News of Nations Trampling Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

News of Terrorism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (April 17– April 30, 2019)

• In the Gaza Strip, 6,000 to 7,000 Palestinians participated in the Friday return marches of April 19 and 26, gathering at the five usual sites. The level of violence continued to be relatively low, although there were a number of attempts to cross the border fence and instances of IEDs thrown at IDF forces.

• On April 28, 2019, a rocket was launched from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory. It fell into the sea. In response Israel decreased the fishing zone off the Gaza Strip coast and restricted it to three nautical miles. According to the IDF spokesman, the rocket was deliberately fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) from the northern Gaza Strip in an attempt to sabotage the attempts to reach a lull.

• Senior Hamas figures continued to threaten Israel with a renewal of violence if Israel did not implement the understandings reached. Operatives in the incendiary balloon-launching and Night Harassment units also threatened to return to their former activities (including burning fields near the Gaza Strip during the reaping season) if Israel did not fulfill the conditions of the understandings.

• In Judea and Samaria, a stabbing attack targeting Border Police fighter was prevented. It took place near the Tapuah Junction, close to Ariel. The terrorist was shot and killed. Both Fatah and Hamas issued mourning notices for the terrorist.

• The Israel Security Agency reported that a terrorist network was recently exposed in Judea and Samaria. Its operatives planned to carry out a car bomb attack close to the date of Israel’s elections. During interrogation one of the operatives said that he had been recruited by Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip for “military activity” and had agreed to become a suicide bomber.

East Coast Still Unprepared For The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

East Coast Earthquake Preparedness

By By BEN NUCKOLS

Posted: 08/25/2011 8:43 am EDT

WASHINGTON — There were cracks in the Washington Monument and broken capstones at the National Cathedral. In the District of Columbia suburbs, some people stayed in shelters because of structural concerns at their apartment buildings.

A day after the East Coast’s strongest earthquake in 67 years, inspectors assessed the damage and found that most problems were minor. But the shaking raised questions about whether this part of the country, with its older architecture and inexperience with seismic activity, is prepared for a truly powerful quake.

The 5.8 magnitude quake felt from Georgia north to Canada prompted swift inspections of many structures Wednesday, including bridges and nuclear plants. An accurate damage estimate could take weeks, if not longer. And many people will not be covered by insurance.

In a small Virginia city near the epicenter, the entire downtown business district was closed. School was canceled for two weeks to give engineers time to check out cracks in several buildings.

At the 555-foot Washington Monument, inspectors found several cracks in the pyramidion – the section at the top of the obelisk where it begins narrowing to a point.

A 4-foot crack was discovered Tuesday during a visual inspection by helicopter. It cannot be seen from the ground. Late Wednesday, the National Park Service announced that structural engineers had found several additional cracks inside the top of the monument.

Carol Johnson, a park service spokeswoman, could not say how many cracks were found but said three or four of them were “significant.” Two structural engineering firms that specialize in assessing earthquake damage were being brought in to conduct a more thorough inspection on Thursday.

The monument, by far the tallest structure in the nation’s capital, was to remain closed indefinitely, and Johnson said the additional cracks mean repairs are likely to take longer. It has never been damaged by a natural disaster, including earthquakes in Virginia in 1897 and New York in 1944.

Tourists arrived at the monument Wednesday morning only to find out they couldn’t get near it. A temporary fence was erected in a wide circle about 120 feet from the flags that surround its base. Walkways were blocked by metal barriers manned by security guards.

“Is it really closed?” a man asked the clerk at the site’s bookstore.

“It’s really closed,” said the clerk, Erin Nolan. Advance tickets were available for purchase, but she cautioned against buying them because it’s not clear when the monument will open.

“This is pretty much all I’m going to be doing today,” Nolan said.

Tuesday’s quake was centered about 40 miles northwest of Richmond, 90 miles south of Washington and 3.7 miles underground. In the nearby town of Mineral, Va., Michael Leman knew his Main Street Plumbing & Electrical Supply business would need – at best – serious and expensive repairs.

