which is a concrete structure that offers protection against rifle fire.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether there were casualties in the Israeli strike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the Israel-Egypt border on Thursday afternoon and was briefed on the Gaza security situation. In a statement following the visit, Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, said he was “aware that in the last few days Hamas’s aggression is renewing in all sorts of forms,” threatening that “any display of aggression will be met with a determined reaction from Israel.

The border region has seen increasingly intense bouts of violence over the last several days, with Israel carrying out airstrikes in response to explosives tied to balloons launched from Gaza.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli warplanes bombed a Hamas naval post in Gaza, hours after a mortar shell was fired from the Palestinian enclave at southern Israel.

Palestinian media reported that the target was a Hamas naval commando base. A Palestinian security source confirmed a Hamas base was struck, causing damage but no injuries. The Hamas-linked Shehab news site said the site was northwest of Khan Younis.

The army said the strike, at about 1:30 a.m. was in response to a projectile fired from the Palestinian enclave and an explosives-laden balloons launched at Israel Wednesday night.

Hours earlier the army said that it had fired an Iron Dome air defense missile in response to the incoming mortar shell from the Strip.

It was not clear the projectile from Gaza had been intercepted or where it landed. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

There have also been nightly clashes between Palestinian rioters and troops along the border fence, including on Wednesday night.

Gaza’s health ministry said early Thursday that Saif al-Din Abu Zaid, 15, “succumbed to wounds he sustained a few hours ago on the border region east of Gaza City.” Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said he was shot during clashes along the border late Wednesday.

An Israeli army spokeswoman did not comment on the specific incident but said hundreds of “rioters” had hurled rocks and explosive devices at troops along the border, with soldiers responding according to “standard operating procedures.”

Israel has accused Hamas, a terror group that is the de facto ruler in the Strip, of encouraging the riots and using them as cover for more sophisticated attacks. Analysts also believe Hamas may be using the demonstrations to increase pressure on Israel to agree to a new ceasefire deal that includes allowing the transfer of millions of dollars in aid money.

An Egyptian delegation traveled to Gaza this week in a bid to convince Hamas leaders to tamp down the violence. They warned that “creating tensions on the border by launching incendiary balloons will bring the IDF to launch a broad military confrontation in the Strip,” according to a report from the Lebanese Al-Akhbar newspaper, which cited a senior Hamas source.

On Monday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh accused Israel of breaking a previous ceasefire, which has given way to the renewal of fighting.

Judah Ari Gross, Adam Rasgon and AFP contributed to this report.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)

Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think

By Simon Worrall


Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.

In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.

When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?

That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”

What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.

One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.

There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.

As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.

You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.

Earthquakes 101

Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.

Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?

The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.

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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.

After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?

The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.

Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]

Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.

Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.

The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?

This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.

What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.

Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.

After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?

[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]

What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!

There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?

All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.

One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.

The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.

MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.

You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?

I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.

What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.

We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

The US is Provoking the Shi’a Horn (Daniel 7:7)

The U.S. is pushing Iran into the arms of our enemies | Opinion

The United States has levied heavy sanctions against Iran, seriously damaging its economy. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani recently said, “Today the country is facing the biggest pressure and economic sanctions in the past 40 years.”

Those same sanctions appear intended to threaten Tehran with regime change, put additional pressure on Iran’s 80 million people, drive wedges between us and our European allies and force Iran from the bargaining table. Longer term, they increase U.S. international isolation and reduce the power of the U.S. dollar and Treasury as instruments of world leadership.

Sanctions are applied to impel an adversary to seek an agreement on a problem that threatens U.S. interests. U.S.-led sanctions against Iran eight years ago combined with oil price declines and mismanagement of Iran’s economy put its nuclear bomb program under stringent limits and unparalleled monitoring. The result showed an effective use of the sanctions tool.

The Trump administration has not spoken of the objectives of its sanctions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued 13 unilateral demands to assure us that Iran will not make a nuclear weapon — a trenchant example of the perfect being the eternal enemy of the good. The president’s vague offer to talk about a “better” nuclear deal by throwing out the existing one is like buying a used car from a convicted carjacker.

These sanctions are undermining the well-being of millions of Iranians while egging on Iran to take ever-more aggressive action in Iraq and Syria and build more ballistic missiles. The sole conclusion that Iran can possibly reach is that the United States seeks regime change.

