50 Palestinians Wounded Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Nearly 50 Palestinians wounded on Gaza-Israel border

Palestinian -demonstrators -Nakba

Palestinian demonstrators run for cover from tear gas canisters fired by Israeli forces during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the ‚Nakba, near the Israel-Gaza border fence, east of Gaza City May 15, 2019 Reuters

Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to repel them, but also live ammunition, the witnesses said

Israeli troops wounded nearly 50 Palestinians at the Gaza border on Wednesday during protests to mark the 71st anniversary of the „Nakba“, or catastrophe, when many Palestinians lost their homes in the fighting around Israel’s creation, Gaza officials said.

Thousands had gathered at the coastal enclave’s frontier with Israel, the scene of bloodshed over the past year that has raised international concern.

Groups approached the border fence, planting Palestinian flags and throwing stones towards Israeli soldiers on the other side despite the efforts of marshalls in orange vests to keep protesters away from the barrier, witnesses said.

Israeli troops fired tear gas and rubber bullets to repel them, but also live ammunition, the witnesses said.

The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 47 people were wounded, though it was not clear how many of those were hit by live ammunition or were hurt by rubber bullets or by inhaling tear gas.

The Israeli military said about 10,000 rioters and demonstrators gathered in several places along the Gaza Strip fence.

„The rioters are setting tyres on fire and hurling rocks. A number of explosive devices have been hurled within the Gaza Strip, as well, and a number of attempts have been made to approach the security fence. IDF troops are responding with riot dispersal means.“

Wednesday’s rallies were called to mark Nakba Day, what Palestinians term the catastrophe that befell them at Israel’s creation in 1948, when hundreds of thousands fled or were expelled from lands in what is now Israel.

„Our people rise today to announce their rejection to this crime and to assert their right in Palestine, all of Palestine,“ Islamic Jihad leader Khader Habib said at one demonstration, referring to Israel and the territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

„Palestine is ours, the sea is ours, the sky is ours and the land is ours, and those strangers must be removed,“ he said.

Another protester, Jamila Mahmoud, 50, said her family had originally come from Asqlan, now the Israeli city of Ashkelon, near Gaza.

„If we don’t return, maybe our children and grandchildren will do, one day we will get our rights back,“ Mahmoud said at the border protest site.

Palestinians also held rallies in the occupied West Bank but no major clashes with Israeli forces were immediately reported.

This year’s Nakba protests were preceded by a surge in deadly cross-border fighting between Gaza militants and Israel which ended in a ceasefire on May 6.

Israeli troops have killed more than 200 Palestinians and wounded thousands in regular border protests since March 2018, according to human rights groups. UN investigators have said the Israeli military might be guilty of war crimes for using excessive force.

Israel has said it is defending its border against attacks against its troops and infiltration attempts by gunmen.

Israel has rejected a Palestinian right of return as a threat to maintaining a Jewish majority in a country it describes as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Frustration is growing among Palestinians as hopes fade for a two-state solution to the conflict which would give them an independent country. President Donald Trump’s announcement in December 2017 of US recognition of disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital also fuelled Palestinian anger.

Iran Threatens to Attack Babylon the Great

Defiant Iran says it can ‚easily‘ hit U.S. ships, works to counter sanctions

Reuters

(Adds comments from senior Trump administration official, paragraphs 6-7)

* Short-range missiles can reach U.S. warships in Gulf -Iran

* U.S. cannot afford cost of a new war -Iran Guards

* Washington builds up military presence in Middle East

* Iran calls U.S. military moves psychological warfare

* U.S. says Iran threatens its troops and interests

* Tehran denies ever having nuclear bomb program

DUBAI, May 17 (Reuters) – Iran said on Friday it could „easily“ hit U.S. warships in the Gulf, the latest in days of saber rattling between Washington and Tehran, while its top diplomat worked to counter U.S. sanctions and salvage a nuclear deal denounced by President Donald Trump.

Tensions have risen in recent days, with concerns about a potential U.S.-Iran conflict. Earlier this week, the United States pulled some diplomatic staff from its embassy in Baghdad following weekend attacks on four oil tankers in the Gulf.

Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (U.S.) warships in the Persian Gulf,“ Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the deputy for parliamentary affairs of the elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.

„America cannot afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions,“ he added.

Washington has increased economic sanctions and built up its military presence in the region, accusing Iran of threats to U.S. troops and interests. Tehran has described those steps as „psychological warfare“ and a „political game.“

In Washington, a senior administration official said the United States is „sitting by the phone“ but has heard no message yet from Iran that it is willing to accept Trump’s overtures for direct talks.

„We think they should de-escalate and come to negotiations,“ the official, who declined to be identified, told a small group of reporters.

Trump has urged Iran’s leadership to hold talks over its nuclear program and regional influence amid rising tensions between the two countries that has fanned fears of armed conflict after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier group to the region.