At worst, it could be condemned. The facade had become detached from the rest of the building, and daylight was visible through a 4- to 6-inch gap that opened between the front wall and ceiling.

“We’re definitely going to open back up,” Leman said. “I’ve got people’s jobs to look out for.”

Leman said he is insured, but some property owners might not be so lucky.

The Insurance Information Institute said earthquakes are not covered under standard U.S. homeowners or business insurance policies, although supplemental coverage is usually available.

The institute says coverage for other damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage from burst gas or water pipes, is provided by standard homeowners and business insurance policies in most states. Cars and other vehicles with comprehensive insurance would also be protected.

The U.S. Geological Survey classified the quake as Alert Level Orange, the second-most serious category on its four-level scale. Earthquakes in that range lead to estimated losses between $100 million and $1 billion.

In Culpeper, Va., about 35 miles from the epicenter, walls had buckled at the old sanctuary at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, which was constructed in 1821 and drew worshippers including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart. Heavy stone ornaments atop a pillar at the gate were shaken to the ground. A chimney from the old Culpeper Baptist Church built in 1894 also tumbled down.

At the Washington National Cathedral, spokesman Richard Weinberg said the building’s overall structure remains sound and damage was limited to “decorative elements.”

Massive stones atop three of the four spires on the building’s central tower broke off, crashing onto the roof. At least one of the spires is teetering badly, and cracks have appeared in some flying buttresses.

Repairs were expected to cost millions of dollars – an expense not covered by insurance.

“Every single portion of the exterior is carved by hand, so everything broken off is a piece of art,” Weinberg said. “It’s not just the labor, but the artistry of replicating what was once there.”

The building will remain closed as a precaution. Services to dedicate the memorial honoring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were moved.

Other major cities along the East Coast that felt the shaking tried to gauge the risk from another quake.

A few hours after briefly evacuating New York City Hall, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city’s newer buildings could withstand a more serious earthquake. But, he added, questions remain about the older buildings that are common in a metropolis founded hundreds of years ago.

“We think that the design standards of today are sufficient against any eventuality,” he said. But “there are questions always about some very old buildings. … Fortunately those tend to be low buildings, so there’s not great danger.”

An earthquake similar to the one in Virginia could do billions of dollars of damage if it were centered in New York, said Barbara Nadel, an architect who specializes in securing buildings against natural disasters and terrorism.

The city’s 49-page seismic code requires builders to prepare for significant shifting of the earth. High-rises must be built with certain kinds of bracing, and they must be able to safely sway at least somewhat to accommodate for wind and even shaking from the ground, Nadel said.

Buildings constructed in Boston in recent decades had to follow stringent codes comparable to anything in California, said Vernon Woodworth, an architect and faculty member at the Boston Architectural College. New construction on older structures also must meet tough standards to withstand severe tremors, he said.

It’s a different story with the city’s older buildings. The 18th- and 19th-century structures in Boston’s Back Bay, for instance, were often built on fill, which can liquefy in a strong quake, Woodworth said. Still, there just aren’t many strong quakes in New England.

The last time the Boston area saw a quake as powerful as the one that hit Virginia on Tuesday was in 1755, off Cape Ann, to the north. A repeat of that quake would likely cause deaths, Woodworth said. Still, the quakes are so infrequent that it’s difficult to weigh the risks versus the costs of enacting tougher building standards regionally, he said.

People in several of the affected states won’t have much time to reflect before confronting another potential emergency. Hurricane Irene is approaching the East Coast and could skirt the Mid-Atlantic region by the weekend and make landfall in New England after that.

In North Carolina, officials were inspecting an aging bridge that is a vital evacuation route for people escaping the coastal barrier islands as the storm approaches.

Speaking at an earthquake briefing Wednesday, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray inadvertently mixed up his disasters.