The threat of regime change, as Pompeo admitted in Warsaw in a possibly unguarded moment, seems real. Looking only at the history of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the United States has not been very successful.

Meanwhile, Iran is launching diplomatic overtures around the world as the state that stands up to the xenophobia of “America First.” Iran’s role today recalls the high point of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, which gained broad recognition as the obstinate David against the U.S. Goliath even though few sympathized with the Cuban system.

The abject failure of a recent Pompeo-promoted conference against Iran in Warsaw is a clear indicator that the U.S. strategy of trying (and failing) to build a broad coalition against Iran is undermining U.S. world leadership.

Friendly and hostile nations are now planning many ways to work around the U.S. secondary sanctions levied against them to stop trade with Iran. Russia, China and many other nations that have ever more reluctantly used the American dollar as the world reserve currency have expressed greater interest in getting others to use the euro or their rubles or yuan instead. Bankers and government officials assure us that the dollar will remain a great source of American power long into the future. But cracks are developing.

Our European allies set up a financial facility specifically to avoid the long arm of U.S. sanctions against their trade with Iran. The Instrument in Support of Trade Exchange will allow goods to be bartered between Iranian companies and others without dollars or international banks. It is unclear whether it will be effective, but it is another signal of mounting rejection of the United States and its Treasury Department.

The administration’s determination to restrict Iran’s export of oil to zero is designed to crush Iran’s access to currency and foreign goods. Pushback against these U.S. efforts from states that have traditionally depended on Iranian petroleum has forced the administration to give short-term waivers to eight countries (including China, India and Japan), thereby confusing the world market. For example, the United States has brought significant pressure on Iraq to cease importing refined petroleum products and electricity from Iran. This extra demand on Baghdad has added to the mounting disenchantment of with U.S. confrontational strategies against Iran on Iraqi territory.

The U.S. objective should be to undermine Iran’s posture as the victim of U.S. hostility, repair the isolation into which our policies have put us and put on the table a set of ideas for ending Iran’s flirtation with nuclear weapons.

There is no major conflict in the Middle East that can be solved without Iran’s involvement, most especially the nuclear question. The paradox of Iran’s mounting influence because of the sanctions is real. The way to solve it is to build a multinational, cooperative diplomatic commitment to convince Iran that constructive engagement beats aggressive estrangement any time.

Thomas R. Pickering is former U.S. ambassador to Russia, India, Israel and the U.N., and undersecretary of state.

(c) 2019 The Dallas Morning News

Palestinian Teenager Killed Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Palestinian teenager killed by Israeli sniper in Gaza

Saif al-din Abu Zeid, 15, was shot in the head by Israeli sniper during Wednesday protest, Gaza health ministry says.

A 15-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli soldiers on Wednesday during an evening protest near the Israeli fence east of the Gaza Strip.

According to the Gaza ministry of health’s spokesperson Ashraf al-Qidra, the teenager was identified as Saif al-din Abu Zeid, who was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper east of the besieged enclave.

Six other protesters were wounded by Israeli forces and were taken to Shifa Hospital for treatment.

Every night since February, young Palestinian men, known as the “night disturbance unit”, have been gathering by the border with Israel as part of the Marches of Return protests, which began in late March last year.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians have taken part in the demonstrations, demanding Palestinians be allowed to return to the lands their families were ethnically cleansed from in 1948 by Zionist paramilitaries.

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

At the end of February, United Nations investigators said there is evidence pointing to crimes against humanity by Israeli security forces who shot, injured and killed Palestinians during the massive protests last year.

A UN Commission of Inquiry consisting of independent human rights experts counted 189 Palestinians killed and estimated more than 9,000 injured. Other counts put the number of Palestinian victims killed at

260 and the injured in excess of 26,000.

One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper and four others were injured during the demonstrations, the UN report said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the report, saying that it “is setting new records of hypocrisy and lies, out of an obsessive hatred of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Israeli raids 

Meanwhile, early on Thursday, Israeli warplanes launched raids in the vicinity of the new port in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, with no reports of casualties.

The Israeli army confirmed on Twitter that “fighter jets and aircraft struck several military targets in a Hamas compound in Gaza.”

No injuries were reported, but according to local Palestinian al-Quds Radio, facilities were destroyed and nearby houses were also damaged.

The army added that it held Hamas accountable for the cross-border attacks, which it said hit an empty area in southern Israel. No damage or injuries were reported and no one had yet claimed responsibility for firing the rocket.