Iranian army chief Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi vowed: „If the enemy miscalculates and commits a strategic error, it will receive a response which will make it regret (its action),“ the semi-official news agency Mehr reported.

Senior lawmaker Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh called on Twitter for an Iran-U.S. „red desk“ to help prevent a war.

„Top authorities in Iran and America have rejected a war, but third parties are in a hurry to destroy a large part of the world. A red desk should be set up in Iraq or Qatar with officials from the two sides … to manage tensions,“ said Falahatpisheh, head of parliament’s national security committee.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week Tehran would not negotiate another nuclear deal after Washington last year quit a 2015 international pact that put curbs on Iran’s potential pathway to build a nuclear bomb in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

Trump believes the economic pressure will force Tehran to accept tougher restrictions on its nuclear and missile programs and on its support for proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. He has said publicly he wants to pursue diplomacy after withdrawing from the deal and moving to cut all Iranian oil exports.

‚SUPPORTIVE STATEMENTS‘ NOT ENOUGH

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, on a visit to Japan and China, said the international community and remaining signatories of the nuclear deal should act to save the accord as „supportive statements“ are not enough.

Last week, Iran notified the five remaining signatories that it would reduce some commitments under the accord. Tehran has asked the other signatories, including Germany, Britain and France, to help protect its economy from U.S. sanctions.

„Safeguarding the (nuclear accord) is possible through practical measures, and not only through supportive statements,“ Zarif was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA.

„If the international community feels that this (nuclear) accord is a valuable achievement, then it should take practical steps just like Iran does,“ Zarif said on Iranian state television. „The meaning of practical steps is fully clear: Iran’s economic relations should be normalized.“

Iran’s economy is expected to shrink for the second year running and inflation could reach 40 percent, an International Monetary Fund senior official said last month, as the country copes with the impact of tighter U.S. sanctions.

The curbs under the nuclear deal were aimed at extending the time Iran would need to produce a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to a year from roughly 2-3 months. I

The United States and the U.N. nuclear watchdog believe Iran had a nuclear weapons program that it abandoned. Tehran denies ever having had one. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Steve Holland in Washington Writing by William Maclean Editing by Frances Kerry and Grant McCool)

War Games Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

image-3114
By YOSSI MELMAN
‘We feel like we’re dealing with two little kids in a kindergarten,’ say the Egyptians.
Early May witnessed the most lethal and unnecessary round of the violent exchange of fire between Gaza and Israel since the last war. The facts illustrate this better than anything else. 
In the 57 months that elapsed since the war in the summer of 2014 known as Operation Protective Edge, not a single Israeli citizen was killed. In the short battle in May, which lasted 60 hours, four Israeli civilians died from rockets and some 30 Palestinians from air bombardment.
In the 50 days of Protective Edge, Hamas and the smaller Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired 4,500 rockets. In the two and a half days in May, they launched 700 rockets.

Trump is Being Suckered by John Bolton

Iran: Trump says he doesn’t want war, but is John Bolton pushing a conflict?


WASHINGTON – „Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world?“

That headline leaped from the pages of a British newspaper on Thursday, which declared the U.S. „is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever.“ And, the opinion writer added, Trump’s national security adviser „is largely to blame.“

That view – that Bolton is driving Trump into a perilous military confrontation with America’s principal foe in the Middle East – is ricocheting across the globe, from Tehran to Washington.

But national security experts inside and outside the White House say Bolton’s role has been exaggerated – and his influence with the president has been overstated, particularly when it comes to the prospect of a costly war with Iran.

For starters, Trump has made it clear he doesn’t like the idea and is generally averse to foreign military entanglements.

Asked on Thursday if his administration is marching toward war with Iran, Trump offered a three-word response: „I hope not.“

A hard-line message to Iran

Bolton is simply playing his part in a geopolitical dance designed to send a hard-line message to the Iranian regime, said Mark Dubowitz, the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based foreign policy research institute that supports strong pressure on Iran.

„Bolton in many ways is from central casting if you were looking for a consummate hawk,“ said Dubowitz, who has advised the Trump administration and previous presidents on Iran policy. „It’s all useful from the psyops perspective.“

Dubowitz said the White House has deliberately trumpeted its decision to send B-52 bombers and other military forces to Iran, purposefully said that move was in response to threats from Iran and intentionally used Bolton as a key messenger.

„I think it’s actually a well-orchestrated campaign that has a public relations piece, a military positioning piece, (and) obviously the economic financial piece“ of escalating sanctions, Dubowitz said. Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are the perfect „bad cops,“ he said, to make Iran – and the rest of the world – nervous about Trump’s intentions.