“Everyone knows, obviously, that we had a hurricane,” he said before realizing his mistake.

“Hurricane,” he repeated sheepishly as reporters and staffers burst into laughter. “I’m getting ahead of myself!”

___

Associated Press writers Sam Hananel in Washington; Alex Dominguez in Baltimore; Bob Lewis in Mineral, Va.; Samantha Gross in New York City; and Jay Lindsay in Boston contributed to this report.

The Libyan Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Libya’s Gaddafi close to acquiring nuclear weapons in Africa, US security experts say

On Apr 30, 2019

The former late president of Libya, Col Muammar Gaddafi was already pursuing the acquisition of a nuclear regime before his “undemocratic” government was overthrown by anti-government forces in the country, United States security experts have disclosed.

The Gaddafi regime, according to experts on security matters said, had violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but after this was leaked and checked by the United Nations Security Council, Libya, it was said, renounced its clandestine nuclear programme in late 2003, but the country later sought to establish a nuclear power infrastructure for electricity production, seawater desalination, and the production of medical isotopes.

Thereafter, as gathered from the security experts, in 2004, the US and the United Kingdom dismantled Libya’s nuclear weapons infrastructure with oversight from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), after the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in Libya, on December 19, 2003, agreed to eliminate all materials, equipment, and programmes aimed at the production of nuclear or other internationally proscribed weapons.

These disclosures came, during series of discussions a set of African journalists who had embarked on a media tour programme of the US and South Korea, sponsored by the United States Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, had with experts in the US foreign policy towards North Korea on denuclearization of Korean Peninsular, on their arrival in Washington DC, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

As gathered, after Gaddafi’s death, Libya’s nuclear power aspirations remained in the research and development stages and was unclear how the outcome of the Libyan Civil War of 2011 and the toppling of the Gaddafi regime would affect the future direction of the country’s nuclear programme.

But the Libya’s late leader, Col Gaddafi, had, according to a published report by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington D. C.-based organisation had admitted that, in contravention of its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Libya had pursued a nuclear weapons programme, this offensive, it established between 1968 to 1990 it ran through the illegal initiative.

Reports said, while still under the rule of the pro-Western King Idris, Libya signed the NPT in July 1968. Even though Idris was overthrown in a 1969 coup led by the Revolutionary Command Council headed by Gaddafi, Libya ratified the NPT in 1975.

However, many reports indicated that Gaddafi, whose rise to power was partly driven by resentment over the 1967 defeat of the Arabs by Israel, began seeking a nuclear weapons capability shortly after taking power and adopting a strong anti-Israel stance.

An account given by the security experts said, owing to Libya’s relatively low level of technical development, its nuclear efforts focused on foreign suppliers, and in 1970, for example, Libya reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase nuclear weapons from China. And in 1978, Libyan agents allegedly tried to buy nuclear weapons from India.

There are also many reports of nuclear dealings during the 1970s between Libya and Pakistan. These allegedly involved Libyan assistance to Pakistan in acquiring access to uranium ore concentrate from neighbouring Niger in return for Pakistani nuclear assistance to Libya.

However, it remained unclear whether these dealings laid the basis for later Libya-Pakistan nuclear cooperation remains unclear. but according to reports, “evidence released by the IAEA in 2004 suggests that during the 1970s and 1980s, Libya decided to pursue both the uranium- and plutonium-based pathways to nuclear weapons.

Steps were also said to have been taken in the 1970s to gain access to uranium ore, uranium conversion facilities, and enrichment technologies that together would have enabled Libya to produce weapons-grade uranium.

“This activity was conducted covertly and in violation of IAEA safeguards. Libya pursued foreign supplies of uranium ore concentrate (UOC), for example,” reports said.

