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

Gaza’s continuous escalation and possibilities of settlement

Last month, as has come to be expected just days before the Israeli elections, war in Gaza sparked. Now, during the consultations and negotiations to build a coalition to form government in Israel, it has sparked again. The possibility of ongoing escalation appears to be increasing over the coming weeks, despite the fact that neither Israel, nor Hamas are willing to a drawn out, open military confrontation.

From an Israeli perspective, this kind of escalation cannot lead to a military invasion of Gaza because of the high cost of life that it would entail. Similarly, the Palestinian factions recognise that they cannot match Israel’s military capacity, but that there is opportunity to gain advantage in the negotiation of a truce.

While there is no real solution to Gaza in the short term, the two main groups of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are clearly different in their approach. Hamas is far more political and cleverly positioned to capitalise on power dynamics. Whereas Islamic Jihad is less political and much more a group of fighters. This distinction will have clear implications for the coming political negotiations in Gaza.

As the incoming Israeli government is negotiated and coalitions form, there is a high risk of another flare-up of military tensions, which could include a ground operation with Israeli military boots in Gaza. At the same time, Benjamin Netanyahu does not want to start his record-breaking fifth term as prime minister having to order a retreat from Gaza and negotiate away the advantages he has fought so hard for.

His preference has, and likely will continue to be, focused and targeted on operations that collect high level intelligence that creates an advantage for Israel with much less risk than a large presence of troops on the ground. Further, even annexing Israeli settlements in the West Bank would give him more credentials to negotiate a coalition than another expedition into Gaza. Alternatively, the continuing pressure for a military deployment in the Golan Heights to claim them for Israel is also far less risky compared with a Gaza deployment.

For Hamas, it is imperative to maintain the balance of power in Gaza without risking further deterioration of the situation in the enclave. Strategically, Hamas wants to be the single unified voice for Gaza in order to cement its political position as a willing partner in any potential deal. This would also suit Israel, compared with negotiating with a fractionalised people with differing demands and expectations, and especially since Israel harbours suspicions that Iranian intelligence is working with the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza.

While the next few weeks could see another escalation in Gaza, it is unlikely to be drawn out, open conflict. Netanyahu is trying to position for political gain as he negotiates with the minor parties to form a new coalition, and Gaza is expecting limited skirmishes as business as usual around the Israeli political process.

On the ground, it is difficult to see an end to the crisis, but neither side is interested in a long or drawn out conflict. So what we are really seeing in Gaza is political exploitation rather than war.

Sixth Seal: New York City (Revelation 6:12)

(Source: US Geological Survey)

New York State Geological Survey

Damaging earthquakes have occurred in New York and surely will again. The likelihood of a damaging earthquake in New York is small overall but the possibility is higher in the northern part of the state and in the New York City region.Significant earthquakes, both located in Rockaway and larger than magnitude 5, shook New York City in 1737 and 1884. The quakes were 147 years apart and the most recent was 122 year ago. It is likely that another earthquake of the same size will occur in that area in the next 25 to 50 years. A magnitude 5.8 earthquake in New York City would probably not cause great loss of life. However the damage to infrastructure – buildings, steam and gas lines, water mains, electric and fiber optic cable – could be extensive.

Earthquake Hazard Map of New York State

Acceleration of the ground during an earthquake is more important than total movement in causing structural damage. This map shows the two-percent probability of the occurrence of an earthquake that exceeds the acceleration of earth’s gravity by a certain percentage in the next fifty years.

If a person stands on a rug and the rug pulled slowly, the person will maintain balance and will not fall. But if the rug is jerked quickly, the person will topple. The same principle is true for building damage during an earthquake. Structural damage is caused more by the acceleration of the ground than by the distance the ground moves.

Earthquake hazard maps show the probability that the ground will move at a certain rate, measured as a percentage of earth’s gravity, during a particular time. Motion of one or two percent of gravity will rattle windows, doors, and dishes. Acceleration of ten to twenty percent of gravity will cause structural damage to buildings. It takes more than one hundred percent of gravity to throw objects into the air.

More Injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

 

1 Palestinian killed, 30 injured in clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza told reporters that Abdulla Abdel Aal, a 24-year-old from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, died after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in his abdomen.

Meanwhile, 30 demonstrators were wounded by Israeli gunfire, including a field paramedic who was shot in the head and is in moderate condition, he added.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of Palestinian demonstrators headed to the area between eastern Gaza and Israel in protest against the peace plan the United States will announce soon, better known as the „Deal of the Century.“

The demonstrators joined the weekly anti-Israel rally, known as the Great March of Return, which has been going on since the end of March last year.