„Trump can go from fire and fury to writing love letters, so he has a certain amount of diplomatic flexibility,“ he said. One minute he can be as bellicose as Bolton, and the next he can shout, „‚Hey, hi there. Do you want to talk.'“

That’s what Trump seemed to be doing on Thursday, when he met with the president of the Swiss government, which is known for its role in mediating potential conflicts between Iran and the U.S.

„I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon,“ Trump tweeted on Wednesday in a pair of messages seen directed in part at Bolton. The president used social media to downplay reports of divisions within the administration over Iran.

„There is no infighting whatsoever,“ Trump said. „Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision – it is a very simple process.“

Hawkish past concerns lawmakers

Lawmakers are not reassured.

This president has surrounded himself with people – Pompeo and Bolton in particular – who believe that getting tough on a military basis with Iran is in our best interest. I do not,“ said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democratic leader.

Durbin and other lawmakers said Bolton’s past statements on Iran, and his trumpeting of questionable intelligence in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq war, are deeply concerning.

Before Bolton joined the Trump administration, he vocally advocated for regime change in Iran. He also played a key role in pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq during the George W. Bush administration, which relied on faulty intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons program

Now with Iran, Durbin said the situation has become so tense and the rhetoric so hot, that even if Trump has no desire for war, he may stumble into it.

He noted, for example, that the Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and at war with Saudi Arabia in Yemen, could launch an attack that inadvertently kills an American service member.

„I fear … we’re going to have a Gulf of Tonkin moment, where there is some American or serviceman who is going to be injured or killed and people are going to be calling for retribution,“ Durbin said.

But Bolton is only one of many advisers Trump speaks to about Iran and other foreign policy issues, said current and former officials. He hears a lot of different views, and often throws out ideas of his own – sometimes ideas he doesn’t really plan to pursue.

Throughout his presidency, Trump’s sounding boards have ranged from super hawks like Bolton to cautious types like former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. From anti-China tariff warriors like Peter Navarro to more market-oriented types like Larry Kudlow.

Trump tends to be against intervention

At some point – no one knows how or when – Trump suddenly makes a decision. He often announces things before informing unwitting staff members, sometimes by tweet and sometimes by statements to inquiring reporters.

„It’s not exactly chaos,“ said one former staff member. „But it’s not orderly.“ 

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said Bolton and the president are on the same page.

„Working closely with President Trump’s national security team, Ambassador Bolton continues to coordinate the President’s guidance to protect American personnel and interests from Iranian threats abroad,“ he said.

Trump and his advisers chafe at claims that Bolton is some kind of „puppet master“ leading Trump into war. Having campaigned against „stupid wars“ in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump is highly unlikely to order military action against Iran, administration officials said, despite the rising beat of war drums from Bolton and others. 

While giving free rein to his aides to express dissenting views, Trump is annoyed at Bolton for being so publicly bellicose toward Iran, fearing it increases the chances for accidental war. 

Talk of war with Iran is „way ahead of where things are“ within the administration, particularly with Trump, one official said. 

The exception would be if Iran attacks U.S. personnel in the Middle East, officials said – a development that may be more likely in part because of a Trump management style that is haphazard at best and chaotic at worst.

But Trump often sticks with his pre-existing views, and his default position in foreign policy tends to be against intervention. He has pushed to withdraw U.S troops from Afghanistan and Syria, over the objections of military advisers. Mattis resigned in part over Trump’s plan – later modified – to withdraw troops from Syria.

The flip side, officials say, is that Trump may be getting painted into a corner, and would have to respond if Iran does something to U.S. personnel.

For all his criticism of the George W. Bush administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Trump has as his national security adviser a major proponent of those interventions. 

Durbin said he fears he’s watching a replay of the debate for the Iraq war.

„The weapons of mass destruction turned out to be a fiction, and we were just stampeding into this invasion at that time,“ he aid. „I see it again, all over again.“ 

The Antichrist Tries to Control His Men

Iraq, fearing another US war, warns militias against provocation

In the past two weeks, the Trump administration has said, repeatedly and publicly, that Iran and Arab Shiite militias aligned with it were planning to strike US troops in the region, and that the threat had increased recently.

Written by Alissa J. Rubin

In the Trump administration’s recent bellicose talk about Iran, Iraqis hear eerie echoes of the months just before the US invasion of Iraq. Iraqi officials, wary of another war on their land, say they have warned armed groups tied to Iran to refrain from taking any action that could provoke US retaliation.

“The last two days there have been continuous meetings with all the groups to convey the Iraqi government’s message that if anyone does something, it is their responsibility, not Iraq’s,” said Sayed al-Jayashi, a senior member of Iraq’s National Security Council.

“The Iraqi government is responsible for protecting American interests in Iraq,” he added. “We will become the enemy of anyone who does something against American interests.”