Other reports indicated that during the 1970s, Libya imported 1,200 tons of UOC from French-controlled mines in Niger without declaring it to the IAEA, as required by the NPT, but it later admitted to the IAEA in 2004 that it had actually imported 2,263 metric tons of uranium ore concentrate from 1978 to 1981, while Gaddafi only declared the import of 1,000 metric tons. The remaining 1,263 metric tons were thus not subject to IAEA safeguards and could be used in covert nuclear activities, reports said.

Reports also said Libya worked to acquire uranium conversion facilities, which would have enabled it to convert the UOC to a form more suitable for enrichment. In 1982, Libya attempted to purchase a plant for manufacturing uranium tetrafluoride from the Belgian firm Belgonucleaire.

US analysts had in a report suspected that the intended use for the plant was to produce uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for a centrifuge uranium enrichment programme like that pursued by Pakistan. At the time, Libya had no declared nuclear facilities that required uranium tetrafluoride, and the purchase was refused.

This refusal, however, did not discourage Libya, which in 2004 admitted to the IAEA that it had acquired a pilot-scale uranium conversion facility in 1984. The IAEA report did not, however, identify the country that supplied Libya with this facility. The plant was fabricated in portable modules in accordance with Libyan specifications.

Libya, it was said, received these modules in 1986, but then placed them in storage until 1998. Libya has also admitted that during the 1980s it conducted undeclared laboratory-scale uranium conversion experiments at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Centre.

Along these same lines, Libya has now reported exporting several kilograms of UOC in 1985 to a “nuclear weapon state” for processing into various uranium compounds. Libya subsequently received a variety of compounds back from the state in question, including 39 kilograms of uranium hexafluoride. At the time, this export was also not reported to the IAEA by either Libya or the nuclear weapon state.

The IAEA report does not name the nuclear weapon state involved in this transaction, but David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security said the Soviet Union and China were the most likely suspects, although he added according to reports that, “I think it’s hard to know, It was a time when people weren’t scrutinizing these things very carefully.”

Libya also sought uranium enrichment equipment and technology during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1973, Libya tried to purchase 20 calutrons to enrich uranium from the French company Thomson-CSF. The deal, apparently supported by top company officials, was blocked by the French government because of the obvious proliferation risk of exporting enrichment technology to a non-nuclear weapon state.

Later, in the 1980s, a “foreign expert” began a research and design programme at the Tajoura Nuclear Research Center in Libya aimed at producing gas centrifuges for uranium enrichment. The “foreign expert” was reportedly a former employee of a German firm.

However, Libya had, according to reports, told the IAEA that by the time the “foreign expert” concluded his work in 1992, Libya was not yet able to produce an operating centrifuge, and no centrifuge experiments involving nuclear materials had been conducted. However, Libya had acquired technical expertise useful for the next stage of centrifuge development and design.

According to the IAEA, after the German expert left, the uranium enrichment program lost momentum and was not reinvigorated until after 1995.

As another way to build its nuclear expertise, however, Libya also pursued “peaceful” cooperation with the Soviet Union, under IAEA safeguards. The main result of Soviet-Libyan nuclear cooperation was the completion in 1979 of a 10MW research reactor at Tajoura. This reactor offered Libya the opportunity to explore plutonium production technology, which Libya did while evading IAEA safeguards intended to detect such activities.

Between 1984 and 1990, Libya produced several dozen small uranium oxides and uranium metal targets, a number of which were irradiated in the Tajoura reactor to produce radioisotopes. Thirty-eight of these targets were dissolved, and the radioisotopes extracted in hot cells. Libya has reported to the IAEA that very small amounts of plutonium were extracted from at least two of the targets.

Presumably, the data gathered in these experiments would have proven useful if Libya had decided to pursue plutonium production more actively.

Libya made efforts in the 1970s and 1980s to buy a reactor larger than the one at Tajoura. In 1976, negotiations were held between France and Libya for the purchase of a 600MW reactor. A preliminary agreement was reached, but strong objections by the international community led France to cancel the project.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Libya discussed the construction of a nuclear power plant with the Soviet Union. At one point, the Belgian firm Belgonucleaire was in discussions to provide engineering support and equipment for this proposed project, but in 1984, US pressure led the firm to refuse the contract.