Earlier in the day, the Gaza Health Ministry said the Israeli army has killed 304 Palestinians and wounded 17,301 others including 3,544 children and 1,168 women, since the beginning of the weekly rally.

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

A Palestinian woman holds a Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

Palestinians run to take cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

Palestinian protesters use slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

Palestinians run to take cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

A Palestinian boy takes cover during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Palestinians run to take cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border, east of southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Palestinian medics carry a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua/Yasser Qudih)

Palestinian protesters take cover during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, May 10, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. (Xinhua)

Relatives of Palestinian Abdulla Abdel Aal mourn on his funeral in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on May 11, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza told reporters that Abdulla Abdel Aal, a 24-year-old from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, died after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in his abdomen. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)

A relative of Palestinian Abdulla Abdel Aal cries on his funeral in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on May 11, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza told reporters that Abdulla Abdel Aal, a 24-year-old from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, died after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in his abdomen. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)

Mourners carry the body of Palestinian Abdulla Abdel Aal during his funeral in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on May 11, 2019. At least one Palestinian demonstrator was killed and 30 others wounded on Friday during their clashes with Israeli soldiers stationed on the border between the eastern Gaza Strip and Israel. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman of the Health Ministry in Gaza told reporters that Abdulla Abdel Aal, a 24-year-old from the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, died after he was shot by Israeli soldiers in his abdomen. (Xinhua/Khaled Omar)

Showdown Before the Big War

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a cabinet meeting, Tehran, May 8.

US-Iran showdown

Editorial

Iran’s brinkmanship will escalate tensions and make the risk of war even more likely.

Sunday 12/05/2019

A year ago, US President Donald Trump walked out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement with Iran.

The US move was motivated by the Trump administration’s dissatisfaction with the nuclear agreement negotiated under former US President Barack Obama for its failure to permanently block Iran’s nuclear ambitions, restrict Tehran’s missile development programme or stop its interference in the affairs of other countries in the region.

Since then, Washington has increased pressure on Iran through a series of economic sanctions, including oil exports ban, and designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation.

Despite Tehran’s claims to the contrary, Iran’s economy has suffered as a result of the sanctions. Its oil exports, which account for nearly 60% of the country’s foreign revenues, dropped to about 1 million barrels per day (bpd) from 2.5 million bpd a year before. Experts say Iran is likely to see its oil exports fall to about 500,000 bpd.

Tehran had hoped other countries, especially in Europe, would help it evade the sanctions but the Europeans, wary of possible US financial sanctions, did not.

Amid signs the pain was becoming increasingly unbearable for its economy, Iran announced “retaliatory” measures. The Iranian Supreme National Security Council said May 8 that the country would not consider itself committed anymore “to observing restrictions regarding storing enriched uranium stocks and heavy water stocks.”

“In the next stage Iran will also stop observing restrictions on the level of uranium enrichment and measures regarding modernising Arak heavy water reactor,” it said.

Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Tehran could resume high-level uranium enrichment if Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — the other signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement — did not protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from US sanctions within 60 days.

Tehran’s move raised questions about Iran’s wider commitment to curtailing its nuclear designs. Experts said Iran does not need more than a year to achieve a nuclear enrichment “breakout” if it cancels inspections.

Furthermore, Rohani threatened Europe with withholding Tehran’s cooperation in areas that are key to the European Union’s interests.

“You have responsibilities, too… for keeping your youth away from drugs, the flood of immigrants and other cooperation Iran has had with you so far. If this trend continues, the cooperation will cease,” he said.

Iran’s announcements elicited a new set of US sanctions May 8. The new sanctions were aimed at stopping the export of Iranian iron, steel, aluminium and copper. The White House pointed out that the steel and mining sector, which constitutes 10% of Iran’s exports, is the country’s second largest source of foreign revenue.

Applying pressure or blackmail on nations, especially those that have tried the most to accommodate Iran’s demands, will not address the issues at the root of the showdown with the United States. Those issues have to do with Tehran’s pursuit of policies that are dangerous to the peace and security of the region and the world.

Iran’s brinkmanship will escalate tensions and make the risk of war even more likely.

Babylon the Great Sends Patriot Missiles to Iran

Getty Images

The USS Arlington will join the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf

US sends Patriot missile system to Middle East amid Iran tensions

The US is sending a Patriot missile-defence system to the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.

A warship, USS Arlington, with amphibious vehicles and aircraft on board, will also join the USS Abraham Lincoln strike group in the Gulf.

And US B-52 bombers have arrived at a base in Qatar, the Pentagon said.

The US said the moves were a response to a possible threat to US forces in the region by Iran, without specifying. Iran dismissed the claim as nonsense.

Tehran has described the deployments as „psychological warfare“ aimed at intimidating the country.