In the past two weeks, the Trump administration has said, repeatedly and publicly, that Iran and Arab Shiite militias aligned with it were planning to strike US troops in the region, and that the threat had increased recently.

In response, the administration dispatched an aircraft carrier, long-range bombers and an anti-missile battery to the Persian Gulf and updated plans for a war with Iran. On Wednesday, the State Department ordered a number of its “nonemergency” personnel in Iraq to leave the country.

The United States has not revealed any evidence supporting its assessment of an increased threat, though on Wednesday officials described what they said were photos of missiles being loaded onto Iranian boats. Allies of the United States have said that while Iran and its confederates may pose a danger, it is unclear whether there is a serious threat against American forces.

The claims have led many in the region to draw parallels to the Bush administration’s decision to go to war in 2003 based on false claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

There are about 30 militias in Iraq with at least 125,000 active-duty fighters and varying loyalties. Many worked in tandem with the Iraqi military in fighting the Islamic State, and all report to the prime minister’s office.

The concern in Iraq is focused on the handful of groups with strong ties to Iran. Several are close to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and have members who trained in Iran.

“Unfortunately we have groups that want to be more Iranian than Iran itself,” said Salah al-Obaidi, the spokesman for the populist cleric and power-broker Muqtada al-Sadr. “We have concerns about the possibility that the government cannot control the pro-Iranian groups, and this will be a big problem in Iraq.”

He said the government needed to take a stronger stand against those groups.

“There is still no plan on the ground about what the government will do,” he said. “In the military, there has to be strict rules and if anyone breaks the rules or does anything outside the plan, they are punished, and the government has not done that.”

Iraq, he said, cannot “be the place where America and Iran settle their scores.”

The parallels to 2003 do not escape anyone, but then important US allies like Britain, Canada and Japan supported the Bush administration in going to war; now the Trump administration’s hostility to Iran is a far lonelier stance.

President Donald Trump has long called the Iraq War a mistake, and has said US forces should withdraw from the Middle East and other parts of the world. But his national security adviser, John Bolton, has advocated military strikes against Iran and regime change there. As a State Department official in 2003, he was seen as one of the more hawkish voices on Iraq.

On the streets of Baghdad, many Iraqis say that if there is an armed conflict between Iran or its proxies and the United States, it is more likely to take place in the Gulf rather than on Iraqi soil. Unlike the Iraq of 2003, Iraq today is a US ally.

“I am not afraid of a war between Iran and the United States,” said Ali Selim, 55, a barber who was drying his towels outdoors. “Then the American target was Iraq. This time it’s Iran,” he said, adding that the militias would not risk their own survival by provoking American retaliation because at the end of the day, they are Iraqis.

Others dismissed the increased tensions between the United States and Iran as empty saber-rattling.

“It’s just talk, just threats,” said Salim Abu Hassan, 48, a worker who had just delivered a shipment of baby scales to a medical supply store. He said he had fought in the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and was in Baghdad when the United States attacked 16 years ago. “Iran and America are each one trying to shout louder than the other.”

Al-Jayashi, the Iraqi security council member, also said he believed that the Iranian government did not want war. But he said he worried about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps acting on its own and possibly encouraging the armed groups it has fostered in the region to act on its behalf.

It can be difficult to discern Iran’s intentions since its elected leadership and government often sound reasonable, but the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force, whose leader Qasem Soleimani is in regular touch with Iraqi figures, take a far more antagonistic stance toward the United States.

However, al-Jayashi and other senior Iraqi officials said Iran’s only request to Iraq has been to prevent the United States from using its soil to launch an attack on Iranian territory.

A senior Iraqi official who asked not to be identified said that the Americans had no plans to do that. The official said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited Iraq last week, told Iraqi leaders that the United States respected Iraq’s sovereignty and that it would not launch attacks on Iran from Iraq.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Pompeo’s message to the Iraqis. Pompeo said that he had discussed the “importance of Iraq ensuring that it’s able to adequately protect Americans in their country.”

According to the official, Pompeo did not address whether the United States would launch an attack on Iraqi soil against an armed group that struck the United States, a scenario now under discussion at the Pentagon.

On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates reported that four oil tankers had been damaged in attacks off the Emirati coast. Two of them belonged to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and the UAE — longtime antagonists of Iran’s — as well as the United States, have refrained from making public accusations or revealing what they know about the incidents, but privately, their officials have made clear that their suspicions focus on Iran.

US officials said Monday that there was no definitive evidence linking Iran or its proxies to the attacks.

But the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, warned this week of “the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended on either side.”

Such an escalation spilling into Iraq, which has been at war for most of the time since the U.S. invasion, is a horror many Iraqis wish to believe could not happen again.

“I remember the destruction and the looting and the burned and destroyed buildings,” said Emad Hassan, 45. “We thought they came only to liberate Iraq, but they occupied it.”