Discussions with the Soviet Union about power reactor projects continued but never produced a final agreement. By the late 1980s, Libya’s nuclear program began to be hampered by economic sanctions prompted by Gadaffi support of terrorism. In 1986, for example, the United States imposed economic sanctions on Libya, which were later expanded in 1992 and 1996.

The Upcoming Nuclear War with Iran

Tensions between the US and Iran have escalated over the past month [File: AP/Laura Rauch]

Arrogance, fanaticism and the prospect of a US-Iranian war

Can a fourth Gulf War be prevented?

by Marwan Bishara

Tensions between the United States and Iran have flared up since the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran last year and began ratcheting up sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Earlier this month, tensions turned into threats, as Washington refused to extend sanctions waivers for buyers of Iranian oil, designated Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) a terrorist organisation, and began military preparations to deter Iran.

These measures are pushing the Iranian economy to the brink. Oil exports, which have already dwindled from 2.5 million to less than 1.3 million barrels a day since last year, could drop even further, crippling the state budget. Ordinary Iranians, who are already suffering from the raging inflation (currently at 40 percent) and skyrocketing prices of goods, will likely bear the brunt of Washington’s push to bring Iranian oil exports to zero. And this is only the beginning.

The Iranian leadership has been defiant. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said this „hostile measure“ will not be left „without a response“, while President Hassan Rouhani has threatened to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has cautioned that Iran could walk away from the nuclear deal and warned against a potential escalation to war.

If the past three Gulf wars of the 1980s (Iraq-Iran), 1991 (US/UN-Iraq) and 2003 (US/UK-Iraq) are anything to go by, a confrontation between the US and Iran would prove far more devastating. So why are Washington and Tehran ignoring the lessons of war, and marching eyes wide shut towards another armed conflict? And can anyone stop them?

Washington’s arrogance

Even before he was elected president, Donald Trump famously branded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated by the Obama administration „the worst deal ever“ and once he took office, he embarked on dismantling it.

In May last year, his administration withdrew from the JCPOA and issued 12 demands to Iran. It was one of those impossible lists, designed to provoke and humiliate.

The US wants Iran to end all its nuclear and missile programmes, withdraw its forces from Syria, stop its „destabilising“ policies in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf, and cease its support for armed groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in exchange for negotiating a new nuclear deal.

No one would have been more surprised than the US itself if Iran had said yes to any of it. These demands basically constitute total Iranian surrender, not only to the US but also to Israel and Saudi Arabia, Trump’s key regional partners and principle drivers behind the new Iran policy.

National Security Advisor of the United States John Bolton made this crystal clear on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session last September, when he said„If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat, and deceive, yes, there will indeed be hell to pay.“

The message was certainly heard loud and clear in Tehran, which has accused the so-called B-team (Bolton, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed Bin Zayed) of pushing Trump to seek regime or war with Iran.

Perhaps it is true that the US president has been ensnared by various warmongers in a vicious campaign against Iran, but the Iranian leadership has been anything but innocent in all of this, with its own A-team (led by Ayatollah Khamenei) pursuing regional hegemony.

Tehran’s arrogance

Instead of taking advantage of the windfall from the nuclear deal and the normalisation of relations with the West to rebuild its economy and country, Tehran has doubled down on its aggressive policies in the region.

Although it has accused the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia of causing instability, it has itself chosen to advance its narrow interests with recklessness and indifference to the disastrous consequences.

Over the past few years, Iran has pursued a sectarian strategy that destabilised its neighbours and empowered the likes of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq. It has also waged proxy wars against Saudi Arabia, crippling countries like Yemen and Lebanon and used paramilitary groups like the IRGC and its al-Quds Force to undermine opponents across the Arab world.