Iran has also suggested it may resume uranium enrichment nuclear activities.

Why is the US sending additional forces?

The Pentagon says US forces are responding to a possible threat to US forces, but did not offer any specifics regarding those threats.

The latest Pentagon statement on Friday said only that Washington was „ready to defend US forces and interests in the region“, adding that the US did not seek conflict with Iran.

There are about 5,200 US troops currently deployed in neighbouring Iraq.

Getty Images

The US Patriot missile defence system (stock photo)

The Patriot system can counter ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.

Officials told US media the USS Arlington had already been scheduled to go to the region, but its deployment was brought forward to provide enhanced command and control capabilities.

The USS Abraham Lincoln passed through the Suez Canal on Thursday, US Central Command said.

Iran’s semi-official Isna news agency quoted a senior Iranian cleric, Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, as saying that the US military fleet could be „destroyed with one missile“.

What’s the state of US-Iran relations?

Last year, US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a landmark nuclear deal America and other nations had agreed with Iran in 2015.

Under the accord, Iran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for sanctions relief.

Last month, the US also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, designating it as a foreign terrorist group.

The White House proceeded to end exemptions from sanctions for five countries – China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey – that were still buying Iranian oil.

The sanctions have led to a sharp downturn in Iran’s economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, driving away foreign investors, and triggering protests.

The Trump administration hopes to compel Iran to negotiate a „new deal“ that would cover not only its nuclear activities, but also its ballistic missile programme and what officials call its „malign behaviour“ across the Middle East.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to retaliate to the US measures by blocking the Strait of Hormuz – through which about a fifth of all oil consumed globally pass.

Earlier this week Iran announced that it had suspended two commitments under the 2015 accord in response to the economic sanctions the US had re-imposed.

It also threatened to step up uranium enrichment if it was not shielded from the sanctions‘ effects within 60 days.

European powers said they remained committed to the Iran nuclear deal but that they „reject any ultimatums“ from Tehran to prevent its collapse.

Pressure or more?

The real battle for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal has begun.

In the year since the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal, Iran and all the other parties have carried on regardless. And the International Atomic Energy Agency, the global nuclear watchdog, has repeatedly given Tehran a clean bill of health. Iran has been living up to its part of the bargain.

But Iranian compliance was not the issue for the Trump administration, which says simply that this is a bad deal. The US’s main European allies, along with Russia and China, disagree. So the Trump administration has been ratcheting up the pressure on Tehran.

The pressure on Iran’s economy has been severe and the Iranian government has now decided to act – saying it will no longer respect restrictions on storing enriched uranium and heavy water, and setting deadlines for the other parties to implement their commitments.

A difficult couple of months of diplomacy lie ahead, with no guarantee of success. The Trump administration must see its ultimate goal – the collapse of the nuclear deal – as now being in sight. But the danger of conflict – albeit by accident rather than design – is growing.

Iran Threatens Babylon the Great

Iranian demonstrators burn a US flag during a rally in Tehran to show their support of Iran’s decision to pull out from some part of nuclear deal. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

Iranian demonstrators burn a US flag during a rally in Tehran to show their support of Iran’s decision to pull out from some part of nuclear deal. Photograph: Abedin Taherkenareh/EPA

 

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Friday that Tehran would not negotiate with the United States and a senior cleric warned that a US navy fleet could be “destroyed with one missile”, as a US aircraft carrier headed towards the Gulf.

The comments by the Guards and by Ayatollah Yousef Tabatabai-Nejad, a hardliner, appeared partly aimed at discouraging President Hassan Rouhaniand his moderate allies in Tehran from taking up an offer of talks from Washington.

US president Donald Trump on Thursday urged Iran’s leadership to sit down and talk with him about giving up their nuclear programme and said he could not rule out a military confrontation given the heightened tensions.

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by the Trump administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday.

American B-52 bombers have also arrived at a US base in Qatar, US Central Command said. Iran has dismissed the dispatch of both the bombers and the aircraft carrier as “psychological warfare” designed to intimidate it.

‘Act cautiously’

The semi-official ISNA news agency, reporting from the central Iranian city of Isfahan, quoted Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad as saying: “Their billion [-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile.”

“If they attempt any move, they will . . . [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [government] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei],” he said.The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by the Trump administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday. Photograph: Getty Images

The carrier Abraham Lincoln, deployed by the Trump administration to the Middle East as a warning to Iran, passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday. Photograph: Getty Images

Tabatabai-Nejad is the representative in Isfahan of supreme leader Khamenei, who is widely seen to be close to hardliners who oppose Mr Rouhani and his moderate allies.

Separately, Yadollah Javani, the elite Revolutionary Guards’ deputy head for political affairs, said: “No talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us.”