Its aggressive policies have fuelled a now widely held suspicion that it seeks to „create a new Persian and Shi’ite ‚empire‘ on Arab land“. Some members of its political elite have even bragged that Iran already rules in four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa.

The Iranian strategy of exploiting instability to pursue regional hegemony has backfired. In the hope of curtailing Iran’s Middle Eastern ambitions, many Arab states are now not only siding with the US but are also drawing closer to Iran’s archenemy, Israel.

Religious fanaticism

In addition to economic, diplomatic and strategic tools, Washington and Tehran are also employing religion to justify their policies and rally their supporters at home and abroad.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an evangelical Christian, has claimed that Trump may have been sent by God to protect Israel from Iran. He, along with Vice President Mike Pence and other evangelicals working with the Trump administration, supports Israel’s religious claims over Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, and invokes biblical texts to explain US policy towards Iran and the region.

No less alarming is Iran’s use of religion and particularly the idea of protecting the oppressed and the downtrodden to pursue its hegemonic policies across the region. The Iranian leadership has also actively sought the sectarianisation of local tensions and conflicts in order to present itself as the „protector“ of all Shia communities in the region. It has also employed Shia dogmas and calls to protect holy Shia shrines to recruit fighters for the various militias it supports in Iraq and Syria.

But it is not only the US and Iran who have engaged in religious fanaticism. Israel and Saudi Arabia have done so as well, and so have various non-state actors such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). They have all assumed their own versions of „manifest destiny“, claiming they were divinely ordained to conquer and occupy and willing to use God’s name in vain in order to advance their narrow political interests.

Arrogance breeds contempt; religious arrogance breeds conflict.

So, could this „clash of fanaticism“ escalate into a wider confrontation?

The prospect of war

I am not convinced that either Trump or Rouhani wishes for a war. There doesn’t seem to be a decision or a plan to go to war, yet – not today, not tomorrow.

But what about next year? Trump’s 12 demands have left Tehran with no option for an honourable exit and set it on the path towards an economic disaster. Feeling anxious about an implosion from within, it will have to devise a plan to respond.

Meanwhile, the US will continue to strangle it economically, destabilise it politically and undermine it regionally. It will pursue various containment strategies like „offshore balancing„, but if those fail, military intervention will be a viable option.

Washington’s aggressive approach will likely weaken Iranian pragmatists like Rouhani, and empower hardliners. This will cause Iran to abandon diplomatic efforts to contain the crisis and seek to quit the nuclear deal and perhaps even the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty altogether, rile up its Gulf neighbours, and undermine the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. This would inevitably evoke a sharp reaction from Washington, which may lead to war or wars by proxy throughout much of the region.

Foreseeing such developments, the Trump administration is already preparing the public for possible escalation. Like the Bush administration, it is repeating the same false claims that paved the way for the invasion of Iraq – that there are weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threat and support for terrorism.

Clearly, some in Washington have forgotten the Iraq debacle, and continue to believe in limited wars and regime change.

Preventing a war

All of this begs the bigger question: Where are the world powers who signed the Iran deal, enshrined it in a UN Security Council resolution, and vowed to defend it? Shouldn’t they stop the ongoing escalation?

Europe may still support the deal but it is clearly spooked by Washington’s aggressive posturing and has not yet activated INSTEX, the alternative trade mechanism to bypass US sanctions.

Russia, an oil exporter, seems indifferent for now, and may even benefit from higher oil prices; India has found alternative suppliers, while Turkey continues to ask for waivers.

China, the biggest importer of Iranian oil, has reduced its oil imports by a quarter since last year. It still maintains business relations with Tehran, just enough to use it as a bargaining chip in the ongoing trade negotiations with Washington.

In short, the world powers have not been successful in saving the nuclear deal, or devising a viable plan to circumvent US sanctions. They are also failing to curb the US-Iranian escalation to war.

If there is any chance of stopping this madness, it may well have to come from the US itself.

The ball is in your court, America. But don’t wait until 2020 to make your voice heard against another mad, sick, stupid war.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marwan Bishara

Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

Rockets Launched from Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Image result for islamic jihad rocket launch

Israel Accuses Islamic Jihad of Rocket Launch, Limits Gaza Fishing Zone in Response

In unusual move, Israel names Islamic Jihad officials, saying the organization acted without Hamas‘ approval

Israel minimized on Tuesday the fishing zone for Gazans from 15 nautical miles down to six, after a rocket fired overnight Monday landed in Israeli waters.

The Israeli army said the rocket launched by Islamic Jihad was aimed at hitting one of Israeli communities along the border. It named Islamic Jihad officials directly, publishing their photos, and laid responsibility for the attack on the organization, an unsual move as it normally holds Hamas accountable for aggression coming out of the Strip.

Aside from decreasing the fishing perimeter, no targets were struck so far by Israeli forces, as is usually the case after rocket fire. It is possible Israel is refraining from a military response to prevent a situation in which Hamas is forced to respond.

Islamic Jihad released a statement in response, saying, „Israel’s accusations are part of an organized campaign of incitement against Islamic Jihad and its leadership, headed by Ziad al-Nakhalah, and is an excuse to act against the organization’s leadership.“

According to Adi Meiri, the spokeswoman of the Negev Regional Council, an Israel Defense Force assessment identified a rocket launched toward Israel that failed to reach its target. No sirens were sounded.

On Sunday, an aircraft and a tank attacked two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the military said. According to the statement, the attack was a response to shooting at Israeli soldiers stationed at the Gaza border. No injuries were reported.

Israel expanded the approved fishing zone for fishermen in the Strip to 15 nautical miles (equivalent to 28.8 kilometers from the shoreline) in the beginning of April, the maximum fishing range allowed in the Gaza Strip since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

At the time, fishermen in Gaza said the 15-mile range is partial, only applying to waters off the southern part of the Strip.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Worth $200 Billion

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei / Getty Images

U.S. Embassy: Iran’s Supreme Leader Worth $200 Billion

BY: 

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, estimates that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, owns assets worth about $200 billion.

Last week, the embassy posted on its Facebook page that the regime in Iran is rife with corruption from top to bottom, with Khamenei reaping the most benefits, Iran News Wire reported.

Meanwhile, the embassy added, the Iranian people „languish in poverty because of the dire economic situation in Iran after 40 years of rule by the mullahs.“

Reuters found in 2013, after a six-month investigation, that Khamenei controls exclusively a business empire, called Setad, worth around $95 billion.

„Setad has become one of the most powerful organizations in Iran, though many Iranians, and the wider world, know very little about it,“ Reuters reported at the time. „In the past six years, it has morphed into a business juggernaut that now holds stakes in nearly every sector of Iranian industry, including finance, oil, telecommunications, the production of birth-control pills, and even ostrich farming.“

The report also showed how „Setad built its empire on the systematic seizure of thousands of properties belonging to ordinary Iranians: members of religious minorities like Vahdat-e-Hagh, who is Baha’i, as well as Shi’ite Muslims, business people, and Iranians living abroad.“

The regime also exempts several profitable religious institutions, many of which Khamenei controls, from taxes.

As Khamenei and his allies in the regime receive billions of dollars, the Iranian people are suffering from poverty.

Most estimates put Iran’s poverty level at somewhere between 30 and 40 percent, but last year, a member of the Iranian parliament’s Economic Committee said that 80 percent of the country’s population live below the poverty line.

A senior official at the International Monetary Fund said that inflation could reach 40 percent this year as the Iranian economy continues to shrink.

As the economy crumbles, Iranians have expressed outrage at their government’s response to major flooding caused by heavy rain across Iran, claiming that the Islamist regime cares more about crushing protests than helping those who are suffering.